In the East in the 6th cent., Justinian was ruler of church and state equally, and thereafter the Orthodox Eastern Church in the Byzantine Empire was in confirmed subservience to the state. This domination of state over church is called Erastianism, after the theologian Erastus. When the empire began to disintegrate, the power of the state over the church declined; and under the Ottoman sultans the situation was reversed to the extent that the patriarchs of Constantinople were given political power over the laity of their churches.
In Russia the Orthodox Church was quite dominated by the state. In the former Soviet Union, especially in its early period, the Communist party fostered much antireligious propaganda, and a large percentage of the churches were closed. The Constitution of 1936, however, guaranteed freedom of religious worship, and the Russian Orthodox Church was subsequently revived. In 1944 two state-controlled councils were established to supervise religion; one regulated the affairs of the Russian Church, the other those of the other Christian denominations and of the Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist groups. Similar systems of state control also existed in many other Communist countries.
In the West different factors affected church and state relations than in the East. After A.D. 400 there was no central power in the West, but there was a central ecclesiastical power, the see of Rome, which had claimed primacy from the earliest times. The barbarian invasions and the ensuing anarchy resulted in a tremendous growth in the power of the papacy.
With the appearance of strong political powers in Europe, particularly the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of France, a struggle began between the papacy and the temporal rulers. The principal contention was over investiture, but underlying it was violent disagreement as to the proper distribution of power; theories ranged from the belief that emperor or king, as ruler by divine right, should control church as well as state (a theory known also as caesaropapism) to the belief that the pope, as vicar of God on earth, should have the right of supervision over the state. The centuries-long struggle was highlighted by such bitter clashes as those between Pope Gregory VII and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, between Pope Innocent III and Emperor Frederick II and King Philip II of France, and between Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV of France. The conflict of Guelphs and Ghibellines began as part of the imperial-papal struggle.
The nearest the papacy ever came to Erastianism was in the period during which the popes resided at Avignon, where they were virtually at the beck and call of the French kings. After the return of the papacy to Rome the popes generally maintained independence of temporal powers but on occasion were either influenced or coerced by king or emperor.
The Reformation introduced a great number of complicated factors into the relations of church and state. Different solutions have been found, ranging from the establishment of one particular church (as in England and the Scandinavian countries) to the total separation of church and state (as in the United States). The patterns of relation between church and state remain a living issue in today's society.In the British Isles
The most extreme form of Erastianism is seen in the Church of England (see England, Church of), of which the monarch is supreme head. This situation derives from the strongly political character of the Protestant Reformation in England. It is notable that in the early history of religious dissent, the Puritans (see Puritanism) did not wish to end the Established Church; their aim was rather to capture and control it. The church was not disestablished after the English civil war; Anglicanism, or Episcopalianism, was merely replaced by a Presbyterian establishment (although the latter was a dead letter from the beginning).
After the Restoration (1660) of the monarchy, measures were taken against the Puritans that for the first time actually excluded them from the Church of England as nonconformists. They and the Roman Catholics were the victims of religious and civil disabilities (gradually reduced) into the 19th cent. Although the state has taken less and less interest in supervising the Church of England, the connection is still very real; e.g., revisions of the Book of Common Prayer must be approved by Parliament, and appointments to all bishoprics are made by the monarch, acting on the advice of the prime minister.
John Calvin tended to a view directly opposed to that of the reforming English monarchs; in Geneva he set up a virtual theocracy with the state subordinate to the church. The Presbyterian churches (which are of Calvinist origin) have, therefore, maintained a stand for freedom of the church, and the Church of Scotland (see Scotland, Church of), which is Presbyterian, is much less under state control than is the Church of England.In the United States
The Presbyterians in the British North American colonies participated in the struggle against the institution of an established church, particularly in Virginia, but more important was the broad principle of religious toleration forwarded by Roger Williams and others. This principle, befitting the growing heterogeneity of the colonies, ultimately triumphed against both the virtual theocracy of the New England Puritans and the conservative established church of the Southern colonists. The American idea of separation of church and state—complete noninterference on both sides—expressed notably in Jefferson's Virginia statute for religious freedom and in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, emerged. In the United States today there is relatively little friction between church and state. The practical line of demarcation, however, continues to create problems, and theocratic tendencies periodically give rise to powerful lobbying efforts. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 (in City of Boerne v. Flores) struck down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, holding that in requiring a "compelling interest" for a state to in any way burden religious practice, it gave religion more protection than the Constitution required; what was notable was that the act had passed the House of Representatives unanimously. Education has been a fertile field of controversy; debates have arisen over such questions as religious education in tax-supported schools and public aid to parochial schools. By the end of 1999 federal courts were grappling with the effects of the politically fashionable school vouchers, and one had held that when a voucher system resulted in almost all recipients attending religious schools instead of public schools the system violated the Constitution.On the Continent
In Europe, the concept of separation of church and state is different from that in the United States, particularly in predominantly Roman Catholic countries. The wars of the Reformation produced, in the Peace of Augsburg (1555), a formula of cuius regio, eius religio [whose the region, his the religion], by which the ruling prince determined the religion of his territory. The compromise, curiously contrary to the idea of a universal Christian church, even more curiously corresponded to the principle practiced in Asia (e.g., the Buddhism of Asoka). It more or less prevailed in Europe after the Thirty Years War and the Peace of Westphalia (1648). Religion thus in a certain sense became a national affair, particularly in Protestant countries.
