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Secularism's Fair Shake

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Secularism, while being the norm for many societies also tends to get a bad rap in religious circles. The basic concept of it comes from the 19th century when it at that time, it was a movement more than a social system, championed by George Holyoak. He wrote books during the middle of the 19th century about the concept in which he created alternative sources of knowledge, wisdom, and morality. The movement was criticized and he himself was arrested for condemning Christianity because the ideas he was presupposing were seen as an attack on Christianity.

This is back when religion was more of a social power. While it may seem ridiculous to us today that someone can get jail time for disagreeing, the church was seen as a major social institution on par with others like the police. Holyoak describes his intention as,

"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."

Since Holyoak created secularism, it has changed to varying degrees. The relationship between secularism and religionist can be seen as one varying between chilly to vocally hostile. While many moderate believers don’t have a strong objections to secularist values running the state, many conservative followers feel that secular values intrude on their territory as determining what is right and wrong. Many also feel that religious values should still have a voice in public arenas, such as the continuing debate with the legalization with abortion. This antagonism applies even more so in other nations strongly entrenched in their religious values. It is seen as corrupting and immoral.

Despite this rivalry, secularism often does not get credited for its positive contributions. While religion is very effective as a communal glue to bind people together, it also has a record of being the source of many conflicts and prejudice. As well, most religions by nature are exclusive. You’re in or you’re out, and how it relates to social issues is runs according to that plum line. Secularism is not perfect, but for societies with different types of people and walks of life, it is the best guide line right now that can give an equal amount of consideration to all parties involved.



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