Society, state and religion had always been closely interlinked. The bible and Vedas are largely codes of life. They detail how to live a life, the dos and donts etc. The organization of religion enforces these codes and these codes also became the basis on which justice was delivered. Further, the state machinery was made to link closely with that of the religion, and the king with the god. The Pharaohs of Egypt were propagated (by their administrative machinery) as Gods, or agents of God. So also in ancient
People believed in god. People accepted the codes of life as given by the religion. Religious organization and authority worked hard to enforce these. People feared god. That made the task of compliance much easier. A ruler having the approval of religion had an easy job then. As long as he and his government was in sync with laws accepted by religion, along with concessions that majority people wanted, he would not face rebellion, and even the maintenance of law and order would be easy.
Today, people are governed by the codes, regulations and constitutions of their nations. The code of life that people live as a consequence of their national constitutions, often deviates/varies substantially from the code of life as contained in their religions. Constitutions of nations are often a manifestation of current conditions; of the modern world; re-adjusting to how individuals should behave with changed realities and conditions. Nations often issue fresh codes of conduct to its citizens, with changes in the societies itself and with change in technology that impacts the very societies. To recount some recent ones would be gay marriages, abolition of conscription, environmental laws etc.
Individuals (citizens) in the whole of the developed world are required to adhere to laws of their nations. A violation is judged with reference to nation’s laws, not religious codes. In the whole of
Are we seeing death of religion?
In my view, no. It is just a period of time when religions are re-inventing themselves. To align themselves to the impact on society as a consequence of change in technology. Distances have shrunk, thanks to air travel, telephony and the internet. The benefit of scientific knowledge has reached out to earth’s inhabitants even in its most remote parts. And my guess is many of the major religions will successfully make this transition. For example, Hinduism itself has made strong efforts to first, do away with some of its practices that were bad and then to incorporate positive things from other major religions and changing times. It has done away with practices such as sati; it has made strides in abolishing child-marriages, inheritance to daughters, making divorce possible --- though all of it with push help from the governments. It has made the Hindu places of worship accessible to all its believers, irrespective of caste. It makes now an effort to abolish cast beliefs altogether.