What are modern church-state relations?

church-state relations

Religious faith is a personal and individual choice. In other words, the religion that you wish to pursue or practice is entirely up to you. In democratic nations where human rights are given complete precedence over other individual and legal rights, it forms the crux of democratic legal systems. In most secular countries, individuals are allowed to pursue and practice all religious faiths as long as these do not contradict human rights. Thus, the state and religion are two separate parts of a democratic system. However, the relation between religion and state is not without strife. This becomes all the more evident when the relationship between the church and the country is examined and evaluated. The church primarily represents Christianity as the religious faith, and the state is the government. 

Some of the essential features of the modern church and state relationships have been discussed below. These features are useful if you feel ‘I need someone to write my essay for me’. Online essay writing companies will cover all these features in their writing.

Jefferson's Bill of Rights

In 1802 Thomas Jefferson, the then President of the United States, wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptists stating clearly that religion is a matter of personal choice. The message that Jefferson tries to portray through his letter is that the religious belief that one follows 'lies solely between Man & his God.' This essentially separates the church and the government. In other words, the government shall not interfere in the religious beliefs of individuals unless it contradicts law and order of the state. Steps will, however, be taken if the church contravenes law and order. 

Moreover, the government shall be secular and not support any particular religious faith. Such notions were introduced because discriminatory acts were often carried out in the name of religion. Sometimes even these acts were solicited by corrupt religious leaders. Many religious leaders would appeal to the religious sentiments of their followers and instigate them to perform illegal actions. They were also able to do so without the fear of persecution as they have government back-up. However, Jefferson's letter essentially separates the church and the state. It now became clear that the church was not above the law and that it would have to function adhering strictly to the law and order system of the United States of America.

Supporting the government

It has often been observed that people sometimes criticize government policies for favoring minority religions. However, most government policies of secular nations are equal and are based on human rights. Maybe a certain amount of leniency is shown by government officials while dealing with people belonging to minority religions, primarily because of the discrimination they have faced in the hands of a follower of Christianity. This is especially true for Jews. However, the church can play a significant role in allaying such fears amongst its followers. To prevent discrimination and to help people understand government policies better, government officials often appeal to church leaders to discuss these policies with the members of the congregation. This helps government officials evaluate the common man's perception of the government's policies. Moreover, if there is any simmering anger amongst the people against any system, then the church leaders can identify this and then take steps to prevent the violence from becoming anything serious. Thus, the church can go a long way in supporting the government and help it function properly.

Evaluating churchly privileges

The state has control over the rights enjoyed by the church. However, there are certain privileges enjoyed by the church. For example, the church can carry out various religious and social activities without interference from government officials. Say, for instance, the church in your locality wants to set up a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Then it can easily do so. Instead of interference, it will probably receive support from the local police and government officials. The only thing that it has to do is get the legal permits required to set up such an organization. However, since setting up a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter is a charitable social activity, it will not be challenging to get the required permissions. However, if the church misuses the privileges that the government grants to the religious body, then the state is within its rights to take steps against the church. Thus, churchly privileges must be reviewed and understood, so that its leaders do not misuse these.

Moreover, the churches are exempt from paying federal, state, and local taxes. This falls under the first amendment, which guarantees religious freedom. This also separates the church from the state. The church can function on its own without any interference from the state. 

Prevention of discriminatory acts by conservative Christians

Conservative Christians are often blamed for discrimination based on religion. They have been known to carry out heinous acts that go against fundamental human rights, in the name of religion. A significant ethical philosophy that formed the foundation of the civil rights movement in the USA was based on religious discrimination along with racial discrimination. Persecution based on religion and not just race had led to bloodshed and loss of lives before the civil rights movement. Herein the state had to act and intervene in the proceedings of the church. Religious leaders were prevented from making speeches that even bordered on religious discrimination. Religious leaders making inflammatory speeches that might incite the conservative Christians to attack the minority religions or followers of a more secular form of Christianity were arrested and tried. Hence, the state plays an essential role in keeping a check on the powers of the church. This is essential for the smooth functioning of the country and to ensure that human rights are upheld.

Thus, the state and religion are two separate entities of a country. But both need to work together to achieve the idea of a free country—a country where every man can practice the faith of his choice, without fear of persecution. The church, too, plays a vital role in propagating religious freedom and tolerancechurch-state relations, so that the law and order system of a country can function successfully.


1028 Words


Apr 15, 2020


3 Pages

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