On separation of Church and State

I believe in absolute separation of church and state. What I mean by this is absolute separation of the church from the state and absolute separation of the state from the church. Never do I believe that the intertwining of any religious institution with the state can benefit society at large. We all know examples of where there is no separation of the state from the church. We see this now in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights are horrendously oppressed. In Saudi Arabia conversion from Islam to another religion is punishable by death. Gay people are forced to become surgically transexual (even though gender identity and sexual orientation are completely separate) or face execution, etc. etc. Many proponents of even minor theocracy, who advocate only some separation of of the church from the state argue that examples such as these are the result of Islam, and somehow not a Christian issue. But historically this is not true, one only has to look at the oppressive theocratic institutions of the dark ages to see that such a claim is not mutually exclusive. The theocratic state, by definition oppresses all non-adherents to the dominant state religion from which the state derives it’s power. There is also the issue, which is of equal importance, of the separation of the state from the church. This became an issue, historically only relatively recently in the course of human development. With the progression of science, humanity leaves behind the superstitious ideals and explanations for natural phenomenon, though they do not in essence discredit religious beliefs. The emergence of ‘state atheism’ justified by the strictest dialectical materialistic viewpoint of the world in so-called ‘Marxist’ states. This, often oppressive version of Marxism-Leninism has been called the “bastardization of Leninism” (though even Lenin himself was a proponent of state atheism to a certain extent) by critics like myself who are very critical of Stalinism but still see the need for real egalitarianism, such as those proposed by Marx and Engels in the modern day. The worst cases of this historically took place in Albania during the 1960’s when all religious institutions were completely destroyed by the state, thus making it the world’s ‘first atheist state’. Even in modern day China and the DPRK (North Korea) we see heavy regulations on religion (i.e. requirements to register to practice religion, religious adherents forbidden from running for office, the destruction of ‘Sunday school’, and even limitations on religious doctrines). Cuba however, by and large has lifted it’s former religious restrictions which is certainly something worth mentioning. Given the atrocities of the lack of the separation of the church from the state AND the state from the church I have come to the conclusion that the absolute separation of church and state is the only way forward. Officially the state should hold no positions on religious affairs, neither theistic or atheistic. I hesitate as the whether to even call this ideal stance on religion state agnosticism as even that would imply that the state favors agnosticism over theism or atheism. Thus, I call this religious neutrality, or a religiously neutral state. Such is the nature of separation of church and state.

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