|Religions by country|
A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state. Practically, a state without a state religion is called a secular state. The term state church is associated with Christianity, and is sometimes used to denote a specific national branch of Christianity. Closely related to state churches are what sociologists call ecclesiae, though the two are slightly different. State religions are examples of the official or government-sanctioned establishment of religion, as distinct from theocracy. It is also possible for a national church to become established without being under state control. The first national church was the Armenian Orthodox Church which was established in 301 A.D.
The degree and nature of state backing for denomination or creed designated as a state religion can vary. It can range from mere endorsement and 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 and Protestant 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 the monarch imposed Protestantism in 1533, with himself taking the place of the Pope, while in Scotland the Church of Scotland opposed the religion of the ruler.
In some communist states, notably in North Korea and Cuba, 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 "state religion". A "state church" is created by the state, as in the cases of the Anglican Church, created by Henry VIII or the Church of Sweden, created by Gustav Vasa. An example of "state religion" is Argentina's acceptance of Catholicism as its religion. In the case of the former, the state has absolute control over the church, but in the case of the latter, in this example, the Vatican has control over the church.
Sociologists refer to mainstream non-state religions as denominations. State religions tend to admit a larger variety of opinion within them than denominations. Denominations encountering major differences of opinion within themselves are likely to split; this option is not open for most state churches, so they tend to try to integrate differing opinions within themselves.
Many sociologists now consider the effect of a state church as analogous to a chartered monopoly in religion.
Where state religions exist, it is usually true the majority of residents are officially considered adherents; however, much of this support is little more than nominal; many members of the church rarely attend it. But the population's allegiance towards the state religion is often strong enough to prevent them from joining competing religious groups.
A denomination's status as official religion does not always imply that the jurisdiction prohibits the existence or operation of other sects or religious bodies. It all depends upon the government and the level of tolerance the citizens of that country have for other religions. Some countries with official religions have laws that guarantee the freedom of worship, full liberty of conscience, and places of worship for all citizens; and implement those laws more than other countries that do not have an official or established state religion.
Disestablishment is the process of depriving a church of its status as an organ of the state. Supporters of retaining an established church call themselves "antidisestablishmentarianists" — one of the longest words in the English language.
Section Two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of religion. Progressively, case law has led to the overturning of specific laws that reflected religious observances (esentially Christian). Notwithstanding this, Roman Catholic schools are constitutionally protected and funded by taxes in some provinces.
In late-19th-century England there was a campaign by Liberals, dissenters and nonconformists to disestablish the Church of England which was viewed, in the period after civil Chartist activism, as a discriminatory organisation placing employment and other access disabilities on non-members.
The campaigners styled themselves "Liberationists" (the "Liberation Society" was founded by Edward Miall in 1853). Though their campaign failed, nearly all of the legal disabilities of nonconformists were gradually dismantled. The campaign for disestablishment was revived in the 20th century when Parliament rejected the 1929 revision of the Book of Common Prayer, leading to calls for separation of Church and State to prevent political interference in matters of worship. In the late 20th century, reform of the House of Lords also brought into question the position of the Lords Spiritual. Another issue of controversy is the Act of Settlement 1701 which determines succession to the British monarchy, under which the head of state is also the head of the Church of England.
Despite some official documentation (marriage registrations being a common example) describing the Church of Scotland as the "Established Church" the Kirk has always disclaimed that status. This was eventually acknowledged by the United Kingdom government within the Church of Scotland Act 1921. Since it has thus never been legally Established it cannot be disestablished.
In Wales, four Church of England dioceses were disestablished in 1920, becoming separated from the Church of England in the process and subsequently becoming the Church in Wales.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly forbids the U.S. federal government from enacting any law respecting a religious establishment, and thus forbids either designating an official church for the United States, or interfering with State and local official churches — which were common when the First Amendment was enacted. It did not prevent state governments from establishing official churches. Connecticut continued to do so until it replaced its colonial Charter with the Connecticut Constitution of 1818; Massachusetts retained an establishment of religion in general until 1833. (The Massachusetts system required every man to belong to some church, and pay taxes towards it; while it was formally neutral between denominations, in practice the indifferent would be counted as belonging to the majority denomination, and in some cases religious minorities had trouble being recognized at all.)
