The separation of church and state is a philosophic and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations and the nation state. Conceptually, the term refers to the creation of a secular state (with or without legally explicit church–state separation) and to disestablishment, the changing of an existing, formal relationship between the church and the state.
In a society, the degree of political separation between the church and the civil state is determined by the legal structures and prevalent legal views that define the proper relationship between organized religion and the state.
The philosophy of the separation of the church from the civil state parallels the philosophies of secularism, disestablishmentarianism, religious liberty, and religious pluralism, by way of which the European states assumed some of the social roles of the church, the welfare state, a social shift that produced a culturally secular population and public sphere. In practice, church–state separation varies from total separation, mandated by the country's political constitution, as in India and Singapore, to a state religion, as in the Maldives.
History of the concept and term
An important contributor to the discussion concerning the proper relationship between Church and state was St. Augustine, who in The City of God, Book XIX, Chapter 17, examined the ideal relationship between the "earthly city" and the "city of God". In this work, Augustine posited that major points of overlap were to be found between the "earthly city" and the "city of God", especially as people need to live together and get along on earth. Thus, Augustine held that it was the work of the "temporal city" to make it possible for a "heavenly city" to be established on earth.
For centuries, monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right. Sometimes this began to be used by a monarch to support the notion that the king ruled both his own kingdom and Church within its boundaries, a theory known as caesaropapism. On the other side was the Catholic doctrine that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, should have the ultimate authority over the Church, and indirectly over the state. Moreover, throughout the Middle Ages the Pope claimed the right to depose the Catholic kings of Western Europe and tried to exercise it, sometimes successfully (see the investiture controversy, below), sometimes not, such as was the case with Henry VIII of England and Henry III of Navarre.
In the West the issue of the separation of church and state during the medieval period centered on monarchs who ruled in the secular sphere but encroached on the Church's rule of the spiritual sphere. This unresolved contradiction in ultimate control of the Church led to power struggles and crises of leadership, notably in the Investiture Controversy, which was resolved in the Concordat of Worms in 1122. By this concordat, the Emperor renounced the right to invest ecclesiastics with ring and crosier, the symbols of their spiritual power, and guaranteed election by the canons of cathedral or abbey and free consecration.
At the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther articulated a doctrine of the two kingdoms. According to James Madison, perhaps one of the most important modern proponents of the separation of church and state, Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms marked the beginning of the modern conception of separation of church and state.
Those of the Radical Reformation (the Anabaptists) took Luther's ideas in new direction, most notably in the writings of Michael Sattler (1490–1527), who agreed with Luther that there were two kingdoms, but differed in arguing that these two kingdoms should be separate, and hence baptized believers should not vote, serve in public office or participate in any other way with the "kingdom of the world". While there was a diversity of views in the early days of the Radical Reformation, in time Sattler's perspective became the normative position for most Anabaptists in the coming centuries. Anabaptists came to teach that religion should never be compelled by state power, approaching the issue of church-state relations primarily from the position of protecting the church from the state.
In the 1530s, Henry VIII, angered by the Pope Clement VII's refusal to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, decided to break with the Church and set himself as ruler of the Church of England. The monarchs of Great Britain have retained ecclesiastical authority in the Church of England since Henry VIII, having the current title, Supreme Governor of the Church of England. England's ecclesiastical intermixing did not spread widely, however, due to the extensive persecution of Catholics that resulted from Henry's power grab. This eventually led to Nonconformism, English Dissenters, and the anti-Catholicism of Oliver Cromwell, the Commonwealth of England, and the Penal Laws against Catholics and others who did not adhere to the Church of England.
One of the results of the persecution in England was that some people fled Great Britain to be able to worship as they wished – but they did not seek religious freedom, and early North American colonies were generally as intolerant of religious dissent as England; Puritan Massachusetts, for example, did not allow standard Church of England worship. Some of these people voluntarily sailed to the American Colonies specifically for this purpose. After the American Colonies famously revolted against George III of the United Kingdom, the Constitution of United States was specifically amended to ban the establishment of religion by Congress.
The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution.
