Do you (or) would you like to live in a secular state?

Definition: secularism n. Religious skepticism or indifference. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

In France (which is the country I'm most familiar with) it is against the constitution to mix religous and political affairs.

School children are NOT allowed to wear religous symbols to school or they will be expelled (these symbols include the crucifix, the burka, the Star of David, the bible, ... ).

The belief is that this helps to avoid create divisions.

I'm Catholic but I approve the idea of a secular state.

However, I can't say that immigrant intergration in France is one big success story (despite our secular policy).

British school children ARE permitted to wear religous symbols.

However, they also have major immigrant intergration problems.

So what's the solution ?

To be secular, or not to be secular ? I think I'm divided on this one. ;)

I'm interested to hear your thoughts.


@steph : Bonjour ! Un baiser à nos amis américains de ma part ! Des bises

Update 2:

@balams talking donkey : Yes we do have huge intergration problems in the suburbs of Paris, toulouse, Marseille). I never said the contrary.

It's a national shame. La honte !

Update 3:

@balam's talking donkey : BTW, I love your avator. ;) Makes me smile.

Update 4:

@max marie SFO, point taken, thanks ;-)

45 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I'm from Australia and live in the United States; both are technically secular states, but the United States, in particular, seems to have a very vaguely defined line of separation. I see an enormous amount of religious influence in political matters. How can there be true secualrization when the government itself sponsors "faith based" initiatives? To my thinking, the truly secular state should be absolutely dissociated from religious comment, in any form. I like what you have described in France, and would enjoy that kind of state. Of course, I'd love France simply because it is the home of the lovely Katya! :)

    Source(s): This secular answer has been brought to you courtesy of Jack
  • 1 decade ago

    Americans, despite what so many believe, do in fact live in a secular state. Having religious freedom is not the same as living in a theocracy -- a country with a state-imposed religion -- which would be the opposite of a secular state.

    Priests and Kings have always gone together as the way for the elite to get and keep power. Such nonsense as the divine right of kings kept Europe in turmoil for centuries. Institutional religion has nothing to do with spirituality -- a person can be as deeply religious as he or she wants without having to make a public display of it; wearing the scarf is a cultural item (tribal, really). Religious institutions insist on the cultural items because they know people will fall away more easily without them (it's no accident that a nun's outfit is called "a habit."). But that's no reason why others who don't subscribe to that particular faith should have to accommodate them.

  • 1 decade ago

    Religion has nothing - absolutely NOTHING - to do with immigration and integration.

    Let's use Muslims as an example: Take away the hijab, they will still be Arabic. There will still be a language barrier. There will still be a cultural barrier.

    And all you have done is remove their right to their faith.

    What you need to do is remove fear and bigotry. Then you will have better integration.

    Once you allow the government the smallest hole with which to jump in and begin telling people what they can and can't wear - you begin the process of becoming a fascist dictatorship.

    Very soon you will find all religion banned, then find yourself wearing government issue clothing, living in your government issue home with your government issue spouse. You will go to your government issue job. Come and go when the government tells you to. Curfew.

    Take a very good look at the way things are in China. That is where France is heading.

    Britain is not as open as you seem to think it is. People are losing their jobs because they refuse to take off a crucifix or their hijab. The PM wants religious people to change into secular clothing before coming to see him. But if he were required to put on religious clothing in order to see them - he would most certainly cry foul.

    The way it is here in the US - SO much of our freedom has been removed. We are all tracked. Monitored. Our e-mails and phone calls recorded. And this is done "for our own good."

    The doorway to freedom is closing.

  • 1 decade ago

    Im an advocate for secularism. Religious diferences are just that - differences. The idea of a country is a group of people living together. In order to live together, people must be willing to put aside differences when interacting publicly. Thus, in my opinion, countries should be either embrace religious homogenaity or complete public secularism.

    Maurice H - what if we took your suggestion but it wasn't your God we taught everyone about?! Would you still think it was a good idea?

