A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religious
body or creed
officially endorsed by the state
. A state with an official religion, while not secular
, is not necessarily a theocracy
, a country whose rulers have both secular and spiritual authority. State religions are official or government-sanctioned establishments of a religion, but the state does not need be under the control of the religion (as in a theocracy) nor is the state-sanctioned religion necessarily under the control of the state.
Official religions have been known throughout human history
in almost all types of cultures, reaching into the Ancient Near East
and prehistory. The relation of religious cult
and the state was discussed by Varro
, under the term of ''theologia civilis
'' ("civic theology"). The first state-sponsored Christian church
was the Armenian Apostolic Church
, established in 301 CE. In Christianity
, as the term ''church'' is typically applied to a Christian place of worship or organisations incorporating such ones, the term ''state church'' is associated with Christianity as sanctioned by the government, historically the state church of the Roman Empire
in the last centuries of the Empire's existence, and is sometimes used to denote a specific modern national branch of Christianity. Closely related to state churches are ecclesiae
, which are similar but carry a more minor connotation.
In the Middle East
, many states with primarily Islamic population have Islam
as their state religion, though the degree of religious restrictions on the citizen's everyday life varies by country. Rulers
of Saudi Arabia use both secular and religious power, while Iran's secular presidents
are supposed to follow the decisions of religious authorities
since the revolution of 1979
. Turkey, which also has a primarily Muslim population, became a secular country after Atatürk's Reforms
, although unlike the Russian Revolution
of the same time period, it did not result in the adoption of state atheism
The degree to which an official national religion is imposed upon citizens by the state in contemporary society varies considerably; from high as in Saudi Arabia
to minimal or none at all as in Denmark
, and Greece
The degree and nature of state backing for denomination or creed designated as a state religion can vary. It can range from mere endorsement (with or without financial support) with freedom for other faiths to practice, to prohibiting any competing religious body from operating and to persecuting the followers of other sects. In Europe, competition between Catholic
denominations for state sponsorship in the 16th century evolved the principle ''Cuius regio, eius religio
'' (states follow the religion of the ruler) embodied in the text of the treaty that marked the Peace of Augsburg
, 1555. In England
, Henry VIII
broke with Rome in 1534, being declared the Supreme Head of the Church of England
, the official religion of England continued to be "Catholicism without the Pope" until after his death in 1547, while in Scotland
the Church of Scotland
opposed the religion of the ruler.
In some cases, an administrative region may sponsor and fund a set of religious denominations; such is the case in Alsace-Moselle
under its local law
, following the pre-1905 French concordatory legal system and patterns in Germany
In some communist state
s, notably in North Korea
, the state sponsors religious organizations, and activities outside those state-sponsored religious organizations are met with various degrees of official disapproval. In these cases, state religions are widely seen as efforts by the state to prevent alternate sources of authority.
There is also a difference between a "state church" and the broader term of "state religion". A "state church" is a state religion created by a state for use exclusively by that state. An example of a "state religion" that is not also a "state church" is Roman Catholicism
in Costa Rica, which was accepted as the state religion in the 1949 Constitution, despite the lack of a national church
. In the case of a "state church", the state has absolute control over the church, but in the case of a "state religion", the church is ruled by an exterior body; in the case of Catholicism, the Vatican
has control over the church. In either case, the official state religion has some influence over the ruling of the state. As of 2012, there are only five state churches left, as most countries that once featured state churches have separated the church from their government
Disestablishment is the process of repealing a church's status as an organ of the state. In a state where an established church is in place, those opposed to such a move may be described as antidisestablishmentarians
. This word is, however, most usually associated with the debate on the position of the Anglican churches in the British Isles
: the Church of Ireland
(disestablished in 1871
), the Church of England
(disestablished in 1920
), and the Church of England itself (which remains established in England).
Current state religions
Governments where Buddhism
, either a specific form of it, or Buddhism as a whole, has been established as an official religion:
* The Constitution
defines Buddhism as the "spiritual heritage of Bhutan". The Constitution of Bhutan
is based on Buddhist philosophy
. It also mandates that the Druk Gyalpo
(King) should appoint the Je Khenpo
and Dratshang Lhentshog
(The Commission for Monastic Affairs).
* The Constitution
declared Buddhism as the official religion of the country. About 98% of the Cambodia's population is Buddhist.
* The constitution of Sri Lanka states under Chapter II, Article 9, "The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the high place in hierarchy and accordingly it shall be the duty of the Head of State and Head of Government to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana. It is regarded by the Supreme Court as having Buddhism as a state religion.
* According to the Thai constitution
the country's state religion is Buddhism, since the government supports and protects Buddhism as the majority religion practised by local Thais, in addition to providing financial support for the building Buddhist temples.