At the same period of the 17th century, Pierre Bayle and some fideists were forerunners of the separation of Church and State, maintaining that faith was independent of reason. During the 18th century, the ideas of Locke and Bayle, in particular the separation of Church and State, became more common, promoted by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. Montesquieu already wrote in 1721 about religious tolerance and a degree of separation between religion and government. Voltaire defended some level of separation but ultimately subordinated the Church to the needs of the StateTreat]]enis Diderot]], for instance, was a partisan of a strict separation of Church and State, saying " ance between the throne and the altar can never be too great 
In English, the exact term is an offshoot of the phrase, "wall of separation between church and state", as written in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:
Jefferson was describing to the Baptists that the United States Bill of Rights prevents the establishment of a national church, and in so doing they did not have to fear government interference in their right to expressions of religious conscience. The Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791 as ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, was one of the earliest political expressions of religious freedom. Others were the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, also authored by Jefferson and adopted by Virginia in 1786; and the French Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen of 1789.
In various countries
Countries have varying degrees of separation between government and religious institutions.
The many variations on separation can be seen in some countries with high degrees of religious freedom and tolerance combined with strongly secular political cultures which have still maintained state churches or financial ties with certain religious organizations into the 21st century.
In other kingdoms the head of government or head of state or other high-ranking official figures may be legally required to be a member of a given faith. Powers to appoint high-ranking members of the state churches are also often still vested in the worldly governments. These powers may be slightly anachronistic or superficial, however, and disguise the true level of religious freedom the nation possesses. In the case of Andorra there are two heads of state, neither of them native Andorrans. One is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Seu de Urgell, a town located in northern Spain. He has the title of Episcopalian Coprince (the other Coprince being the French Head of State). Coprinces enjoy political power in terms of law ratification and constitutional court designation, among others.
The Constitution of Australia prevents the Commonwealth from establishing any religion or requiring a religious test for any office:
The language is derived from the United States' constitution, but has been altered.
Although the Australian monarch is Elizabeth II, also British monarch and Governor of the Church of England, her Australian title is unrelated to her religious office and she has no role in the Anglican Church of Australia. The prohibition against religious tests has allowed former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Peter Hollingworth to be appointed Governor-General of Australia, the highest domestic constitutional officer; however, this was criticised.
Despite inclusion in the "States" chapter, Section 116 does not apply to states because of changes during drafting, and they are free to establish their own religions.
The current situation, described as a "principle of state neutrality" rather than "separation of church and state", has been criticised by both secularists and religious groups.
Islam is the dominant religion in Azerbaijan, with 96% of Azerbaijanis being Muslim, Shia being in the majority. However, Azerbaijan is officially a secular state. According to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the state and religion are separate. Article 7 of the Constitution defines the Azerbaijani state as a democratic, legal, secular, unitary republic. Therefore, the Constitution provides freedom of religions and beliefs.
The Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations controls the relations between the state and religions.
Ethnic minorities such as Russians, Georgians, Jews, Lezgis, Avars, Udis and Kurds with different religious beliefs to Islam all live in Azerbaijan. Several religions are practiced in Azerbaijan. There are many Orthodox and Catholic churches in different regions of Azerbaijan.
Brazil was a colony of the Portuguese Empire from 1500 until the nation's independence from Portugal, in 1822, during which time Roman Catholicism was the official state religion. With the rise of the Empire of Brazil, although Catholicism retained its status as the official creed, subsidized by the state, other religions were allowed to flourish, as the 1824 Constitution secured religious freedom. The fall of the Empire, in 1889, gave way to a Republican regime, and a Constitution was enacted in 1891, which severed the ties between church and state; Republican ideologues such as Benjamin Constant and Ruy Barbosa were influenced by laïcité in France and the United States. The 1891 Constitutional separation of Church and State has been maintained ever since. The current Constitution of Brazil, in force since 1988, ensures the right to religious freedom, bans the establishment of state churches and any relationship of "dependence or alliance" of officials with religious leaders, except for "collaboration in the public interest, defined by law".
China, during the era of the Han Dynasty, had established Confucianism as the official state ideology over that of Legalism of the preceding Qin Dynasty over two millennium ago. In post-1949 modern-day China, owing to such historic experiences as the Taiping Rebellion, the Chinese Communist Party had no diplomatic relations with the Vatican for over half a century, and maintained separation of the church from state affairs, and although the Chinese government's methods are disputed by the Vatican, Pope Benedict had accepted the ordination of a bishop who was pre-selected by the government for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in 2007. However, a new ordination of a Catholic bishop in November 2010, according to BBC News, has threatened to "damage ties" between China and the Vatican.
Freedom of religion in Croatia is a right defined by the Constitution, which also defines all religious communities as equal in front of the law and separated from the state. Principle of separation of church and state is enshrined in Article 41 which states:
Public schools allow religious teaching (Croatian: Vjeronauk) in cooperation with religious communities having agreements with the state, but attendance is not mandated. Religion classes are organized widely in public elementary and secondary schools.
