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Basic Principles of Democratic Governance ? Why is the Concept of Separation of Church and State Important

The separation of church and state is one of the important principles upon which democratic constitutions are based. The concept rose at the onset of the Renaissance, from the indomitable hold of the Roman Catholic Church in world affairs. People felt that for a tolerant government, that is, a democratic government to thrive, the religious convictions must not be a factor in shaping national policies.

This concept was also held to be acceptable because of the fact that most democratic societies like the United States of America are not members of a single church – there are Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Moslems and the like, all of whom are major chunks of the population. Thus, the concept was further reinforced.

Throughout the decades, it has been shown that the definition of this concept is murky at best. This is due to the fact that a majority of a person’s beliefs is derived from his or religious affiliation (or non-affiliation, depending on the way one looks at it). Hence, there ensued an inevitable clash between the constitutional fundamentalists, and the average American. Just look at any coin and you can see the phrase, “In God We Trust.”

It is true that the society’s moral fiber is being stretched too thin, so that many advocacy groups call for the reordering the code of ethics of citizenship. However, one must realize that to formulate a public policy is to promulgate regulations that are based on tenets which are subscribed to by everyone. Hence, a policymaker cannot quote the bible to support his propositions, as there are many Americans who are not Christians to begin with. That is something that many of us must understand.

Instead of forcing our own beliefs on others, let us learn to respect every person’s religious disposition. If we feel that what we want to happen is right, and then let us find ways to impose them on people who share the same outlook. Democracy is all about respecting every human being for who he or she its, and not for his or her faith.





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