Church and State: An Alternative Understanding?

Recently, there has been a lively discussion about the respective roles of Church and State and their necessary separation. The predominant opinion is that unless they are separated, the detriment to the Church is always deleterious. In other words, the State will eventually deform the Church and make it do its bidding.

Like most Americans, I’ve always thought along these lines, being as that we’ve long been taught that this was the case.

This is simplistic however. Upon closer examination, Jefferson’s actual words far more nuanced than what we’ve come to believe. The Supreme Court decision of Bell in 1942 inflicted upon our nation an entirely novel understanding of Jefferson’s doctrine. In retrospect, it (Bell) will come to be viewed with the same skeptical eye that Roe v Wade already is viewed.

In other words, just as there is no inherent right to abort pre-born babies, the idea that the various American States have no claim to preferring one Christian denomination over another is bogus. The First Amendment restricts the right of the Congress from doing so, not the individual States.

This of course will be debated further in the comments to follow (no doubt). My concern at present is to present an alternate view of Church-State relations and to look more closely at the reflexive bias which indicates that it is the Church which always comes up the loser.

In a previous comment, I responded to one of our more prolific commentators that just a cursory reading of history would indicate otherwise; that is to say that it’s just as possible that the Church can come out the winner. I cited three rather quick examples rather quickly.

Today, I bring you a more modern incident in which an actual king (Edward VIII of England) was basically removed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang. Edward’s abdication was put into motion by Lang who worked feverishly behind the scenes to remove the new king, something which I didn’t know. The extent of his subversion is astounding, to say the least. Rather than bore you with the details (and possibly get some wrong in the telling), I ask instead that you watch the following documentary for yourselves.

P.S. It’s something of a twofer as I’ve noticed some interest among several correspondents about the Netflix series The Crown. Which I cannot recommend enough, it’s that good.

About GShep


  1. Martyr’s Guilt says

    While George, Billy, and the advocate have many good points on this subject matter, in so far as history goes, today’s world is a much different world, there are no more kingdoms that are legit and there never will be, in so far as Russia. Russia will never allow another king or queen to rule them no matter how powerful The Russian Orthodox Church might become. I would think most Russians would say, “been there, done that, no thanks.” Now there might be a fifth of Russians that would, there is also a fifth of Russians that would love the return of the Soviet Union as well. See the problem there? It is the perfect recipe for another revolution or civil war, guess who gets caught in the middle, average Russians, who simply want to live their lives out without any more bloodshed, or economic meltdowns. Both extremes have let down the masses of Russia, in the past and the majority of them I would imagine would not like the return of either. Do you really believe a new Romanov monarchy is possible George? I find it so hard to believe that a man of your intelligence would.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you for your perspective as well as your estimation of my intelligence but yes, I do think that a restoration is possible, even probable. The normal state of man and his government is hierarchical. And monarchy is the epitome of hierarchy.

      Don’t get too comfy in assuming that republicanism is the end-state of history. I used to think so as far as the US is concerned but if anything, Trump’s victory has shown me how incredibly unhinged and deranged the modern left is. Besides all the silly little trollops in Hollywood who are begging the military to stage a coup d’etat, we now have a Yale psychiatrist who wrote that Trump should be kidnapped and placed under involuntary psychiatric evaluation.

      Now, Trump may be as mad as a March hare or the sane man alive, that’s not the point. The point is this: we are democratic Republic and there are millions of people from all walks of life who think that the duly elected president of our Republic should be overthrown. Does this sound like a Republic to any sane man? A banana Republic maybe but not a Constitutional one.

      Do these people not understand that they are invalidating the very concept republicanism?

      • Michael Bauman says

        They are tyrannical in mind George. They have no clue what a Republic is nor do they care. They live in a cocoon of ignorance and arrogance. They despise us even a titular fellow Orthodox “brother” such as Tom Hanks.

        Why we keep giving them money and fame is beyond me. Habit probably. Our own desires.

        Hillary’s pretty open statement that we deplorables need to be reeducated was what brought me to the voting booth.

