Home > Political and Social Life, Ranking of 21 to 50 > The U.S. ranks 25th in belief in the separation of church and state

The U.S. ranks 25th in belief in the separation of church and state

According to the Pew Global Attitude Project’s 2003 report, Views of a Changing World, 55% of Americans completely agree with the statement, “religion is a personal matter and should be kept separate from government.” The United States is tied for twenty-fifth (out of forty-one countries) with Russia and Uzbekistan in this category. Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) ranks first, with 84% of respondents believing in the separation of church and state.


  1. 11 February 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Of course, the phrase “separation of church and state” is not part of any governing document (although our public school history classes and the press in general does not educate people about the actual Constitution). The Bill of Rights DOES prohibit establishment of a national religion. But in any case, there is a difference between establishing a religion and recognizing the value of religion. James Madison, often referred to as the Father of the Constitution, said: “We’ve staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us….to Govern ourselves according to the commandments of God. The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded.” (http://churchvstate.blogspot.com/2007/12/even-more-thoughts-from-james-madison.html)

    But you invoke “separation of church and state.” That metaphor is from a private letter Jefferson wrote, apparently with no intention of offering a complete guide to the First Amendment. The University of Virginia has collected Jefferson’s writings. In the section where Jefferson explains the need for the First Amendment you can find the phrase “freedom of religion” six times, but you will not find the phrase “separation of church and state” even once. (http://churchvstate.blogspot.com/2008/11/thomas-jefferson-meaning-of-bill-of.html)

    It’s also worthy of note that the same men who wrote the First Amendment also authorized chaplains, commissioned a printing of the Holy Bible (20,000 copies), and allowed and attended Christian worship services in the U.S. Capitol. But during all those actions (and many others found at the links above) they did not declare Christianity was our official religion that everyone had to follow, nor did they prohibit or limit the many other religions that were practicing in the U.S. at the time.

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