Why is it important to separate religion form the state?
A wall of separation between church and state. This is a very strong statement, very clear in meaning. First of all, it means that the government cannot make laws that favor one religion over any other, because it cannot make laws related to the establishment of a religion or the free expression of religious beliefs. The government cannot endorse any particular religion – meaning there can be no copies of the Ten commandments, Kuran and Bhagvad Gita in front of Schools, nor nativity scenes in government buildings, nor Buddha statues in front of government offices.
Religious leaders and their followers should relish in this wall of separation, rather than trying to knock it down. Why? because it is there not only to keep religion out of government, but to keep government out of religion. The wall of separation goes both ways; the Establishment Clause protect not only the government from meddling by religious organizations, but protects religious organizations from interference with the practice of their beliefs by government as long as long as those beliefs do not require actions, like human sacrifice, that break laws not related to religious practice.
The most important aspect of secularism is its separation of religion from State power. This is important for a county to function democratically. Almost all countries of the world will have more than one religious group living in them. Within theses religious groups, there will most likely be one group that is in a majority. If this majority religious group has access to State power, then it could quite easily use this power and financial resources to discriminate against and persecute persons of other religions. This tyranny of the majority could result in the discrimination, coercion and at times even the killing of religious minorities. The majority could quite easily prevent minorities from practicing their religions. Any form of domination based on religion is in violation of the rights that a democratic society guarantees to each and every citizen irrespective of their religion. Therefore, the tyranny of the majority and the violation of Fundamental Rights that can result is one reason why it is important to separate the State and religion in democratic societies.
Another reason that it is important to separate religion from the State in democratic societies is because we also need to protect the freedom of individuals to exit from their religion, embrace another religion or have the freedom to interpret religious teaching differently. To understand this point better, let us take the practice of untouchability . You might feel that you dislike this practice within Hinduism and therefore , you want to try and reform it. However, if State power were in the hands of those Hindus who support untouchablility, then do you think that you would have an easy task to try and change this? Even if you were part of the dominant religious group, you might face a lot of resistance from fellow members of your community. These members who have control of State power might say that there is only one interpretation of Hinduism and that you do not have the freedom to interpret this differently.