Church-State Relations and Secularization
Throughout history there has developed a variety of relationships between Christian churches and governments, sometimes harmonious and sometimes conflictual. The major forms of relationships between Christian churches and governments are in large measure grounded in various perspectives in the Christian Bible. The Christian Bible is not a single book, but a collection of books written over more than a millennium and containing very diverse perspectives on religion and government.
One perspective, represented by the Psalms, which were hymns sung in the Temple in Jerusalem, exalts the king to an almost divine position, sitting at the right hand of God (Ps 110:1) and receiving the nations of the earth for an inheritance (Ps 2:8). Coronation hymns celebrate the king’s special relationship to God. This perspective dominates the self-understanding of the kings of Judah, the southern part of ancient Israel.
In sharp contrast, the prophet Samuel denounces kings as crooks and oppressors who are allowed by God only as a concession to human sinfulness. Samuel warns the tribes of Israel that if they choose to have a king, the king will draft their young men into his army and put the young women to work in his service. In this trajectory, prophets, armed only with the conviction that they have been called by God to proclaim the Word of God, repeatedly stand up to the kings of ancient Israel and denounce their sinfulness. Thus Samuel condemns Saul, Nathan condemns David, and later prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah condemn the kings of their times.
Meanwhile, in the Gospel of John, Jesus tells the Roman governor Pontius Pilate that his kingdom does not belong to this world (Jn 18:36). This suggests a separation of responsibilities between civil governance and religious leadership. Repeatedly in the gospels, when people want to make Jesus a king, he slips through their midst and escapes. His mission is to proclaim the reign of God, not to establish a worldly kingdom.
There are also various covenants that set forth the relationship of God and God’s people (Gen 9:8-17; 15:18-21; Ex 20; Deut 5); a covenant in the ancient Middle East was a solemn agreement that bound both parties to observe certain obligations. The covenant with Noah was made by God with all of creation. The covenant with Abraham initiated a relationship with Abraham and his descendants forever. The covenant made with Moses at Mt. Sinai became the central framework for the relationship of the people of Israel to God. The Book of Deuteronomy renews and reflects upon this covenant a generation later, as Moses is at the end of his life.
These four options would shape, respectively, later Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist views of the proper relation between church and state. The political theologies of the later Christian tradition consist in large measure of a series of conflicting appropriations of these perspectives. One can read the major political options taken by later Christian communions as developing one or more of the biblical trajectories. The Byzantine Orthodox tradition and some aspects of the Roman Catholic tradition continue the tradition of sacred kingship. Later strands of the Roman Catholic tradition view earthly rulers as prone to corruption and in need of repeated rebuke by religious leaders, such as popes. The Lutheran tradition focuses on Jesus’s statement to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world and concludes that there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of God, which is ruled by the gospel, and the kingdom of this world, which is ruled by civil governments. The Calvinist tradition focused on covenant in a way that none of the earlier traditions had done, placing covenant at the center of relationships both with God and with other human beings. In this lecture, I will not discuss the original biblical texts themselves, but I would like to explore the way in biblical perspectives have guided later Christian political theologies.
The ideology of the Judean monarchy, with its lofty view of the monarch as favored by God and called to mediate divine justice in the world would shape the Byzantine Orthodox tradition’s view of the Emperor as a sacred figure with responsibility for the empire and the church together. Psalm 110 proclaims: “The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool” (110:1). That is, God says to the king: be enthroned beside me. This strand of the Bible sees God as entrusting a special responsibility to the king, which included particular care for the rights of widows and orphans, who were usually the most vulnerable persons in the ancient world. In this perspective, kings are divinely chosen beings with both rights and responsibilities of proper rule.
This perspective would influence later Eastern Christian views of church-state relations. For example, after Constantine had unified the Roman Empire in the early fourth century and made Christianity legal, the fourth-century bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine described the Emperor who was formally only a candidate for reception into the church, as receiving, “as it were, a transcript of divine sovereignty” from God and directing the administration of the entire world, including the church, in imitation of God (Life of Constantine). That is, Constantine had a divinely given responsibility to govern not only the Roman Empire but also the Church. This view of a sacred emperor would shape the self-understanding of Byzantine Emperors until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the self-understanding of the Russian Czars until 1917. All of the first seven ecumenical councils—meetings of bishops from throughout the world--acknowledged by the Byzantine Orthodox and Catholics were called by Roman Emperors and were presided over by them or their legates. If the pope did not wish to have a council, pressure would be applied. In the sixth century CE, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian wanted to call a council, but Pope Vigilius disagreed with him. Justinian had Vigilius kidnapped by the Byzantine police while he was saying Mass and held until he agreed to the council. Then the council was held in Constantinople, where Justinian wanted it, not in Sicily, where Pope Vigilius wanted it. At the end of the council Vigilius did not like the idea of condemning men who had died two centuries earlier in communion with the church. Justinian applied further pressure to the Latin clergy, and Vigilius eventually accepted the Condemnation of various bishops from two hundred years earlier.
The model of sacred kingship would also dominate early medieval Western views of kings and emperors from the eighth to the eleventh centuries. During the first millennium of Christian history, lay rulers, inspired by the ideology of the Judean monarchy, regularly called bishops and popes to account for their misdeeds and had recognized authority to depose unworthy ecclesiastical leaders and appoint new ones. In one year alone, 1046, Emperor Henry III, imbued with the divinely given mission of sacred kingship, deposed three popes (Sylvester III, Benedict IX, and Gregory VI) and appointed a new pope, Clement II. Before his death in 1056, Henry would appoint three more popes. There is certainly the danger of abuse of power here, but there was also a genuine concern that the papacy not be dominated by corrupt Roman nobility. This tradition leaves a heritage that challenges Christian political leaders to accountability to God for the way they enforce justice in this world and charges them with responsibility for good governance of the Church. During the first millennium popes from Gelasius I onward would insist on a distinction between sacred and secular authority in order to limit the role of Emperors in the church.
