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What about the separation of church and state?

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The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment contains two statements regarding the relationship between organized religion and the U.S. Congress:

  • The Establishment Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
  • The Free Exercise Clause: "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Having lived under governments and monarchs which endorsed a single religion – sometimes with force - the framers of the Constitution wrote laws that precluded a similar situation in the fledgling United States of America. There is no constitutional restriction on people of faith or on religious organizations in bringing their views into the political forum.

The Catholic Church’s teachings assume that States and the Church each have essential, but clearly different, roles in shaping public life. Pope Benedict explained in Deus Caritas Est:

“The Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. … The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. (Pope Benedict, Deus Caritas Est, no. 28)”

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