      • Martyr’s Guilt says

        George, to be fair to the left, there were A LOT of right wingers who wanted Obama overthrown as well. Ironic that Trump lead one portion of the desired overthrowof Obama, with the birthcertificate issue. Nothing like we see today, but then again the right wingers did not have the mass majority of the msm to showcase the lefts assault 24/7. Whenever the tea party folk were shown by msm,it was with a racist, hillbilly slant, during Obama Presidency. It is a miracle Trump is still standing tall, the man is a genius if you consider all the political and media warfare he has endured and not only overcome, but beat.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        As Ronald Syme said:
        “In all ages, whatever the form and name of government, be it monarchy, republic, or democracy, an oligarchy lurks behind the façade …. “

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          True, very true.

          Peter A Papoutsis

        • Michael Bauman says

          Timor, oligarchies are not intrinsically devious or evil. They can be simply a group of people with position and influence rightfully gained. Government is, after all, a communal activity. It is when it becomes divorced from communion and infected with the lust of power that oligarchy becomes damaging.

      • George

        You may be very smart

        But you are still capable of generating an extremely creepy and moronic straw man argument.

        Speaking of black women

        You know who’s gonna be the next president after Trump? Oprah Winfrey!

        A shout out to my lady for the heads up on this new crazy possibility being circulated

        Think about it because it’s totally gonna happen if Oprah does, in fact, decide to run. Shes got everything the media, pop culture and the political world has been pushing

        She’s rich like a Bush, black like Obama, female like HC and a celebrity way – way beyond Trump – and she has run an extremely wealthy empire of her own for quite a while now.

        If an election is nothing more than a popularity contest, who in this country could possibly beat Oprah?

        You want a monarchy? You might come close with Oprah

        But you can forget about symphonia – she wont be handing out any of that – so don’t bother looking under your seat for it

        “You get secular humanism, and you get secular humanism! Everybody gets secular humanism!!”

        The only thing that will be under our seat is a shit sandwich

    • Martyr;’s Guilt,

      I’m afraid your numbers are off. There are only about half a million members left in the Russian Communist Party, out of a population of 142 million, that is 0.0035211%.


      Some long for the geopolitical status enjoyed by the Soviet Union, Putin included. But that is not a matter of preferred political form of government but a nostalgia for a more powerful Russia.

      Here are some other notes on monarchy in Orthodox you might find interesting:
      Eastern and Central Europe

      The wind is definitely shifting toward autocracy or at least authoritarianism. Czar Nicholas II lived with a Duma for 12 years, it might be remembered. There is no reason why an Orthodox Russian czar who might succeed Putin could not share power with a legislative body for some indeterminate period of time. Putin’s terms in office are practically a preparation for such a restoration.

      About a third of the Russian people and closer to 40 percent of Russian young people support a restoration of the monarchy in some form.

      What they have had enough of is Enlightenment Liberalism.

      • Martyr’s Guilt says

        Respectfully Misha we know how reliable polls can be, all we need to do is look at our current president. I still believe monarchy rule in Russia would end up being a disaster in the long run, for the Russian people regardless what common people feel they want for the Russian nation. Thanks for all the links, I find the sites interesting, as well as most of your posts, regardless if I agree or not.

  2. Cozy with Hitler and married to that awful American woman, I dread to think what his reign would have been like had he not abdicated.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Hard to say what his reign would have been like. He was very popular with the people and didn’t like ceremony or ritual. He affected an American accent and loved jazz. He saw himself as a man of the people. Not bad things in and of themselves.

      True, he was cozy with Herr Hitler but now we know that his brother and successor was as ardently pro-appeasement as he was. Things got out of hand and it got to the point where the British couldn’t really trust Hitler’s overtures.

      I recommend Darkest Hour btw. Excellent performance by Gary Oldman.

  3. “Trump’s victory has shown me how incredibly unhinged and deranged the modern left is.”
    Well said.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Seriously PDNJ, these people have gone off the deep end. That’s bad enough but on my Facebook page, I’ve seen a hatefulness by people I’ve considered to be normies that’s unnerving. Because many of them are liberals and hate guns I feel somewhat mollified but Jeez Louise! are these people filled with venom.

      • Trump will likely win re-election:

        His age is my only real concern and I know people in their nineties who get around better than my grandfather did in his sixties. God seems to be with him.

        I do not make that last statement lightly. He exaggerates, sometimes wildly. He seems to operate out of a sort of emotional instinct rather than anything heavily data based. But he has people to crunch numbers, and he sees other numbers and as a CEO it makes an emotional impression on him and he trusts that rather than the latest drivel out of the WP or NYT.

