Climate action and separation of church and state

I must notice that I not American so phrase “separation of church and state” don’t have for me the same meaning as in USA, so some part of these text can be quite strange to anyone from United States. To the point. While all constantly hear about need for these separation I also hear about Christians need to “fight for climate” and no one protests that various religious figures act on behalf of it.

This don’t add to me, since climate policy is most often backed by state: by various laws, governmental agencies, states money and so on. And religious figures meet on various events with top world politicians and proclaim religious significance of these very secular action. I mean, if such thigh ties between religious leaders and politicians was make on many, many different issues, they would be probably denounced as breaking separation of church and state and here is only silence.

Maybe someone of you, much better versed in action for climate can tell me what is the reason for these peculiar situation?

One answer is that since climate affect us all, such cooperation of church and state is necessary. This is extremely unsatisfying answer, since salvation is also thing that “affect” every human and today who would say that it need cooperation of church and state. That climate is easier to see by “naked eye” than salvation, to my as Christian (bad one) is also unacceptable answer.

As a side not. I often state that I’m not American and these is probably boring to you now. I do it, because I really thing different that all Americans that I know, because I grew up in different culture and because of that we often can’t understand each other. We use the same words, but they mean different things to us.

“Separation of Church and State” means that the United States doesn’t have an official state religion. The country accommodates the practice of religion but doesn’t endorse a particular religion. So you can’t teach Intelligent Design in a science classroom, for example.

However, the study of climate falls within the realm of science. Climate scientists include both religious and non-religious people. There is no problem of church and state here. Religious people are free to speak out as they see fit.

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I have said that 90% of religion is language. It really riled people up because they thought I meant that religious claims were not about things which are real. But that is not what I meant. Rather I meant mostly what you explain here. They have their own language and big part of becoming a part of their religion is to learn that language.

Hi, Kamil, and welcome to the forum.

Your are correct that some of your post is hard to understand. Here is what I think I do understand of what you asked. Please correct me if I misunderstand you.

You observed that in the U.S. we have an especially strong separation of church and state. And yet it is action by governments that is most needed and most effective to address climate change. So how does our church here in the U.S. address this environmental problem without becoming too political? Or do U.S. churches address it adequately? Or at all? Are those your questions?

If so, they are good ones. Religion in the U.S. isn’t some monolithic (singular or unified) entity. It’s messy. There are some church communities here that ignore or even deny climate change. Or it just might not be important to some of them. Other churches recognize the moral imperative our present culture has to try to address problems that we (and our benefitting ancestors) had a large hand in creating.

And churches are also very diverse here in their attitudes about how church and state should relate to each other. No church that I know of wants any state government oversight into their operations, but there are some churches that don’t mind (or even encourage) influence the other way: I.e. promoting certain political causes or even candidates in a church. Because of taxation rules, churches here are obliged to be careful about this if they wish to keep their tax-free status. But morally speaking, most churches I’ve been acquainted with have no problem thinking that our religious convictions should very much influence every aspect of our lives, including our political involvements and persuasions. This can be good and it can be bad, of course, depending on the cause (and what you think of that cause) that a church is using its influence for.

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@KZiemian, I think what many here are trying to communicate is that climate change is not just a political or economic issue, but rather is a moral and ethical issue that we as Christians need to address in our lives and, yes, also in our politics, as in a democracy, politics is the way things get done.
As Christians, we are responsible for how our actions affect the poor, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged, and climate change is a part of that. We are also placed in the position of being made in God’s image and are stewards of creation.


Have you ever watched Game of Thrones or read the book?

If so do you remember when the cult took over the secular kingdom and had authority equal to the state?or read in European history where the catholics held power thst essentially matched the kings? Separation of church and state is also making it clear that the church, such as the pope, does not hold authority over the over the government.

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Adding to the great posts others have written, the historical context of how the US was founded is also important. Many groups (e.g. the Puritans) immigrated to the new continent to escape state sponsored religious persecution in Europe. It also goes without saying that Americans in the late 18th century weren’t too keen on monarchies that were supported by the church and concepts of Divine Right. This is why separating religion and government was so important to the founders of the US.


Exactly. The Founding Fathers wanted to avoid the carnage that comes from having a state religion, so they separated church and state. (However, Christian Nationalists are pushing the falsehood that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.)

