Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations." As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life on principles taken solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries (the attainment of such is termed secularity). Under a brief definition, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people.[Notes 1] Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices.[Notes 2]
Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Zeno of Citium and Marcus Aurelius; from Enlightenment thinkers such as Erasmus, John Locke, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and from more recent freethinkers and atheists such as Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, and Christopher Hitchens. It shifts the focus from religion to other ‘temporal’ and ‘this-worldly’ things with emphasis on nature, reason, science, and development.
The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. In European laicism, it has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values (also known as secularization). This type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. In the United States, some argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent.
On the other hand, Meiji era Japan maintained that it was secular and allowed freedom of religion despite enforcing State Shinto and continuing to prohibit certain "superstitions;" scholar of religion Jason Ānanda Josephson has labelled this conception of the secular "the Shinto Secular" and noted that it follows a pattern established in certain European constitutions.
The term "secularism" was first used by the British writer George Jacob Holyoake in 1851. Holyoake invented the term secularism to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief. An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that "Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life."
Barry Kosmin of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture breaks modern secularism into two types: hard and soft secularism. According to Kosmin, "the hard secularist considers religious propositions to be epistemologically illegitimate, warranted by neither reason nor experience." However, in the view of soft secularism, "the attainment of absolute truth was impossible and therefore skepticism and tolerance should be the principle and overriding values in the discussion of science and religion."
The departure from reliance on religious faith to reason and science marks the beginning of the secularization of education and society in history. Among the earliest documentations of a secular form of thought is seen in the Charvaka system of philosophy, which held direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, and sought to reject the prevailing religious practices of that time. According to Domenic Marbaniang, Secularism emerged in the West with the establishment of reason over religious faith as human reason was gradually liberated from unquestioned subjection to the dominion of religion and superstition. Secularism first appeared in the West in the classical philosophy and politics of ancient Greece, disappeared for a time after the fall of Greece, but resurfaced after a millennium and half in the Renaissance and the Reformation. He writes:
An increasing confidence in human capabilities, reason, and progress, that emerged during the Italian Renaissance, together with an increasing distrust in organized and state supported religion during the Reformation, was responsible for the ushering of modernity during the Enlightenment, which brought all facets of human life including religion under the purview of reason and thus became responsible for the freeing of education, society, and state from the domination of religion; in other words, the development of modern secularism.
Harvey Cox explains that the Enlightenment hailed Nature as the "deep reality" that transcended the corrupted man-made institutions of men. Consequently, the rights of man were not considered as God-given but as the de facto benefits of Nature as revealed by Reason.
In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government (often termed the separation of church and state). This can refer to reducing ties between a government and a state religion, replacing laws based on scripture (such as Halakha, Dominionism, and Sharia law) with civil laws, and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion. This is said to add to democracy by protecting the rights of religious minorities.
In his On Temporal Authority (1523), Martin Luther argued for the division of the church and the state. He specified two distinct powers: weltliches Regiment (German word for ‘the kingdom of the world,’ ‘the State’) and geistliches Regiment (German word for ‘the kingdom of God,’ ‘the Church’) and argued that citizens need only subject to the ruler's edict as long as the edict conformed to God's divine will as revealed in the scriptures.
Scholars, such as Jacques Berlinerblau of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, have argued that the separation of church and state is but one possible strategy to be deployed by secular governments. What all secular governments, from the democratic to the authoritarian, share is a concern about the relationship between the church and the state. Each secular government may find its own unique policy prescriptions for dealing with that concern (separation being one of those possible policies; French models, in which the state carefully monitors and regulates the church, being another).
A major impact on the idea of state religious liberty came from the writings of John Locke who, in his A Letter Concerning Toleration argued in favor of religious toleration. He argued that government must treat all citizens and all religions equally and that it can restrict actions but not the religious intent behind them.
Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of the Sikh empire of the first half of the 19th century successfully established a secular rule in the Punjab. This secular rule respected members of all races and religions and it allowed them to participate without discrimination in Ranjeet Singh's darbar and he had Sikh, Muslim and Hindu representatives heading the darbar. Ranjit Singh also extensively funded education, religion, and arts of various different religions and languages.
Secularism is most often associated with the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and it plays a major role in Western society. The principles, but not necessarily the practices, of separation of church and state in the United States and Laïcité in France draw heavily on secularism. Secular states also existed in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages (see Islam and secularism).