* Section 361 of the Constitution
states that "The Union recognizes Buddhism as the state religion."
* According to the Lao Constitution, Buddhism is given special privilege in the country. The state respects and protects all the lawful activities of Buddhism.
In some countries, Buddhism is not recognized as a state religion, but holds special status:
* Government supports the re-emergence of Buddhism after 70 years of Communist Rule, as it is described as the traditional religion of the Mongols. Buddhist traditions are encouraged among the citizens. The Government contributed to the restoration of several Buddhist sites that are important religious, historical, and cultural centers. Ethnic Mongolian traditionalists declared that Buddhism is the "natural religion" of the country, followed by more than 93% of the population in various forms.
* is called the Buddhist Republic. Government supports the Buddhism and also encourages Buddhist teachings and traditions. Government builds various Buddhist temples and sites. Various efforts are taken by Government for revival the Buddhism
The following states recognize some form of Christianity
as their state or official religion or recognize a special status for it (by denomination):
Jurisdictions where Catholicism
has been established as a state or official religion:
* : Article 75 of the Constitution of Costa Rica
confirms that "The Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the religion of the State, which contributes to its maintenance, without preventing the free exercise in the Republic of other forms of worship that are not opposed to universal morality or good customs."
* : The Constitution of Liechtenstein
describes the Catholic Church as the state religion and enjoying "the full protection of the State". The constitution does however ensure that people of other faiths "shall be entitled to practise their creeds and to hold religious services to the extent consistent with morality and public order".
[ (archived fro]
* : Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta
declares that "the religion of Malta is the Catholic and Apostolic Religion".
* : Article 9 of the Constitution of Monaco
describes the "Catholic, and apostolic
religion" as the religion of the state.
[ (French): Art. 9., Principaute De Monaco: Ministère d'Etat (archived fro]
* : It is an elective
), absolute monarchy
ruled by the Pope
, who is also the Vicar of Christ
The highest state functionaries are all Catholic
clergy of various national origins. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See
( la|Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's official residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace
Jurisdictions that give various degrees of recognition in their constitutions to Roman Catholicism without establishing it as the state
* : Article 2 of the Constitution of Argentina
explicitly states that the government supports the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith, but the constitution does not establish a state religion. Before its 1994 amendment, the Constitution stated that the President of the Republic must be a Roman Catholic.
* : While the Constitution of East Timor
enshrines the principles of freedom of religion
and separation of church and state
in Section 45 Comma 1, it also acknowledges "the participation of the Catholic Church in the process of national liberation" in its preamble (although this has no legal value).
* : Although Article 3 of the Constitution of El Salvador
states that "no restrictions shall be established that are based on differences of nationality, race, sex or religion", Article 26 states that the state recognizes the Catholic Church
and gives it legal preference.
* : The Constitution of Guatemala
recognises the juridical personality of the Catholic Church
. Other churches, cults, entities, and associations of religious character will obtain the recognition of their juridical personality in accordance with the rules of their institution.
* : The Constitution of Italy
does not establish a state religion, but recognizes the state and the Catholic Church as "independent and sovereign, each within its own sphere".
* : The Constitution of Panama
recognizes Catholicism as "the religion of the majority" of citizens but does not designate it as the official state religion.
* : The Constitution of Paraguay
recognizes the Catholic Church's role in the nation's historical
* : The Constitution of Peru
recognizes the Catholic Church as an important element in the historical
, and moral formation of Peru and lends it its cooperation.
* : The Constitution of Spain
of 1978 abolished Catholicism
as the official state religion, while recognizing the role it plays in Spanish society.
* The Church of Greece
is recognized by the Greek Constitution as the prevailing religion in Greece
The Constitution of Greece: Section II Relations of Church and State: Article 3
Hellenic Resources network
and is the only country in the world where Eastern Orthodoxy is clearly recognized as a state religion.
However, this provision does not give exclusivity of worship to the Church of Greece, while all other religions are recognized as equal and may be practised freely.
The Constitution of Greece: Part Two Individual and Social Rights: Article 13
The jurisdictions below give various degrees of recognition in their constitutions to Eastern Orthodoxy
, but without establishing it as the state
* In the Bulgarian Constitution, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
is recognized as "the traditional religion" of the Bulgarian people, but the state itself remains secular.
* The Constitution of Cyprus
states: "The Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus
shall continue to have the exclusive right of regulating and administering its own internal affairs and property in accordance with the Holy Canons and its Charter in force for the time being and the Greek Communal Chamber shall not act inconsistently with such right."
* Both the Finnish Orthodox Church
and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
are "national churches".