The public holidays also include religious festivals of: Epiphany, Easter Monday, Corpus Christi Day, Assumption Day, All Saints' Day, Christmas, and Boxing Day. The primary holidays are based on the Catholic liturgical year, but other believers are allowed to celebrate other major religious holidays as well.
The Roman Catholic Church in Croatia receives state financial support and other benefits established in concordats between the Government and the Vatican. In an effort to further define their rights and privileges within a legal framework, the government has additional agreements with other 14 religious communities: Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), Islamic Community of Croatia, Evangelical Church, Reformed Christian Church in Croatia, Protestant Reformed Christian Church in Croatia, Pentecostal Church, Union of Pentecostal Churches of Christ, Christian Adventist Church, Union of Baptist Churches, Church of God, Church of Christ, Reformed Movement of Seventh-day Adventists, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Macedonian Orthodox Church and Croatian Old Catholic Church.
The Constitution of Finland declares that the organization and administration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is regulated in the Church Act, and the organization and administration of the Finnish Orthodox Church in the Orthodox Church Act. The Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church thus have a special status in Finnish legislation compared to other religious bodies, and are variously referred to as either "national churches" or "state churches", although officially they do not hold such positions. The Lutheran Church does not consider itself a state church, and prefers to use the term "national church".
The Finnish Freethinkers Association has criticized the official endorsement of the two churches by the Finnish state, and has campaigned for the separation of church and state.
The French version of separation of church and state, called laïcité, is a product of French history and philosophy. It was formalized in a 1905 law providing for the separation of church and state, that is, the separation of religion from political power.
This model of a secularist state protects the religious institutions from state interference, but with public religious expression to some extent frowned upon.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy criticised "negative laïcité" and talked about a "positive laïcité" that recognizes the contribution of faith to French culture, history and society, allows for faith in the public discourse and for government subsidies for faith-based groups. He visited the Pope in December 2007 and publicly emphasized France's Catholic roots, while highlighting the importance of freedom of thought, advocating that faith should come back into the public sphere. François Hollande took a very different position during the 2012 presidential election, promising to insert the concept of laïcité into the constitution. In fact, the French constitution only says that the French Republic is "laïque" but no article in the 1905 law or in the constitution defines laïcité.
Nevertheless, there are certain entanglements in France which include:
- The most significant example consists in two areas, Alsace and Moselle (see Local law in Alsace-Moselle § Religion for further detail), where the 1802 Concordat between France and the Holy See still prevails because the area was part of Germany when the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State was passed and the attempt of the laicist Cartel des gauches in 1924 failed due to public protests. Catholic priests as well as the clergy of three other religions (the Lutheran EPCAAL, the Calvinist EPRAL, and Jewish consistories) are paid by the state, and schools have religion courses. Moreover, the Catholic bishops of Metz and of Strasbourg are named (or rather, formally appointed) by the French Head of State on proposition of the Pope. In the same way, the presidents of the two official Protestant churches are appointed by the State, after proposition by their respective Churches. This makes the French President the only temporal power in the world to formally have retained the right to appoint Catholic bishops, all other Catholic bishops being appointed by the Pope.
- In French Guyana the Royal Regulation of 1828 makes the French state pay for the Roman Catholic clergy, but not for the clergy of other religions.
- In the French oversea departments and territories since the 1939 décret Mandel the French State supports the Churches.
- The French President is ex officio a co-prince of Andorra, where Roman Catholicism has a status of state religion (the other co-prince being the Roman Catholic Bishop of Seu de Urgell, Spain). Moreover, French heads of states are traditionally offered an honorary title of Canon of the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Cathedral of Rome. Once this honour has been awarded to a newly elected president, France pays for a choir vicar, a priest who occupies the seat in the canonical chapter of the Cathedral in lieu of the president (all French presidents have been male and at least formally Roman Catholic, but if one were not, this honour could most probably not be awarded to him or her.) The French President also holds a seat in a few other canonical chapters in France.
- Another example of the complex ties between France and the Catholic Church consists in the Pieux Établissements de la France à Rome et à Lorette: five churches in Rome (Trinità dei Monti, St. Louis of the French, St. Ivo of the Bretons, St. Claude of the Free County of Burgundy, and St. Nicholas of the Lorrains) as well as a chapel in Loreto belong to France, and are administered and paid for by a special foundation linked to the French embassy to the Holy See.