Like Samuel and other prophets who challenged the pretensions of biblical monarchs, Augustine rejected Eusebius’s exaltation of a Christian Roman Emperor and the entire model of sacred kingship. Like Samuel, Augustine thought earthly rulers were largely thieves and saw monarchy as a tragic necessity because of human sinfulness and not as directly willed by God. Augustine believed that no form of government could assure true justice in this world, and he questioned: “Justice removed, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers? What are bands of robbers but little kingdoms?” Empires in principle are not Christian. This perspective would buttress the Gregorian Reform in the eleventh century, when a series of popes and reformers would reject the model of sacred kingship. Pope Gregory VII, echoing Samuel and Augustine, insisted that kings are largely thugs and oppressors who need to be called to accountability by religious leaders and who can be deposed by papal authority. The inability of either popes or emperors completely to dominate Europe would lead to new distinctions between secular and sacred in the twelfth century and in later medieval and early modern thought. From about the year 1100 on, emperors and pro-imperial apologists insist on a distinction between the sacred and the secular to limit the power of the papacy in politics. The suspicion of great empires as great robbers that need to be called to account by religious leaders would inform the battles of popes against emperors and kings for centuries and hovers in the background of Pope John Paul II’s challenge to the Soviet Empire on his trip to Poland in 1979 and his eloquent defense of human rights against oppressive governments around the world.
The claim of papal authority over kings and nations could manifest itself in dangerous ways as well. In Psalm 2, God promises the king: “I will give you the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession. You shall rule them with an iron rod; you shall shatter them like an earthen dish.” Even though never fulfilled in ancient times, that promise, buttressed by the conquest narratives of the Hebrew Bible, lived on in Christian memory, and fifteenth-century popes saw themselves as the trustees of this inheritance. In 1452, as the Portuguese were inaugurating their journeys of discovery and conquest, Pope Nicholas V granted to the king of Portugal the right to conquer and enslave the entire non-Christian world: “In the name of our apostolic authority, we grant to you the full and entire faculty of invading, conquering, expelling and reigning over all the kingdoms, the duchies . . . of the Saracens, of pagans and of all infidels, wherever they may be found; of reducing their inhabitants to perpetual slavery, of appropriating to yourself those kingdoms and all their possessions, for your own use and that of your successors” (Nicholas V, Dum Diversas, 1452; quoted in Peter Schineller, A Handbook of Inculturation, 34). In 1493 and again in 1494, shortly after the discovery of the New World, Pope Alexander VI drew a line on the map of the Americas, marking a partition between the areas that Spain and Portugal could dominate. The dream of empire, inspired by biblical promises, would shape centuries of modern colonial history.
During the Reformation, the two major Protestant traditions rejected both the Byzantine Orthodox and the Roman Catholic models, but they drew sharply contrasting visions of politics from the Bible. Citing the Gospel of John, where Jesus denies that his kingdom belongs to this world, Martin Luther used the distinction between two kingdoms as a central principle structuring his theology. Luther insisted that God rules God’s own people by the Gospel and God rules those outside the church by the Law (“Secular Authority: To What Extent It Should be Obeyed,” in Dillenberger, 368). However, Christians remain sinners throughout their lives, and so God also rules Christians by the Law insofar as they are sinners and part of a sinful society. Luther shared Augustine’s and Samuel’s skepticism about earthly rulers, but he interpreted Paul’s Letter to the Romans (chapter 13) as calling the Christian to obey even rulers whose policies offend a Christian conscience. He insisted on freedom to preach the Word of God, but he generally trusted governmental authorities to rule the temporal realm. In the later history of Lutheranism, contrary to Luther’s intention, the Lutheran church was generally subservient to the state, and the state often supervised ecclesiastical governance.
In contrast to all the earlier models, John Calvin placed the covenant at the center of his political theology, with implications that would echo through much of European and American history. For Calvinists, covenants governed relations not only between God and Christians but also between earthly rulers and their subjects. In various countries the Calvinist tradition developed a forceful critique of monarchy based on the mutual obligations of each party. For Calvin, God alone is truly king, and all humans are radically fallen and subject to constant temptations to idolatry. No figure, whether pope or emperor or king or even a Protestant preacher, can claim infallible, final authority. Since rulers are forever tempted to rebel against God, all earthly power must be limited. Calvin distrusted democracy because a majority can be just as tyrannical as an individual, and he thought democracy could easily lead to sedition. He judged that in a fallen world, no single figure can be trusted, and thus all political powers must be checked by the self-interest of others. He advocated a mixture of aristocracy and democracy, a model that would be very influential on political developments in North America.
Calvinists often suffered attacks and persecutions. After the St. Bartholemew’s Day Massacre in France, when Roman Catholics murdered thousands of Protestants, Theodore Beza, Calvin’s most faithful disciple, proclaimed the sovereignty of the people, the right of revolution, and the binding nature of a constitution. Presbyterians in Scotland insisted on mutual responsibilities of the covenant as a way of limiting the powers of the Stuart monarchs. When Mary Stuart accused John Knox of grasping for power, he denied the charge and insisted: “My one aim is that Prince and people alike shall obey God.” (Ernst Troeltsch, The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, vol. 2, p. 634). The rebellion against King Charles I began in Scotland with the proclamation of the National Covenant. Precisely because covenants spelled out mutual obligations for both ruler and the ruled, they could become the basis for rebellion and revolution when the terms were judged to have been violated. Through reflection on covenants in the Hebrew Bible and on natural law, Calvinists influenced early modern theories of government based upon a social contract and thus relying upon the consent of the governed.
