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Rome Reports

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Is separation between church and state possible?

According to a September 2017 Pew Research Study, 59 percent of people around the world believe there should be a separation of church and state. On that same note, one-in-five countries have a religion that is favored by the country's government. 

PROF. SAMIR KHALIL SAMIR
Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome)

“There is no country with no religion. You have religious people everywhere, more or less. The point is that the government has no religion, respects all religions, all groups: religious and non-religious. This should be the norm.”

Egyptian professor Samir, an expert in ecumenism, says this separation should be normal. However, statistics prove that it's not always so, with Islam as the most common government-endorsed faith, with 27 countries, compared with 13 countries who support Christianity

At the same time, while many countries might not have an “officially supported” religion, 40 unofficially favor one religion over the others. Christianity is the most favored and awarded more preferences throughout society in 28 countries.

PROF. SAMIR KHALIL SAMIR
Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome)

“Now when you have in a country, the majority from one group, it's normal that you give to this group some opportunity to have their own feasts. For instance Christmas is a Christian feast; it's not a political feast, but because in many countries the majority are Christians, so it's a feast day. In Islam other occasions would be national feasts, even for Christians. This is normal, when you look at the majority and you say, 'Ok, I follow in this case the majority.' But I'm not interfering in what they do, what they think, this is not the aim of a country.”

As an Egyptian, where only 10 percent of society are Christians, Prof. Samir has seen what Islam and Christianity are able to contribute to a society. 

He said, by nature, Islam is a “totality,” meaning it's harder to separate the political, economical and spiritual life, but instead every aspect of an Islam's life is brought under this “umbrella of religion.” This is why he believes out of the 80 countries in the world who support a specific religion, Islam is the most popular and has the ability to be adopted as the official religion by even more governments in the future.