Task: What were the impacts of the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001? Can religion remain a private matter?

9/11 forced some people to recognise that law, politics and religion are linked and cannot be untangled. The western world has become increasingly secular, whilst religious fundamentalism continues to grow as a result.

Task: Read the article and decide whether you agree or disagree, and explain your reasons why.

Task: Write the definition of secularism.

Secularism is most commonly defined as the separation of religion from civic affairs and the state.

Procedural secularism means the role of the state is to take into account the interests of all its citizens and their institutions. This means that it should not give priority or preference to religion but treat it equally along with all other institutions.

Programmatic secularism means the role of the state in a plural society is to be purely secular. All religious views or practices should be excluded from public institutions such as government, public events, schools and universities.

Task: Read the article

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated must translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values. Their proposals must be subject to argument and reason, and should not be accorded any undue automatic respect.

Barack Obama

Which is better – procedural or programmatic? Rowan Williams argues that the role of the state is to be a ‘community of communities’ and therefore favours procedural secularism. He argues that people should be able to acknowledge their own religious beliefs and the authority of the state. The role of the Church is to spread the Gospel, and not to govern.

La laïcité – the principle enshrined in French law (1905 Separation of the Church and the State) which separates the state and religions.

Task: Read this article on laïcité. Do you agree? Should laïcité be overturned?

Task: Is a secular state entitles to ban the wearing to religious symbols in public even though this may infringe the right to freedom of expression?

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