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Secularism in the Current World

Introduction

Secularism sometimes referred to as secularity entails the idea that something is not related to a church or religion. It is usually applied to explain an independent government that does not rely on a religious organization. The Secularism principle attempts to influence human affairs depending on the naturalistic or secular considerations. It explains the separation of religion and related activities from civic affairs (Giddens & Sutton 38). Several countries have state religion including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan while others have laws that separate the government from religion such as the United States and South Africa. This paper defines secularism in the current world discussing related individual and government behaviors and decline in attendance to religious centers.

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Definition of Secularism

Secularization entails a long historical process where religion loses cultural and social significance. In modern societies, its role has become restricted since faith is losing its cultural authority. This is because religious organizations have diminishing social power as public life is marked with limited supernatural references. The theory pays attention to the long-term changes in society as well as the religion itself (Giddens & Sutton 42). The concept has been most pronounced in Western countries and connections to Christian heritage have become more tenuous. However, the secularization theory is relevant to the Christian West since forces that extended to other societies first sustained it.

The term secularism was mostly applied before 1648 to explain certain aspects of the Christian distinctions existing between mundane and sacred. Secular priests in the Catholic Church entailed those offering services to the large society instead of focusing on the religious order. This implies that secularization entailed the priests’ dispensation from their vows. The Treaty of Westphalia eliminated the religious European wars after 1648 as secularization was applied to explain the transfer of territories from the church to political authorities (Davie 22). The 19th century saw a significant transfer of the position that religion held in society due to heightened modernization. This means that the secularization notion had influenced contention over the last century. There has been extensive conflict between secularist intellectuals and traditional advocates attempting to influence strong public religion.

Many religious centers have been receiving declining congregations particularly in the developed world suggesting that people are paying little attention to religious events. This explains that secularization entails what the West has lost since faith in the supernatural that was once considered important and pervasive is now taken for granted. Faith is used to influencing a collective understanding and present unique authority. It influenced nearly every aspect of life including literature, music, architecture, as well as art (Giddens & Sutton 29). Religious elites had defined standards and understandings of transcendent beliefs where they applied them to all cultural activities. This implies that every community promoted faith in all its activities and every member was expected to adhere to and identify with it. Unbelief overt was considered dangerous deviance attracting exclusion from society.

The term secularization is also applied to explain what the Western world has gained. The pluralism culture suggests that there exist diverse meanings and forms of faith including from non-religious sources. Churches cannot influence the standards of morality, beauty, and knowledge including after making support of a supernatural notion and popular culture. The current world citizenship does not set society rules or demand religious attachment to attain conformity (Davie 44). The secular event determines the significance of religious activities and public life rhythm. Legislative institutions are no longer concerned with the religious interest when passing laws. This explains why religion is experiencing declining influence in modern education, business, and media.

Behavior towards Secularism

Secularization theory pays attention to the “demand” for a given religion where it suggests that the involved beliefs can reduce during society’s development. Religious beliefs can be improved through attending related events and the failure is usually associated with the production of secular gods (Possamai 15). Human development affects attendance at religious activities though it does not affect beliefs. The country’s level of health and education tends to determine the attendance whereas a high level tends to extend an increased negative effect. The secularization process usually has varying implications for diverse religious aspects bringing out the need of evaluating one’s theoretical model.

Secularization is one of the debatable issues in the political arena as far as international relations practice and theory are concerned. Issues concerning secularism revolve around whether to separate religion from state or not. The negotiation of religion/politics is a complex process that affects the global economy, state systems, international ethics, and relations. Since secularism involves separating religion from state affairs, it may participate but does not dominate (Davie 34). In the United Kingdom, there are two denominations, which are recognized by the State. These are the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Church of England where the Queen is the head of the church and the Supreme Governor.

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In Wales, there is no established churches but the Church of England’s unelected bishops sitting in the Lords’ House influence laws of the United Kingdom. Moreover, the French Constitution on Article 1 highlights the state’s relationship with religion. The First Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits the subsistence of an established church with a wider meaning. The German Constitution on Article 140 refers to constitution provisions of the Weimer Republic but restricts an established church’s existence (Davie 40). However, the Article provides the recognition of religious denominations but does not influence state affairs.