[Finland – Constitution](_blank)
Section 76 The Church Act, http://servat.unibe.ch/icl/fi00000_.html.
* The Georgian Orthodox Church
has a constitutional agreement with the state, the constitution recognising "the special role of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in the history of Georgia and its independence from the state". (See also Concordat of 2002
The following states recognize some form of Protestantism
as their state or official religion:
The Anglican Church of England
is the established church in England as well as all three of the Crown dependencies
* The Church of England
is the established church in England, but not in the United Kingdom
as a whole. It is the only established Anglican church worldwide. The Anglican Church in Wales
, the Scottish Episcopal Church
and the Church of Ireland
are not established churches and they are independent of the Church of England. The British monarch
is the titular Supreme Governor of the Church of England
. The 26 most senior bishops in the Church of England are Lords Spiritual
and have seats in the House of Lords
of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
* The Church of England
is the established church in the Bailiwick of Guernsey
, and the leader of the Church of England in the territory is the Dean of Guernsey
* The Church of England
is the established church on the Isle of Man. The Bishop of Sodor and Man
is an ex officio member of the Legislative Council
of the upper house of the Tynwald
* The Church of England
is the established church in Jersey
, and the leader of the church on the island is the Dean of Jersey
, a non-voting member of the States of Jersey
The Church of Scotland
is the national church of Scotland, but not the United Kingdom as a whole. Whilst it is the national church, it 'is not State controlled' and the monarch is not the 'supreme governor' as in the Church of England.
* The Church of Tuvalu
is the state religion, although in practice this merely entitles it to "the privilege of performing special services on major national events". The Constitution of Tuvalu
guarantees freedom of religion, including the freedom to practice, the freedom to change religion, the right not to receive religious instruction at school or to attend religious ceremonies at school, and the right not to "take an oath or make an affirmation that is contrary to his religion or belief".
Jurisdictions where a Lutheran
church has been established as a state religion include the Nordic countries
* Section 4 of the Constitution of Denmark
confirms the Church of Denmark
as the established church.
[Denmark – Constitution](_blank)
Section 4 State Church
International Constitutional Law
** The Church of the Faroe Islands
is the state church of the Faroe Islands
, an autonomous administrative division
within the Danish Realm
** The Church of Denmark is the state church of Greenland
, an autonomous administrative division within the Danish Realm.
* The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
has a special relationship with the Finnish state, its internal structure being described in a special law, the Church Act.
The Church Act can be amended only by a decision of the synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and subsequent ratification by the Parliament of Finland
. The Church Act is protected by the Constitution of Finland
and the state cannot change the Church Act without changing the constitution. The church has the power to tax its members. The state collects these taxes for the church, for a fee. On the other hand, the church is required to give a burial place for everyone in its graveyards. The President of Finland
also decides the themes for intercession days. The church does not consider itself a state church, as the Finnish state does not have the power to influence its internal workings or its theology, although it has a veto in those changes of the internal structure which require changing the Church Act. Neither does the Finnish state accord any precedence to Lutherans or the Lutheran faith in its own acts.
* The Church of Norway
is described in the English version of the Norwegian Constitution as the "Established Church" in Article 16. The Norwegian translation uses the term ''folkekirke'' or "people's church" which is the same term used for the Church of Denmark in the Danish Constitution. Since 2017, the Church of Norway has been fully independent of any state control. Lutheranism is ''not'' deemed the 'state religion'. However, article 16 of the Constitution requires that the state support the Church of Norway and Article 4 requires that the Norwegian monarch be a member of it.
* The Church of Sweden
was the state church of Sweden between 1527 when king Gustav Vasa
broke all ties with Rome and 2000 when the state officially became secular. Much like in Finland, it does have a special relation to the Swedish state unlike any other religious organizations. For example, there is a special law that regulates certain aspects of the church and the members of the royal family are required to belong to it in order to have a claim to the line of succession. A majority of the population still belongs to the church of Sweden.
* The Constitution of Iceland
confirms the Church of Iceland
as the state church of Iceland.
[Constitution of the Republic of Iceland](_blank)
Government of Iceland
* The Armenian Apostolic Church
has a constitutional agreement with the State
: "The Republic of Armenia shall recognise the exclusive mission of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, as a national church, in the spiritual life of the Armenian people, in the development of their national culture and preservation of their national identity."
* The constitution of the Dominican Republic specifies that there is no state church and provides for freedom of religion and belief. A concordat with the Vatican designates Catholicism as the official religion and extends special privileges to the Catholic Church not granted to other religious groups. These include the legal recognition of church law, use of public funds to underwrite some church expenses, and complete exoneration from customs duties.
