Relationship between Church and State





Relationship between Church and State

Arguing from a point of view that the separation between the church and state is currently thin, one can assume that the increased interest of the government in religious matters is only justified. Most governments had previously abandoned the welfare of their citizens up until the development of the welfare state in the late 19th century in the United States and the rest of Europe. An increased concern in religion was characterized by stringent controls over the controversial actions of the church and a subsequent increase in regulation. Life satisfaction has emerged as one of the key elements that are greatly affected by the heightened regulation of religious activity in both democratic and aristocratic environments. In turn, life satisfaction derived from religion affects the welfare and wellbeing of citizens and lowers the overall quality of life. Within liberal societies such as the United States, the issue of religious regulation and the rarity of the benefits of religion are hardly considered significant. However, for believers of different religions in regions where the government closely monitors and influences religious activity, personal religious identity is very rare and fully appreciated.

The relationship between the church and state is highly controversial especially in Asia and Eastern Europe where religions plays a major role in society and the state is highly corrupted and dysfunctional. This unstable relationship originated from the fact that the church was a key factor in leading the resistance against imperial governments. Religions possess several qualities that believers constantly seek out in the process of practicing it and these qualities offer a certain level of satisfaction to its partakers. The amount of satisfaction is dependent on the amount of liberties that the government allows citizens to enjoy. Satisfaction is a major aspect of religion and by controlling the basic liberties; the state was effectively holding the reins of satisfaction for society.

Liberties were given a high priority in the analysis of the satisfaction of religion in different countries and locations for several reasons. Some of the common liberties that affect religion include freedom of association, expression and worship. These major liberties open up opportunities for believers of different religions to a new universe that allowed religion to flourish and spread throughout the world. However, the government regularly stands in the way of most religions from realizing this nirvana. The differences in the type of governance that exists in difference states has a major effect on the extent and type of satisfaction realized. Oppressive governments were more likely to impose constraints on the level of religious activities. States such as China and Oman are well known for their hardliner and detailed approach towards allowing religious activities within their borders. For instance, China has several clauses within their constitution that prescribe what can be deemed ‘normal religious activity’. The State Administration for Religious Affairs is responsible for regulating the religious activities of Buddhists, Taoists, Catholics and Islam. Enough evidence exists that pinpoints oppressive attitudes towards unregistered religious groups such as Falung Gong and Tibetan Buddhists in China. These groups have been subjected to coerced conversion, torment and imprisonment. Of particular interest was the clause that addressed the range and nature of activities that were permitted by the state.

Normally, unconstructive interference by the government in religious activities is usually accompanied by a misuse of the state machinery to limit religious activity. By explicitly prohibiting religious activity to take part in actions that interrupted social order, damaged citizens’ health or obstructed the educational system in China, the government is in essence restricting the freedom of worship and association. By doing so, the government engages in activities that directly influence its citizens and lowers their levels of satisfaction in life. By restricting their freedom of worship and association, most citizens are unable to lead a comfortable and free lifestyle and end up desiring more from life.

The oppressed individuals perceive this subjugation as a reason to hold on to their faith more and even consider their religion as the last resort in their difficult world. Religion holds a significant sway over many people as they derive spiritual renewal from constant fellowship, preaching and studying religious literature. Spiritual health is valued by believers since human beings required spiritual nourishment. By interfering with this spiritual health, the government affects the level of satisfaction among believers that is gained from religion. Regularly, the efforts of the state to regulate religious activity often end up greatly interfering with the level of satisfaction of the afflicted religions. An example was the Ramadan season in China where the government maintained that all restaurants were to be kept open and that there would be free meals for state employees. The problem arose when some Muslim state employees were forced to eat meals while they were on a fast. This regulation was oppressive to Muslims as it interfered with their religious practice of fasting during Ramadan season. Furthermore, Islam Imams were also forcibly converted into political lecturers. By codifying these successive oppressive episodes into the law, these particular governments send out a message that coercion will be part of the everyday life of its citizens. The mere expectation that their religious life would be permanently altered is enough to cause deep-seated psychological trauma that is tantamount to low levels of satisfaction.


It is important to realize that while religion and religious institutions play a major role in society, they are also at fault for condoning activities and environments that disrupt social roles and bring about chaos in society. For a start, the church, mosque or temple as the worldly representation of religion is seldom covered by the state regulations that apply to all other institutions such as schools, offices and hospitals. These religious institutions are not subject to random or scheduled inspections, they seldom comply with civil laws and they are not obligated to pay taxes to the IRS. To that extent, religious institutions can be perceived as agents of disarray within the society and therefore, controlling their activities would be deemed beneficial to the state and the society. People depend on religion for several reasons for instance, escaping from the difficulties in life and handling spiritual demands despite these negative accusations proposed by the state. The apparent ‘war on religion’ waged by bureaucrats and media personalities sought to paint religion as an intimidating and discriminative institution. These state exceptions have been in place for several centuries, initially for Christians but later applied to other religions with the increase in religious diversity. Many of these exceptions have been codified giving religion an upper hand to manipulate society as they deem fit.

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