United Methodist Church Social Principle on Church and State Separation

164. V.The Political Community

While our allegiance to God takes precedence over our allegiance to any state, we acknowledge the vital function of government as a principal vehicle for the ordering of society.  Because we know ourselves to be responsible to God for social and political life, we declare the following relative to governments:


C) Church and State Relations -- The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and state.  In some parts of the world this separation has guaranteed the diversity of religious expressions and the freedom to worship God according to each person's conscience.  Separation of church and state means no organic union of the two, but it does permit interaction.  The state should not use its authority to promote particular religious beliefs (including atheism), nor should it require prayer or worship in the public schools, but it should leave students free to practice their own religious convictions.  We believe that the state should not attempt to control the church, nor should the church seek to dominate the state.  The rightful and vital separation of church and state, which has served the cause of religious liberty, should not be misconstrued as the abolition of all religious expression from public life.

from the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, 2005-2008.