        I continue to believe that he is very intelligent. It’s just that he comes from a rough and tumble New York culture and his emotions are nearly off the chain.

        But he copes, as we do.

  4. Constaninos says

    Dear George,
    Oprah for president? Why?!?!!

  5. Michael Bauman says

    The product of our tax supported indoctrination system.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    What is it we hear every Christmas? “God is with us!!! Understand and submit yourself all ye nations for God is with us!

    …and of course “and the government shall be upon His shoulders…”

    The Church, i.e., the Orthodox Church, is the embodiment of Christ Himself–fully divine but also fully human including all of our sinfulness. Still the Church is one of the essential gifts of the Incarnation. It is only through the Church and in the Church that we can face our shame and, by grace, be healed of our sin and know freedom.

    The Church as the fount of the Holy Spirit, not of power, must be preeminent in the life of all people. Government cannot be separate from that, is not separate from that. He is after all fully human. All government is theologically based. It is impossible to have a government that has no theology. The nature of that god and the Truth of that god along with the willingness or unwillingness of the populace to embrace that god determines the nature of society.

    The tendency to dualism notwithstanding, there is nothing without God.

    The god of modernism and “separation of church and state” is a dedication to the license of unbridled passions for elite individuals and the complimentary tyranny of the state on the rest. The elite cannot embrace unbridled passions without there being a tyrannical state. Read Nietzsche. Look at history.

    Theocracy is no better. In fact it is probably worse, tyranny in the name of God has the evil one’s imprint all over it.

    If we want freedom we have to embrace both the Church and her Lord, our Lord, God and Savior in obedience, repentance and thanksgiving.

    Does that require and earthly King? I do not think so but I could be wrong. The polity of Israel prior to Saul and indeed of the Church herself to this day seems to suggest no earthly King is required. Hierarchy yes, but it is local hierarchy in which the hierarch is nested in his community. There is a further system of hierarchy of the local hierarchs but that is easily distorted by the monarchical ideal the “first among equals” nonsense. That can easily become “one ring to rule them all”. There can be a “first among equals” but that is not a position vested in one person. It is a seat of honor and responsibility for order’s sake for a time as necessary, not a permanent office.

    One reason the Emperor called the Councils is because he had the power to order things in a manner that is not appropriate to the Church. However, when Charlemagne crowned himself, that reversed the proper order of authority. Authority is of the Church (to bind and loose). The power of the state is simply to order society in accord with the Church. The state has power but no authority. The Church has authority but no power. That is proper synergy.

    When the Church assumes power or the state assumes authority, confusion, struggle and war result.

    It is a messy partnership in a fallen world. However to run from it because it is messy is a big mistake. To invest both power and authority in the “people” is a bigger mistake. It will never work. It will always devolve into tyranny. To invest authority in the people and power in the state as republics try to do does not work either. Not without the Church.

    Can there be a God ordained and ordered republic? That is the question.

    • Will Harrington says

      Charlemagne may have willingly worked toward being crowned emperor, but the Bishop of Rome crowned him. It can also be pointed out that Mount Athos is a republic so to answer your last question, yes. Can their be a functional democracy that is secular? Now that is the real question.

  7. Look what the Global bankers (IMF/BIS/World Bank) has accomplished with coercion and violence . Their beloved ecumenism “by any means necessary”. Fish in a barrel…..

  8. ..and Knesset….

  9. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the World Religion News website.



  10. To me, the very conversation of Church vs. State is a non-starter. There really was no separation and there isn’t one now. The American government, much like Harvard at the time, was Unitarian from the start. Our government was Unitarian Christian for nearly 2 centuries. Then, much like the Unitarian denomination itself which always dominates Harvard, Yale and Princeton, the Government also merged with Universalist denomination in the late 1950’s.

    There is no “default” position. Our government is simply the weakest form of Christianity you could devise. One that provides an outer shell for wars, tragedies and triumphs, while alienating the fewest folks, and most importantly, does not impede consumption. Even drives it.

    This is not the problem. Far from it. This may even be laudable under other circumstances. The problem is education. Public education. It installs the universalist position in kids so often and so early that at any point later in life they do come to faith, it is always a kind of anxious, nervous faith, one that is acutely aware that they are “falling afoul” the received wisdom of rejecting exclusive truth claims. It takes until your late 30’s to gather the social courage to NOT feel like you are committing a crime against others by having faith. Not every Catholic school kid stays Catholic, but every one that does, that went to Mass during school, and grew up 8 hours a day in an environment where the faith was normal and actually good, retains that normalcy later. While public school kids, youth group and camp and etc. aside, no matter how old, still feel like “the culture” is not right. How many orthodox sites are like this? And how many people here went to religious school? Even the two words together is a greater blasphemy than Church and State.

