In broad terms the concept of public life refers to the political life of a nation. This concept is much bigger than just government and decision making. It involves all the processes by which a society discusses, debates and decides important issues. In the context of religion and the role it might play in the public life of a particular society a range of questions might be asked. However, such questions will vary from society to society. In western societies such as Australia the following questions might be asked:
- What place should religion and the beliefs, practices and values of a religion have in public discussion, debate and decision making?
- Has the phrase “separation of Church and State” lost its meaning in the twentieth century?
- To what extent should an individual’s spiritual and religious beliefs inform their political life?
- Is there a necessary link between religious belief and moral action?
- Should society support religions and the activities of religions?
- Are "we" a religious or a secular country; and if religious, in what way/or should there be a preferred religion, why or why not?
The role any religion plays in a society will always be contextual. That is, the particular culture, history and people that make up a particular society will always determine the particular way in which any religion plays a role in the public life of that society.