The internationalism of the Roman Catholic Church, however, prevented nationalization in Catholic countries, despite such movements as Gallicanism in France. The church, when recognized as the state church, exercised considerable influence on the government of the state. More important, perhaps, was the fact that the church and its religious orders owned much property and exerted considerable economic influence. The concordat was used as a means of regulating the relation of church and state and delimiting the spheres of respective influence. Of the modern concordats perhaps the most famous was Napoleon I's Concordat of 1801.
The opponents of clerical influence in the state, the anticlericals, in the 19th cent. agitated for the removal of clerical influence. To them the separation of church and state meant the ending of the establishment of the church and complete noninterference of the church in affairs of state but not noninterference of the state in such matters as church property and religious education. The clerical parties, on the other hand, fought to maintain establishment and property and (to some extent) the enforcement of ecclesiastical law by the civil arm.
One of the most bitter of these contests took place in France, where ultimately the anticlericals triumphed, notably in the Lois des associations (1905), which in effect placed the church under subjection to the state. In Germany the relations of church and state reached a crucial point in the Kulturkampf of Otto von Bismarck. Adolf Hitler, although he signed a concordat, undertook to reduce both Roman Catholic and Protestant churches to instruments of the National Socialist government. In Italy the Lateran Treaty, agreed to by Pius XI in 1929, ended the so-called Roman Question and secured recognition of the pope as a sovereign apart from the Italian government.In Latin America
In the Roman Catholic countries of Latin America the contests between church and state were often bitter, particularly in Mexico, where the church wielded an enormous influence. This struggle led under Plutarco E. Calles to the practical abolition of the church in Mexico and the harrying of priests in the 1920s. Adjustments since that time have tended to an approximation of the complete noninterference rule prevalent in the United States.
See A. H. Dalton, Church and State in France 1300-1907 (1907, repr. 1972); E. C. Helmreich, A Free Church in a Free State? The Catholic Church: Italy, Germany, France 1864-1914 (1964); T. G. Sanders, Protestant Concepts of Church and State (1964); A. P. Stokes and L. Pfeffer, Church and State in the United States (rev. ed. 1964); J. F. Wilson, ed., Church and State in American History (1965); J. L. Mecham, Church and State in Latin America (rev. ed. 1966); L. Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (rev. ed. 1967); H. H. Stroup, Church and State in Confrontation (1967); B. D. Hill, ed., Church and State in the Middle Ages (1970); W. Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages (3d. ed. 1970); W. M. Ramsay, The Wall of Separation: A Primer on Church and State (1989); S. Waldman, Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America (2008).
The phrase separation of church and state is generally traced to a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, in which he referred to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as creating a "wall of separation" between church and state. The phrase was then quoted by the United States Supreme Court first in 1878, and then in a series of cases starting in 1947. This led to increased popular and political discussion of the concept.
The concept has since been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society. A similar principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Norway have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism.
Roman emperors were considered divine and also occupied the highest religious office. This was challenged by Christians and Jews who acknowledged the Emperor's political authority but refused to participate in the state's religion or to recognize the emperor's divinity. While the Jews were exempted from this demand, Christians were considered enemies of the state and adherence to Christianity was punishable by death (e.g., Justin Martyr under Marcus Aurelius). At various times this resulted in violent persecutions until the Edict of Milan in 313. The Roman Empire formally became Christian by edict of Theodosius I in 380.