Calvin saw the Gospel as a transformative social power, and there is a militant utopianism in Calvin’s vision of Christianity that would change the world. Geneva was to be the New Jerusalem. Puritans frustrated by the Stuart monarchs in England brought this energy and vision to New England, determined to build the city on the hill to inspire the world. Puritans understood themselves as the new Israelites fleeing slavery and coming to the Promised Land. As in earlier papal and imperial models, there was a negative side to the appropriation of biblical promises. Remembering that the ancient Israelites were instructed to destroy other tribes lest they tempt them to worship other gods, Puritan settlers viewed Native Americans as temptations to sin and sought to exterminate them or, at least, contain them in separate areas, reservations that were called “praying towns” (Richard Slotkin, Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier 1600-1860, 40-42). When the Puritan Revolution in England failed in 1660, Puritans in America gave up hope for Europe and saw themselves as the millennial people, with a divine mission to convert the world after the failures in Europe.
Secularization and Religious Freedom in North America
Thus far we have seen the major models of church-state relations through the 17th century. Every pre-modern government with which I am familiar looked to religion for a source of legitimation. Emperors, kings, sultans, aristocrats all claimed to rule by the will of God. In China emperors ruled through the Confucian notion of the Mandate of Heaven. Buddhist kings cultivated harmonious relationships with Buddhist monasteries to demonstrate their devotion and piety. All this came under suspicion in early modern Europe.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, European Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, fought a series of bitter and bloody wars of religion. Each side claimed to be fighting on behalf of God; each side assumed that an empire, a nation, or a smaller polity should be unified in its religious belief and practice. Only a small minority of Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries believed in religious freedom for each individual according to the person’s own conscience. Because religious convictions were so strong, and because religion was embedded in manifold political, social, and economic relations, the conflicts were relentless and merciless. The Thirty Years’ War in Germany, which raged from 1618 to 1648, began as a religious conflict among Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists. By the end the war was more political than religious, with Catholic France intervening on the side of the Protestants to weaken the Holy Roman Emperor; but the damage had been done. There were atrocities against civilian populations on all sides. This was the bloodiest war on the continent of Europe prior to World War I. Meanwhile, about the same time, England went through an extremely vicious, bloody civil war, which killed a higher percentage of the population of England than did World War I.
In the wake of these wars of religion, thinking people increasingly began to question whether religion could or should be trusted with the task of legitimating any form of government. Enlightenment thinkers began to reflect on the virtue of religious tolerance, of respecting the liberty of conscience of others in matters religious. They also began to reflect on the possibility of separating church from state.
About this same time, in the British colonies in North America, some began to question the wisdom of government regulation of religion. In New England Roger Williams surveyed the bitter history of religious conflicts in Europe since the time of Constantine and concluded that imposing religious loyalties was a violation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Williams interpreted Jesus’s parable of the wheat and the weeds as forbidding Christians to attack those with whom they disagreed. Williams daringly judged the Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire, to have been more of a danger than Nero, who had persecuted Christians. Under Nero, Christians had heroically suffered and died; with Constantine, Christians took power, became corrupted, and began to impose Christianity by governmental authority. Williams also argued that it was unjust for the King of England to pretend to have the right to give away lands where Native Americans had lived for centuries. For Williams, the fact that Native Americans had different religious practices did not deprive them of their right to their homeland.
In 1635 Williams was banished from Massachusetts as a dissenter. The following year he moved south, where he purchased land from Native American Indians and established a new community, Rhode Island, as a “haven for the cause of conscience,” founded on the principle of religious liberty for all. His ideal of religious freedom or, in his phrase, “soul liberty” was fiercely opposed by the Puritans in Massachusetts but would stand as a model for later generations.
About the same time, Lord Baltimore founded Maryland as a refuge for Catholics fleeing persecution in England. Purchasing land from Native American Indians, he intended the colony to be a home for followers of all Christian paths, and the charter founding the colony offered equal rights in religious freedom to all. In 1649 the Maryland Assembly passed a Toleration Act offering freedom of conscience to all Christians. The example of guaranteeing religious freedom spread to other colonies as well, with similar charters of religious liberty in New Jersey in 1664, in Carolina in 1665, and in Pennsylvania in 1682. There was increasing momentum in the colonies to end government interference in religious practice and to accept a variety of forms of faith.
The Americans who fought the Revolutionary war were struggling for religious liberty as well as for political liberty. The quest for religious freedom came from both the tradition of dissenting Protestantism and also Enlightenment ideals of religious toleration. Many of the founders of the United States of America were strongly influenced by the European Enlightenment, with its suspicion of Christianity, its critique of the wars of religion, its deist faith, and its doubts about any claims for supernatural revelation. Thomas Jefferson thought that the alliance of clergy and political officials inevitably led to tyranny, and he believed that clergymen should not be allowed to any hold political office. On occasion he excoriated them as “the real Anti-Christ.” In return, some New England preachers attacked Jefferson himself as the Anti-Christ and warned that if he were elected president, he would commandeer all Bibles and establish houses of prostitution in the churches. Jefferson and George Washington, like many of their contemporaries, were deists, for whom the natural religion of humankind provided the ultimate answer to the conflicts among particular religions. For both, religious freedom was indispensable for human progress. As military commander, Washington forbade the celebration of the English anti-Catholic feast, Pope’s Day, on November 5, 1775, at a time when he was seeking support from French-speaking Catholics in Canada. Ben Franklin was deeply influenced by Deism and is often considered a deist; but he shaped his own idiosyncratic view of natural religion, with a plurality of deities under the direction of one supreme deity. Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington would quietly attend Christian church services without believing traditional theology; more radical deists such as Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, and Elihu Palmer, rejected Christianity more thoroughly, criticizing the Bible for its multiple contradictions and substituting a religion of nature for Christian practice.
