Secular liberalism

Secular liberalism is the separation of culture and politics from religion. A subcategory of liberalism and secularism, it supports the separation of religion and state particularly from the ideas of the Christian Church. Christian ideals are usually to be found on the opposite end of the spectrum from secular liberalism. Secular liberalism is often connected with standing for social equality and freedom.[1][2]


Adherents of secular liberalism believe in the disestablishment of the Christian Church.[3] Secular liberalism also depends on the conviction that religious tradition and belief has no binding authority on society.[1] Public promoters of secular liberalism, such as Dawkins call for a clear distinction between the teaching of religion as a historical and cultural phenomenon and the teaching of religion as fact. Dawkins has likened using education to indoctrinate children with a particular religion to child abuse. One of the central tenets of the ideology is separation of church and state[2][3] Among those who follow secular liberalism are Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.[2]

Practices that are considered to be illiberal are reformed in a state that practices secular liberalism.[4] Legal measures have failed in the past because no effort is made to make a concept of the goods that the community has cherished in the past.[4] This lack of reason-giving apparatus is called communitarianism and it used to criticize the liberal state as a coercive organization.[4] Communitarianism essentially advocates a sense of intra-community (community-wide) democracy.[4]

In a modern democratic society, a plurality of conflicting doctrines share an uneasy co-existence within the framework of civilization.

Contemporary application

Arab Spring

Secular liberalism is sometimes connected with the Arab Spring protests. One commentator labels it as a "secular liberal fantasy".[5] Others have labeled the motivations behind it, and the temporary governments created as a result as secular liberalism. [6][7][8]

Oftentimes, participation in the newly crowned democratic governments by the Muslim clerics are ignored in favor of the protesters' secular liberal ideas. Since 2011, more residents of the Middle East have been demanding a greater say in the running of their governments. They want democracy to appear in a uniquely Muslim fashion rather than through some artificial "secular" movement.[9]


The French ban on face covering has been attributed by some to be a result of secular liberalism.[10] The ban by the French Senate on September 14, 2010 outlawed coverings, including religious ones such as the burqa. Some French Muslims have found secular liberalism to be an ideology where prejudice against a minority group is used to win votes.[10] According to the Hizb ut-Tahrir group, based out of the United Kingdom, women are secluded from society and made outcasts in society for trying to be modest.[10] The group has also criticized other European countries for similar bans on religious dress.


The Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate are waging a common fight against secular liberalism; claiming that this idea violates the traditional Christian concepts of family and human values by exposing people to medico-biological experiments that are incompatible with their ideas of human dignity.[11] The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed concern over trends in some Protestant communities towards liberalizing theology and Christian morals; he claims them to be products of secular liberalism.[11]

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, offering freedom of speech, has been criticized in a 2004 political manifesto by David Fergusson entitled Church, state and civil society.

See also


  1. 1 2 Rod Dreher (6 April 2011). "Secular Liberalism as Consensus". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 "Secular liberalism misunderstood". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  3. 1 2 Hobson, Theo (29 April 2010). "Clegg should assert secular liberalism". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Hobson, Theo (1997-10-04). "Secular Liberalism and Moral Psychology of Identity". London: Economic and Political Weekly. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  5. Jonathan Jones (9 December 2011). "Tahrir Square aflame: the visual basis of an imaginary revolution". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  6. Bradley, John (2012). After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts. ISBN 0-230-33819-4.
  7. John M. Owen IV (6 January 2012). "Why Islamism is Winning". New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  8. Khan, Razib (2012). "Secular liberals the tip of the Islamist spear". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  9. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett (11 February 2014). "America and the Middle East: It's Déjà Vu All Over Again". Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 "French Face Veil Ban Highlights The Failings Of Secular Liberalism". Hizb ut-Tahrir. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  11. 1 2 "Moscow Patriarchate, Vatican wage common fight against secular liberalism - Patriarch Kirill". Interfax-Religion. Retrieved 2011-06-09.

External links

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