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Leaders of Judaism and Islam agree on one point. Religion is the rightful governor of the state. Catholics did too--until the Reformation. This belief no doubt came about within the religions themselves. In early times, religions arose from and were related to authority whether, family, tribal, city, king, or prophet in origin. Faith systems were needed desperately to provide, with some variations, a purpose to existence, a hereafter, and moral directives. Each cult provided a reason for being and a symbol of identity for both the individual and the group. At the same time the faith of their particular cult provided rulers with sanctions needed for their laws. Mohammed may be seen as the archetype, but the OT prophets had already shown the way.

Meanwhile, along came Matthew. Quoting the Christ, he wrote in 22:21, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Matthew's fellow disciples did not pick up on that one, and subsequent commentators do not universally agree upon its true meaning. What is important is what most people thought it meant.

For two millennia now, Matthew 22:21 has been central to the issue of church and state in Christendom and thereby to the history of the Western world. Although freedom from the Popes only came after mighty struggles in the middle ages, nations of the Christian world eventually came to realize that separating state and state did indeed provide a better method of governance for society. But the Fundamentalist Christians still debate that. For some examples, visit: American United for Separation of Church and State.

For the Jews, "God was Caesar." For the Muslims, Allah was the supreme sovereign and the Caliph was God's shadow upon the earth and his word. Only the Christians discovered how God and Caesar can coexist. Group identity, morality and purpose provide for civility. Guiding civility for progress is quite another, and is best left to secular authority.

Nevertheless, for two millennia, the monotheisms have been in conflict. Islam invaded Europe and Christianity with their Crusades invaded the lands of Islam. Judaism was a factor mostly at the beginning and at end of those millennia. The historical fact remains that monotheism has failed to quench violence in its many forms.

The Constitution of the United States (and that of France as well) wisely and explicitly requires the separation of Church and state, even as it provides protection for those who believe in any of the manifold faiths extant in modern societies.

And so it remains to this day. Israel proclaims itself to be a democracy. What it never mentions is that only Jews have a significant say about political and temporal matters. Islamic terrorist groups have declared jihad against this concept. They make no bones about it. With the Qur'an, Hadith, and Shariah, who needs a constitution? For that matter, who needs a nation or state?

In contrast, the Christian churches have developed their own sets of rules and laws that govern their religious affairs along side those of the nation. Each system recognizes the turf and value of the other.

While the Muslim observation that the Christian Trinity is merely a reversion to paganism may have weight in the abstract, it still remains that those nations that have effectively separated church and state have become the innovators and economic leaders of the world. Turkey and perhaps Pakistan seem to be showing that this separation might work in the world of Islam as well.


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