While many of the founding fathers were deists of one form or another, American Protestants also contributed strongly to the revolution and interpreted the establishment of the new nation in religious terms. Indeed, the evangelical revival movement known as the First Great Awakening in the early eighteenth century did much to foster communication among the colonies, to establish awareness of a new shared American identity in contrast to the British, and also to arouse evangelical Protestant hostility to Anglican and Catholic forms of worship, thereby paving the way for revolt against the British king. The Puritan practice of interpreting the settlement in North America as a fulfillment of promises in the Book of Revelation was influential on supporters of the Revolution.
In Virginia the Church of the England was the established Church, and all other forms of worship were forbidden. The young James Madison was deeply shocked by the imprisonment of traveling Baptist preachers who openly expressed their religious beliefs in Virginia; he would later become one of the leaders in the quest for full religious liberty. Madison asserted, “Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm to extinguish religious discord. . . . Time has at length revealed the true remedy.” The remedy for Madison and his colleagues was full religious liberty and the separation of church and state.
The founders of the new nation resolved that the bitter religious wars of Europe should not be replicated on American soil. George Mason was the chief author of Virginia Declaration of Rights, which declared “all men should enjoy the fullest Toleration in the Exercise of Religion according to the Dictates of Conscience.” The Bill of Rights for the Commonwealth of Virginia, approved on June 12, 1776, was a landmark achievement, the first such list of rights in history.
On July 4, 1788, a parade in Philadelphia celebrated the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Clergy from various Christian denominations marched together and with them, arm, in arm, a Jewish rabbi. One observer, Dr. Benjamin Rush, commented, “There could not have been a more happy emblem contrived, of the section of the new constitution, which opens all its powers and offices alike, not only to every sect of Christians, but to worthy men of every religion.” Two years later George Washington visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, which still stands as the oldest synagogue in the United States. The Jewish community thanked him and the new government for “generously affording to all liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship”; Washington, in reply, affirmed that the U.S. government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” and he went on to distinguish the religious toleration granted by the British and other European governments (often on condition that Jews “improve”) from the American recognition of religious liberty as an inherent natural right. In principle, followers of all religious traditions were to be fully equal citizens in the United States of America.
Secularization in the United States was not hostile to religion but allowed a free range of religious debate. One can read the history of the United States in terms of four Great Awakenings, each of which was linked to a movement of social or political reform. Alexis de Tocqueville would note the paradox that in Europe churches were established but languishing. In the United States, by contrast, no church was established, and all were flourishing. The free competition among Protestant churches called forth creativity and vitality.
France and the Papal Reaction
A few years after the American Revolution, another revolution began in France, which became far bloodier both in attacking established religion and also in devouring its own children. Because the Catholic Church was intimately intertwined with the ancien regime, the old way of life in France, the French Revolution targeted Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, churches and monasteries. Many Catholic leaders were killed, churches were turned into museums—as is the case with the Pantheon in Paris to the present day—monastery farmlands were confiscated by the French Republic and put up for sale to support the Revolution and its armies. The model of secularization in France was very, very different from that in the United States. Because the Catholic Church had been so powerfully established for centuries, the program of secularization aimed to eliminate the influence of the Catholic Church from the political sphere for the sake of laicité. This heritage lives on to the present day, continuing to shape relations between the French government and religions.
Catholic leaders in Europe saw the French Revolution as a direct attack upon the Catholic Church, and this prompted a profound suspicion of modernity and its newly proclaimed democratic ideals. Napoleon, after all, had humiliated Pope Pius VII, taking him as a virtual prisoner into France in 1808. Napoleon, in the presence of the pope, crowned himself emperor, thereby signaling that the pope had no role whatsoever to play. Many thought that this would be the end of the papacy. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, the victorious European powers gathered at the Congress of Vienna to plan the future of Europe. The pope sided with the forces of reaction. It was commented that the victorious European leaders had “forgotten nothing and learned nothing.” In this context, the papacy returned to a position of prominence and renewed vigor, albeit on the side of the forces of reaction in Europe.
In this atmosphere, a French Catholic priest, Felicité Robert de Lamennais, sought to accept the ideals of democracy, separation of church and state, and freedom of speech, of the press and of religion into Catholicism. He argued against the interference of governments in religious matters and supported revolutions to transform society. Pope Gregory XVI vigorously condemned him and the ideals of modernity. Pope Gregory condemned democracy, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and freedom of the press. In a wordplay on the French term for railroads, “chemins de fer” (roads of iron), he even condemned railroads as “chemins de l’enfer”—the roads of hell. His successor, Pope Pius IX, was originally more positively disposed toward the reform movements in Europe, but after the Revolution of 1848 killed his Priume Minister and forced him to flee Rome in disguise, Pope Pius turned vehemently against the ideals of the modern world. In 1864 Pope Pius IX issued the Syllabus of Errors, which repeated earlier papal condemnations of modern ideals, and concluding by a famous condemnation of the notion that “the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and comes to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.”