Due in part to the belief in the separation of church and state, secularists tend to prefer that politicians make decisions for secular rather than religious reasons. In this respect, policy decisions pertaining to topics like abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, and sex education are prominently focused upon by American secularist organizations such as the Center for Inquiry.
Some Christian fundamentalists and scholars (notably in the United States) oppose secularism, often claiming that there is a "radical secularist" ideology being adopted in our current day and they see secularism as a threat to "Christian rights" and national security.
The most significant forces of religious fundamentalism in the contemporary world are Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. At the same time, one significant stream of secularism has come from religious minorities who see governmental and political secularism as integral to the preservation of equal rights.
Some of the well known states that are often considered "constitutionally secular" are the United States, France, Mexico South Korea, and Turkey although none of these nations have identical forms of governance with respect to religion.
In studies of religion, modern democracies are generally recognized as secular. This is due to the near-complete freedom of religion (beliefs on religion generally are not subject to legal or social sanctions), and the lack of authority of religious leaders over political decisions. Nevertheless, it has been claimed that surveys done by Pew Research Center show Americans as generally being more comfortable with religion playing a major role in public life, while in Europe the impact of the church on public life is declining.
Modern sociology has, since Max Weber, often been preoccupied with the problem of authority in secularized societies and with secularization as a sociological or historical process. Twentieth-century scholars, whose work has contributed to the understanding of these matters, include Carl L. Becker, Karl Löwith, Hans Blumenberg, M.H. Abrams, Peter L. Berger, Paul Bénichou and D.L. Munby, among others.
Some societies become increasingly secular as the result of social processes, rather than through the actions of a dedicated secular movement; this process is known as secularization.
George Holyoake's 1896 publication English Secularism describes secularism as follows:
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) That science is the available Providence of man. (3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good.
Holyoake held that secularism and secular ethics should take no interest at all in religious questions (as they were irrelevant), and was thus to be distinguished from strong freethought and atheism. In this he disagreed with Charles Bradlaugh, and the disagreement split the secularist movement between those who argued that anti-religious movements and activism was not necessary or desirable and those who argued that it was.
Contemporary ethical debate in the West is often described as "secular." The work of well known moral philosophers such as Derek Parfit and Peter Singer, and even the whole field of contemporary bioethics, have been described as explicitly secular or non-religious.
It has been argued that the concept of secularism has frequently been misinterpreted. In a July 2012 Huffington Post article titled Secularism Is Not Atheism, Jacques Berlinerblau, Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, wrote that "Secularism must be the most misunderstood and mangled ism in the American political lexicon. Commentators on the right and the left routinely equate it with Stalinism, Nazism and Socialism, among other dreaded isms. In the United States, of late, another false equation has emerged. That would be the groundless association of secularism with atheism. The religious right has profitably promulgated this misconception at least since the 1970s."
It can be seen by many of the organizations (NGO's) for secularism that they prefer to define secularism as the common ground for all life stance groups, religious or atheistic, to thrive in a society that honors freedom of speech and conscience. An example of that is the National Secular Society in the UK. This is a common understanding of what secularism stands for among many of its activists throughout the world. However, many scholars of Christianity and conservative politicians seem to interpret secularism more often than not, as an antithesis of religion and an attempt to push religion out of society and replace it with atheism or a void of values, nihilism. This dual aspect (as noted above in "Secular ethics") has created difficulties in political discourse on the subject. It seems that most political theorists in philosophy following the landmark work of John Rawl´s Theory of Justice in 1971 and its following book, Political Liberalism (1993), would rather use the conjoined concept overlapping consensus rather than secularism. In the latter Rawls holds the idea of an overlapping consensus as one of three main ideas of political liberalism. He argues that the term secularism cannot apply;
But what is a secular argument? Some think of any argument that is reflective and critical, publicly intelligible and rational, as a secular argument; [...], Nevertheless, a central feature of political liberalism is that it views all such arguments the same way it views religious ones, and therefore these secular philosophical doctrines do not provide public reasons. Secular concepts and reasoning of this kind belong to first philosophy and moral doctrine, and fall outside the domain of the political.
Still, Rawl´s theory is akin to Holyoake´s vision of a tolerant democracy that treats all life stance groups alike. Rawl´s idea it that it is in everybody´s own interest to endorse "a reasonable constitutional democracy" with "principles of toleration". His work has been highly influential on scholars in political philosophy and his term, overlapping consensus, seems to have for many parts replaced secularism among them. In textbooks on modern political philosophy, like Colin Farelly´s, An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory, and Will Kymlicka´s, Contemporary Political Philosophy, the term secularism is not even indexed and in the former it can be seen only in one footnote. However, there is no shortage of discussion and coverage of the topic it involves. It is just called overlapping consensus, pluralism, multiculturalism or expressed in some other way. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, there is one chapter called "Political secularism", by Rajeev Bhargava. It covers secularism in a global context and starts with this sentence: "Secularism is a beleaguered doctrine."
