Is Secularism Neutral?

26 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2013

See all articles by Rex Ahdar

Rex Ahdar

University of Otago - Faculty of Law; University of Notre Dame Australia - University of Notre Dame Australia, School of Law, Students

Date Written: September 2013

Abstract

This article argues that secularism is not neutral. Secularization is a process, the secular state is a structure, whereas secularism is a political philosophy. Secularism takes two main forms: first, a “benevolent” secularism that endeavours to treat all religious and nonreligious belief systems even‐handedly, and, second, a “hostile” kind that privileges unbelief and excludes religion from the public sphere. I analyze the European Court of Human Rights decision in Lautsi v Italy, which illustrates these types. The article concludes that secularism as a political philosophy cannot be neutral, and the secular state is not neutral in its effects, standpoint, governing assumptions or treatment of religious truth claims.

Suggested Citation

Ahdar, Rex, Is Secularism Neutral? (September 2013). Ratio Juris, Vol. 26, Issue 3, pp. 404-429, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2305084 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/raju.12020

Rex Ahdar (Contact Author)

University of Otago - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, Otago 9010
New Zealand

University of Notre Dame Australia - University of Notre Dame Australia, School of Law, Students ( email )

Sydney Campus
New South Wales
Australia

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