My thanks to Ian Leigh, Erich Kolig, Thomas Cleary and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. This is a revised version of a paper presented at the International Religious Liberty Association, 13th Meeting of Experts, University of Sydney, Faculty of Law, August 23, 2011.
Is Secularism Neutral?
Article first published online: 1 AUG 2013
© 2013 The Author. Ratio Juris © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 404–429, September 2013
How to Cite
Ahdar, R. (2013), Is Secularism Neutral?. Ratio Juris, 26: 404–429. doi: 10.1111/raju.12020
- Issue published online: 1 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 1 AUG 2013
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.