Secularity

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Secularity (adjective form secular,[1] from Latin saecularis meaning "worldly" or "temporal") is the state of being separate from religion, or not being exclusively allied with or against any particular religion.

For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them. Nevertheless, both eating and bathing are regarded as sacraments in some religious traditions, and therefore would be religious activities in those world views. Saying a prayer derived from religious text or doctrine, worshipping through the context of a religion, and attending a religious school are examples of religious (non-secular) activities.

A related term, secularism, is the principle that government institutions and their representatives should remain separate from religious institutions, their beliefs, and their dignitaries. Most businesses and corporations, and some governments, are secular organizations. All of the state universities in the United States are secular organizations (especially because of the combined effect of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution) while some private universities are connected with the Christian or Jewish religions. Among many of these, some prominent examples are Baylor University, Brigham Young University, Boston College, Emory University, the University of Notre Dame, Duquesne University, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, and Yeshiva College.

The public university systems of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan are also secular, although some government-funded primary and secondary schools may be religiously aligned in some countries.

Etymology and definitions[edit]

Secular and secularity derive from the Latin word saecularis meaning of a generation, belonging to an age. The Christian doctrine that God exists outside time led medieval Western culture to use secular to indicate separation from specifically religious affairs and involvement in temporal ones.

This does not necessarily imply hostility to God or religion, though some use the term this way (see "secularism", below); Martin Luther used to speak of "secular work" as a vocation from God for most Christians[citation needed] Secularity is best understood, not as being "anti-religious", but as being "religiously neutral" since many activities in religious bodies are secular themselves and most versions of secularity do not lead to irreligiosity.[2]

Modern usage[edit]

Examples of secular used in this way include:

Related concepts[edit]

  • Secularism is an assertion or belief that religious issues should not be the basis of politics, and it is a movement that promotes those ideas (or an ideology) which hold that religion has no place in public life. French frequently uses Laïcité as an equivalent idiom for "Sécularisme". Secularist organizations are distinguished from merely secular ones by their political advocacy of such positions.
  • Laïcisme is the French word that most resembles secularism, especially in the latter's extreme definition, as it is understood by the Catholic Church, which sets laïcisme in opposition to the allegedly far milder concept of laïcité. The correspondent word laicism (also spelled laïcism) is sometimes used in English as a synonym for secularism.
  • Laïcité is a French concept related to the separation of state and religion, sometimes rendered by the English cognate neologism laicity and also translated by the words secularity and secularization. The word laïcité is sometimes characterized as having no exact English equivalent; it is similar to the more moderate definition of secularism, but is not as ambiguous as that word.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. "Secularity". ("1. The condition or quality of being secular. 2. Something secular.")
  2. ^ Eller, Jack (2010). "What Is Atheism?". In Phil Zuckerman. Atheism and Secularity Vol.1: Issues, Concepts, Definitions. Praeger. pp. 12–13. ISBN 9780313351839. 

External links[edit]