In the Eastern Roman Empire the Emperor had supreme power over the church and controlled its highest representative: the Patriarch of Constantinople. Eastern Orthodoxy was the state religion. When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453, the Emperor was killed. The position of head of the Orthodox Church was given to Gennadius II Scholarius by the conquering Caliph and the Ottoman ruler, Sultan Mehmed II, who continued to practice the right of the Roman Emperor to appoint the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
When the Protestant Reformation broke out, Martin Luther began to articulate 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.
In the 1530s Henry VIII, angered by the Catholic Church's refusal to annul his marriage with his wife Catherine of Aragon, decided to break with the Church and set himself as ruler of the new Church of England, The Anglican Church, ending the separation that had existed between Church and State in England.
The concept was implicit in the flight of Roger Williams from religious oppression in Massachusetts to found what became Rhode Island on the principle of state neutrality in matters of faith.
The phrase "separation of church and state" is derived from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a group identifying themselves as the Danbury Baptists. 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, who often 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, "We are teaching the world the great truth that Govts. do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Govt." This attitude is further reflected in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, originally authored by Thomas Jefferson, but 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. While both are discussed in the context of the separation of church and state, it is more often discussed in regard to whether certain state actions would amount to an impermissible government establishment of religion.
The United States Supreme Court has referenced the separation of church and state metaphor more than 25 times, first in 1878. 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. The term was used and defended heavily by the Court until the early 1970s. In Wallace v. Jaffree, Justice Rehnquist presented the view that the establishment clause was intended to protect local establishments of religion from federal interference-- a view which diminished the strong separation views of the Court. Justice Scalia has criticized the metaphor as a bulldozer removing religion from American public life.
Nevertheless, issues of free exercise are also implicated by the extent to which laws are permitted to impinge upon private religious practice. In the United States, state laws can prohibit practices such as bigamy, sex with children, human and occasionally animal sacrifice, use of drugs, or other criminal acts, even if citizens claim the practices are part of their religious belief system. However, the federal courts give close scrutiny to any state or local laws that impinge upon the bona fide exercise of religious practices. The courts ensure that genuine and important religious rights are not impeded, and that questionable practices are limited only to the extent necessary. The courts usually demand that any laws restricting religious practices must demonstrate a fundamental or "compelling" state interest such as protecting citizens from bodily harm.
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 England, there is a constitutionally established state religion but one inclusive of other faiths as well. In Norway, the King is also the leader of the state church, and the 12th article of the Constitution of Norway requires more than half of the members of the Norwegian Council of State to be members of the state church. Yet, the second article guarantees freedom of religion, while also stating that Evangelical Lutheranism is the official state religion. In countries like these, 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. One is the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell, a town located in Catalunya. He has the title of Episcopalian Coprince. Coprinces enjoy political power in terms of law ratification and constitutional court designation, among others.
Two common examples of the most active type of separation are France and Turkey. The French version of separation is called laïcité. This model of a secularist state protects the religious institutions from some types of state interference, but with public religious expression also to some extent limited. This aims to protect the public power from the influences of religious institutions, especially in public office. Religious views which contain no idea of public responsibility, or which consider religious opinion irrelevant to politics, are less impinged upon by this type of secularization of public discourse. Turkey, whose population is overwhelmingly Muslim, is also considered to have practiced the laïcité school of secularism since 1923. While France comes from a Roman Catholic tradition and Turkey from an Islamic one, secularism in Turkey and secularism in France present many similarities.
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. President Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised this approach as a "negative laicite" and wants to develop a "positive laicite" 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. Sarkozy sees France's main religions as positive contributions to French society. He was elected on a platform proposing a modernisation of the Republic's century-old principle of laicite. He visited the Pope in December 2007 and publicly acknowledged France's Christian roots, while highlighting the importance of freedom of thought , hinting that faith should come back into the public sphere.
Nevertheless, even France and Turkey present certain entanglements involving funding to certain religious institutions of the kind which has not been permitted in the United States. In Turkey for example, despite it 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.
Mexico was guided toward what was proclaimed a separation of church and state by Benito Juarez 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. To this day all churches are owned by the Government of Mexico.
Japan under the military occupation government of General Douglas Macarthur, made separation of religion and state a major priority.
The belief that authority derives from a God and diffuses downward through a monarch was promoted by the French philosopher Jean Bodin. His ideas were naturally welcomed by the Bourbon and Stuart monarchs who advocated the alleged "divine right of kings." The duty of the common people was simply to obey God and the king. This concept of Jean Bodin was contradicted by the founders of the American republic who saw the source of authority as being both the social contract (i.e. popular sovereignty) and natural law (i.e. rights "endowed by their Creator").
