Religious reason for secularism

Here’s a religious rationale for some degree of secularism, as expressed by famous creationist Harun Yahya:

“Muslim writer and intellectual, Harun Yahya, believes that “secularism is the safeguard of Islam.” Instead, he says, of the hypocrisy of women with very little religion, dressed in long black robes, or men in white robes and long beards, we must distinguish Muslims by the integrity of their lives and the goodness of their characters. Secularism, he believes, allows those with no religion to be identified as such, whilst sincerely believing Muslim men and women are allowed the freedom to practice their faith.”

I’ve often run into the rationale that when there is no state pressure to adopt a religion, the believers you see will believe out of sincere conviction rather than just put on an outward appearance. But it’s interesting that ease of identifying nonbelievers can also be part of the rationale. I wonder if that’s because nonobservance is then more easily identified with lack of piety, and hence it’s easier for the pious to to avoid corruption due to association with the ways of the irreligious.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • Ron Chusid

    On the one hand, it is true that secularism is important to protect freedom of religion (assuming a society has more than one religion) and it makes sense for religious people of any religion to support secularism as government policy.

    On the other hand, this quote won't help us sell the religious right on the idea considering the high degree of Islamophobia on the right. I'm sure many will twist this into saying that liberal secularists in the United States are promoting Islam over Christianity. There are serious difficulties in using facts and logic to discuss matters with the irrational.

  • Jeffrey Shallit

    Harun Yahya an intellectual? Yeah, and Denyse O'Leary is a journalist.

  • Jeff

    I couldn’t begin to speculate on why a Muslim writer would promote some level of secularism. Perhaps it does include the identification of nonbelievers. However, regarding Ron’s comment, I personally do not see it as an attempt to promote Islam over Christianity. In fact, if we are discussing secularism as freedom from coercion or pressure to adopt a religious teaching, I am highly in favor of it as a governmental policy, as it provides protection for all, whether religious in some form or not. However, if we are speaking of secularism as the non-interference in human activity of any religious thought, then I would have to oppose, as religious thought is still a part of many individuals.

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