The Religious Left and Church-State Relations

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Proponents on neither side like to emphasize that. But in Europe, where you have at least formally established religions in most countries, the amount of church attendance is way, way less than in the United States.

A separationist position seems to have worked well to promote religion. How have readers responded to Religion Clause? What is your goal for the blog? I have gotten feedback from people on all sides of the religious and political spectrum who find the blog useful. They are people who are working professionally in the area of church-state law or religious liberty—my impression is that most of them see the blog as a standard resource that they use and seem to trust. This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.

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"The Religious Left and Church-State Relations: A Response to Kent Gree" by Steven H. Shiffrin

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Law November 3, What a religious liberty law professor and blogger is noticing in the legal landscape. What has changed—or is changing—in church-state relations? What might be to come in church-state relations?


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First, South Africa is a deeply religious society. There appears to be a reemergence of the abuse of the trust that South Africans place in religions. This is a dangerous situation. When it does not find favour there, it reaches out to independent churches , which are the fastest growing religious groupings in the country.

Separation of Catholics and state: Mexico's divisive religious history

The rise of apartheid politics in South Africa was inextricably linked to apartheid theology. At the turn of the s the fledgling Afrikaners nation Volk developed a theology in which they viewed themselves as chosen by God for a particular task. When the National Party came to power in they had the firm backing of the white Afrikaans churches.

Particular moral and religious values practised in the church and the home, became the laws of the nation. This dangerous relationship detracted from the role of the state to protect the rights of all of its citizens, regardless of their faith. It also eroded the ministry of the church, which should hold the state accountable for its service to the people. The church also needs to be free to exercise its religious and moral mandate without political interference. These religious and moral convictions separated people according to race and privileged a minority at the expense of the majority.

We are still facing the consequences of those actions and choices. Many gave a sigh of relief when the state and the church were disentangled at the end of the apartheid era. Sadly, that form of separation was short lived. Once again a governing party, in this ANC , is crossing that line. Just before the elections Mehana, who is a very senior Methodist minister, encouraged pastors in Cape Town to solicit votes for the ANC, saying:. You cannot have church leaders that speak as if they are in opposition to government … God will liberate the people through this ANC government.

So, how did this happen again? Of course there are many complex reasons that lead political parties to want the trust, and moral sanction, of large constituencies such as churches. On the other hand, there are many church ministers and members who seek the power and opportunity that comes from being connected with political parties and party officials. But in a period in South African history when the narratives of reconciliation, forgiveness, hope and reconstruction were so central, he found a natural partner in the church for the project of rebuilding South Africa.

He said :.

What is the history of Christianity in China?

Religious communities have a vital role to play in this regard [nation building]. Just as you took leading roles in the struggle against apartheid, so too you should be at the forefront of helping to deliver a better life to all our people. Among other things you are well placed to assist in building capacity within communities for effective delivery of a better life.

Senior church leaders, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, worked alongside President Mandela in nation building initiatives. The state also became accustomed to working with faith-based organisations, which in many poor and rural communities are important, and necessary, sources of support, development aid, and social identity. But, as successive political leaders, and their political parties, came to power, their intentions seemed less honourable.

Many outspoken activists and church leaders had been co-opted into senior government and party-political posts. And formerly trusted allies, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, started facing a backlash whenever they challenged political corruption or ineptitude.