What Is Secularism?

Tina S
Tina S
Dec 2, 2009
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Secularism is the ideology that requires the government to have no involvement or influence of religion (religions) in its policies and laws of the land.

Secularism is a wider view to the world that assures the independence in connection with all its strengths, qualities, values and behavior towards all sects, religion and other spiritual actions. This is a view that requires action and not just abstract thinking. Independence in a sense that the world as true self value.

The secularism we adapt is that of the positive and non-bias that respects all religions and groups. Secularism is one of the basic elements to build a Lebanese society that is surrounded with unity.  Secularism should create equality, justice, freedom, peace and democracy. It is the right road towards growing a nation that owns a base of one law taken from freedom and the declaration of human rights.

Several discussers used arguments in support of or against secularism without really understanding its essence or inherent principle. Many still think or like to think that secularism is essentially atheism or godlessness. While many secularists (freethinkers) are Individually indeed atheists and agnostics, secularism by itself doesn’t require anybody to be unbeliever. A secular government does not allow religion to interfere in its state affairs and at the same time, it does not curtail religious freedom. It doesn’t require the citizens to abandon their religion.

Many people cite 12th century Islamic scholar Ibn-Rushd as the father of secularism, with his re-interpretation of Aristotle. Ibn-Rushd sought to outline secular philosophy and religious faith as two routes to the same truth. Ibn-Rushd’s concession, coming at a time when Muslims and Christians were slaughtering each other over religion, was a startling departure from the accepted wisdom of the time. Yet this was not modern secularism.

Although modern secularism is essentially a western concept, it doesn’t need to be confined to the narrowness of the western parameters of thought and culture. It is sufficiently flexible to be adopted by all cultures using their own peculiar cultural parameters and definitions, which need not be totally concordant with the western and Christian oriented mores. Even in the western countries, there are different variants of secularism in practice.

As an example of secularism with a local spin, Indian secularism is a good instance. According to wikipedia (2), “In India, where Muslims and Christians are in a minority, right wing groups allege that they are given special privileges and advantages over Hindus which is a consideration adopted by the government to accommodate for the religious differences (see Shah Bano case).

However, many Indians (including moderate Muslims and Christians) are pressing for implementation of a uniform civil code as originally proposed in the Constitution of India…..However Hindus legally have more rights than other religions through tax breaks for Hindu Undivided families and adoption rights only for Hindus. Many schools routinely teach Hindu religious songs in school, such as part of early morning prayers.”

In Pakistan also, before the martial law regime of Zia-ul-Haq, the Constitution was by and large secular, which included the Islamic family laws. Indian secularism will hopefully improve and become more uniform with the passage of time.

Secularism does not demand a state to be essentially atheistic or opposed to any religion. A state should be uniformly fair and tolerant to all religions and even unbelief.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable. Its essential principles are three:

1.The improvement of this life by material means.
2.The science is the available Providence of man.
3. That it is good to be good. ‘Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good.’”

Although separation of church and state ensures freedom of religion, the latter does not necessarily ensure that the system is secular. There are instances of non-secular governments, which provide religious freedom to their citizens. For example, according to wikipedia (Separation of church and state), “There are many countries with an official religion, such as the United Kingdom or Belgium, where freedom of religion is guaranteed. Conversely, it is possible for a country not to have an official religion, or a set of official religions, yet to discriminate against atheists or members of religions outside of the mainstream. For instance, while the United States does not officially advance any particular religion, proponents of atheism were persecuted in many US jurisdictions in the 19th century.”

Secular society

In studies of religion, modern Western societies are generally recognized as secular. This is due to the near-complete freedom of religion (one may believe in one religion, many religions or none at all, with little legal or social sanction), as well as the general belief that religion does not ultimately dictate political decisions. Nevertheless, the moral views originating in religious traditions remain politically important in many of these countries, such as Canada, France, Turkey, the United States and others (see Laïcité).

In some, religious references are considered out-of-place in mainstream politics. For example, among the first to delineate the nature of a secular society, D. L. Munby characterizes a secular society as one which:

1.    Refuses to commit itself as a whole to any one view of the nature of the universe and the role of man in it.
2.    Is not homogenous, but is pluralistic.
3.    Is tolerant. It widens the sphere of private decision-making.
4.    While every society must have some common aims, which implies there must be agreed on methods of
problem-solving, and a common framework of law; in a secular society these are as limited as possible.
5.    Problem solving is approached rationally, through examination of the facts. While the secular society does not set any overall aim, it helps its members realize their aims.
6.    Is a society without any official images.
7.    Nor is there a common ideal type of behavior with universal application.

Positive Ideals behind the secular society

1.    Deep respect for individuals and the small groups of which they are a part.
2.    Equality of all people.
3.    Each person should be helped to realize their particular excellence.
4.    Breaking down of the barriers of class and caste.

Proponents of secularism have long argued that the general rise of secularism in all the senses enumerated above is the inevitable result of the Age of Enlightenment, as people turn towards science and rationalism and away from religion and superstition.

Opponents argue that secular government creates more problems than it solves, and that a government with a religious (or at least not a secular) ethos is better. Some Christian opponents contend that a Christian state can give more freedom of religion than a secular one. For evidence, they cite Denmark, Finland, Iceland Norway and Sweden, all with constitutional links between church and state and yet also recognized as more progressive and liberal than some countries without such a link.
Proponents of secularism also note that the Scandinavian countries are socially among the most secular in the world, with particularly low percentages of individuals who hold religious beliefs.


Some modern commentators have criticized secularism by conflating it with anti-religious, atheistic, or even Satanic belief systems. The word secularism itself is commonly used as a pejorative by religious conservatives in the United States. Pope Benedict XVI has declared ongoing secularization to be a fundamental problem of modern society, and has made it the goal of his papacy to counteract secularism and moral relativism.

Pope Benedict XVI has declared ongoing secularization to be a fundamental problem of modern society, and has made it the goal of his papacy to counteract secularism and moral relativism. Though the goal of a secularist state is to be religiously neutral, some argue that it is repressive of some aspects of religion.

Though the goal of a secularist state is to be religiously neutral, some argue that it is repressive of some aspects of religion. Ostensibly, it is equally repressive toward all religions in order to equally protect all from interference by others.

Some secularists would allow the state to encourage religion (such as by providing exemptions from taxation, or providing funds for education and charities, including those that are "faith based"), but insist the state should not establish one religion as the state religion, require religious observance, or legislate dogma.

My Opinion:

From the avobe discussion I don't prefer Secular country for living. A strict religious rule must need  to lead a country. Religious veiws and regulations are really needed for people. And all religion  should be respected by others. So in a religious country any religious people can follow their religion in  a proper way. Main fact is practise , for example Bangladesh, here we have freedom to follow our religions in a better way than secular country India.

Keywords: secularism,what is secularism,India,united states,critism of secularism,Pope Benedict XVI,western society, modern soceity,encourage religion,Bangladesh,freedom of religion,anti-religious.

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