Summary: What separation does mean is that all true religious faith is a matter of free choice, and so no state power can ever be rightly used to enforce faith or any religious conviction.
Until every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus
Christ is Lord, the abuse of power will be a major cause of human
suffering. When the country of Chad in Africa became independent
in 1960 the Christian missionaries were delighted that the first
President was a Baptist. Tambolboye was converted by Baptist
missionaries and taught in a Baptist school, and now he is a political
leader of the land. It was a dream come true, but the dream soon
became a nightmare. He established dictatorial powers and
imprisoned his army commander. He began a systematic persecution
of the Baptist. He began to force his people to restore the old pagan
rights of sacrifice to ancestral spirits. He revived the secret
ceremonies of flogging, facial scaring and drugs. The Baptist refused
to cooperate, and so their homes were ransacked and their lives
threatened. Christian children were taken away to concentration
camps. One pastor who refused to let his child go was shot.
Many of the Baptist missionaries were arrested and expelled.
All Baptist churches and schools were closed. Other Christians were
left alone, but the Baptists were persecuted. Why? Tambolboye as a
young man had been a Baptist, and as a young man he was
disciplined for some unchristian behavior. Now he was in a position
of great power, and he was using his power to get revenge. You
might say he was a devil in disguise. That could very well be, but it
could also be that he was indeed a Christian. He organized a state
church called The Evangelical Church of Chad. He was not only a
professing Christian, but he was also an evangelical.
He made two pastors the two top officials in his government, and
they began to force all Christians to conform to the state church.
Many died resisting. Pastors were tortured and had their fingers
broken and some were even buried alive. It was a horrible time, but
finally in 1975 an army officer fed up with the violence stormed the
presidential palace and killed the first Christian President of Chad.
You may think it borders on blasphemy to even call such a monster a
Christian, but let me remind you that Christians all through history
have believed and practiced just what he did. They have believed it
is right for Christians in political power to use force to coerce other
Christians into conformity with their convictions. It was even
considered right to kill them if they would not comply.
It is true that the first Christians were persecuted by the Jews,
and Paul was one of the worst. He would use his authority to arrest
and kill Christians, and he was committed to use force to drive
Christians off the face of the earth. It is true that the non-Christian
Romans were the next great persecutors of the church, and in the
first 3 centuries they wrote some of the bloodiest chapters of church
history. But the fact is, the majority of the persecution of Christians
in history has been done by other Christians, who had political
power, and who abused that power by using force to make other
We don't have time to go through history to illustrate this, but if
you have even a general knowledge of Church history you will be
aware that the official Catholic position has always been this: When
the Catholic church is in control of political power in a state, that
power should be used to force the citizens to conform to Catholic
doctrine. It is not only right, it is an obligation of the state to kill
those who refuse to conform, but remain heretics. If you know
history, you know that they practice what they preach, and many
thousands of Christians died because other Christians said they had
no right to be different from the Christians in control of state power.
Surprisingly the Protestant Reformation did not change this, and
Luther and Calvin followed the Catholic conviction. When the
church had power to coerce others into conformity, it was to use that
power. The result is that when Protestants gained power in the state
they got even with the Catholics. Now it was their turn, and they
persecuted the Catholics. They imprisoned and killed them for not
conforming to the Protestants. Luther spurred on state troops to kill
thousands of Anabaptists for their brand of Christianity. Calvin
even had a fellow theologian, by the name of Servetus, burned at the
stake because of theological differences. The reformers believed that
the state should punish people for wrong religious beliefs, and
anything was wrong that was not their belief.
When we come to the history of England it was more of the same.
It seemed like every Christian who got into power felt it was his or