“Church” and “State”: Footnotes in the Study of False Distinctions

Karen Armstrong, God’s famed biographer, is now speaking out to challenge the link between religion and violence. Clearly not aiming for a nuanced argument, she simply shifts culpability for violence from religion to a different abstraction: the state. Whatever character we impute to the sources of violence, we know that neither violence nor any behavior occurs without causes. But the study of causes, in any context at all, will frustrate us more than it satisfies us, especially if we reduce it to the search for scapegoats to name, blame and punish.

The distinction between Church and State arose fairly recently in human history, and these constructs really don’t help people think more clearly about the legitimacy or illegitimacy  of dominant theological and political paradigms. The nomenclature of “Church” as distinct from “the State” obscures the deep interconnections between these magisteria.