Church Interference in the State
Despite official separation of church and state in most countries, many religious groups are attempting to sway governments to bring legislation more in line with their religious beliefs. The Pope and the Catholic Church is especially active in this sense in Europe, North America and South America concerning issues such as abortion and gay marriage. However, the Catholic Church gives advice to whole states on what should or should not be done without cleaning out its own house. The Roman Catholic Church has been continually rocked by child molestation scandals involving official coverups by the church fathers for at least the past decade. These coverups are themselves covered up in many cases with the church clergymen protecting each other from the law. It is interesting how they try to influence secular governments, yet stubbornly stand against any law enforcement involving itself with what the church sees as its own internal affairs.
Even though some priests are brought in front of the law, many many more go unpunished due to the church actively protecting the accused and refusing to work with law enforcement. This has been the case all over North America and Europe. In Europe the church is actively involved in those countries that had communist regimes up until 1989. There it is the Catholics, the Greek Orthodox, the Romanian Orthodox, Bulgarian Orthodox, Muslim,the Russian Orthodox and to a much lesser degree the Protestant churches that are trying to regain the power that most of them had prior to the communist regimes banning of most religious activity. We see this most strongly in countries whose populations are still very religious, such as in majority Catholic Poland and majority Orthodox Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and states with large Muslim populations throughout Europe such as Bosnia, Albania, Germany, Great Britain and France. these various churches are oftentimes the cause of tensions between each other and with the secular governments of states. In Germany and France radical Muslim sects are gaining in popularity amongst the Arab and Turkish population as the economy stagnates. In Serbia and Russia the Orthodox church sometimes helps support ultra-nationalist extremist parties and groups as religion has a large role to play in national identity. This can best be seen in the former Yugoslavia, where Bosniaks, Serbs and Croatians - who all speak mutually understandable languages - base their national identity on their faith: Croats are Catholics, Serbs are Orthodox, and Bosniaks are Muslims. In all three countries the respective leaders of the faith oftentimes dig in against each other claiming that God is on their side etc.
There are some countries where the traditional faith has been so diluted as to have almost no importance for people anymore. In the Czech Republic and in the eastern part of Germany (both of which had been mostly Protestant in the past), polls show about 80% of people being non-religious or even atheist. In those areas the church has very little influence over the government and the people as a whole. It is in the Catholic and Orthodox countries of Europe where these two respective faiths have made the biggest comebacks, though not nearly as much as in the past.
The separation of church and state is not as clean cut an issue as many people think it is, even in the democratic states of the West.