* The local law in Alsace-Moselle
accords official status to four religions in this specific region of France: Judaism
, Roman Catholicism
. The law is a remnant of the Napoleonic Concordat of 1801
, which was abrogated in the rest of France by the law of 1905
on the separation of church and state
. However, at the time, Alsace-Moselle had been annexed by Germany
. The Concordat, therefore, remained in force in these areas, and it was not abrogated when France regained control of the region in 1918. Therefore, the separation of church and state, part of the French concept of Laïcité
, does not apply in this region.
* While Catholicism has not been the state religion since 1987, a 19th-century concordat
with the Holy See
continues to confer preferential treatment to the Catholic Church
, in the form of stipends for clergy and financial support to churches and religious schools. The Catholic Church also retains the right to appoint certain amounts of clergy in Haiti without the government's consent.
International Religious Freedom Report 2017 Haiti
', US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
* The preamble to the Hungarian Constitution of 2011
describes Hungary as "part of Christian Europe" and acknowledges "the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood", while Article VII provides that "the State shall cooperate with the Churches for community goals." However, the constitution also guarantees freedom of religion and separation of church and state.
* Although Church and State are formally separate, the Catholic Church in Portugal
still receives certain privileges.
* In June 2017, Parliament voted to amend the wording of Article1 of the constitution, thereby making Christianity the state religion. The status of the religion had previously only been mentioned in the preamble, which Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi
considered legally inadequate.
* The preamble to the Zambian Constitution of 1991
declares Zambia to be "a Christian nation", while also guaranteeing freedom of religion.
Many Muslim-majority countries
have constitutionally established Islam, or a specific form of it, as a state religion. Proselytism
(converting people to another religion) is often illegal in such states.
* Article 2 of the Afghan constitution
: "The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan." Officially, Afghanistan has continuously been an Islamic state under various constitutions since at least 1987.
* In the Constitution of Bangladesh
, Islam is referred to twice in the introduction and Part I of the constitution. The document begins with the Islamic phrase بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ which in English is translated as “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful” and article (2A) declares that :"Islam is the state religion of the republic". Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
has stated that Bangladesh will be governed in line with the spirit of the Constitution of Medina
. However, Secularism is one of the four fundamental principles according to the original 1972 Constitution of Bangladesh
and in 2010, Bangladesh Supreme Court have restored it, but it has upheld Islam as the state religion.
* Article 2 of the Algerian Constitution of 2016
: "Islam shall be the religion of the State."
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Bahrain
: "The religion of the State is Islam."
* Article 3 of the Constitution of Brunei
: "The official religion of Brunei Darussalam shall be the Islamic Religion..."
* Preamble to the 2001 Constitution of the Comoros
: "...to draw from Islam, the religion of the state..."
* Article 1 of the Constitution of Djibouti
: "Islam is the Religion of the State."
* Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014
: "Islam is the religion of the State".
* Article 12 of the Constitution of Iran
: "The official religion of Iran is Islam and the Twelver Ja'farî school n usul al-Dîn and fiqh
and this principle will remain eternally immutable." Islam has been Iran's state religion since 1501 dating back to the Safavid dynasty
and has continued ever since, excluding the period of breaks in the Pahlavi dynasty
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Iraq
: "Islam is the official religion of the State and is a foundation source of legislation..."
* Islam is the preferred religion of the state, but its constitution also plays lip service to secularism.
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Jordan
: "Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic is its official language."
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Kuwait
: "The religion of the State is Islam and Islamic Law shall be a main source of legislation."
* Article 1 of the Libyan interim Constitutional Declaration
: "Islam is the Religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Shari'a)."
* Article 10 of the Maldives's Constitution of 2008
: "The religion of the State of the Maldives is Islam. Islam shall be the one of the bases of all the laws of the Maldives."
* Article 3 of the Constitution of Malaysia
: "Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation."
* Article 5 of the Constitution of Mauritania
: "Islam is the religion of the people and of the State."
* Article 3 of the Constitution of Morocco
: "Islam is the religion of the State, which guarantees to all the free exercise of beliefs ultes
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Oman
: "The religion of the State is Islam and Islamic Sharia is the basis for legislation."
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan
: "Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan."
* Article 4 of the Basic Law of the State of Palestine
: "Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions shall be maintained."
* Article 1 of the Constitution of Qatar
: "Qatar is an independent sovereign Arab State. Its religion is Islam and Shari'a law shall be a main source of its legislations."
* Article 1 of the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia
: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic State. Its religion is Islam."
* Article 2 of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic declares that Islam is the state religion and law origin.
* Article 2 of the Provisional Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia
: "Islam is the religion of the State."