Groups such as the National Secular Society (United Kingdom) and Americans United campaign for secularism are often supported by Humanists. In 2005, the National Secular Society held the inaugural "Secularist of the Year" awards ceremony. The award's first winner was Maryam Namazie, of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain which aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to oppose apostasy laws and political Islam.
The Scottish Secular Society is active in Scotland and is currently focused on the role of religion in education. In 2013 it raised a petition at the Scottish Parliament to have the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 changed so that parents will have to make a positive choice to opt into Religious Observance.
Another secularist organization is the Secular Coalition for America. The Secular Coalition for America lobbies and advocates for separation of church and state as well as the acceptance and inclusion of Secular Americans in American life and public policy. While Secular Coalition for America is linked to many secular humanistic organizations and many secular humanists support it, as with the Secular Society, some non-humanists support it.
Local organizations work to raise the profile of secularism in their communities and tend to include secularists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and humanists under their organizational umbrella.
Student organizations, such as the Toronto Secular Alliance, try to popularize nontheism and secularism on campus. The Secular Student Alliance is an educational nonprofit that organizes and aids such high school and college secular student groups.
In Turkey, the most prominent and active secularist organization is Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD), which is credited for organizing the Republic Protests – demonstrations in the four largest cities in Turkey in 2007, where over 2 million people, mostly women, defended their concern in and support of secularist principles introduced by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Leicester Secular Society founded in 1851 is the world's oldest secular society.
Together, early protosecularists (Jefferson and Madison) and proto-evangelicals (Backus, Leland, and others) made common cause in the fight for nonestablishment [of religion] – but for starkly different reasons.
But with the Second World War just ahead, secularism of the antireligious type was soon to disappear from mainstream American society, to be replaced by a new complex of ideas that focused on secularizing the state, not on secularizing society.
See also the references list in the article on secularization
Cultural Muslims are religiously unobservant, secular or irreligious individuals who still identify with the Muslim culture or the religion due to family background, personal experiences, or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up. Cultural Muslims can be found across the world, but are especially numerous in the Middle East (Arabic-speaking countries as well as in Palestine, Turkey and Iran), Europe, Central Asia, North America, and parts of South and Southeast Asia.Fatwa on Religious Pluralism, Liberalism, and Secularism
In July 2005, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), a semi-official Islamic clerical body of Indonesia, issued a fatwa, or an Islamic legal opinion, against religious pluralism, liberalism, and secularism. The issuance of fatwa garnered substantial controversy and scholarly attention. The fatwa addressed the reformist trend of Islam which had been popular among the broad Indonesian society over the past 25 years. Such trends advocated for a more substantive reading of the Quran and Hadith, instead of literalist approaches taken by the majority of ulamas (Islamic clerics). MUI considered such ideas as incompatible with Islamic teaching, releasing the fatwa to promote a more literal reading of the Islamic scriptures. The fatwa was heavily criticized by progressive Muslim intellectuals.Hiloni
Hiloni (Hebrew: חִלּוֹנִי), plural hilonim (Hebrew: חִלּוֹנִים), derived from the Hebrew word hulin, meaning "secular" or "mundane", is the term used in Israel for non-religious Jews, some of whom identify with Jewish secularism and secular Jewish culture.As citizens of Israel, hilonim generally speak Hebrew. As Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, many hilonim observe national holidays, such as Israel's Independence Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day.Islam and secularism
The definition and application of secularism, especially the place of religion in society, varies among Muslim countries as it does among western countries. Secularism is often used to describe the separation of public life and civil/government matters from religious teachings and commandments, or simply the separation of religion and politics. Secularism in Muslim countries is often contrasted with Islamism, and secularists tend to seek to promote secular political and social values as opposed to Islamic ones. Among western scholars and Muslim intellectuals, there are some debates over secularism which include the understanding of political and religious authorities in the Islamic world and the means and degree of application of sharia in legal system of the state.
