Politics and religion have always been interconnected, but the nature of their relationship has changed over the centuries. Until the 17th century, religion was one of the most critical factors determining the structure of political power and issues of war and peace. However, following the development of centralized states after 1648, the political significance of religion, both in domestic and foreign policy, has significantly decreased.
In modern realities, religion must be independent of the state, which is manifested not in ignoring state life, but in full autonomy and the possibility of talking with the authorities on an equal footing. The specific forms of the relationship between the church and the government may be different. Still, in any case, it should be a dialogue, interpenetration, and not the subordination of one to the other and not the use of one by the other. For example, in Europe, where the church is separated from power, it can still participate in the problems of the state and the state – in the issues of the church. In turn, America is an example of a country in which church and state are maximally distanced from each other.
Nevertheless, the significance of the legal provisions on state religion in the countries of the East and the countries of the West is not the same. For example, in the countries of Muslim fundamentalism, including Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, Islam is part of the state system. There are Sharia courts that sentence people to self-harm and death. Failure to observe the rituals in due time can result in severe punishment in the form of flogging. Thus, the rulers of states seek to use the church’s influence on citizens, persuading them to unconditional obedience to the regime. These actions are a direct violation of human rights and cannot be justified in the development of humanism and human freedom.
Religion can be harmed by excessive political influence and strong ties to it. According to Hennessy (n.d.), the state can propagate its ideas through the church, which can be destructive for the nation. The assumption by the church of the functions of civil authority inevitably leads to the fact that the church is forced to punish someone, to restrict someone. However, it must be open to everyone – even to criminals and people condemned by society. Thus, a deep connection with the government can harm religion, its foundations, and fundamental principles.
Hennessy, D. (n.d.). Classics of American literature. David Hennessy.