- In Wallis and Futuna, a French overseas territory, national education is conceded to the diocese, which gets paid for it by the State
- A further entanglement consists in liturgical honours accorded to French consular officials under Capitations with the Ottoman Empire which persist for example in the Lebanon and in ownership of the Catholic cathedral in Smyrna (Izmir) and the extraterritoriality of St. Anne's in Jerusalem and more generally the diplomatic status of the Holy Places.
The German constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but there is not a complete separation of church and state in Germany. Officially recognized religious bodies operate as Körperschaften des öffentlichen Rechts (corporations of public law, as opposed to private). For recognized religious communities, some taxes are collected by the state; this is at the request of the religious community and a fee is charged for the service. Religious instruction is an optional school subject in Germany. The German State understands itself as neutral in matters of religious beliefs, so no teacher can be forced to teach religion. But on the other hand, all who do teach religious instruction need an official permission by their religious community. The treaties with the Holy See are referred to as concordats whereas the treaties with Protestant Churches and umbrellas of Jewish congregations are called "state treaties". Both are the legal framework for cooperation between the religious bodies and the German State at the federal as well as at the state level.
Despite 80% of Indian population are Hindus, under the Constitution of India, India is a secular country and there are no special provisions favouring specific religions in its constitution. Jawaharlal Nehru declared India is a secular state in order to avoid Hindu nationalism and religious conflicts between Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and other religions.
As a result of such government power over religion, politicians are sometimes accused of playing votebank politics, i.e. of giving political support to issues for the sole purpose of gaining the votes of members of a particular community, including religious communities. Both the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been accused of exploiting the people by indulging in vote bank politics. The Shah Bano case, a divorce lawsuit, generated much controversy when the Congress was accused of appeasing the Muslim orthodoxy by bringing in a parliamentary amendment to negate the Supreme Court's decision. After the 2002 Gujarat violence, there were allegations of political parties indulging in vote bank politics.
In Italy the principle of separation of church and state is enshrined in Article 7 of the Constitution, which states: "The State and the Catholic Church are independent and sovereign, each within its own sphere. Their relations are regulated by the Lateran pacts. Amendments to such Pacts which are accepted by both parties shall not require the procedure of constitutional amendments."
Shinto became the state religion in Japan with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, and suppression of other religions ensued. Under the American military occupation (1945–52) "State Shinto" was considered to have been used as a propaganda tool to propel the Japanese people to war. The Shinto Directive issued by the occupation government required that all state support for and involvement in any religious or Shinto institution or doctrine stop, including funding, coverage in textbooks, and official acts and ceremonies.
The new constitution adopted in 1947, Articles 20 and 89 of the Japanese Constitution protect freedom of religion, and prevent the government from compelling religious observances or using public money to benefit religious institutions.
Freedom of religion in South Korea is provided for in the South Korean Constitution, which mandates the separation of religion and state, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs. Despite this, religious organizations play a major role and make strong influence in politics.
The issue of the role of the Catholic Church in Mexico has been highly divisive since the 1820s. Its large land holdings were especially a point of contention. Mexico was guided toward what was proclaimed a separation of church and state by Benito Juárez who, in 1859, attempted to eliminate the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the nation by appropriating its land and prerogatives.
In 1859 the Ley Lerdo was issued – purportedly separating church and state, but actually involving state intervention in Church matters by abolishing monastic orders, and nationalizing church property. President Benito Juárez confiscated church property. He disbanded religious orders and ordered the separation of church and state at Constitution of Mexico.
In 1926, after several years of the Mexican revolutionary war and insecurity, President Plutarco Elías Calles, an atheist and leader of the ruling National Revolutionary Party, enacted the Calles Law, which eradicated all the personal property of the churches, closed churches that were not registered with the State, and prohibited clerics from holding a public office. The law was unpopular; and several protesters from rural areas, fought against federal troops in what became known as the Cristero War. After the war's end in 1929, President Emilio Portes Gil upheld a previous truce where the law would remain enacted, but not enforced, in exchange for the hostilities to end.
Ever since, the Catholic Church has remained active through the National Action Party. The party gained a major foothold in 2000 when President Vicente Fox was elected, ending 70 years of unbroken rule from the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
An act approved in 2016 created the Church of Norway as an independent legal entity, effective from 1 January 2017.
The constitution also says that Norway's values are based on its Christian and humanist heritage, and according to the Constitution, the King is required to be Lutheran. The government will still provide funding for the church as it does with other faith-based institutions, but the responsibility for appointing bishops and provosts will now rest with the church instead of the government. Prior to 1997, the appointments of parish priests and residing chaplains was also the responsibility of the government, but the church was granted the right to hire such clergy directly with the new Church Law of 1997. The Church of Norway is regulated by its own law (kirkeloven) and all municipalities are required by law to support the activities of the Church of Norway and municipal authorities are represented in its local bodies.