As the concept of secularism varies among secularists in the Muslim world, reactions of Muslim intellectuals to the pressure of secularization also varies. On the one hand, secularism is condemned by some Muslim intellectuals who do not feel that religious influence should be removed from the public sphere. On the other hand, secularism is claimed by others to be compatible with Islam. The quest for secularism has inspired some Muslim scholars to argue that secular government is the best way to observe sharia, as "enforcing [sharia] through coercive power of the state negates its religious nature". While they did not adhere to the modern concept of a nation with no official religion or religion-based laws, a number of Muslim-majority states in the Middle Ages demonstrated some level of separation between religious and political authority.Today, some Muslim-majority countries define themselves as or are regarded as secular, and many of them have a dual system in which Muslims can bring familial and financial disputes to sharia courts. The exact jurisdiction of these courts varies from country to country, but usually includes marriage, divorce, inheritance, and guardianship.Jewish secularism
Jewish secularism comprises the non-religious ethnic Jewish people and the body of work produced by them. Among secular Jews, traditional Jewish holidays may be celebrated as historical and nature festivals, while life-cycle events, such as births, marriages, and deaths, may be marked in a secular manner.Jordanian Communist Toilers Party
Jordanian Communist Toilers Party (in Arabic: Hizb al-Shaghghilah al-Shuyu'iyah al-Urduni, حزب الشغّيلة الشيوعية الأردني) was a communist political party in Jordan. The party was founded in 1997, through a split in the Jordanian Communist Party (JCP). The party used the name Jordanian Communist Party until it registered with the Jordanian authorities with the name Jordanian Communist Toilers Party. The party was considered more orthodox in its ideology than JCP.Laïcité
Laïcité ([la.i.si.te]), literally "secularity", is a French concept of secularism. It discourages religious involvement in government affairs, especially religious influence in the determination of state policies; it also forbids government involvement in religious affairs, and especially prohibits government influence in the determination of religion.Dictionaries ordinarily translate laïcité as "secularity" or "secularism" (the latter being the political system), although it is sometimes rendered in English as laicity or laicism by its opponents. While the term was first used with this meaning in 1871 in the dispute over the removal of religious teachers and instruction from elementary schools, the word laïcisme dates to 1842.In its strict and official acceptance, it is the principle of separation of church (or religion) and state. Etymologically, laïcité is a noun formed by adding the suffix -ité (English -ity, Latin -itās) to the Latin adjective lāicus, a loanword from the Greek λᾱϊκός (lāïkós "of the people", "layman"), the adjective from λᾱός (lāós "people").French secularism has a long history. For the last century, the French government policy has been based on the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State.Pseudo-secularism
In the Indian context, the term pseudo-secularism is used to pejoratively describe policies considered to involve minority appeasement. The Hindus form the majority religious community in India; the term "pseudo-secular" implies that those who claim to be secular are actually not so, but are anti-Hindu or pro-minority. The Hindu nationalist politicians accused of being "communal" use it as a counter-accusation against their critics.Religion in the United Kingdom
Religion in the United Kingdom, and in the countries that preceded it, has been dominated for over 1,000 years by various forms of Christianity. Religious affiliations of United Kingdom citizens are recorded by regular surveys, the four major ones being the national decennial census, the Labour Force Survey, the British Social Attitudes survey and the European Social Survey.
According to the 2011 Census, Christianity is the majority religion, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in terms of number of adherents. Among Christians, Anglicans are the most common denomination, followed by the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists. This, and the relatively large number of individuals with nominal or no religious affiliations, has led commentators to variously describe the United Kingdom as a multi-faith and secularised society.
The United Kingdom was formed by the union of previously independent countries in 1707, and consequently most of the largest religious groups do not have UK-wide organisational structures. While some groups have separate structures for the individual countries of the United Kingdom, others have a single structure covering England and Wales or Great Britain. Similarly, due to the relatively recent creation of Northern Ireland in 1921, most major religious groups in Northern Ireland are organised on an all-Ireland basis.
While the United Kingdom as a whole has no official religion, the Church of England remains the state church of its largest constituent country, England. The Monarch of the United Kingdom is the Supreme Governor of the Church, and accordingly, only a Protestant may inherit the British throne. This was enshrined into law by 1701 Act of Settlement.
According to the 1701 Act, succession to the throne went to Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover (James I's granddaughter) and her Protestant heirs. However, Sophia died before Queen Anne, therefore the succession passed to her son, George, Elector of Hanover, who in 1714 became King George I. The act was later extended to Scotland as a result of the Treaty of Union enacted in the Acts of Union of 1707.Secular Buddhism
Secular Buddhism—sometimes also referred to as agnostic Buddhism, Buddhist agnosticism, ignostic Buddhism, atheistic Buddhism, pragmatic Buddhism, Buddhist atheism, or Buddhist secularism—is a broad term for an emerging form of Buddhism and secular spirituality that is based on humanist, skeptical, and/or agnostic values, as well as pragmatism and (often) naturalism, rather than religious (or more specifically supernatural or paranormal) beliefs.
