Confusions About Neutrality

There is no single answer to the question of how governments should behave towards religion because there are many different kinds of governments, and religions. Iran, for example is a theocracy whose supreme leader is the head of a Shi’a branch of Islam. Any citizen of Iran who suggests that his/her government should stay neutral towards religion might well get arrested. Western liberal democracies by contrast strive for religious and political freedoms. There is considerable confusion about the attitude of the founding fathers of the United States towards religion. Most of those who were religious were deists, not theists. Benjamin Franklin, for example, was a deist, but not a Christian. Their main concern was that there not be an official religion of the country, and in that regard they succeeded. Any American politician has the right to talk as much or as little about God or religion as he/she chooses.

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