Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Church–state relationships often produce complicated political and constitutional issues even in advanced, consolidated democracies. Despite the expectations of the modernization theory that predicted a decline in the political importance of religion with the rise of modern industrial society, current cross-national studies indicate that the relations between church and state or the question of secularism are still major issues in many societies. Even in countries where a basic consensus exists on these relationships, religiously driven moral issues, such as divorce, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, school prayer, and public funding of church schools and other religious institutions, are still hotly debated. This entry examines variations among Western democracies in their approach to secularism as well as the more complicated problems in the Islamic world. The common brief definition of secularism is the separation of state affairs and religion. It is also commonly accepted that this implies the absence of an official (or state) ...