In Article II "Declaration of Principles and State Policies", Section 6, the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines declares, "The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable." This reasserts, with minor differences in wording and capitalization, a declaration made in Article XV, Section 15 of the 1973 Constitution.
Similarly, Article III, Section 5 declares, "No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Romania is a secular state and has no state religion. However, the role of religion in society is regulated by several articles of the Romanian Constitution.
Art 29. Freedom of Conscience.
Art 32. Right to education (7) The state assures freedom of religious education, according to the requirements of each specific cult.
The legal system of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, Islamic law derived from the Qur'an and the Sunnah (the traditions) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and therefore no separation of church and state is present.
Unlike Malaysia, Singapore is home to people of many religions other than Islam. Also, Singapore does not have any state religion. The Singaporean government has attempted to avoid giving any specific religions priority over the rest.
In 1972 the Singapore government de-registered and banned the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses in Singapore.
In Spain, commentators have posited that the form of church-state separation enacted in France in 1905 and found in the Spanish Constitution of 1931 are of a "hostile" variety, noting that the hostility of the state toward the church was a cause of the breakdown of democracy and the onset of the Spanish Civil War. Following the end of the war, the Catholic Church regained an officially sanctioned, predominant position with General Franco. Religious freedom was guaranteed only in 1966, nine years before the end of the regime.
Since 1978, according to the Spanish Constitution (section 16.3) "No religion shall have a state character. The public authorities shall take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and shall consequently maintain appropriate cooperation relations with the Catholic Church and other confessions."
The Church of Sweden was instigated by King Gustav I (1523–60) and within the half century following his death had become established as a Lutheran state church with significant power in Swedish society, itself under the control of the state apparatus. A degree of freedom of worship (for foreign residents only) was achieved under the rule of Gustav III (1771–92), but it was not until the passage of the Dissenter Acts of 1860 and 1874 that Swedish citizens were allowed to leave the state church – and then only provided that those wishing to do so first registered their adhesion to another, officially approved denomination. Following years of discussions that began in 1995, the Church of Sweden was finally separated from the state as from 1 January 2000. However, the separation was not fully completed. Although the status of state religion came to an end, the Church of Sweden nevertheless remains Swedens national church, and as such is still regulated by the government through the law of the Church of Sweden. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to refer to a change of relation between state and church rather than a separation. Furthermore, the Swedish constitution still maintain that the Sovereign and the members of the royal family has to confess an evangelical Lutheran faith, which in practice means they need to be members of the Church of Sweden to remain in the line of succession. Thusly according to the ideas of cuius regio, eius religio one could argue that the symbolic connection between state and church still remains.
The articles 8 ("Equality before the law") and 15 ("Freedom of religion and conscience") of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation guarantees individual freedom of beliefs. It notably states that " No person may be forced to join or belong to a religious community, to participate in a religious act or to follow religious teachings".
Churches and state are separated at the federal level since 1848.
Turkey, whose population is overwhelmingly Muslim, is also considered to have practiced the laïcité school of secularism since 1928, which the founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's policies and theories became known as Kemalism.
Despite Turkey being an officially secular country, the Preamble of the Constitution states that "there shall be no interference whatsoever of the sacred religious feelings in State affairs and politics." In order to control the way religion is perceived by adherents, the State pays imams' wages (only for Sunni Muslims), and provides religious education (of the Sunni Muslim variety) in public schools. The State has a Department of Religious Affairs, directly under the Prime Minister bureaucratically, responsible for organizing the Sunni Muslim religion – including what will and will not be mentioned in sermons given at mosques, especially on Fridays. Such an interpretation of secularism, where religion is under strict control of the State is very different from that of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and is a good example of how secularism can be applied in a variety of ways in different regions of the world. The exercise of their religion in Turkey by the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Apostolic communities is partly regulated by the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne. No such official recognition extends to the Syriac communities.
Under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's tenure since 2003, Turkish secularism has come under heavy fire as a new Islamist right-wing populist mood has overtaken Turkish politics. Erdoğan has pursued a suite of policies determined to give state backing to particular interpretations of Islam.
The Church of England, a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is an established church, and the British Sovereign is the titular Supreme Governor, and cannot be a Roman Catholic. Until the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, the monarch could not be married to a Catholic.