Christianity forms a greater influence on people’s ways of life. There are many religions and denominations, but a large part of the population does not uphold religious beliefs and practices. If Britain were a secular democratic state, its political structures would have laid down policies of separating religion from state affairs (Zuckerman & John 20). From an individual’s point of view, secularism seeks to protect citizens’ religious beliefs and practices. It wants its freedoms of conscience and thoughts to apply equally to both believers and non-believers. It also seeks to defend religious freedom without impinging on individual rights. It has a notion that individuals have a right to be free from religious affiliation.

Since secularism embraces democracy and fairness, all citizens are treated equally before the state’s law and parliament. There is no political or religious affiliation that sides with a group of people and all citizens have the same obligations and rights (Zuckerman & John 26). Above religious demands, Secularism fights for universal human rights upholding equality laws to protect LGBT people, minorities, and women from religious discrimination. These laws protect both non-believers and people affiliated with a religion or a philosophical belief.

There should be equal access to public services such as schools, hospitals, police, and local authorities. No one should be denied these services based on religious beliefs. State-funded public schools should educate all children regardless of their religious beliefs (Possamai 42). When a state body signs a contractual agreement with an organization affiliated with a certain belief or religion in giving a service, it should practice neutrally without promoting the ideas of its faith groups.

The Islamic religion is on the rise and its religious practices seem to take charge of individuals’ entire life. It plays a significant role in religious communities’ social and cultural ways of life. Many Islamic countries influence people’s lives in matters of dressing, beliefs, and other practices. Moreover, there has been a rise in terrorism inspired by the Islamic religion. This raises questions about the state’s position in dealing with radical religious groups. There is also a focus on the relationship between religion and the state on the need to provide meaning to people’s life and society (Enayat 33). For instance, in the Netherlands, secularization, and the decline of society pillarization after the second World War brought about questions about the state’s role in connecting societal organizations based on their religious backgrounds. The government remains mum on the separation of state and church since the issue remains an unwritten principle in the constitution.

Attendance to Religious Centers

There have been a growing number of believers not attending churches, temples, and mosques. When asked why they do not attend these holy places for worship and players, most believers argue that their relationship with God is purely personal and the church is a man-made entity (Zuckerman & John 36). Others have lost faith in the church blaming its imperfection for making them despair. Leaders have become sinful and the community is turning messy every day to a point where no one can be trusted.

The negative perception has influenced people to consider attending a religious gathering a waste of time. Personal choices must be respected when measuring absenteeism in these religious gatherings. An individual approach in this matter is similar to the challenges being faced in life (Possamai 42). If a belief in a specific religion was there before and is now not part of a person’s way of life, it is challenging to convince them to go back to their churches, mosques, or temples.

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A higher number of absentees in religious gatherings seem to be men. Women are more religious than men across all cultures, societies, and faiths. However, from a Muslim point of view, both men and women exhibit similar religious commitment despite that the norms of this religion restrict women from attending services at mosques (Zuckerman & John 48). Absenteeism in houses of worship is on the increase in the urban areas where young people and the middle class are the largest populations, which form the major part of the congregation. Due to higher disposable income, this group is given choices, and this is one of the measures of the level of absenteeism in churches. Recently, weekend sports have been on the rise and many parents are taking their children out for such activities. The high population of parents and their kids in such sporting events during the weekend is also a measure that people are now not going to houses of worship.

Conclusion

Secularism entails the separation of state from religion, which has brought a heated debate among nations. The separation has given religion a less role to play in matters of state undertakings across many countries. Many religious centers have been realizing declining congregants over the last century. People have been granted the freedom for engaging in any religious affiliation as far as it does not affect others. Secularization explains religious beliefs that western countries have lost they attempt to embrace a pluralism culture.

References

Davie, Grace. Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing Without Belonging. Wiley, 1994

Enayat, Hadi. Islam and secularism in post-colonial thought: A cartography of Asadian genealogies. Springer, 2017.

Giddens, Anthony & Sutton, Philip. Sociology, 8th edition. Polity press, 2013

Possamai, Adam. The i-zation of society, religion, and neoliberal post-secularism. Springer, 2017.

Zuckerman, Phil, & John R. Shook, eds. The Oxford handbook of secularism. Oxford University Press, 2017.

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