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Separation of church and state

The concept of "separation of church and state" is used to highlight the difficulty of enforcing laws in a society that allows the existence of many different religions.

Many religious groups believe that the separation of church and state is a bad idea. Because religion is a fundamental and essential part of many moral and ethical values, fundamentalist groups believe that the removal of religion from the role of government is a form of religious discrimination[?], in that it prohibits them from exercising their religious views in a forum of government. These groups also object to the idea that holy writings, such as the Bible and the Qur'an, are not used as the foundation of the law.

United States

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion under law. In order to enforce this law and guarantee that laws passed in the United States will be free of religious bias, the courts have enforced the separation of church and state, which ensures that the lawmaking process is not based on the tenets of any particular religion. Under this concept, religious figures do not have authority over government or the law, solely because of their standing in the church. Likewise, religious organizations are not exempt from the law, though several religious practices have come into conflict with existing laws.

In some cases where religious beliefs have threatened to interfere with the lawmaking process, the courts have chosen (some say they were forced) to remove religious references from government altogether. This has raised issues regarding such topics as the display of religious symbols on government property, and whether the display of such symbols infers that a governing body gives one religious faith preference over another.

Several religious groups are heavily involved with politics. Some, such as the Christian Coalition, have publicly stated their intent to remove the separation of church and state, and introduce their own religious views (critics say "agenda") into the lawmaking process.

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