In state-run schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (but not in privately run schools), there is a requirement for a daily act of worship that is "wholly or mainly of a Christian character", although non-Christian faith schools are exempt (instead having to have their own form of worship) and sixth-form pupils (in England and Wales) and parents of younger pupils can opt out.
In England, senior Church appointments are Crown appointments; the Church carries out state functions such as coronations; Anglican representatives have an automatic role on Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education; and 26 diocesan bishops have seats in the House of Lords, where they are known as the Lords Spiritual as opposed to the lay Lords Temporal. The Lords Spiritual have a significant influence when they vote as a bloc on certain issues, notably moral issues like abortion and euthanasia. All of state-funded schools in England are religious school, too, and most are controlled by the Church of England, with significant numbers of state-funded Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish schools as well. The Anglican Church also has specific legal rights and responsibilities in solemnised marriages that are different from other faith organisations. Non-religious couples can have a civil wedding with no religious elements, but non-religious humanist weddings are not yet legally recognised in their own right. Collective worship makes prayer and worship of a Christian character mandatory in all schools, but parents can remove their children from these lessons, and sixth formers have the right to opt out.
The Church of Scotland (or Kirk) is the largest religious denomination in Scotland, however, unlike the Church of England it is Presbyterian and (since 1921) not a branch of the state, with the Sovereign holding no formal role in the Church other than being an ordinary member. However, though the Kirk is disestablished, Scotland is not a secular polity. The Kirk remains a national church to which the state has special obligations; it is conventional that the monarch, who is head of state, must attend the Church when she visits Scotland, and they swear in their accession oath to maintain and preserve the church. The state also gives numerous preferences to the Church of Scotland and Catholic Church, particularly in education. The blasphemy law has not been abolished in Scotland, though it has fallen into disuse. Non-religious couples can have a civil wedding with no religious elements, and humanist weddings have been legally recognised since 2005, and enshrined in Scottish law since 2017. Collective worship makes prayer and worship of a Christian character mandatory in all schools, but parents can remove their children from these lessons, though sixth formers have no right to opt out.
The Church of Ireland was disestablished as early as 1871; the Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920 (although certain border parishes remain part of the Established Church of England). Unlike the UK Government and to some extent the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government has no religious links, though state-funded religious schools are routinely approved in Wales. Collective worship makes prayer and worship of a Christian character mandatory in all Welsh schools.
Northern Ireland is the most religious part of the UK, but technically has secular governance.
The First Amendment which ratified in 1791 states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." However, the phrase "separation of church and state" itself does not appear in the United States Constitution. The states themselves were free to establish an official religion, and twelve out of the thirteen had official religions.
The phrase of Jefferson (see above) was quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947.The%20birth%20of%20the%20modern%20Consti]]he Supreme Court did not consider the question of how this applied to the states until 1947; when they did, in Everson v. Board of Education incorporated ermining that it applied to the states and that a law enabling reimbursement for busing to all schools (including parochial schools) was constitutional.
The concept was argued to be implicit in the flight of Roger Williams from religious oppression in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to found the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations on the principle of state neutrality in matters of faith.
Williams was motivated by historical abuse of governmental power, and believed that government must remove itself from anything that touched upon human beings' relationship with God,advocating a "hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world" in order to keep religion pure.
Through his work Rhode Island's charter was confirmed by King Charles II of England, which explicitly stated that no one was to be "molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion, in matters of religion".
Williams is credited with helping to shape the church and state debate in England, and influencing such men as John Milton and particularly John Locke, whose work was studied closely by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other designers of the U.S. Constitution. Williams theologically derived his views mainly from Scripture and his motive is seen as religious, but Jefferson's advocation of religious liberty is seen as political and social. Though no states currently have an established religion, almost all of the state constitutions invoke God and some originally required officeholders to believe in the Holy Trinity. The Constitution applies separation of church and state only to the federal government, not the states, so theoretically a state could still attempt to establish a particular religion as the religion of state, though any attempt to do so would certainly be challenged.
In 1783, the United States signed a treaty with Great Britain that was promulgated "in the name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity". It was dipped in religious language, crediting "'Divine Providence' with having disposed the two parties to 'forget all past misunderstandings,' and is dated 'in the year of our Lord' 1783".
According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were
Supporters of the separation of church and state argue that this treaty, which was ratified by the Senate, confirms that the government of the United States was specifically intended to be religiously neutral. The treaty was submitted by President Adams and unanimously ratified by the Senate.
In the 1892 case Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, Supreme Court Justice David Brewer wrote for a unanimous Court that "no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people.... [T]his is a Christian nation."
