The West's experiments in this framework led thinking minds to find and implement the principle of "laicism." While the idea that "the masses should be ruled by persons chosen with the people's free will and as an open expression of their will" has its roots in the West, today it has been accepted almost everywhere in the world.
It is possible to find references toward religion in the constitutions of Western governments. In the 2000's with religion and relations to it becoming more important, it becomes necessary to look at religion-state relations from a historical perspective.
Faculty members from 8 countries including Turkey, who met for the first time on May 1-2, 1998 at the Milano University, began an investigative process on this subject under the name "Research Association on Religion-State Relations." Work at this stage is being carried on in the form of symposiums. Their second meeting was organized by our foundation on October 13-18, 1999.
The meeting was held in a place that was open to the general public, but where those who closely follow this topic could watch. The subject of Religion-State Relations was separated into groups in specific expertise categories like practices in Catholic Countries, Protestant Countries, Sunni Islam, Shiite Islam and Confucianism. Accordingly, separate sessions were held. At the end, papers that had been prepared from different perspectives were discussed at a general committee and a common text was produced.
In view of the fact that, especially in our country, belief and relations connected to it have become more important, our Foundation organized "Abant Platform" meetings in the past two years.
This time the subject was planned to be studied from the perspective of the "Western Experience" and the "Historical Perspective," and a foundation for experts in each field to debate this issue was made. Under the coordination of Prof. Niyazi Öktem, faculty member at the Bilgi University, the International Religion-State Relations Symposium was held at the Firat Culture Center in Istanbul.
In the symposium that was held on October 15-18, 1999 in Istanbul, papers were presented by 22 scholars, 18 of which were from other countries. The following are the participants and the titles of their papers:
•Prof. Mehmet S. Aydin (Dokuz Eylul University, Faculty of Theology)
"Religion-State Relations in Sunni Islam"
•Prof. Silvio Ferrari (Milano University, Italy)
"The Catholic Model in Religion-State Relations: Italy"
•Prof. Nahum Rakover (President of the Jewish Legal Heritage Association, Israel)
"Religion-State Relations in Judaism"
•Prof. Jean Duffer (Paris University)
"Laicism in France"
•Dr. Ling Pingye (United Front Work Dept. of the CPC Central Committee, China)
"Religion-State Relations in the Far East"
•Prof. Ivan Iban (Madrid Complutense University, Spain)
"Religion-State Relations in Spain and Portugal"
•Prof. Huseyin Hatemi (Istanbul University)
"Religion-State Relations in Islamic Political Philosophy"
•Prof. Lourens M. du Plessis (Stellenbosch University)
"Religion-State Relations in South Africa"
•Prof. Gerhard Robbers (Trier University, Germany)
Religion-State Relations in Central Europe, Germany and Protestant States)
•Prof. Jose Antonio (Church Legal Institute/Lima, Peru)
"Religion-State Relations in South America"
•Prof. Serif Mardin (Sabanci University, Istanbul)
Religion-State Relations in Turkey"
•Prof. Ahmet Mumcu (Baskent University, Ankara)
"Religion-State Relations in the Period of the Republic"
•Prof. Rik Torfs (Dean of Leuven Catholic University, Belgium)
"Religion-State Relations in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg"
•Prof. Maria Del Defugio Gonzales (Universidad Nacional Autonoma, Mexico)
"Religion-State Relations in Mexico"
•Prof. Masoud Daher (Lebanon University, Beirut)
"The Lebanese State as a Model of Religion-State Relations in the Middle East"
•Prof. Kenan Gursoy (Galatasaray University, Istanbul)
"Sufism and State Relations: The Fatih Sultan Mehmed and Aksemseddin Example"
•Prof. A. Temimi (Temimi Foundation President, Tunis)
Religion-State Relations in the Moroccan Countries"
•Dr. Jean François Mayer (Fribourg University, Switzerland)
"Religion-State Relations in Switzerland"
•Prof. Cole Durham (Brigham Young University / Utah, USA)
"Religion-State Relations in the USA"
•Emanuel Adamakis (Bishop of Region, Belgium)
"Religion-State Relations in the Orthodox World"
•Prof. Anatoly Krassikov (European Institute, Social Research Center, Moscow)
"Religion-State Relations in Russia"
•Asst. Prof. Sait Baser (Sakarya University)
"Religion-State Relations in Pre-Islamic Turkish States"
•Asst. Prof. Sadi Kucur (Marmara University, Istanbul)
"Religion-State Relations in Pre-Ottoman Turkish-Islamic Societies"