Separation of church and state

principle to separate religious and civil institutions

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.

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  • If the Church were to start transforming herself into a directly political subject, ... she would do less, not more, for the poor and for justice, because she would lose her independence and her moral authority, identifying herself with a single political path and with debatable partisan positions. The Church is the advocate of justice and of the poor, precisely because she does not identify with politicians nor with partisan interests. Only by remaining independent can she teach the great criteria and inalienable values, guide consciences and offer a life choice that goes beyond the political sphere. To form consciences, to be the advocate of justice and truth, to educate in individual and political virtues: that is the fundamental vocation of the Church in this area. And lay Catholics must be aware of their responsibilities in public life; they must be present in the formation of the necessary consensus and in opposition to injustice.
    • Pope Benedict XVI, in Origins, published by National Catholic News Service, vol. 37, p. 22
  • Apparently because religion in the modern West is separate from political and economic affairs—indeed, more or less subject to an agreement not to conflict with political and economic affairs—scholarly constructions often simply ignore (or avoid) implications in the sources of engagement with political-economic affairs, particularly any implications of conflict with the dominant political-economic order.
    • Richard Horsley, "Paul's assembly in Corinth: an alternative society," in Urban Religion in Corinth (Harvard: 2005), pp. 374-375
  • Islamic revival sought the reunification of the spiritual with the social-political, and of contemporary life with cultural traditions, against the western imperialism that was forcing their separation.
    • Richard Horsley, Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (2003), p. 52
  • Islam chose to unite earth and heaven in a single system, present both in the heart of the individual and the actuality of society, recognizing no separation of practical exertion from religious impulse. ... The center of its being and the field of its action is human life in its entirety, spiritual and material, religious and worldly. Such a religion cannot continue to exist in isolation from society, nor can its adherents be true Muslims unless they practice their faith in their social, legal and economic relationships.

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