Secular Buddhists interpret the teachings of the Buddha and the Buddhist texts in a rationalist and often evidentialist manner, considering the historical and cultural contexts of the times in which the Buddha lived and the various suttas, sutras and tantras were written.
Within the framework of secular Buddhism, Buddhist doctrine may be stripped of any unspecified combination of various traditional beliefs that could be considered superstitious, or that cannot be tested through empirical research, namely: supernatural beings (such as devas, bodhisattvas, nāgas, pretas, Buddhas, etc.), merit and its transference, rebirth, Buddhist cosmology (including the existence of pure lands and hells), etc.
Traditional Buddhist ethics, such as conservative views regarding abortion, and human sexuality, may or may not be called into question as well. Some schools, especially Western Buddhist ones, take more progressive stances regarding social issues.Secular education
Secular education is a system of public education in countries with a secular government or separation between religion and state.
An example of a secular educational system would be the French public educational system, where conspicuous religious symbols have been banned in schools.
While some religious groups are hostile to secularism and see such measures as promoting atheism, other citizens claim that the display of any religious symbol constitutes an infringement of the separation of church and state and a discrimination against atheist, agnostic and non-religious people.Secular humanism
Secular humanism, or simply humanism, is a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.Secular humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently good or evil, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy. Many secular humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism, or evolutionary ethics, and some advocate a science of morality.
Humanists International is the world union of more than one hundred humanist, rationalist, irreligious, atheist, Bright, secular, Ethical Culture, and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries. The "Happy Human" is recognised as the official symbol of humanism internationally, used by secular humanist organizations in every part of the world. Those who call themselves humanists are estimated to number between four and five million people worldwide.Secular state
A secular state is an idea pertaining to secularity, whereby a state is or purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/nonreligion over other religions/nonreligion. Secular states do not have a state religion (e.g. an established religion) or an equivalent, although the absence of an established state religion does not necessarily mean that a state is fully secular in all respects. For example, many secular states have religious references in their national anthems and flags.Secularism and irreligion in Georgia (country)
Secularism and irreligion in Georgia was most popular in the 20th century when the country was part of the Soviet Union. In the 21st century, secular and non-religious currents have seen a precipitous decline due to the rising popularity of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the fact that religious faith in general “has become fashionable” in Georgian society.Secularism in Albania
Albania has been a secular state since its founding in 1912, despite various changes in political systems. During the 20th century after Independence (1912) the democratic, monarchic and later the totalitarian communist regimes followed a systematic secularisation of the nation and the national culture. The Albanian understanding of secularism has strong influences from the French “Laicité”.Currently Albania is a secular parliamentary republic, in which the state guarantees freedom of belief. The constitution recognizes the equality of religious communities and the state is neutral in the questions of faith.Secularism in India
Secularism in India means equal treatment of all religions by the state.
With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. However, neither India's constitution nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state. The laws implicitly require the state and its institutions to recognise and accept all religions, enforce parliamentary laws instead of religious laws, and respect pluralism. India does not have an official state religion. In matters of law in modern India, however, the applicable code of law is unequal, and India's personal laws - on matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony - varies with an individual's religion. Muslim Indians have Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law, while Hindu, Christian and Sikh Indians live under common law. The attempt to respect unequal, religious law has created a number of issues in India such as acceptability of child marriage, polygamy, unequal inheritance rights, extra judicial unilateral divorce rights favorable to some males, and conflicting interpretations of religious books.Secularism as practiced in India, with its marked differences with Western practice of secularism, is a controversial topic in India. See also pseudo-secularism Supporters of the Indian concept of secularism claim it respects. Supporters of this form of secularism claim that any attempt to introduce a uniform civil code, that is equal laws for every citizen irrespective of his or her religion, would impose majoritarian Hindu sensibilities and ideals. Opponents argue that India's acceptance of Sharia and religious laws violates the principle of Equality before the law.Secularism is a divisive, politically charged topic in India.Secularism in Turkey
Secularism in Turkey defines the relationship between religion and state in the country of Turkey. Secularism (or laïcité) was first introduced with the 1928 amendment of the Constitution of 1924, which removed the provision declaring that the "Religion of the State is Islam", and with the later reforms of Turkey's first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which set the administrative and political requirements to create a modern, democratic, secular state, aligned with Kemalism.