During this time the Italian movement known as the Risorgimento was fighting to unify Italy into a modern nation. The pope had ruled the central portion of Italy, known as the Papal States, for centuries. By the time of the pontificate of Pius IX, this territory was reduced to the city of Rome, which was effectively defended by French troops. When in 1870 Prussia invaded France, the French troops were called home and the Italian General Garibaldi was able to capture Rome for the new Italian nation.
In protest, the pope declared himself a “prisoner of the Vatican” and refused to leave its precincts for the rest of his life. This precedent was followed for decades. The loss of temporal power profoundly transformed the papacy. For centuries popes had been not only spiritual leaders but also the temporal governors of Rome and central Italy. As such, they were involved in constant political squabbles and frequently papal armies fought in battles for land and power. Popes intervened on the side of their own families and were perceived as partisan political leaders. The papal states were long thought to be necessary to preserve the independence of the pope from domination by a temporal ruler.
In 1870 the worst nightmare of the popes came to pass. Pope Pius IX lost all the temporal possessions except for the Vatican itself. Pius refused any negotiations with the new Italian natgion. Finally, in 1929 Pope Pius XI would sign a Concordat with Benito Mussolini, officially establishing the relationship between the Holy See and the nation of Italy.
Paradoxically, however, the loss of the Papal States was one of the greatest possible blessings for the papacy. Once freed from the responsibilities of ruling the central portion of Italy, popes were eventually able to become respected moral and spiritual leaders on an unprecedented global level. This came to fruition in the middle and late 20th c. Pope John XXIII, who served as pope from 1958 to 1963, was beloved by many, many people beyond the borders of the Catholic Church. He was, in a sense, the grandfather to the world, a kindly, spiritual man who spoke vigorously for peace and the welfare of the poor. During the Cuban missile crisis in the fall of 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union came the closest they ever did to nuclear war, Pope John XXIII served as an intermediary, passing messages between them. Pope John also called the Second Vatican Council, an ecumenical council of all the Catholic bishops from around the world, which met in Rome between 1962 and 1965.
It was at the Second Vatican Council that the Catholic Church rethought its relation to the modern world, to religious freedom, to governments, and to other religions, including Islam. Conservative bishops and Cardinals argued that the Catholic Church could not change the teachings of centuries. But on a number of important issues, the overwhelming majority of the bishops, supported first by Pope John XXIII and then, after his death, by his successor Pope Paul VI, disagreed. The Church issued the Declaration of Religious Freedom in 1965. It affirmed the right of every human being to follow his or her conscience in deciding which religious path to follow. It abandoned the earlier desire of the Catholic Church to be recognized as the one Church in a nation and sought only freedom to proclaim the gospel.
One of the most influential contributors to this declaration was an American priest, a member of the religious order known as the Society of Jesus, John Courtney Murray. He had earlier argued that Catholic moral theology, based on natural law, was in harmony with the ideals of the American Revolution. At the time of his writing, this was considered to be a dangerous opinion by authorities in the Vatican, and he was ordered not to write further on the topic. However, at the Second Vatican Council, Murray emerged as one of the most influential advisors to the bishops and an architect of the declaration.
Pope Paul VI, together with the Second Vatican Council, issued the Declaration of Religious Freedom in the fall of 1965. He emerged as a major world leader. He traveled to New York City in 1965, where he spoke eloquently at the United Nations. Pope Paul VI’s speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations has been hailed as the climax of his career. Pope Paul was also active in seeking peace around the world, including meetings with President Lyndon Johnson of the U.S. and the Secretary General of the UN, U Thant, working for an end to the war in Vietnam.
Archbishop Karol Wojtyla from Cracow, Poland, a participant in the Second Vatican Council, was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Declaration on Religious Freedom. He had long been involved in the tensions and difficulties of the Catholic Church with the Communist government in Poland. He welcomed the church’s demand not to be officially established but only for religious freedom. He would use the Church’s affirmation of human rights, including religious freedom, as an argument against the Communist rulers of Poland.
Thirteen years after the Second Vatican Council ended, Karol Wojtyla was elected pope and chose the name Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II extended the spiritual and moral influence of the papacy to a truly global outreach. His first trip to Poland as pope in 1979 was a turning point in the history not only of Poland, but of Eastern Europe and the world. At the time, I read and saved an article by Jaroslav Pelikan, who was then a Lutheran theologian and who would later convert to the Byzantine Orthodox Church. Pelikan in 1979 predicted that Pope John Paul’s visit to Poland was a harbinger of the end of the Communist era. Pelikan noted that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Poles had waited for hours to see the pope and to participate in the outdoor Eucharist that he celebrated. Pelikan further noted that every Communist ruler in Eastern Europe knew that not one of them could evoke such spontaneous loyalty, devotion, and affection. Ten years before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Pelikan had already spotted one of the central dynamics at work.
Later Pope John Paul would travel all around the world. Again and again he would tell crowds, “Be not afraid!!” The title of his book of personal reflections in response to questions from an Italian journalist would be: Crossing the Threshold of Hope. In his last years, when he was elderly and ailing, he still loved to meet with young people. When they would express anxieties and concerns to him about the future, he would tell them: The Pope is a very old man; he has seen many things come and go, including the Nazis and the Communists. Always have hope.
