The news services and blogosphere are abuzz today with President Obama's speech in Cairo, which attempts to start healing the gulf between the Muslim world and the United States. There's a variety or reactions to it, but the most interesting ones I've found have to do with the issue of Church vs. State.
"Separation of Church and State" is the common summation of the Constitution's stance on how politics and religion should be kept separate. The actual wording of the Constitution bans government from ruling against certain religions or showing favoritism toward a religion.
Unfortunately, the "Separation of Church and State" phrase has led to some to think that politicians can never talk about religion and should never think about religious ramifications, which is neither true nor politically prudent. There is a difference between religious sensitivities and religious favoritism, and there is a huge difference in, for example, highlighting the accomplishments of the Muslim world and letting Islam "grab the neck of our elected leaders."
More than a billion people on this planet are Muslims, and many of them have been offended by certain actions of the United States. That's a reality. The offense is frequently voiced in very religious-centric language: they aren't merely offended as individual human beings, but specifically as Muslims. If we're going to address those debates, religion has to be a part of the discussion. Otherwise, the two sides really aren't talking about the same thing and little can be accomplished.
I'm a huge supporter of separation between church and state, largely because of the tendency of people to demonize minority religions. But if we start considering the mere topic of religion as taboo, then we've started to demonize religion itself.