Definition and meaning of separation of church and state: The separation of church and state is the legal and political principle which holds that government and religious institutions should be kept separate and distinct from one another. This principle was established in the United States in the late 18th century as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The goal of this principle is to protect the government from religious influence, and to protect religious institutions from government interference. This ensures the right of citizens to practice their religion without interference from the government, and also helps to ensure that the government remains neutral when it comes to religious beliefs. Separation of church and state helps to ensure that the government is not beholden to any particular religious group, and that citizens are free to support any political candidate or party without fear of their religious views being taken into consideration. This is especially important in our current political climate, where the two-party system often leaves independent candidates and third-party candidates with no chance of success. Separation of church and state is essential to maintaining an open and fair political system.