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  • Acorn
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Lots of answers here, so I'll try to be brief:

    Our founding fathers (many like Jefferson were NOT Christian) knew that if we didn't separate religion out of the government what would happen.

    What would happen is that pretty soon the state would make one religion The Official Religion and try to force people to follow that Official Religion.

    They knew their history. That never worked. It always let to problems.

    So they set up the "secular" state.

    But that doesn't mean you can't be spiritual and still be involved in politics.

    It just means you can't make any law that says YOUR religion is "the right one" to follow.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Individuality is at a major risk because of the neccessary measures of banning iconic imagery in this turbulent era. It is true that the threat of violence against certain ones identified by ethnic or religious identifiers is a theme of past interactions now known as genocide, but I still feel we're not far from black uniforms with Minority Report-like policing. It is truly a different world than pre 9-11-2001, but it is not to be feared. It needs to be expected. More and more freedoms will be at risk as personal expression becomes discouraged. If I loved Jesus, though, no ban would matter.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I would like to see the US become totally secular...

    It sounds like France and England have their religious houses in order... I don't see anything wrong with either countries rules on that issue.

    The problem appears to be all about immigration... Perhaps that's the place to concentrate our efforts. There just may have to be some very, very strict rules made.. and perhaps some deportations of failed cases, too. send back the ones who can't or won't fit in and follow the laws - strictly...! If they're a threat to an otherwise peaceful society, who needs 'em?

    [][][] r u randy? [][][]


  • 1 decade ago

    I am happy I have found that question. I think it is impossible to create a state, where all religions are equally accepted and respected. Take those religions for example, where a specific day of the week (like Saturday or Monday) is a religious holiday, when the followers of that religion must not work, but your boss says: It is Monday, you have to go to work as anyone else.

    On the one hand, it is just democratic that anyone can show his religion and be proud of it. Everyone can wear symbols of different religions. However to maintain this acceptance from the public it nearly impossible.

    However religion is everyone's own business and none has the right to judge others by their religious preference. Despite this fact, people do this when they see someone wearing a pentagram, people say..."Look a satanist! Do not go too close my child! These people are ill!"

    On the other hand, it would be great to separate politics and the average tasks of the state from religions. In the middle ages, religion and the state were the greatest friends. But nowadays there are many different religions with many different views and customs. So if a state claims, that he only prefers Christianity (and the word prefer is the most notorious in this) and ignores other religions, it is not fair with those who follow other religious paths. Not to mention the fact, that some people are simply unable to accept others with other religions. They always want to manipulate others to follow their religion. With their religious symbols and manipulative political campaigns they are trying to express that they think they have the right to ignore other religions and consider their path the only valid way to live.

    There are also religions - like my religion - that consider religion to be a very unique part of us and we do not want to manipulate others into believing what we believe, so we do not 'advertise' our religion. We accept other religions but we will never let that other religion to stand above our religion or our civil life. We believe that religion serves the individual and not the group of people who decides to accept it or not. We believe that all paths are equally valid ans long as they do not hurt the basic civil rights or free will of others. For us religion is a choice, however a wise one that many people are unable to carry.

    It is nearly impossible to decide what is better: secularised or non-secularised states.

    As for me I think that religion is only the business of the individual, and it is useless to advertise it or wear religious symbols that immediately catch the eye of fanatic, blind and stupid people. Religion is not a way of life: it is what it is... religion. It is a matter of faith. If we have faith, we are part of the religion. In society faith is an unimportant factor. No matter what religion we follow, we must face the same problems others have to. It is unwise to mix religion and our civil life.

    This is what I believe.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I supposedly live in a secular country, but we all know that religion plays a big role in the US and in the lives of almost everyone who practices it. So it would be nice to live in a secular country, but here its just a lie.

  • 1 decade ago

    The US is supposedly secular like France with the division of church and state. Church has a funny way of creeping into things it has no business in though lately and the US is becoming more and more a fundamental christian country. I think it is very important to have a separation of church and state though. I think all people need to be treated equally regardless of their religion.

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