Why the faithful need secularism

Jeremy Rodell, on the Humanist Life blog, discusses the meaning of ‘secularism,’ among other things. What is Secularism? Let’s start with what secularism means to secularists. The British Humanist Association (BHA) defines secularism as ‘the principle that, in a plural, open society where people follow many different religious and non-religious ways of life, the communal institutions that we share (and together pay for) should provide a neutral public space where we can all meet on equal terms. State Secularism, where… the state is neutral on matters of religion or belief, guarantees the maximum freedom for all, including religious believers.’ The UK’s National Secular Society (NSS) adds that it’s ‘not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non-believers alike.’ So a secular state does not mean denying the role of Christianity and other religions – for both good and ill – in history and culture. It does not mean that religious people must forego their principles if they enter public life. Perhaps most important of all, it does not mean a society lacking in values. There’s a fairly clear set of liberal, human values shared by the majority in the UK and most other western countries, including freedom of speech, thought and belief; respect for democracy and the rule of law; equality of gender, age and sexual orientation and the view that fairness and compassion are virtues. Many of these values are enshrined in law. Read more at Humanist Life

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