The prime desideratum of every single government should be to create a just and fair society. Pursuit of this simple objective can automatically lay the foundations of a near-perfect utopia. The point that I want to delineate in this short piece is that a creation of a just society is impossible without a secular government.
Our ascribed social characteristics are completely arbitrary and independent of our own predilections. So in any fair society, the virtue of being born with a specific status, religion, caste, race or gender shouldn’t merit us legal or social superiority in terms of human rights. From this follows John Rawls’ ‘Theory of Justice’ on the basis of which I will present my argument for the separation of the church and state.
John Rawls’ theory simply states that the constitution and the laws which govern the state are only fair if they are something to which every citizen will agree to if he was placed behind a ‘veil of ignorance’. Being behind the ‘veil of ignorance’ simply refers to a state where the citizen is not aware of his social characteristics (eg. Race, religion, caste, status etc.). Now, what I claim is that if an person is asked to formulate laws that will govern the society in which he wants to live in such a state; he would automatically opt for a secular society. This is because only a secular government will ensure him a fair and just society, regardless of his social characteristics.
Let me ask you a simple question. If you were to be placed in such a hypothetical situation where you are not aware of the religion in which you will be born into (that placement being completely arbitrary in nature); what kind of a society will you opt for? Will you opt for an Islamic state? No; because if you will, there is a chance that you might be born into a Christian or an Atheist family; wouldn’t an Islamic society then interfere with your freedom to live your life? Similarly; would you opt for a Christian theocracy? No; because you might be born into a Muslim family and then a society based on Christian values and laws might interfere with your freedom to follow your religion according to your teachings. Therefore, given the fact that you weren’t aware of your birth-religion; you would automatically opt for a society that ensures you complete and dignified human rights regardless of your religious beliefs i.e. a completely secular society where religion is not mixed with the affairs of the government.
Conclusively; common sense dictates a secular society. You are not entitled to enjoy special privileges on the basis of the simple virtue of belonging to the religion of the majority. Similarly, you cannot be discriminated against because of the simple vice of being born into a minority religion. Hence, the only way to eliminate religious discrimination is by completely isolating religion from the business of the state.