Separation of church and state
The separation of church and state describes a canonical model in which state and religious communities are not connected as, for example, in a theocracy. These separation models can vary.
The term is most likely an offshoot of the phrase, "wall of separation between church and state," as written in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists Association in 1802.
The concept of separation has since been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society.
However, most Western states, and especially member states of the European Union, have adopted this separation at least formally and mainly through articles in their constitution. This makes the following debate even more surprising:
Religion and Democracy
God meets the Lawyers by Charlemagne
From "The Economist", which, by the way, has absolutely no tradition to glorify the Catholic Church.
"TWENTY-FIVE European foreign ministers sat around the table in Naples last weekend. But an unseen presence hovered in the room: God. A spot of divine inspiration is always handy when ministers start arguing about the draft constitution for the European Union, but this time it was God Himself who was the topic of debate. For one of the most controversial issues is whether to include an explicit reference to Christianity in the statement of values that serves as a preamble to the constitution."
"[…] Arguments about religion and fundamental values do not sound like the sort of thing that can be settled by clever legal drafting. But this is the EU - a compromise is already in the works. The Italians, who are chairing the constitutional negotiations, suggest that the final text might refer both to Christianity and to the secular nature of the modern European state."
"[…] How neat. And how uninspiring. For beyond the argument about Christianity, European leaders should really be debating whether their constitution needs a preamble at all. Mr Giscard d'Estaing's original plan was to come up with something as inspiring and memorable as the preamble of the American constitution, which reads:
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
"[…] Unfortunately, where the Founding Fathers came up with a single, stirring sentence, the Giscard preamble rambles on for six paragraphs. Like an over-ambitious student essay it starts with a quotation from Thucydides (in the original Greek):
"Our constitution...is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority, but of the greatest number."
The preamble continues with some utterly forgettable sentiments about civilisation, culture, prosperity and other excellent ideas, and ends with a vote of thanks to none other than Mr Giscard d'Estaing and his colleagues. That the EU emerged above all as a reaction to two world wars is only tacitly acknowledged in a sideways reference to the determination of Europeans to "transcend their ancient divisions".
A British diplomat struggling to summarise the significance of the preamble writes that it is 'pompous and pretentious, but at first view not actively dangerous.' Few other readers seem able to muster more enthusiasm. Mr Giscard d'Estaing has suggested hopefully that future generations of European schoolchildren might learn the preamble by heart. But this would seem to be in contradiction of Article II-4 of the constitution's Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states clearly that 'no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.'
The best suggestion in Naples came from the Finnish delegation. They proposed putting the entire preamble in the bin. Come to think of it, haven't a few atavistic curmudgeons suggested doing just that with the whole constitution?" [Dec 4th 2003, The Economist]