The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1868, makes no mention of religious establishment, but forbids the states to "abridge the privileges or immunities" of U.S. citizens, or to "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". In the 1947 case of Everson v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court held that this later provision incorporates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause as applying to the States, and thereby prohibits state and local religious establishments. The exact boundaries of this prohibition are still disputed, and are a frequent source of cases before the US Supreme Court — especially as the Court must now balance, on a state (similar, but not equivalent to province) level, the First Amendment prohibitions on government establishment of official religions with the First Amendment prohibitions on government interference with the free exercise of religion. See school prayer for such a controversy in contemporary US politics.
All current U.S. state constitutions include guarantees of religious liberty parallel to the First Amendment, but eight (Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) also contain clauses that prohibit atheists from holding public office. However, these clauses have been held by the United States Supreme Court to be unenforceable in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, where the court ruled unanimously that such clauses constituted a religious test incompatible with the religious test prohibition in Article 6 Section 3 of the United States Constitution.
The following states recognize some form of Christianity as their state or official religion (by denomination):
Jurisdictions which recognize Roman Catholicism as their state or official religion:
A number of countries, including Andorra, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Italy, Indonesia ,Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain, give a special recognition to Catholicism in their constitution despite not making it the state religion.
Jurisdictions which recognize one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches as their state religion:
Jurisdictions which recognize one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches as their state religion:
Jurisdictions which recognize a Lutheran church as their state religion:
Jurisdictions that recognise an Anglican church as their state religion:
Jurisdictions which recognize a Reformed church as their state religion:
Jurisdictions which recognize an Old Catholic church as their state religion:
Although the separation of church and state was first theorized by Averroes, most Muslim-majority countries recognize Islam as the state religion, but most of them do not place Sharia Law as the constitution itself.
Governments which recognize Buddhism, either a specific form of, or the whole, as their official religion:
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 of Akkad. One of the first rulers to be proclaimed a god during his actual reign was Gudea of Lagash, 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.
Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Sassanid dynasty which lasted until 651, when Persia was conquered by the forces of Islam. 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 AD.
Many of the Greek city-states also had a 'god' or 'goddess' associated with that city. This would not be the 'only god' of the city, but the one that received special honors. In ancient Greece the city of Athens had Athena, Sparta had Ares, Delphi had Apollo and Artemis, and Olympia had ZeusCorinth had Poseidon, and Thebes had Demeter
In Rome, the office of Pontifex Maximus came to be reserved for the emperor, who was often 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 and Licinius, 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 neighboring states such as Armenia and Aksum.
Catholic Christianity, as opposed to Arianism and other heretical and schismatic groups, was declared to be the state religion of the Roman Empire on February 27, 380 by the decree De Fide Catolica of Emperor Theodosius I.
In China, the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) 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 overthrow of the imperial system of government in 1911. Note however, there is a debate over whether Confucianism (including Neo-confucianism) is a religion or purely a philosophical system.
From the Meiji era to the first part of the Showa era, Koshitsu Shinto was established in Japan as the national religion. According to this, the emperor of Japan was an arahitogami, an incarnate divinity and the offspring of goddess Amaterasu. As the emperor was, according to the constitution, "head of the empire" and "supreme commander of the Army and the Navy", every Japanese citizen had to obey his will and show absolute loyalty.
|Anhalt||Evangelical Church of Anhalt||Lutheran||1918|
|Armenia||Armenian Apostolic Church||Oriental Orthodox||1921|
|Austria||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1918|
|Baden||Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church of Baden||Catholic and Lutheran||1918|
|Bavaria||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1918|
|Bolivia||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||2009|
|Brazil||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1890|
|Brunswick-Lüneburg||Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Brunswick||Lutheran||1918|
|Bulgaria||Bulgarian Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||1946|
|Chile||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1925|
|Cuba||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1902|
|Cyprus||Cypriot Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||1977|
|Czechoslovakia||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1920|
|Denmark||Church of Denmark||Lutheran||no. State religion disestablished.|
|England||Church of England||Anglican||no|
|Estonia||Church of Estonia||Eastern Orthodox||1940|
|Ethiopia||Ethiopian Orthodox Church||Oriental Orthodox||1974|
|France[note 2]||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1905|
|Georgia||Georgian Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||1921|
