The Secularization Myth Revisited: Secularism as Christianity in Disguise

Journal of Markets & Mortality, Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 2015

39 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2016  

Robert H. Nelson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy

Date Written: Fall 2015

Abstract

For much it the twentieth century it was broadly assumed in the social sciences that religion was fading from the world. More recently, it has been recognized that traditional religion has continued to exert a much larger influence on world affairs than had been expected. This article argues that secularism was itself a powerful religion and thus predictions of a decline of religion were false to begin with, even as mainline Protestant and some other religions did suffer from declining membership and faith commitments. Moreover, secularism was not only a genuine religion but it was very much in the Christian tradition -- indeed it might best be described as a disguised Christianity. It had the same emphasis, for example, on the presence of good and evil in the world and similarly offered prophesies of the human future on earth as grounded in the workings of history. Secularism thus did not mean a turn away from religion, as was widely thought, but a change in the manner of its expression that offered new versions of older Christian messages and institutional forms in supposedly "scientific," forms, thus hoping to reach the large numbers of people who were turning against historic Christian religion.

Keywords: Secularization, Christianity, religion, economics

JEL Classification: A13, A14, B1, B24, B25, N01, P10

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Robert H., The Secularization Myth Revisited: Secularism as Christianity in Disguise (Fall 2015). Journal of Markets & Mortality, Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2721324 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2721324

Robert H. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States
301-405-6345 (Phone)
301-718-4377 (Fax)

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