A state religion (also called an official religion, established church or state church) is a religious group or creed officially accepted by the state. The term state church is used in context with Christianity, and is sometimes used for a specific national branch of Christianity.
- Christian countries
- Islamic countries
- Buddhism as state religion
- Hindu countries
- Ancient state religions
- States without any state religion
- Established churches and former state churches in Europe
- Former state churches in British North America
- State of Deseret
- Other pages
The following states recognize some form of Christianity as their state or official religion (by denomination):
Jurisdictions which recognize Roman Catholicism as their state or official religion:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Some cantons of Switzerland (state religion):
- Vatican City (Theocracy)
Jurisdictions which recognize an Old Catholic church as their state religion:
Jurisdictions which recognize one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches as their state religion:
Jurisdictions which recognize a Lutheran church as their state religion:
- Denmark (Church of Denmark)
- Iceland (Church of Iceland)
- Norway (Church of Norway)
- Finland (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland)
- Scotland (Church of Scotland) established by law
- Scotland assorted Free Presbyterian churches, unestablished.
Jurisdictions which recognize a Reformed church as their state religion:
- Some cantons of Switzerland (Swiss Reformed Church):
- England (Church of England) established by law; plus, unestablished, the world-wide Anglican Communion
Countries which recognize Islam as their official religion:
- Afghanistan (State religion)
- Egypt (State religion)
- Iran (State religion)
- Maldives (State religion)
- Pakistan (State religion)
- Saudi Arabia (Religion of the Kingdom)
- United Arab Emirates (Religion of the Kingdom)
- Maldives (as state religion)
- Pakistan (as national-sanctioned religion)
- Saudi Arabia (as state-sanctioned religion)
- Somalia (as State Religion)
Buddhism as state religion
Governments which recognize Buddhism as their official religion:
- Bhutan (Drukpa Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism)
- Cambodia (Theravada Buddhism)
- Kalmykia, a republic within the Russian Federation (Tibetan Buddhism - sole Buddhist entity in Europe)
- Thailand (Theravada Buddhism)
- Tibet Government in Exile (Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism)
- Myanmar- written in the 1974 constitution
- Nepal was the world's only Hindu state, but in order to negotiate with Maoist rebels they dropped the status as a Hindu state.
- Israel is defined in several of its laws as a Democratic Jewish state.
- The United States and other countries indirectly fund religions of different denominations by granting tax-exempt status to churches and religious institutions which qualify as charitable organizations.
Ancient state religions
Egypt and Sumer
Many of the Greek city-states also had a 'god' or 'goddess' associated with that city.
Roman Religion and Christianity
When in Rome, the office of Pontifex Maximus was reserved for the emperor, failure to worship him as a god was sometimes punished by death, as the Roman government sought to link emperor worship with loyalty to the Empire. Many Christians and Jews were persecuted, because it was against their beliefs to worship the emperor.
Catholic Christianity, as opposed to Arianism and other heretical and schismatic groups, was declared to be the state religion of the Roman Empire on February 27 380 by the decree De Fide Catolica of Emperor Theodosius I.
Han Dynasty Confucianism and Sui Dynasty Buddhism
States without any state religion
These states do not profess any state religion. Countries which officially decline to establish any religion include:
- People's Republic of China
- Czech Republic
- East Timor
- Republic of India
- Republic of Ireland
- Japan (but see Shinto and the Emperor of Japan)
- New Zealand
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Republic of Turkey
- United States of America
Established churches and former state churches in Europe
In Hungary the constitutional laws of 1848 declared five established churches on equal status: the Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Unitarian Church. In 1868 the law was ratified again after the Ausgleich. In 1895 Judaism was also recognized as the sixth established church. In 1948 every distinction between the different denominations were abolished.
Former state churches in British North America
- Plymouth Colony was founded by Separatists.
- Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was founded by Baptists.
- Province of Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers.
- When New France was transferred to Great Britain in 1763, the Roman Catholic Church remained under toleration, but Huguenots were allowed entrance where they had formerly been banned from settlement by Parisian authorities.
- Province of Maryland was founded by Irish Catholics in a state known as recusancy, but was stripped of this independence during the English Civil War by Roundheads--much as it was in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
- Spanish Florida was ceded to the Great Britain in 1763, the British divided Florida into two colonies. Both East and West Florida continued a policy of toleration for the Catholic Residents.
|Georgia||Church of England||1789|
|New Brunswick||Church of England|
|Newfoundland||Church of England|
|North Carolina||Church of England||1776|
|Nova Scotia||Church of England||1850|
|Prince Edward Island||Church of England|
|South Carolina||Church of England||1790|
|Upper Canada||Church of England||1854|
|West Florida||Church of England||N/A|
|East Florida||Church of England||N/A|
|Virginia||Church of England||1786|
|West Indies||Church of England||1868|
in 1789 the Georgia Constitution was amended as follows: "Article IV. Section 10. No person within this state shall, upon any pretense, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping God in any manner agreeable to his own conscience, nor be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall he ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rate, for the building or repairing any place of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or hath voluntarily engaged. To do. No one religious society shall ever be established in this state, in preference to another; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious principles."
From 1780 Massachusetts had a system which required every man to belong to a church, and permitted each church to tax its members, and did not require that it be a Congregational church. This was objected to, as in practice establishing the Congregational Church, and was abolished in 1833.
Until 1877 the New Hampshire Constitution required members of the State legislature to be of the Protestant religion.
The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 disestablished the Anglican church, but until 1835 the NC Constitution allowed only Protestants to hold public office. From 1835-1876 it allowed allowed only Christians (including Catholics) to hold public office. Article VI, Section 8 of the current NC Constitution forbids only atheists from holding public office. Such clauses were held by the United States Supreme Court to be unenforceable in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, when the court ruled unanimously that such clauses constituted a religious test incompatible with First and Fourteenth Amendment protections.
Religious Tolerance for Catholics with an Established Church of England were policy in the former Spanish Colonies of East and West Florida while under British rule. East Florida was lost to Spain in 1781.
Religious tolerance for Catholics with an established Church of England were policy in the former Spanish Colonies of East and West Florida while under British rule. East Florida was returned to Spain in 1783.
State of Deseret
State religion Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.