Tom Chivers defines secularism as “the belief that the state should be neutral towards the religious beliefs of its citizens.” As I read his definition it struck me how different it is from other definitions I have read, and how one’s theological bias can affect their definition. For example, Christians have often defined secularism along the lines of “ordering society as if God did not exist, or His existence is irrelevant.” Tullian Tchividjian defines secularization as “the process through which God and the supernatural are relegated to the fringe of what’s important in society,” adding that “a secularized society is a society that has determined to make God and the supernatural socially irrelevant even if they remain personally engaging. It restricts the relevance of God to the private sphere only. …God may be important individually but he is rather unimportant socially and culturally. He may be alive and well privately but publicly he is dead.”
So is secularism the idea that government should be religiously neutral, or is secularism little more than social atheism? Is it just a matter of perspective?
Tom Chivers, “Atheism may be lonely, but it’s honest – and the loneliness can be fixed, http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100149264/atheism-may-be-lonely-but-its-honest-and-the-loneliness-can-be-fixed/; Internet; accessed 30 October 2012.
Tullian Tchividjian, “The Irrelevance of God”; available from http://theologica.blogspot.com/2007/07/irrelevance-of-god.html; Internet; accessed 30 July 2007.