Hegel's political philosophy is idealist in the decisive sense that its primary focus is on the consciousness of the citizens of the modern state. Political consciousness finds its most immediate and natural expression in the patriotic attitude. Hegel's attitude toward patriotism is far from being a glorification of the exercise of state power. The liberal view of the relation between church and state conceptualizes religious beliefs under the general heading of individual freedoms of thought and expression. As such, they belong to a sphere of private, personal relations outside the authority of the state. Just as religion has its particular niche to fill in the well-ordered Hegelian state, so too does the sphere of public opinion have a particular, and especially important, role to play. It may seem a truism to say that public opinion has an important bearing on political life, yet this has particular significance for Hegel.