Secularity or Secularism: Two Competing Visions for the Relationship between Religion and the State in the New Turkish Constitution

44 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015 Last revised: 8 Dec 2015

See all articles by Brett G. Scharffs

Brett G. Scharffs

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

One of the most controversial issues in crafting a new constitution for Turkey will likely be the definition and conceptualization of what kind of secular state Turkey envisions for itself and what the relationship between religion and the state ought to be. In this paper I want to suggest that there is an important, perhaps critical, distinction between secularity and secularism - in particular that one concept is a fundamental component of liberal pluralism and a bastion against religious extremism, and that the other is a misguided, even dangerous, ideology that may degenerate into its own dystopian funddamentalism. Secularity is an approach to religion-state relations that avoids identification of the state with any particular religion or ideology (including secularism itself) and that endeavors to provide a neutral framework capable of accommodating a broad range of religions and beliefs. Secularism, in contrast, is an ideological position that is committed to promoting a secular order. In this paper I will illustrate the difference between these conceptualizations of the secular state with examples of cases from several different jurisdictions focusing on the institutional relationships between religion and the state, and the individual’s relationship with the state.

Keywords: secular, secularism, secularity, religion, state, religious extremism, beliefs

Suggested Citation

Scharffs, Brett G., Secularity or Secularism: Two Competing Visions for the Relationship between Religion and the State in the New Turkish Constitution (2011). BYU Law Research Paper No. 15-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2657722 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2657722

Brett G. Scharffs (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

430 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States

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