Is the separation of Church and State a heresy?

I am listening to a talk by Steve Kellmeyer titled, “Catholic Perspectives on Islam”. He was describing the Islam, Protestant and Catholic perspectives on Church & State and quickly commented that the Protestant view of *separation *of Church and State is a heresy. Does anyone know the name of the heresy he is referring to? Thanks.

BTW, he said the Catholic view on Church and State is that it *distinguishes *the two. It doesn’t *separate *them like Protestantism. Is he correct?

I don’t think so.

I’ll quote from Dignitatis Humanae, a Vatican II document.

  1. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.(2) This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.

Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious.

  1. It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man’s response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will.(8) This doctrine is contained in the word of God and it was constantly proclaimed by the Fathers of the Church.(7) The act of faith is of its very nature a free act. Man, redeemed by Christ the Savior and through Christ Jesus called to be God’s adopted son,(9) cannot give his adherence to God revealing Himself unless, under the drawing of the Father,(10) he offers to God the reasonable and free submission of faith. It is therefore completely in accord with the nature of faith that in matters religious every manner of coercion on the part of men should be excluded. In consequence, the principle of religious freedom makes no small contribution to the creation of an environment in which men can without hindrance be invited to the Christian faith, embrace it of their own free will, and profess it effectively in their whole manner of life.

Separation of church and state is a blessing. I wish it were a bit more radical in it’s application.

I’d like to know what the “Protestant” view of separation of church and state is. I didn’t know there was one.

For the record, there is no mention of such in the U.S. constitution. It only says that Congress shall make no laws establishing religion (a European style state church), or limiting its free exercise.


True, Jon. Although over the years many people uphold the viewpoint that the separation of church and state is clearly defined in the Constitution. I’m also unsure of this supposed Protestant view regarding church and state–I’m sure it’s quite varied though.

Too many undefined buzzwords to offer real conclusions.

To many in the Western world today, “separation of Church & State” means that no religiously originating moral principle has any place in the reasoning of those who make, interpret or implement any law.

That’s not so much heresy as outright paganism.

The original definition was (paraphrased) “Congress shall pass no law establishing an official religion or restricting the free practice thereof.”

My how times have changed.

Or secular authoritarianism

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit