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Should religious institutions be separated from government?

Many western countries constitutionally guarantee some separation of government and religion. This separation works in both directions: it prevents policies based on controversial beliefs rooted in religion, but also protects religious freedom, preventing the government from interfering in people practicing their faith.

Implications to Other Questions

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Should religious institutions be separated from government?

Experts and Influencers

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Experts In Politics

Thomas Jefferson    3rd United States President
Religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.
07 Oct 1801    Source

George W. Bush    United States President 2001-2009
[The government] has no business endorsing a religious creed or directly funding religious worship or religious teaching.
29 Jan 2003    Source

Barack Obama    United States President
I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice.
28 Jun 2006    Source

Mitt Romney    Former Governor of Massachusetts
We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion.
06 Dec 2007    Source

Tony Abbott    Leader of the Opposition, Australia
I do not regard myself as a Christian politician. I regard myself as a politician who just happens to think religion matters. I would be appalled, absolutely appalled, to think religion drove anyone's politics in a secular democracy like ours.
24 Jul 2010    Source

Experts In Law

The United States Constitution    Foundation of U.S. Law
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
15 Dec 1791    Source

Experts In Politics

Napoleon Bonaparte    Emperor of France
A nation must have a religion and that religion must be under the control of the government.
01 Jun 1801    Source

Joseph Stalin    Leader of Soviet Union 1922-1953
The Party cannot be neutral with regard to religion, and it conducts anti-religious propaganda against any and all religious prejudices because it stands for science, while religious prejudices go against science, since every religion is something contrary to science.
07 Sep 1927    Source

Experts In Politics

David Cameron    British Prime Minister
We are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so. Let me be clear: I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or no faith – is somehow wrong. I know and fully respect that many people in this country do not have a religion. And I am also incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities, who do so much to make our country stronger. [However,] the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.
16 Dec 2011    Source


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0 Points      MTC      23 Feb 2013      Stance on Question: Agree
Absolutely. On a related note, national anthems and mottos (and pledges of alliegance) should not mention anything religious.

0 Points      Cam      26 Jan 2012      Stance on Question: Agree
The Christian church should have no dealings with governments. The purpose of government, democratic or otherwise, is inherently in opposition to the purpose of Christ. The ideal society is shown in the book of Judges, where there was Mosaic Law yet no state.

1 Point      pineconedegg      25 Mar 2011      Stance on Question: Agree
A government which has the authority to enforce a belief upon its people is not a government run by the thoughts of the people. Furthermore, religion has had a very bad track record in national decision making. The separation of church and state is a very good idea.

0 Points      Radioactivity      10 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
Religion has absolutely zero place in governmental decision-making and shouldn't really have a place in ordinary decision-making either. It's irrational, outdated, and unnecessary.

0 Points      Adam Atlas      05 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
I'd prefer religious institutions to be separated from existence, but separating them from government is a good start.

Aside from the usual interpretations, this also means religious organizations shouldn't have special privileges like tax exemption. They should be treated like any other organization.

0 Points      Adam Atlas      05 Apr 2010      Editorial Comment
This should be Agree, by the way.

0 Points      Benja      05 Apr 2010      Editorial Comment
Hey, I just uploaded the feature to let people edit their own comments. Let me know if it works.

1 Point      Adam Atlas      05 Apr 2010      Editorial Comment
Ah, thanks.

One bug: I clicked "Edit" on my comment to try it out, clicked Cancel, and then clicked Reply on yours; when I did, the new comment box was filled with my original comment.

1 Point      JGWeissman      27 Mar 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
Governments should have limited powers and purposes, and promoting silly beliefs is not among them.