Unpacking church-state separation
The aim is to make sure that Human Rights always take precedence over religious demands. But how is this to be done? This useful list shows what the separation of religion and the state means in practice. Religion is protected from interference by the state - and vice versa.
The wish-list below for a secular society concerns itself with the nuts and bolts of church-state separation.
- There should be no established state religion.
- The state should not fund religious activities.
- The state should not fund religious proselytising in any form and the provision of all services using public money should be religiously neutral.
- The state should not prescribe, proscribe, or amend religious doctrine.
- The state should not interfere in religious hierarchies, nor interfere in issues strictly related to membership.
- No action by the state should have the primary effect of engaging in religious practice.
- No state action should have the primary effect of restricting religious practice.
- The state should not express any religious beliefs in any publication, speech or implement of state power such as currency, sworn testimony, oath of fealty to the state, or endorsements of national pride. The state should not imply any derivation of authority from any religious authority, nor should it express temporal supremacy in relation to religious belief or practice.
- Political leaders should not express religious preferences in the course of their duties.
- No religion or denomination should have the power to prescribe, proscribe, or amend civil or common law.
"The creation of a just and equitable secular society in Britain"
National Secular Society, Annual Report 2008, p. 16. http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/35490ed5ea6c32b616849016.pdf