WHAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND BY SECULARISM
Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs and/or practices.
Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Epicurus; from Enlightenment thinkers such as Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and from more recent freethinkers and atheists such as Robert Ingersoll and Bertrand Russell.
STATE THE THORIES OF SECULARISM
Secularisation Theory is the theory in sociology that as society advances in modernity, religion retreats. Intellectual and scientific developments have undermined the spiritual, supernatural, superstitious and paranormal ideas on which religion relies for its legitimacy.the theories includes;
Moojan Momen (1999) says there are five ways of looking at secularisation:
1. “Decline of popular involvement in institutionalized religion. This can be seen in the decline in church attendance, with fewer marriages, baptisms and funerals being performed under religious auspices.”
2. “The loss of prestige of religious institutions and symbols” and the decline in influence of religious organisations.
3. “The separation of society from the religious world, so that religion becomes purely personal matter.”
4. • The loss of the idea of the sacred. “As science increases our understanding of humanity and of the world, the area of ‘mystery’ and the supernatural decrease.”
5. • “Religious groups themselves become increasingly concerned with the things of this world rather than the spiritual world.”
EXAMINE THE PROCESS OF SECULARISM
Secularization or secularisation is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious (or irreligious) values and secular institutions. The secularization thesis refers to the belief that as societies progress, particularly through modernization and rationalization, religion loses its authority in all aspects of social life and governance. The term secularization is also used in the context of the lifting of the monastic restrictions from a member of the clergy.
Secularization has many levels of meaning, both as a theory and a historical process. Social theorists such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim, postulated that the modernization of society would include a decline in levels of religiosity. Study of this process seeks to determine the manner in which, or extent to which religious creeds, practices and institutions are losing social significance. Some theorists argue that the secularization of modern civilization partly results from our inability to adapt broad ethical and spiritual needs of mankind to the increasingly fast advance of the physical sciences.
Secularization is sometimes credited both to the cultural shifts in society following the emergence of rationality and the development of science as a substitute for superstition—Max Weber called this process the “disenchantment of the world”—and to the changes made by religious institutions to compensate. At the most basic stages, this begins with a slow transition from oral traditions to a writing culture that diffuses knowledge. This first reduces the authority of clerics as the custodians of revealed knowledge. As the responsibility for education has moved from the family and community to the state, two consequences have arisen:
• Collective conscience as defined by Durkheim is diminished
• Fragmentation of communal activities leads to religion becoming more a matter of individual choice rather than an observed social obligation.