The sovereigns of this world in associating the Deity in the government of their realms, in pretending to be His
lieutenants and His representatives upon earth, in admitting that they hold their power from Him, must necessarily accept His ministers as rivals or as masters.
Is it, then, astonishing that the priests have often made the kings feel the superiority of the Celestial Monarch? Have they not more than once made the temporal princes understand that the greatest physical power is compelled to surrender to the spiritual power of opinion? Nothing is more difficult than to serve two masters, especially when they do not agree upon what they demand of their subjects. The anion of religion with politics has necessarily caused a double legislation in the States. The law of God, interpreted by His priests, is often contrary to the law of the sovereign or to the interest of the State. When the princes are firm, and sure of the love of their subjects, God’s law is sometimes obliged to comply with the wise intentions of the temporal sovereign; but more often the sovereign authority is obliged to retreat before the Divine authority, that is to say, before the interests of the clergy. Nothing is more dangerous for a prince, than to meddle with ecclesiastical affairs (to put his hands into the holy-water pot), that is to say, to attempt the reform of abuses consecrated by religion. God is never more angry than when the Divine rights, the privileges, the possessions, and the immunities of His priests are interfered with.
Here Meslier attacks the “divine right of kings” – the oldest and simplest justification for authority. Why is Thag a king? Because god wants Thag to be king. How do we know this? The shaman says so. Thus, King Thag’s political power is ratified by the shaman — except the problem with that is that the shaman now has power over King Thag.
This is why church and state – all churches and all states – should be separate: it leads to authoritarian regimes. After all, if Thag had good reasons for why Thag should be monarch, Thag would simply explain those reasons. Religion is not a good reason.