I already answer this objection when talking about “That climate is easier to see by “naked eye” than salvation, to my as Christian (bad one) is also unacceptable answer.”. Also, what about “keep your rosaries off my ovaries”?

This is the root of my question and the core of my problem.

To be honest I’m person that dislike abortion to much extent and I’m quite fed up how many progressive people in my country use idea of “separation of church and state”. According to them when the part of church just teach against abortion it is “violation of separation of church and state”. The most outrageous union of throne and altar in the serve of climate change or another program blessed by this progressives movement is according to them “realization of Gospel message, that church must re alive to stay true to itself”. In practice separation of church and state often means church should become local branch of the strongest progressive party in the land, which is just terrible state of affair.

This situation that both upset and angry me (I can’t hide that), make me very worry about church and state working together on climate change. Even notable goals can be co-opted by wicked human plans.

I understand that, but when it comes to details, this point of view is more a problem than a solution. I can expand of that.

I know history enough that know that from XVI century protestant churches was often part of the state to the point king was in fact pope of this church, with probably more power over his church than pope have over Catholic Church. To these days Queen Elisabeth the Second appoints bishops of the Church of England.

“Song of Ice and Fire” is very poor reference to this problem, but I read all the volumes of it.

Other your comments are beside my point.

I agree that when state and church become cozy with each other, mischief follows.

That said, the church should be the conscience of the state (and indeed all the wider culture) should it not? Isn’t that the church operating at its best if it calls out the culture and challenges it where it needs to be challenged? And why should the state be exempted from that?

In the U.S. here, and regarding climate change, the wider church is far, far away from operating as any sort of prophetic voice of challenge. Instead, many in the church here have embedded themselves with causes that deny reality (such as climate change) and have actually rushed to become the moral low ground (they can’t be a good influence on anybody because they are obliged to look up to even the state which is ahead of them in terms of truth or reality). Don’t you find that at least as disturbing?

Very few people consistently adhere to the principle of “separation of church and state”. What it almost always really means is: “I oppose any collaboration of the two on those issues where I don’t like what the state is doing.” But then when the state passes laws they approve of and wanted, suddenly their separation “principle” evaporates into thin air - showing that they were not at all governed by that particular principle, but by other principles instead. (And maybe rightly so - perhaps there are many other principles which do or should occupy a higher place). It’s just that when people pretend they are holding up some principle as this when they really don’t, it has a disturbingly partisan flavor to it where the “ends justify the means”. That tends to provoke my ire - and yet I may be as guilty of it as the next person.

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In the moment of American Revolution I think 9 of 13 colonies have state supported churches. According to what I found Connecticut abolish state link to state church only in 1818.

I disagree. I think it lines out wonderfully and my discussion was aimed at the general route discussions take.

Indeed. The colonies tended to not seek freedom of religion, but rather freedom for their particular religion. A recent book I read on the Scotch Irish migration to America discussed how they (largely Presbyterian) came in conflict with the Anglican, Quaker and other groups in the areas they settled. Religion was more central to daily life in that time than it is today. Now, I see little effect of religion on government in the area of climate change. Unfortunately. The church has little effect on government in general except as a demographic to mine for votes by politicians.


Can you explain in what sens?

I less disturbed by that, than by fact that states like USA under current administration and many members of the church, with many most important people included, are too eager to establish union on throne and altar to “fight climate change”. Since state wants church support on this line, it looks like state desire existence of “state church” that preach moral righteousness of government actions on this front. Also there are various suspicions about USA government paying various churches substantial sums of money under the banner of “support of environment protections”, but what can be just high sounding bribe. I don’t know if it is true, but sounds too plausible to ignore it at hand.

I’m worried that supposed line of separation of church and state is too often overstepped from both side when it comes to things like climate change, which have big support by various states, just look at recent G7 meeting. At the same time church is totally ignored as conscious of the state in many topics that go contrary to the state desires.

Is fighting climate change along side the state wort of church becoming not a conscience, but just part of state PR department? I don’t think so.

Sorry, but that sounds bizarre. In the US, the church has not been a voice for climate change, in the government, in the church, or in society at large for the most part. And Christians who do speak out tend to get more criticism than support from their fellow church members (see Dr. Katharine Hayhoe).
If anything, I see more pressure exerted by industry and those in the government who deny climate change to manipulate church members than the other way around.


England doesn’t have separation of church and state.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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