The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state.
The concept of separation has been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society. A similar but typically stricter principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularized countries such as Norway, Denmark and the UK have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism. Whitman (2009) observes that in many European countries, the state has, over the centuries, taken over the social roles of the church, leading to a generally secularized public sphere.
The degree of separation varies from total separation mandated by a constitution, to an official religion with total prohibition of the practice of any other religion, as in the Maldives.