Friday, 10 August 2012

Secularism without Secularization

[Useful for Secularism and Secularization debate in "Religion and Society" of Sociology- Spurthi]

Nanda, Meera: Secularism without Secularization: Reflections on God and Politics in US and India. Economic and Political Weekly 42,1 (2007): 39-46.

The very idea of secularism, its origin and various manifestations, is constantly being called into question in the so-called ‘secular state’. Using a comparative approach, this article discusses the origins of secularism and its influence on the shaping of contemporary state politics in the United States and India. Both nations have prescribed secularism through constitutional provisions, but these secular laws
are not firmly anchored in a secular civil society. On the contrary, secularism at the state level encourages the flourishing of a thriving religious supermarket in civil society. Christian theocracy in the US is associated with the idea of liberty, while Hindu nationalism in India is associated with the idea of spiritual enlightenment. The prevailing religious majoritarianism presents scientific inventions and discoveries as illustrations of religious phenomena, an idea that gains support through the politics of the ‘vote bank’.

According to the author, a critical historical approach suggests that the existing malfunctions of the secular state arise due to the imposition of secularism without the concomitant secularization of civil society. She argues that the defense of secularism in the present time must start with the defense of scientific reason along with the cultivation of secular culture. Only then can a constitutionally imposed secularism grow meaningfully.

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