Even though the loss of the Papal States and the secularization of the nation of Italy contradicted all the stated wishes and desires of nineteenth-century popes, these developments made possible the international outreach of the popes of the middle and late 20th century. If Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II had been responsible for the political and economic policies of the central section of Italy, they would have been perceived as European politicians with the interests of their own region at heart. Freed from such cares, they were able to intervene on the global scale as respected moral, religious, and spiritual leaders
As we have seen, for decades, popes condemned the American political system of separation of church and state. More recently, even so conservative a pope as Benedict XVI has spoken of his admiration for the United States, noting that the separation of church and state allowed Catholics who at one time had been a downtrodden minority among a Protestant elite, to become central to national life. Pope Benedict, like the 19th-century French observer Alexis de Tocqueville, noted that generally America is a place, unlike increasingly secular Europe, where religion is allowed a careful place in the political sphere.
一個角度來看，代表的詩篇，這是在耶路撒冷圣殿的贊美詩，高舉王幾乎是神圣的位置，坐在神的右邊（詩110:1 ） ，并接受國家的地球的繼承（詩2:8 ） 。加冕圣歌慶祝國王的神的特殊關系。此觀點占主導地位的自我理解猶大的君王，古代以色列南部的部分。
同時，在約翰福音中，耶穌告訴羅馬總督本丟彼拉多，他的王國不屬于這個世界（約18:36 ） 。這表明民間治理和宗教領袖之間職責分離。多次在福音，當人們想使耶穌王，他滑倒通過他們中間逃逸。他的使命是傳揚神的統治，而不是建立一個世俗的王國。
也有各種各樣的契約所載的關系，上帝和上帝的人（創9:8-17 ; 15:18-21 ;出20 ;申5 ） ;立約，在古代中東是一個莊嚴的協議，同時約束各方遵守一定的義務。所有的創造，是由上帝與挪亞立約。與亞伯拉罕立約，發起了一個與亞伯拉罕和他的后裔，直到永遠。該公約與摩西在Mt 。西奈半島成為以色列神的人的關系的中心框架。在這約書申命記更新，反映了一代人以后，摩西是在他生命的盡頭。
的思想猶太君主制，其崇高的君主鑒于作為青睞由上帝和叫做調解在世界的神圣的正義將塑造的拜占庭東正教傳統的皇帝作為一個神圣的數字與責任帝國和教會一起。詩篇110篇宣稱： “耶和華對我主說： ”坐在我的右邊，等我把你仇敵作你的腳凳“ （ 110:1 ） 。也就是說，神王說：我旁邊坐床。這股“圣經” ，看到神王，其中包括特別照顧寡婦和孤兒，他們通常是最脆弱的人在古代世界的權利，負有特殊的責任委托。從這個角度來看，國王被神選擇的眾生與適當的規則，雙方的權利和責任。
這種觀點會影響后來的東方基督教政教關系的看法。例如，君士坦丁統一羅馬帝國在第四世紀初，并描述第四世紀的基督教法律，凱撒利亞主教優西比烏在巴勒斯坦正式接收到教會只有候選人的皇帝是誰，接收， “它是“從神的神圣主權，成績單整個世界的管理和指導，包括教堂，在模仿神（生命君士坦丁） 。也就是說，君士坦丁有一個神圣的責任治理不僅是羅馬帝國，但也教會。這種觀點將塑造一個神圣的皇帝拜占庭皇帝的自我理解，直到在1453年君士坦丁堡陷落，直到1917年的俄羅斯沙皇的自我理解。第7合一議會會議的主教，來自世界各地的 - 承認拜占庭東正教和天主教被稱為是由羅馬帝國皇帝，他們或他們的使節主持。如果教皇不希望有一個會，壓力就會被應用。在公元六世紀，拜占庭皇帝查士丁尼想叫一個議會，但教皇Vigilius他不同意。查士丁尼Vigilius由拜占庭警察綁架，而他所說的質量和舉行，直到他同意到議會。該局在君士坦丁堡，在那里查士丁尼想舉行，而不是在西西里島，在教皇Vigilius想。在年底的議會Vigilius不喜歡譴責男人的想法，誰死了兩個世紀前在與教會的共融。查士丁尼施加進一步的壓力到拉丁神職人員，和Vigilius最終接受了各種主教從200年前的譴責。