The discussion over the separation of church and state is often connected with the general divide between the concepts of secularism and theocracy. While the term "secularism" was first coined by the British writer George Holyoake in 1846 (more than half a century after the ratification of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and nearly as long after Jefferson's reference to the "Wall of Separation"), it has since come to denote the general concept of separating religion from other aspects of social life, and particularly from the governmental sphere. As such, outside of the United States (where Jefferson's metaphor of the "Wall of Separation" has less importance), and to some extent in the United States as well, the discussion of secularism versus theocracy has come to provide the broader rubric for discussing the relationship between religion and government.
The Catholic Church's 1983 Code of Canon law, while not laying down general rules about relations between Church and State, considers that a religious and moral education in harmony with the conscience of the pupils' parents is an integral part of education, and obliges Catholics to try to secure its inclusion: "Christ's faithful are to strive to secure that in the civil society the laws which regulate the formation of the young also provide a religious and moral education in the schools that is in accord with the conscience of the parents" (canon 799)
The work of Jesuit priest and theologian John Courtney Murray in the 1960s was significant as he developed a theological justification of the separation view based upon St. Thomas Aquinas' observation that there existed a necessary distinction between morality and civil law; that the latter is limited in its capacity in cultivating moral character through criminal prohibitions. As Murray said, "it is not the function of civil law to prescribe everything that is morally right and to forbid everything that is morally wrong.
Another formal plea for separation of church and state in England, called Religious Peace: or, a Plea for Liberty of Conscience. was written to King James by a London citizen named Leonard Busher, a man later identified as an Anabaptist. In 1868 the renowned Baptist pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon perhaps best summed up the separationist Baptist stand thusly:
American Baptists also claim as a forebear Roger Williams, who fled Massachusetts Colony in order to establish a haven for religious liberty at Providence Plantation, now Rhode Island. He had suffered persecution for his religiously nonconformist beliefs, and had witnessed the oppression of Quakers. Consequently, he set up the new colony as a place where all religions could practice freely.
In more recent years, the foremost Baptist witness in the United States for the protection of separation of church and state has been the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. An education and advocacy group in Washington, D.C., the Baptist Joint Committee is affiliated with fourteen Baptist bodies collectively representing over 10 million Baptists in the United States.
The Medieval Muslim scholar Averroes holds the view that reason and revelation do not conflict, but rather independently lead to the same truth. However, only reason provides demonstrative proofs. Averroes wrote commentaries on most Aristotelian works and defended him against allegations of self-contradiction and unbelief. Averroes himself did not consider religious institutions as separate from the state.
Even in religious Judaism there is much room for a range of political or moral views; this is only more so for secular Jews. However, even Jewish secular culture is often strongly influenced by moral beliefs deriving from Jewish scripture and tradition. In recent centuries, Jews in Europe and the Americas have traditionally tended towards the political left, and played key roles in the birth of the labor movement as well as socialism. While Diaspora Jews have also been represented in the conservative side of the political spectrum, even politically conservative Jews have tended to support pluralism more consistently than many other elements of the political right. Some scholars attribute this to the fact that Jews are not expected to proselytize, and as a result do not expect a single world-state, which differs from the beliefs of many religions, such as the Roman Catholic and Islamic traditions; rather, since in Jewish theology the religions of most nations are respected, there was never any perceived reason to convert others. This lack of a universalizing religion is combined with the fact that most Jews live as minorities in their countries, and that no central Jewish religious authority has existed for over 2,000 years. (See also the list of Jews in politics, which illustrates the diversity of Jewish political thought and of the roles Jews have played in politics.)
The French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain, taught for some years in American universities and was struck by the contrast between European and American forms of church-state separation. As Maritain noted in 1951, where separation had established itself in Europe, it denoted a "complete isolation" most unfortunate in its results. But in the United States, Maritain found separation of church and state still "compatible with good feeling and mutual cooperation." America's historical treasure, said he, was the ability to maintain sharp distinction simultaneous with cooperation between the religious and secular spheres. "Please to God that you keep it carefully, and do not let your concept of separation veer round to the European one," urged Maritain. Critics of the advance of American secularism argue essentially that Maritain's and similar warnings of the mid-20th century have gone unheeded.
The hostile model of militant secularism arose with the French Revolution and is typified in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Constitution of 1931. The hostile model can be seen as a moving toward 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 schemes in those countries are considered generally friendly. France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, however, still considers the current scheme a "negative laicite" and wants to develop a "positive laicite" more open to religion. The hostilities of the state toward religion have been seen as a cause of civil war in Spain and Mexico.