* Article 1 and 6 of the Tunisian Constitution of 2014
: "Tunisia is a free, independent, sovereign state; its religion is Islam (...) The state is the guardian of religion. It guarantees freedom of conscience and belief, the free exercise of religious practices and the neutrality of mosques and places of worship from all partisan instrumentalisation."
* Although Turkey is a secular state, its constitution also privileges the majority religion of the state; I.e "Islam" and Quran is the national book of Turkey. In a tweet of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Islam has been referred as "country's religion".
* The Constitution claims to uphold a secular system in which religious and state institutions are separate. However, in Turkmenistan, the state actively privileges a form of traditional Islam. The culture, including Islam, is a key facet, contributes to the Turkmen national identity. The state encourages the conceptualization of “Turkmen Islam,”.
* Article 7 of the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates
: "Islam shall be the official religion of the Union."
* Article 2 of the Constitution of Yemen
: "Islam is the religion of the state, and Arabic is its official language."
* Since independence, Islam has taken on an altogether new role in the nation-building process in Uzbekistan. The government affords Islam special status and declared it as a national heritage and a moral guideline.
* Although there is a separation of religion from politics, certain aspects of law also privilege Islam. One such law declares "Islam to be a traditional religion of Tajikistan, with more rights and privileges given to Islamic organizations than to religious groups of non-Muslim origin".
Status of religion in Israel
* is defined in several of its laws as a "Jewish and democratic state
" (''medina yehudit ve-demokratit''). However, the term "Jew
ish" is a polyseme
that can describe the Jewish people as either an ethnic or a religious group
. The debate about the meaning of the term "Jewish" and its legal and social applications is one of the most profound issues with which Israeli society deals. The problem of the status of religion in Israel, even though it is relevant to all religions, usually refers to the status of Judaism
in Israeli society. Thus, even though from a constitutional point of view Judaism is not the state religion in Israel, its status nevertheless determines relations between religion and state and the extent to which religion influences the political centre.
The State of Israel supports religious institutions, particularly Orthodox Jewish
ones, and recognizes the "religious communities" as carried over from those recognized under the British Mandate—in turn derived from the pre-1917 Ottoman system of ''millets
''. These are Jewish and Christian (Eastern Orthodox
, Latin Catholic
, Syriac Catholic
, Greek Melkite
, and Syriac Orthodox
). The fact that the Muslim population was not defined as a religious community does not affect the rights of the Muslim community to practice their faith. At the end of the period covered by the 2009 U.S. International Religious Freedom Report, several of these denominations were pending official government recognition; however, the Government has allowed adherents of not officially recognized groups the freedom to practice. In 1961, legislation gave Muslim Shari'a courts exclusive jurisdiction in matters of personal status. Three additional religious communities have subsequently been recognized by Israeli law: the Druze
(prior under Islamic jurisdiction), the Evangelical Episcopal Church, and followers of the Baháʼí Faith
. These groups have their own religious courts as official state courts for personal status matters (see millet system
The structure and goals of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel
are governed by Israeli law, but the law does not say explicitly that it is a state Rabbinate. However, outspoken Israeli secularists such as Shulamit Aloni
and Uri Avnery
have long maintained that it is that in practice. Non-recognition of other streams of Judaism such as Reform Judaism
and Conservative Judaism
is the cause of some controversy; rabbis belonging to these currents are not recognized as such by state institutions and marriages performed by them are not recognized as valid. As pointed out by Avnery and Aloni, the essential problem is that Israel carries on the top-down Ottoman ''millet'' system, under which the government reserves the complete discretion of recognizing some religious groups and not recognizing others. marriage in Israel
provides no provision for civil marriage
, marriage between people of different religions, marriages by people who do not belong to one of nine recognised religious communities, or same-sex marriage
s, although there is recognition of marriages performed abroad.
In some countries, there is a political ideology
sponsored by the government that may be called political religion
* has promulgated ''Juche
'' as a political alternative to traditional religion. The doctrine advocates a strong nationalist propaganda basis and it is fundamentally opposed to Christianity
, the two largest religions on the Korean peninsula. ''Juche'' theoreticians have, however, incorporated religious ideas into the state ideology. According to government figures, ''Juche'' is the largest political religion in North Korea
. The public practice of all other religions is overseen and subject to heavy surveillance by the state.
* The government of China officially espouses state atheism
and officially recognizes only five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Despite limitations on certain forms of religious expression and assembly, religion is not banned, and religious freedom is nominally protected under the Chinese constitution. Among the general Chinese population, there are a wide variety of religious practices.
The Chinese government's attitude to religion is one of skepticism and non-promotion.