神圣王權的模型也從第八到第十一世紀帝王稱霸中世紀早期的西方觀點。在基督教歷史上的第一個千年，世俗統治者，靈感來自猶太君主制的意識形態，經常被稱為主教和教皇交代他們的劣跡，并公認的權威，廢黜不配教會的領袖，并任命新的。 1046，僅在一年時間里，英皇亨利三世，充溢著神圣的使命神圣的王權，廢黜三個教皇西爾維斯特三世（本篤九，和格雷戈里VI ） ，并任命了新的教皇克萊門特II 。他于1056去世之前，亨利將委任三名教皇。濫用權力在這里當然是有危險，但也有一個真正關心教皇不被腐敗的羅馬貴族為主。這個傳統留下的遺產挑戰基督教政治領導人問責神強制執行的方式，他們在這個世界上正義和收費良好的治理教會的責任。第一個千年教皇格拉西我以后的期間將堅持神圣和世俗權力之間的區別，以限制皇帝在教會的作用。
奧古斯丁像薩穆埃爾和先知，誰質疑圣經君主的自命不凡，拒絕尤西比烏斯的基督教羅馬帝國皇帝和整個模型的神圣王權的提高。像薩穆埃爾，奧古斯丁認為地上的統治者大多盜賊看到君主制作為一個悲劇性的，必要的，因為人類的罪惡，而不是直接由神的意志。奧古斯丁認為，任何形式的政府可以保證在這個世界上真正的正義，他質疑：“司法刪除，什么是強盜的王國，但是偉大的樂隊嗎？劫匪，但小王國樂隊是什么？ “原則的帝國是不是基督徒。此觀點支撐陽歷的改革在11世紀時，教皇和改革者一系列拒絕神圣王權的模型。 ，呼應薩穆埃爾和奧古斯丁，教皇格列高利七世國王堅持認為在很大程度上是暴徒和壓迫者，誰需要被稱為問責制，由宗教領袖，誰可以被廢黜羅馬教皇的權威。任教皇或皇帝完全稱霸歐洲無力，會導致新的世俗和神圣之間的區別，在12世紀，并在后來的中世紀和早期現代思想。大約從1100年，皇帝親帝國主義辯護士堅持之間的神圣和世俗限制權力的教皇在政治上的區別。偉大的帝國需要到被稱為帳戶由宗教領袖，作為偉大的劫匪懷疑會告知教皇的戰斗對帝王世紀以來徘徊教皇約翰保羅II的挑戰蘇聯帝國在后臺他前往波蘭在1979年和他的雄辯的辯護反對壓迫世界各國政府的人權。
要求教皇權威的國王和國家可能以危險的方式表現出來。在詩篇2 ，神應許王： “我會給你的國家為你的身上的繼承和天涯海角。您應排除他們用鐵棒你要粉碎他們喜歡的土菜。 “即使在古代從未履行這一承諾，挾著征服的希伯來文圣經敘述，住在基督教內存，和十五世紀教皇看到自己作為受托人，此繼承。 1452年，葡萄牙人開創自己的發現和征服的旅程，教皇尼古拉五世授予葡萄牙國王的征服和奴役整個非基督教世界：“在我們使徒權威的名稱，我們授予您充分和整個教師侵略，征服所有的王國，公國，驅逐和衛冕。 。 。撒拉遜人，異教徒和所有的異教徒，他們可能的地方被發現，減少居民永久的奴役，挪用給自己的王國，他們所有的財產，供自己使用，你的接班人“ （尼古拉五世， DUM Diversas ，1452報價在彼得Schineller ，文化融入手冊， 34） 。不久，在1493年和1494年再次發現了新大陸后，羅馬教皇亞歷山大六世的美洲地圖上畫了一條線，這標志著一個分區之間的地區，西班牙和葡萄牙可以主宰。帝國的夢想，靈感來自圣經的承諾，塑造百年現代化的殖民地歷史。
在改革過程中，這兩個主要的新教傳統拒絕拜占庭東正教和羅馬天主教車型，但他們吸引了尖銳對立的政治愿景，從“圣經” 。馬丁·路德·引用約翰福音，耶穌否認他的王國屬于這個世界，用他的神學為中心的原則構建的兩個王國之間的區別。路德堅持認為神規則上帝的福音和神的人掌管這些教堂外的法“ （ ”世俗權力：在何種程度上應遵守“ 368迪倫貝格爾） 。然而，基督徒仍然在其整個生命的罪人，所以上帝也掌管法的基督徒，只要他們是罪人，一個罪惡的社會的一部分。路德共享奧古斯丁和薩穆埃爾的懷疑地上的統治者，但他解釋保羅致羅馬人書（第13章）呼吁基督徒甚至服從統治者的政策得罪了基督徒的良心。他堅持宣講神的話語的自由，但他普遍信任政府當局統治的時空境界。在后來的歷史路德教，路德的意圖相反，路德教會普遍服從于國家和國家的經常監督教會治理。
加爾文主義者經常遭受攻擊和迫害。后圣Bartholemew的大屠殺在法國，當羅馬天主教徒，新教徒，殺害數千伯撒，卡爾文最忠實的弟子，宣布主權的人，革命的權利，以及憲法的約束性。長老會在蘇格蘭堅持相互責任的約斯圖亞特王朝的君主權力的限制的一種方式。當瑪麗斯圖爾特指責約翰·諾克斯的權力抓，他否認指控，堅持說：“我的目標之一是，王子和人民都應當服從上帝。 ” （恩斯特特勒爾奇，基督教教會的社會訓導，第2條，第634） 。我開始反抗國王查爾斯在蘇格蘭宣布全國公約“ 。正是因為契約闡明相互義務為統治者與被統治者，他們可能會成為叛亂和革命的基礎的條款時，已被判定為違反。通過反思，在希伯來文圣經和自然法上的契約，加爾文主義影響早期現代政府根據社會契約理論，從而依靠統治者的同意。