    Until Christians of all stripes remove their kids from public education, the culture is doomed. It’s like making your kids run 10 miles backwards into hell, and then tell them ok, you;re 18, turn around and run out, all by themselves, with the entire new cohort coming at them. Its a crime.

    And it was foreseen.

    “the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of Atheism which the world has ever seen.[1]”

    If you fix that problem George, the Church/State thing becomes irrelevant.

    So where are those Orthodox schools again?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Profound thoughts there.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Well, my parish has an Orthodox school. Christ the Savior Academy. It took over twenty years to get it off the ground. But we have it. The headmaster is a monk. The previous headmaster left the position to become a monk.

      Most parishes do not have the resources however. Cooperative homeschooling center in the parish seems to be the next best possibility.

      • You’re on the right track but need a shot of testosterone to turbocharge the thing. The great failing of Orthodoxy in America is that we have not – at least with regard to the three major jurisdictions here – adopted a “repeal and replace” attitude toward polytheistic American culture. Orthodox schools are a good start but a change in the mindset of believers is necessary in that the dominant culture must be delegitimized in their heart of hearts or they will not offer Orthodoxy as a clean replacement/alternative.

        There’s really very little to be salvaged other than the language (English). What semi-healthy heterodox patriarchal Christian culture there was here is long dead except for a few Amish or Mennonite outposts. Perhaps a few hard core bible Baptist type churches as well. But that’s all that remains of a once great Christian civilization.

        So Americanizing Orthodoxy is fine and dandy if you mean using the English language or having bonnets for women’s headcoverings instead of scarves, or translating all the Greek and Slavonic everyday terms into English (“God-Bearer”, instead of Theotokos or Bogoroditsa).

        But if all the Orthodox in America have to offer is a 39th flavor of Christianity-lite, then no one will buy it. “Americanizing Orthodoxy” should mean translating traditional Orthodoxy into terms that Americans can understand and find familiar, even assimilating it.

        PS: And not to beat a dead horse, but America is just waiting for daddy to come home; i.e., for the restoration of the patriarchy. That is one reason that Mormonism has caught on with so many here. Whoever finds a way to re-connect the patriarchy with ordinary Americans will weaponize Orthodoxy and reap many ripe fields.

        But it can’t be equivocating and apologetic. It absolutely must be self confident and insistent in order to be persuasive and be taken seriously.

  11. Joseph Lipper says

    The concept of hierarchy is completely turned upside-down by Jesus Christ. Instead of a top-down hierarchy as we are accustomed to in government and business, Christ’s example shows us a bottom-up hierarchy. His example shows us that the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven will bear shame on this earth and be considered the least and the servant of all.

    Regarding the relationship between Church and State, what does the life of Christ show us?

    Jesus Christ had a number of encounters with the government. Jesus encountered the pagan Roman government in the personages of Augustus Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, and also through their soldiers and officers . How did Christ respond to the pagan authorities of His time? He mostly kept His mouth shut and was obedient. Regarding paying taxes, Christ said of Tiberius Caesar, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” To Pontius Pilate, Christ said “My Kingdom is not of this world”. Christ was ultimately obedient to the pagan authority even unto being crucified.

    Christ also encountered the ostensibly “Jewish” government authority through the personages of Herod the Great and also Herod Antipas. They were the successive governors of Judea who claimed to be the Jewish “King of the Jews” but were also very unscrupulous and opportunistic characters. Herod the Great, to prove his “Jewishness”, had the temple reconstructed and rebuilt , but then he tried to kill Jesus by a decreed slaughter of male infants. Joseph and Mary hid Jesus from this “Jewish” government’s decree.

    The “Jewish” successor to Herod the Great was named Herod Antipas. He was chastised by John the Baptist for marital infidelity, and this Herod was also ultimately responsible for John the Baptist’s martyrdom. Christ’s only disparaging comment for a government authority was reserved for this one. Christ called him “that fox”. However, when Christ was delivered to Herod Antipas for questioning, Christ kept completely silent and bore the shame of being cruelly mocked by him.