* does not declare or designate a state religion. However, the government
only recognizes six religions: Islam
. The Constitution of Indonesia
guarantees freedom of religion and the practice of other religions and beliefs, including the animistic
indigenous ones, is not prohibited by any laws. Indonesians who are practicing traditional polytheistic and animists as well as Sikhs
are often counted as "Hindu" for governmental purposes. Atheism
, although not prosecuted, is discouraged by the state ideology of ''Pancasila
''. In addition, the province of Aceh
receives a special status and a higher degree of autonomy, in which it may enact laws (''qanuns
'') based on the Sharia
and enforce it, especially to its Muslim residents.
* There are 18 officially recognized religious groups in Lebanon, each with its own family law legislation and set of religious courts. Under the terms of an agreement known as the National Pact
between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, the president of the country
must be a Maronite
, the Prime Minister
must be a Sunni
, and the Speaker of Parliament
must be a Shia
* is a secular state, but the Grand Duchy recognises and supports several denominations, including the Catholic Church
, Greek Orthodox
, Russian Orthodox
, Romanian Orthodox
, Serbian Orthodox
and some Protestant
denominations as well as to Jewish
* : While there are no countries where Hinduism is officially declared state religion after the fall of the Nepalese monarchy in 2006, the constitution of Nepal affords some special rights to Hindu practice. In the constitution, the republic of Nepal is officially defined as a secular nation but secularism is defined as "protection of age old religion and culture" which in Nepali translates to Sanātana Dharma or Hinduism. Further pro-Hindu laws exist such as national ban on cow slaughter and laws prohibiting proselytization.
* Though a secular state
under the constitution, Russia is often said to have Russian Orthodoxy
as the ''de facto
'' national religion, despite other minorities: "The Russian Orthodox Church is de facto privileged religion of the state, claiming the right to decide which other religions or denominations are to be granted the right of registration".
* is officially a secular country and does not have a state religion, and has been named in one study as the "most religiously diverse nation in the world", with no religious group forming a majority. However, the government gives official recognition to ten different religions, namely Buddhism
and the Baháʼí Faith
, and Singapore's penal code explicitly prohibits "wounding religious feelings". The Jehovah's Witnesses
and Unification Church
are also banned in Singapore, as the government deems them to be a threat to national security.
* is officially secular at the federal level but 24 of the 26 cantons support both the Swiss Reformed Church
and the Roman Catholic Church
in various ways.
* is officially secular according to its constitution; in practice there is a close connection between state and Sunni Islam
. The Directorate of Religious Affairs
, an official state institution directly subjected to the president of the republic, exercises state oversight over religious affairs and is responsible for all administration of the Sunni institutions.
* is officially atheist (although sometimes also referred as atheist-Buddhist), but recognizes only 38 religious organization and one ''dharma'' practice.
Former state religions
Egypt and Sumer
The concept of state religions was known as long ago as the empires of Egypt and Sumer
, when every city state or people had its own god or gods. Many of the early Sumerian rulers were priests of their patron city god. Some of the earliest semi-mythological kings may have passed into the pantheon, like Dumuzid
, and some later kings came to be viewed as divine soon after their reigns, like Sargon the Great
. One of the first rulers to be proclaimed a god during his actual reign was Gudea
, followed by some later kings of Ur
, such as Shulgi
. Often, the state religion was integral to the power base of the reigning government, such as in Egypt, where Pharaohs were often thought of as embodiments of the god Horus.
was the state religion of the Sassanid dynasty
which lasted until 651, when Persia was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate
. However, it persisted as the state religion of the independent state of Hyrcania
until the 15th century.
The tiny kingdom of Adiabene
in northern Mesopotamia
converted to Judaism
around 34 CE.
Many of the Greek city-states also had a favored national god
or goddess associated with that city. This would not be its only god or goddess, but the one that received special honors. In ancient Greece, the cities of
*Athens had Athena
Roman religion and Christianity
In Rome, the office of ''Pontifex Maximus
'' came to be reserved for the Emperor, who was occasionally declared a god
posthumously, or sometimes during his reign. Failure to worship the Emperor as a god was at times punishable by death, as the Roman government sought to link emperor worship with loyalty to the Empire. Many Christians and Jews were subject to persecution, torture and death in the Roman Empire because it was against their beliefs to worship the Emperor.
In 311, Emperor Galerius
, on his deathbed, declared a religious indulgence to Christians throughout the Roman Empire, focusing on the ending of anti-Christian persecution. Constantine I
, the two ''Augusti
'', by the Edict of Milan
of 313, enacted a law allowing religious freedom to everyone within the Roman Empire. Furthermore, the Edict of Milan cited that Christians may openly practice their religion unmolested and unrestricted, and provided that properties taken from Christians be returned to them unconditionally. Although the Edict of Milan allowed religious freedom throughout the Empire, it did not abolish nor disestablish the Roman state cult (Roman polytheistic paganism). The Edict of Milan was written in such a way as to implore the blessings of the deity.
Constantine called up the First Council of Nicaea
in 325, although he was not a baptised Christian until years later. Despite enjoying considerable popular support, Christianity was still not the official state religion in Rome, although it was in some neighbouring states such as Armenia
, and Aksum
) was restored for a time by the Emperor Julian
from 361 to 363. Julian does not appear to have reinstated the persecutions of the earlier Roman emperors
Christianity, as opposed to Arianism and other ideologies deemed heretical
, was declared to be the state religion of the Roman Empire
on 27 February 380 by the decree ''De fide catolica
'' of Emperor Theodosius I
Han dynasty Confucianism
In China, the Han dynasty
(206 BCE – 220 CE) advocated Confucianism
as the ''de facto'' state religion, establishing tests based on Confucian texts as an entrance requirement into government service—although, in fact, the "Confucianism" advocated by the Han emperors may be more properly termed a sort of Confucian Legalism
or "State Confucianism". This sort of Confucianism continued to be regarded by the emperors, with a few notable exceptions, as a form of state religion from this time until the collapse
of the Chinese monarchy
in 1912. Note, however, there is a debate over whether Confucianism (including Neo-Confucianism
) is a religion or purely a philosophical system.
Yuan dynasty Buddhism
During the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty
of China (1271–1368 CE), Tibetan Buddhism
was established as the ''de facto'' state religion by the Kublai Khan
, the founder of the Yuan dynasty. The top-level department and government agency known as the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs
(Xuanzheng Yuan) was set up in Khanbaliq
) to supervise Buddhist monk
s throughout the empire. Since Kublai Khan only esteemed the Sakya
sect of Tibetan Buddhism, other religions became less important. Before the end of the Yuan dynasty, 14 leaders of the Sakya sect had held the post of Imperial Preceptor
(Dishi), thereby enjoying special power.
Golden Horde and Ilkhanate
were once the dominant religions among the ruling class of the Mongol khanates of Golden Horde
, the two western khanates of the Mongol Empire
. In the early days, the rulers of both khanates increasingly adopted Tibetan Buddhism
, similar to the Yuan dynasty
at that time. However, the Mongol rulers Ghazan
of Ilkhanate and Uzbeg
of Golden Horde converted to Islam
in 1295 CE because of the Muslim Mongol emir Nawruz
and in 1313 CE because of Sufi Bukhara
and sheikh Ibn Abdul Hamid
respectively. Their official favoring of Islam as the state religion coincided with a marked attempt to bring the regime closer to the non-Mongol majority of the regions they ruled. In Ilkhanate, Christian
subjects lost their equal status with Muslims and again had to pay the poll tax; Buddhists
had the starker choice of conversion or expulsion. In Golden Horde, Buddhism and Shamanism among the Mongols were proscribed, and by 1315, Uzbeg had successfully Islamicized the Horde, killing Jochid princes and Buddhist lama
s who opposed his religious policy and succession of the throne.
* From 1862 to 1893 the Church of Hawaii
, an Anglican body, was the official state and national church of the Kingdom of Hawaii
* Article 133 of the 1814 Constitution
stipulated the Sovereign Prince
should be a member of the Reformed Church
; this provision was dropped in the 1815 Constitution. The 1815 Constitution also provided for a state salary and pension for the priesthood of established religions at the time (Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism). This settlement, nicknamed ''de zilveren koorde'' (the silver cord), was abolished in 1983.
* Paragraph 4 in the Constitution of Norway
states that the Sovereign Monarch
must be confessing the Lutheran Evangelical Religion
. As of 2012 the Constitution of Norway no longer names Lutheranism as the official religion of the state,
but article 16 says that "The Church of Norway ..
will remain the Established Church of Norway and will as such be supported by the State."
[The Constitution of Norway, Article 16](_blank)
(English translation, published by the Norwegian Parliament)
As of 1January 2017 the Church of Norway is a legal entity independent of and formally and completely legally separated from the state.
[Offisielt frå statsrådet 27. mai 2016](_blank)
regjeringen.no «Sanksjon av Stortingets vedtak 18. mai 2016 til lov om endringer i kirkeloven (omdanning av Den norske kirke til eget rettssubjekt m.m.)