Nine years after its introduction, laïcité was explicitly stated in the second article of the then Turkish constitution on February 5, 1937. The current Constitution of 1982 neither recognizes an official religion nor promotes any.Unlike other definitions of secularism where it means separation between church and state, in Turkey the term laiklik denotes state control and legal regulation of religion.Turkey's "laïcité" calls for the separation of religion and the state, but also describes the state's stance as one of "active neutrality". Turkey's actions related with religion are carefully analyzed and evaluated through the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı or simply Diyanet). The duties of the Presidency of Religious Affairs are "to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshipping places".Secularity
Secularity (derived from the word "secular" which comes from Latin saeculum meaning "worldly", "of a generation", "temporal", or a span of about 100 years) is the state of being separate from religion, or of not being exclusively allied with or against any particular religion. Historically, the word secular was not related or linked to religion, but was a freestanding term in Latin which would relate to any mundane endeavour. However, the term, saecula saeculorum (saeculōrum being the genitive plural of saeculum) as found in the New Testament in the Vulgate translation (circa 410) of the original Koine Greek phrase "εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων" (eis toùs aionas ton aiṓnōn), e.g. at Galatians 1:5, was used in the early Christian church (and still used today), in the doxologies, to denote the coming and going of the ages, the grant of eternal life, and the long duration of created things from their beginning to forever and ever. The idea of a dichotomy between religion and the secular originated in the European Enlightenment. Furthermore, since religion and secular are both Western concepts that were formed under the influence of Christian theology, other cultures do not necessarily have words or concepts that resemble or are equivalent to them. In many cultures, "little conceptual or practical distinction is made between 'natural' and 'supernatural' phenomena" and the very notions of religious and nonreligious dissolve into unimportance, nonexistence, or unawareness, especially since people have beliefs in other supernatural or spiritual things irrespective of belief in God or gods.
Conceptions of what is and what is not religion vary in contemporary East Asia as well. The shared term for "irreligion" or "no religion" (無宗教, Chinese pron. wú zōngjiào, Japanese pron. mu shūkyō) with which the majority of East Asian populations identify themselves implies non-membership in one of the institutional religions (such as Buddhism and Christianity) but not necessarily non-belief in traditional folk religions collectively represented by Chinese Shendao (shén dào) and Japanese Shinto (both meaning "ways of gods"). In modern Japan, religion has negative connotation since it is associated with foreign belief systems so many identify as "nonreligious" (mushukyo), but this does not mean they have a complete rejection or absence of beliefs and rituals relating to supernatural, metaphysical, or spiritual things. In the Meiji era, the Japanese government consciously excluded Shinto from the category of religion in order to enforce State Shinto while asserting their state followed American-mandated requirements for freedom of religion; this has fed into the contemporary Japanese experience of "secularity" as well as the government's regulation of religious beliefs and institutions from the Meiji era into the present day.One can regard eating and bathing as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them. Nevertheless, some religious traditions see both eating and bathing as sacraments, therefore making them religious activities within those world views. Saying a prayer derived from religious text or doctrine, worshipping through the context of a religion, performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and attending a religious seminary school or monastery are examples of religious (non-secular) activities.
The "secular" is experienced in diverse ways ranging from separation of religion and state to being anti-religion or even pro-religion, depending on the culture. For example, the United States has both separation of church and state and pro-religiosity in various forms such as protection of religious freedoms; France has separation of church and state (and Revolutionary France was strongly anti-religious); the Soviet Union was anti-religion; in India, people feel comfortable identifying as secular while participating in religion; and in Japan, since the concept of "religion" is not indigenous to Japan, people state they have no religion while doing what appears to be religion to Western eyes.A related term, secularism, involves the principle that government institutions and their representatives should remain separate from religious institutions, their beliefs, and their dignitaries. Many businesses and corporations, and some governments operate on secular lines. This stands in contrast to theocracy, government with deity as its highest authority.Ta'al
Ta'al (Hebrew: תַּעַ"ל, an acronym for Tnu'a Aravit LeHithadshut (Hebrew: תְּנוּעָה עֲרָבִית לְהִתְחַדְּשׁוּת, lit. Arab Movement for Renewal, Arabic: الحركة العربية للتغيير) is an Israeli Arab political party in Israel led by Ahmad Tibi. The party was part of the Joint List in the 2015 election, before it withdrew in January 2019.