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Rather than attempting to develop a typology of the relations between church and state—at the risk of comparing situations without taking into account the often profound discrepancies between their components—this entry addresses a specific form, the modern Western state, and its relations with religious groups and institutions. This form remains today and often is taken for a universal paradigm, especially in developing countries that have looked to the West for models of political organization. It was the Western concept of the secular nation-state that gave rise to the worldwide adoption of the term state with a political connotation.

The state is characterized by an impersonal power, distinct from the person of the governor. Over time, relations of authority gradually became detached from the personal relationship of ...

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