卡爾文作為一個變革的社會力量，看到了福音，有一個激進的烏托邦在加爾文的愿景基督教，將改變世界。日內瓦是新耶路撒冷。英國斯圖亞特王朝的君主在沮喪的清教徒把這個精力和遠見，新英格蘭地區，立志打造城市在山上激勵世界。清教徒明白自己作為新的以色列人逃離奴役和未來的應許之地。至于早期的羅馬教皇和帝國模型，有消極的一面， “圣經”的承諾的撥款。記住，古代的以色列人被指示以免破壞其他部落，他們引誘他們敬拜別神，清教徒移居觀看土著美國人罪的誘惑，試圖消滅他們，或者至少，他們在不同的領域，包含保留被稱為“祈禱的城鎮“ （理查德·斯洛特金，通過暴力再生： 40-42 1600-1800年，美國邊境的神話） 。當英格蘭的清教徒革命失敗，在1660年，在美國的清教徒放棄了歐洲的希望，看到自己千年的人，一個神圣的使命，轉換后的世界在歐洲的失敗。
1635年，來自馬薩諸塞州的威廉姆斯被驅逐作為一個持不同政見者。次年，他南移，在那里他購買了從美國土著印第安人的土地，并建立一個新的社區，羅德島，作為“避風港良心事業， ”建立在宗教信仰自由的原則。他的理想的宗教信仰自由，在他的那句， “靈魂的自由”強烈反對由清教徒在馬薩諸塞州，但會站在后人的典范。
大約在同一時間，馬里蘭巴爾的摩勛爵創辦，為逃避迫害的天主教徒在英國避難。采購從美國土著印第安人的土地，他打算殖民地為所有基督教路徑的追隨者，是一個家，創立了殖民地的包機提供了平等的權利，宗教自由所有。 1649年馬里蘭州議會通過了一項寬容法案“ ，提供所有基督徒的良心自由。保證宗教自由以及蔓延到其他殖民地，于1664年在新澤西州的宗教自由類似的包機，在1665年在北卡羅來納州，并在1682年在賓夕法尼亞州的例子。有增長的勢頭在殖民地結束政府干預宗教活動和接受各種形式的信仰。
革命戰爭戰斗的美國人誰掙扎宗教的自由，以及政治自由。宗教信仰自由的追求來自反對新教的傳統和啟蒙理想的宗教寬容。許多創始人美利堅合眾國歐洲啟蒙運動的強烈影響，與基督教的懷疑，批判的宗教戰爭，自然神論者的信心，并懷疑任何超自然的啟示索賠。托馬斯·杰斐遜認為神職人員和政治聯盟的官員必然導致暴政，他認為，不應該允許任何擔任政治職務的神職人員。有時，他痛斥他們為“真正的反基督”。作為回報，一些新英格蘭的傳教士攻擊杰斐遜本人作為反基督，并警告說，如果他當選總統，他將征用所有的“圣經” ，并建立妓院教堂。杰弗森和喬治·華盛頓，他們像許多同時代的自然神論者，對他們來說，人類的自然宗教，特別是宗教之間的沖突提供最終的答案。對于這兩個人類的進步，宗教信仰自由是必不可少的。軍事指揮官，華盛頓11月5日， 1775年，禁止英語反天主教盛宴慶祝，教皇節，在這個時候，他正在尋求從加拿大法語為母語的天主教徒的支持。深深影響富蘭克林自然神論和經常被認為是自然神論者，但他塑造了他自己特有的自然宗教觀，神明有多個方向的下一個至高無上的神。富蘭克林，杰斐遜，華盛頓會靜靜不相信傳統神學參加基督教教會服務，更激進的自然神論者，如托馬斯·潘恩，伊森艾倫和伊萊休·帕爾默，更徹底地拒絕了基督教，批評其多重矛盾，而代以“圣經”的宗教性質為基督徒做法。
在弗吉尼亞的英格蘭教會是建立教會，和所有其他形式的崇拜被禁止。年輕的詹姆斯·麥迪遜行駛浸會傳教士誰公開表達他們的宗教信仰在弗吉尼亞州的監禁;被深深地震撼了，他以后會成為追求充分的宗教信仰自由的領導人之一。麥迪遜斷言， “春潮血已經濺在舊世界，世俗臂妄圖撲滅宗教不和諧。 。 。 。時間長度已經揭示了真正的補救措施。“麥迪遜和他的同事們的補救措施是充分的宗教信仰自由和教會與國家分離。
這個新國家的締造者解決歐洲的宗教戰爭，苦不應該被復制在美國的土地上。喬治·梅森是弗吉尼亞人權宣言“的主要作者，宣布”所有的人應該享有充分的寬容，宗教行使根據良心的命令。 “弗吉尼亞聯邦權利法案” ， 6月12日批準， 1776年，是一個具有里程碑意義的成就，權利在歷史上的第一個這樣的列表。
于1788年7月4日，在費城游行慶祝美國憲法的批準。基督教各教派的神職人員一起游行，并與他們，手臂，胳膊，一個猶太拉比。一名觀察員，本杰明·拉什博士評論說，“不可能是一個更幸福的會徽做作，部分新憲法，這將打開其所有的權力和辦公室的一致好評，不僅給每一個教派的基督徒，但值得每一種宗教的人。 “兩年后，喬治·華盛頓訪問Touro猶太教堂在羅得島紐波特，仍然屹立在美國最古老的猶太教堂。猶太社區感謝他和新政府的“慷慨地給予所有自由公民”的良知和豁免;答辯，華盛頓肯定，美國政府“給偏執任何制裁，迫害任何援助，”他去區分宗教寬容授予由英國和其他歐洲國家政府（通常對猶太人“改進”的情況下） ，從固有的自然權利的美國人承認宗教自由。原則上，所有的宗教傳統的追隨者在美利堅合眾國是完全平等的公民。
在這種氛圍中，法國天主教神父， FELICITE羅伯特· Lamennais ，尋求，接受民主，教會與國家分離，言論自由，新聞和宗教為天主教的理想。他反對在宗教事務方面的干擾政府支持的革命，改造社會。教皇格里高利十六世強烈譴責他和現代化的理想。羅馬教皇格雷戈里譴責民主，宗教自由，教會與國家分離，新聞自由。鐵路在法國長期在一個雙關語， “ CHEMINS德轉移” （鐵道路） ，他甚至譴責鐵路“ CHEMINS DE L' enfer ”地獄的道路。教皇庇護九世，他的繼任者，原本是更積極朝著改革運動在歐洲出售，但1848年革命后殺害他Priume部長，并迫使他逃離羅馬變相， ，教皇庇護轉身強烈反對現代世界的理想。在1864年，羅馬教皇庇護九世頒布教學大綱的錯誤，反復早期教皇譴責現代理想，最后由著名譴責的概念，“羅馬教皇，應該釋懷，并涉及到與進步，自由主義和現代文明。 “