Legal historian Paul Finkelman writes that:
The phrase "separation of church and state" is derived from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper soon thereafter. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Jefferson writes:
Another early user of the term was James Madison, the principal drafter of the United States Bill of Rights. In a 1789 debate in the House of Representatives regarding the draft of the First Amendment, the following was said:
Madison contended "Because if Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body." Several years later he wrote of "total separation of the church from the state". "Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States", Madison wrote, and he declared, "practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government is essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States." In a letter to Edward Livingston Madison further expanded,
This attitude is further reflected in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, originally authored by Jefferson and championed by Madison, and guaranteeing that no one may be compelled to finance any religion or denomination.
Under the United States Constitution, the treatment of religion by the government is broken into two clauses: the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. Both are discussed in regard to whether certain state actions would amount to an impermissible government establishment of religion.
The phrase was also mentioned in an eloquent letter written by President John Tyler on July 10, 1843. During the 1960 presidential campaign the potential influence of the Catholic Church on John F. Kennedy's presidency was raised. If elected, it would be the first time that a Catholic would occupy the highest office in the United States. John F. Kennedy, in his Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on 12 September 1960, addressed the question directly, saying,
The United States Supreme Court has referenced the separation of church and state metaphor more than 25 times, though not always fully embracing the principle, saying "the metaphor itself is not a wholly accurate description of the practical aspects of the relationship that in fact exists between church and state". In Reynolds, the Court denied the free exercise claims of Mormons in the Utah territory who claimed polygamy was an aspect of their religious freedom. The Court used the phrase again by Justice Hugo Black in 1947 in Everson. In a minority opinion in Wallace v. Jaffree, Justice Rehnquist presented the view that the establishment clause was intended to protect local establishments of religion from federal interference. Rehnquist made numerous citations of cases that rebutted the idea of a total wall of separation between Church and State. A result of such reasoning was Supreme Court support for government payments to faith-based community projects. Justice Scalia has criticized the metaphor as a bulldozer removing religion from American public life.
Critics of the American Pledge of Allegiance have argued that the use of the phrase "under God" violates the separation of church and state. While the pledge was created by Francis Bellamy in 1891, in 1954, the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, campaigned with other groups to have the words "under God" added to the pledge. On June 14, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill to make the addition.
Since then, critics have challenged the existence of the phrase in the Pledge.
According to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's understanding of Islam, Islamic principles state that the politics of government should be separate from the doctrine of religion. Special preference should not be given to a Muslim over a non-Muslim. This is best represented by the Constitution of Medina which, in the words of Dr. Craig Considine, was one of the earliest forms of secular governance, providing as it did, equal religious and communal rights to Muslims, Jews and pagans, while recognising them all as bound together by the identity of the city-state.
Historically, the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have deemed a close relationship between church and state desirable wherever possible. The Catholic Church, in addition, teaches that states have a duty to recognize the Catholic faith officially and in its laws and mores, if such states' populations are or become predominantly Catholic. The Orthodox churches have historically at times formed a "symphonia" with the state, whether de jure or de facto. On the other hand, while some Protestants hold views similar to those above, some Protestants refuse to vote, carry arms, or participate in civil government in any way, often leading to their persecution, as happened to Anabaptists, their descendants including the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers, in the 20th Century. Anabaptist and Jehovah's Witnesses, in many countries, believing by not participating they are closer to the Kingdom of God, since "Jesus answered (Pilate), 'My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight (to defend him).' " – John 18:36. For them, the term "Christian nation" cannot be a valid governmental position, leaving only Christian people, possibly in Christian communities, beyond which are the "things which are Caesar's" – Matthew 22:21.
As such, the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Church advocates for Bible reading in public schools, chaplaincies in the Armed Forces and in Congress, blue laws (reflecting historic Methodist belief in Sunday Sabbatarianism), and amendments that advance the recognition of God.