    It is interesting that the very limited criticism we see of earthly government here is directed only at those authorities who claim to be Jewish, or of the faith of Christ. There is zero criticism expressed for the pagan Roman government.

  12. When the Global private banks (all in partnership) have become “the State”,
    ..Starting a book by Father Spyridon Bailey : “Orthodoxy and the kingdom of satan” His follow up of Holy Seriphim Rose’ : “Orthodoxy and the “religion” of the future”. ..So far, so good. Very discerning.

  13. The IMF : Brother Nathanael.

  14. Gail Sheppard says

    George. . . George. . . GEORGE!

    I have mentioned this to you before. Can you not open threads entitled, “News in the Orthodox World” and “Global Events,” so we do not miss seeing things like what Greatly Saddened posts or even things YOU post because the links are embedded in threads that have nothing to do with either? In addition, it would enable those who have received a response to something they may have said in a thread that IS relevant and IS in the right place to see that someone has responded to them. What you see on the right are the most recent comments; not necessarily the most relevant because they are getting buried with news items.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gail, lemme see what I can do. We’re looking to make some upgrades. I ask everyone to be patient with me!

  15. Gail Sheppard says

    No upgrades need to be made. Just open a thread and put a title on it. In the text, tell people what it is for. Someone will post something every week so it will stay open indefinitely.

  16. George

    Who’s the “we?” in, “we’re looking to make some upgrades. “

  17. Oh

    In that case, “we” here at “straightouttacompline” thank you

  18. Joseph Lipper says

    For Mike Pence, Backing Israel’s Occupation Is a Matter of Faith:

    “In Mike Pence’s eagerness to be the evangelicals’ messiah, he’s happy to boost the occupation, kill the idea of two states and bully the Palestinians, and frame it all as divinely ordained”

    • Constaninos says

      Dear Joseph,
      Don’t we have to conclude that Mike Pence adheres to the Dispensationalist heresy? You know, pre- tribulation rapture, Israel defeating Russia, a literal one thousand year reign of the Messiah in Jerusalem, etc.. This is what we get with very bad theology. We get the oppression of our Palestinian Orthodox Christian brother and sisters. Mike Pence is a Christian Zionist.

      • Joseph Lipper says


        If Mike Pence were just a Zionist, I would be fine with that. It’s when people are Zionist because of their “Christianity”; this is problematic. I believe that Orthodox Christians need to make a stand against “Christian Zionism”. It’s not Christian, and it’s rampant in America.

        The religious right makes a stand against the murder of abortion and the sodomy of homosexuality. However, they have always hugely supported “Christian Zionism”. By doing so they are effectively supporting murder in the Middle East and the sodomization of America by the State of Israel. This is not Christian.

        It’s interesting that abortion and homosexuality rights in America are mostly the purview of the U.S. justice system, however our U.S. Zionist foreign policy is not. The elected U.S. President and congress has much more control over Zionist foreign policy than they do over abortion and homosexuality rights.

        It makes you wonder what the religious right in America is really doing.

        • Constaninos says

          Dear Joseph Lipper,
          Here! Here! Great post. Thank you.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            How much progress has the religious right made in fighting abortion rights in America since Roe vs Wade in 1973?

            How much progress has the religious right made in fighting homosexual rights in America with the founding of the Moral Majority in 1979?

            However, the religious right has made plenty of real progress with it’s support of Zionism. The State of Israel continues to expand and occupy Palestinian territory and achieve it’s goals with the almost unwavering and generous support of the United States of America. This is all supported in the name of Christianity.

            • Constaninos says

              Dear Mr. Lipper,
              Personally, I get real tired of the love affair that American Evangelicals have with the state of Israel. Jerusalem really bothers me. Nowhere in international law does it say the holy city is the ” eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people.” Jerusalem is supposed to be under international control because of its importance to the three Abrahamic religions, but you already know that. As you know, President Washington warned against entangling foreign alliances in his farewell address. That’s not to say that all Zionists are necessarily bad. I read that are many Rabbis are protesting Israel”s treatment of migrant Africans. Jewish Voices for Peace supports the BDS movement.

            • Points for Lipper.

              Now the religious right has started to condemn contraception. Predictions Lipper?

              • Joseph Lipper says

                I’ve always believed the best contraception was abstinence, chastity, and virginity. Will the religious right condemn those also?