Lovvedtak 56 (2015–2016) Lov nr. 17 Delt ikraftsetting av lov 27. mai 2016 om endringer i kirkeloven (omdanning av Den norske kirke til eget rettssubjekt m.m.). Loven trer i kraft fra 1. januar 2017 med unntak av romertall I § 3 nr. 8 første og fjerde ledd, § 3 nr. 10 annet punktum og § 5 femte ledd, som trer i kraft 1. juli 2016.»
[Lovvedtak 56 (2015–2016) Vedtak til lov om endringer i kirkeloven (omdanning av Den norske kirke til eget rettssubjekt m.m.)](_blank)
* was the world's only Hindu
state until 2015, when the new constitution declared it a secular state
* see details in the State Shintō
* had Islam
as the official religion during the rule of Omar al-Bashir
according to the Constitution of Sudan
of 2005. It was declared a secular state in September 2020.
Former state churches in British North America
* The colonies of Plymouth
, Massachusetts Bay
, New Haven
, and New Hampshire
were founded by Puritan
Calvinist Protestants, and had Congregational
* The colonies of New York
, North Carolina
, South Carolina
, and Georgia
maintained the Church of England
as the established church.
* The Colony of Maryland
was founded by a charter granted in 1632 to George Calvert, secretary of state to Charles I, and his son Cecil, both recent converts to Roman Catholicism. Under their leadership, many English Catholic gentry families settled in Maryland. However, the colonial government was officially neutral in religious affairs, granting toleration to all Christian groups and enjoining them to avoid actions which antagonized the others. On several occasions, low-church dissenters led insurrections which temporarily overthrew the Calvert rule. In 1689, when William and Mary came to the English throne
, they acceded to demands to revoke the original royal charter. In 1701, the Church of England was proclaimed, and in the course of the 18th century Maryland Catholics were first barred from public office, then disenfranchised, although not all of the laws passed against them (notably laws restricting property rights and imposing penalties for sending children to be educated in foreign Catholic institutions) were enforced, and some Catholics even continued to hold public office.
* When Spanish Florida
was ceded to Great Britain in 1763, the British divided Florida into two colonies, East and West Florida, which both continued a policy of toleration for the Catholic residents, but established the Church of England
as the state church.
* When New France
was transferred to Great Britain in 1763, the Roman Catholic Church
remained under toleration, but Huguenot
s were allowed entrance where they had formerly been banned from settlement by Parisian authorities.
=Colonies with no established church
* The Province of Pennsylvania
was founded by Quakers
, but the colony never had an established church.
* The Province of New Jersey
, without official religion, had a significant Quaker
lobby, but Calvinists of all types also had a presence.
* Delaware Colony
had no established church, but was contested between Catholics and Quakers.
* The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
, founded by religious dissenters forced to flee the Massachusetts Bay colony, is widely regarded as the first polity to grant religious freedom to all its citizens, although Catholics were barred intermittently. Baptists, Seekers/Quakers and Jews made this colony their home. The King Charles Charter
of 1663 guaranteed "full liberty in religious concernments".
These areas were disestablished and dissolved, yet their presences were tolerated by the English and later British colonial governments, as Foreign Protestants
, whose communities were expected to observe their own ways without causing controversy or conflict for the prevalent colonists. After the Revolution, their ethno-religious backgrounds were chiefly sought as the most compatible non-British Isles immigrants.
* New Netherland
was founded by Dutch Reformed
* New Sweden
was founded by Church of Sweden
State of Deseret
The State of Deseret
was a provisional state
of the United States, proposed in 1849, by Mormon
settlers in Salt Lake City
. The provisional state existed for slightly over two years, but attempts to gain recognition by the United States government floundered for various reasons. The Utah Territory
which was then founded was under Mormon control, and repeated attempts to gain statehood met resistance, in part due to concerns that the principle of separation of church and state conflicted with the practice of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
placing their highest value on "following counsel" in virtually all matters relating to their church-centered lives. The state of Utah
was eventually admitted to the union on 4January 1896, after the various issues had been resolved.Struggle For Statehood
Edward Leo Lyman, ''Utah History Encyclopedia''
Established churches and former state churches
* Blasphemy law
* Ceremonial deism
* Church tax
* Civil religion
* Confessional state
* Divine rule
* Elite religion
* Institutional theory
* Major religious groups
* Religious education
* Religious toleration
* Secular religion
* Separation of church and state
* Sociology of religion
* State atheism
* Status of religious freedom by country
* Secular State
* Rowlands, John Henry Lewis (1989). ''Church, State, and Society, 1827–1845: the Attitudes of John Keble, Richard Hurrell Froude, and John Henry Newman''. Worthing, Eng.: P. Smith fChurchman Publishing; Folkestone, Eng.: distr.... by Bailey Book Distribution.
Category:Religion and politics
Category:Separation of church and state