Religion and its influence on State policies

The constitutions of all republics have laid the legal foundations on secularization or the separation of religion and the state. This has been the case throughout history, especially in contemporary history.

The Renaissance, with the rise of humanism, served as the starting point for the separation of the state from the church. Any church, Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican, or Lutheran. The division of religion and politics marked the course of the action of each of these in different ways.

The Church does not intervene in public affairs nor does the State intervene in religious affairs. Thus, the advancement of civil and citizen laws, on the one hand, and freedom of worship, on the other, benefit.

What is a secular state?

A secular state is one where the church and the state, as powers, act separately. It means that the government of a given state cannot be derived from the policies or beliefs of any constituted religion. It also means that a religious leader should not be given political power as a representative of the church. But, given the corresponding powers, a religious leader can run for political office no matter which church he belongs to.

A secular state also assumes that no person should be persecuted, harassed or detained by any government or state authority for religious reasons.

Some characteristics of a secular or secular state are:

  • In a secular state, religion and politics hold separate performances and jobs.
  • The state does not favor or discriminate against any individual for their religious beliefs.
  • The state does not interfere with activities promoted by the church, as long as these comply with the laws that exist.
  • When designing, creating and applying laws, the state is not based on religion.
  • When the government makes decisions religion has no influence.
  • For the state, all religious expressions are the same, which means freedom of worship and religion.
  • The secular state maintains an impartial position in the religious sphere.
  • The secular or secular state it remains independent and outside of any religious organization. The authorities representing political power are not publicly subject to any stipulated religion.
  • For a secular state all citizens are equal, both those who believe and belong to a religion and non-believers.
  • In a secular state or secular there is no “state religion” or equivalent and religion and politics are kept separate.

Not so close nor so far apart

Since the French Revolution, the liberal revolutions and the independence of the United States, the disintegration of the “alliance between the throne and the altar” has been pursued. The redefinition of the relations between religion and politics, with the idea of ​​establishing truly secular states. A State where each estate addresses issues related to its own circles of influence.

Nevertheless, In all governments, the church’s interest in being part of the power groups has prevailed. The interest is manifested in the ambition to have legislative seats or want to belong to a ministerial portfolio. In this way, I could intervene in decision-making, creating laws and giving legal form to what happens in society.

In some countries there has been an openness towards the participation of religion in politics. The consequence has been the formation of shock groups that hinder the intentions of the civil power. Obstacles that stand in the way of moving forward and responding to a society that demands changes in the laws that govern it.

Religion and politics have formed an alliance that has fostered some achievements from social aspects. Among these achievements are the attention to extreme poverty and vulnerable social groups, and the promotion of equal opportunities. But this alliance also it has meant the freezing or paralysis of issues that are barely discussed within a parliament.

Actually, There are many issues that need to be discussed regardless of the link that exists between religion and politics. These are issues that society demands as it advances in its ideas and in the conception of its well-being.

Those issues, which are also in the sights of the media, are, among others:

  • The legal acceptance of marriage between same-sex couples.
  • Sex education in schools.
  • Voluntary termination of pregnancy.

There are nations whose constitutions offer freedom and provide spaces for the church to participate in politics. This is the case of Latin Americans where Religious groups are becoming part of the state to get involved in the formulation of public policies.

Many have criticized the fact that “the religious increasingly invades the political.” At the same time there is evidence that “secularization is increasingly far away”, the separation of politics and religion is not close to being realized.

Whatever the country, church intervention in politics has been frowned upon because the alliances have not been made with progressive religious sectors. They have not paved the way for the acceptance of proposals such as equal marriage, abortion, sex education or sexual and reproductive rights.

Where could Church and State act?

Church and State are two powers that, together with the economic, the media and the social, have remained. Each individually faces its own challenges.

However well religion and politics could act separately or jointly in generating proposals that lead to minimizing:

  • Extreme poverty.
  • Adaptation and mitigation of risks to climate change.
  • Overflowing consumerism.
  • Environmental pollution.
  • Gender equality.
  • The reduction of plastic in protected areas.
  • Health and hygiene in areas without access to drinking water.
  • The promotion of the use of alternative or renewable energies, among others.

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