The Reformed tradition of Christianity (Congregationalist, Continental Reformed, Presbyterian denominations) have also addressed the issue of the relationship between the Church and state. In its 1870 General Assembly, the Presbyterian Church in the United States stated:
The first full articulation of the Catholic doctrine on the principles of the relationship of the Catholic Church to the state (at the time, the Eastern Roman Empire) is contained in the document Famuli vestrae pietatis, written by Pope Gelasius I to the Emperor, which states that the Church and the state should work together in society, that the state should recognize the Church's role in society, with the Church holding superiority in moral matters and the state having superiority in temporal matters. Monsignor John A. Ryan speaks of this Catholic doctrine thusly: "If there is only one true religion, and if its possession is the most important good in life, for states as well as individuals, then the public profession, protection, and promotion of this religion, and the legal prohibition of all direct assaults upon it, becomes one of the most obvious and fundamental duties of the state. For it is the business of the state to safeguard and promote human welfare in all departments of life." Gaudium et spes ("Joy and Hope"), the 1965 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, noted that "... the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel." The mission of the Church recognized that the realities of secularization and pluralism exist despite the traditional teaching on confessional statehood. Because of this reality of secularisation, it also recognized and encouraged the role of the laity in the life of the Church in the secular world, viewing the laity as much-needed agents of change in order to bring about a transformation of society more in line with Catholic teaching. "This council exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response to the Gospel spirit.". This was further expanded in Apostolicam Actuositatem
Apostolicam Actuositatem, the Second Vatican Council's "Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity", was issued 18 November 1965. The purpose of this document was to encourage and guide lay people in their Christian service. "Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the Spirit of Christ." Francis Cardinal Arinze explains that lay persons "...are called by Baptism to witness to Christ in the secular sphere of life; that is in the family, in work and leisure, in science and cultural, in politics and government, in trade and mass media, and in national and international relations".
The Catholic teaching in Dignitatis Humanae, the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom (1986), states that all people are entitled to a degree of religious freedom as long as public order is not disturbed and that constitutional law should recognize such freedom. "If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice. At the same time, the document reiterated that the Church "leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ". The traditional teaching of the duty of society towards the Church is described in the current edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2105.
The Catholic Church takes the position that the Church itself has a proper role in guiding and informing consciences, explaining the natural law, and judging the moral integrity of the state, thereby serving as check to the power of the state. The Church teaches that the right of individuals to religious freedom (enshrined in the U.S.'s "Free Exercise Clause") is sound, and, all other things being equal, ideally the Church would be the established religion of the state, without, however coercing any individual to embrace the Catholic religion. Still, it also recognizes that it would not always be prudent in all states to immediately mandate the Catholic religion as the official religion of the state, most especially in states in which Catholicism has not yet become the religion of the overwhelming majority.
Catholic philosopher Thomas Storck argues that, once a society becomes "Catholicised" and adopts the Church as the state religion, it is further morally bound: "'the just requirements of public order' vary considerably between a Catholic state and a religiously neutral state.
The Church takes stances on current political issues, and tries to influence legislation on matters it considers relevant.
Benedict XVI regards modern idea of freedom (meaning the Church should be free from governmental coercion and overtly political influence from the state) as a legitimate product of the Christian environment, in a similar way to Jacques Le Goff. However, contrary to the French historian, the Pope rejects the conception of religion as just a private affair.
Friendly and hostile separation
Scholars have distinguished between what can be called "friendly" and "hostile" separations of church and state. The friendly type limits the interference of the church in matters of the state but also limits the interference of the state in church matters. The hostile variety, by contrast, seeks to confine religion purely to the home or church and limits religious education, religious rites of passage and public displays of faith.
The hostile model of secularism arose with the French Revolution and is typified in the Mexican Revolution, its resulting Constitution, in the First Portuguese Republic of 1910, and in the Spanish Constitution of 1931. The hostile model exhibited during these events can be seen as approaching the type of political religion seen in totalitarian states.
The French separation of 1905 and the Spanish separation of 1931 have been characterized as the two most hostile of the twentieth century, although the current church-state relations in both countries are considered generally friendly. Nevertheless, France's former President Nicolas Sarkozy at the beginning of his term, considered his country's current state of affairs a "negative laïcité" and wanted to develop a "positive laïcité" more open to religion. The concerns of the state toward religion have been seen by some as one cause of the civil war in Spain and Mexico.
The French Catholic philosopher and drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jacques Maritain, noted the distinction between the models found in France and in the mid-twentieth century United States. He considered the U.S. model of that time to be more amicable because it had both "sharp distinction and actual cooperation" between church and state, what he called a "historical treasure" and admonished the United States, "Please to God that you keep it carefully, and do not let your concept of separation veer round to the European one." Alexis de Tocqueville, another French observer tended to make the same distinction, "In the U.S., from the beginning, politics and religion were in accord, and they have not ceased to be so since."
- 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State
- Baptists in the history of separation of church and state
- Christian Reconstructionism
- East Waynesville Baptist Church
- Freedom of religion by country
- Institutional theory
- Islamic republic
- Norwegian Humanist Association
- Principled Distance
- Sociology of religion
- State atheism
- State religion