|Greece||Greek Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||no|
|Guatemala||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1871|
|Haiti||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1987|
|Hesse||Evangelical Church of Hesse and Nassau||Lutheran||1918|
|Hungary[note 3]||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1946|
|Iceland||Lutheran Evangelical Church||Lutheran||no|
|Ireland[note 4]||Church of Ireland||Anglican||1871|
|Italy||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1984|
|Lebanon||Maronite Catholic Church/Islam||Catholic/Islam||no|
|Liechtenstein||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||no|
|Lippe||Church of Lippe||Reformed||1918|
|Lithuania||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1940|
|Lübeck||North Elbian Evangelical Church||Lutheran||1918|
|Luxembourg||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||?|
|Republic of Macedonia||Macedonian Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||no|
|Malta||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||no|
|Mecklenburg||Evangelical Church of Mecklenburg||Lutheran||1918|
|Mexico||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1874|
|Monaco||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||no|
|Netherlands||Dutch Reformed Church||Reformed||1795|
|Norway||Church of Norway||Lutheran||no, (2011-2012?), ref.: http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/kkd/dok/regpubl/stmeld/2007-2008/stmeld-nr-17-2007-2008-.html?id=507168. In this case, only state religion but not state church will be disestablished.|
|Oldenburg||Evangelical Lutheran Church of Oldenburg||Lutheran||1918|
|Panama||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1904|
|Paraguay||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1992|
|Philippines[note 5]||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1898|
|Poland[note 6]||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1947|
|Portugal||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1910|
|Prussia||13 provincial churches||Lutheran||1918|
|Quebec||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1960|
|Romania||Romanian Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||1947|
|Russia||Russian Orthodox Church||Eastern Orthodox||1917|
|Thuringia||Evangelical Church in Thuringia||Lutheran||1918|
|Saxony||Evangelical Church of Saxony||Lutheran||1918|
|Schaumburg-Lippe||Evangelical Church of Schaumburg-Lippe||Lutheran||1918|
|Scotland||Church of Scotland||Presbyterian||State control disclaimed since 1638. Formally recognised as not an established church in 1921|
|Serbia||Serbian Orthodox Church||Eastern||?|
|Spain||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1978|
|Sweden||Church of Sweden||Lutheran||2000|
|Switzerland||none since the adoption of the Federal Constitution (1848)||n/a||n/a|
|Uruguay||Roman Catholic Church||Catholic||1919|
|Waldeck||Evangelical Church of Hesse-Kassel and Waldeck||Lutheran||1918|
|Wales[note 7]||Church in Wales||Anglican||1920|
|Württemberg||Evangelical State Church in Württemberg||Lutheran||1918|
|Georgia||Church of England||17892|
|Maryland||Church of England||1776|
|New Brunswick||Church of England|
|Newfoundland||Church of England|
|North Carolina||Church of England||17765|
|Nova Scotia||Church of England||1850|
|Prince Edward Island||Church of England|
|South Carolina||Church of England||1790|
|Canada West||Church of England||1854|
|West Florida||Church of England6||17837|
|East Florida||Church of England6||17837|
|Virginia||Church of England||17868|
|West Indies||Church of England||1868|
^Note 2: in 1789 the Georgia Constitution was amended as follows: "Article IV. Section 10. No person within this state shall, upon any pretense, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping God in any manner agreeable to his own conscience, nor be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall he ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rate, for the building or repairing any place of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or hath voluntarily engaged. To do. No one religious society shall ever be established in this state, in preference to another; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious principles."
^Note 3: From 1780 Massachusetts had a system which required every man to belong to a church, and permitted each church to tax its members, but forbade any law requiring that it be of any particular denomination. This was objected to, as in practice establishing the Congregational Church, the majority denomination, and was abolished in 1833.
^Note 4: Until 1877 the New Hampshire Constitution required members of the State legislature to be of the Protestant religion.
^Note 5: The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 disestablished the Anglican church, but until 1835 the NC Constitution allowed only Protestants to hold public office. From 1835-1876 it allowed only Christians (including Catholics) to hold public office. Article VI, Section 8 of the current NC Constitution forbids only atheists from holding public office. Such clauses were held by the United States Supreme Court to be unenforceable in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, when the court ruled unanimously that such clauses constituted a religious test incompatible with First and Fourteenth Amendment protections.
^Note 6: Religious tolerance for Catholics with an established Church of England was policy in the former Spanish Colonies of East and West Florida while under British rule.
^Note 8: Tithes for the support of the Anglican Church in Virginia were suspended in 1776, and never restored. 1786 is the date of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which prohibited any coercion to support any religious body.
In both cases, these areas were disestablished and dissolved, yet their presences were tolerated by the Anglo-American government, 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.
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 over the principle of separation of church and state conflicting with the practice of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of 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 January 4, 1896, after the various issues had been resolved.