Secularism a Religion?

The First Amendment
The First Amendment (Photo credit: euthman)

In a recent letter to the editor (Tampa Tribune), a local man wrote an interesting argument stating that in our zeal to enforce separation of church and state, secularism has become the state religion of America. While he made this point as he advocated voting ‘no’ on an Amendment on our upcoming ballot, I think his point worth consideration. Many say that secularism rests in separation of church and state. Consider, though, the words of George Jacob Holyoake who coined the term in 1851: “Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life.”[9]     

If, as Mr. Holyoake stated, secularism is just another set of beliefs of which Christianity is but one, I think the case might well be made that it is effectively a religion. Of course, I wouldn’t call Christianity just another set of beliefs. Yet, if we go there for a moment, consider this question: Could it be that by eliminating competing beliefs entirely in the public square that particular beliefs called secularism are mandated by the government, in effect violating the First Amendment? I tend toward ‘yes’ in answer to the question, though understand that I am no scholar of the Constitution. I would rather you evaluate it yourself as you read the First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Let me know what you think.

The letter to the editor can be found at http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2012/oct/14/vwopino2-letters-to-the-editor-official-state-reli-ar-531672/

About Rev Uch

I'm a United Methodist pastor serving Hyde Park United Methodist in Tampa, Florida. My husband and I have been here since July 2016. We are thrilled to be back in this area closer to most of our immediate family. In Tampa on a Sunday? Stop by one of our six weekly services. Find out more at www.hydeparkumc.org/worship.
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One Response to Secularism a Religion?

  1. Amber says:

    Perhaps the question that should be asked is “Has Christianity become secular?” Think about for a moment how there are so many rules and regulations in the church. Have these “added” rules gotten in the way of the true spirit of the Gospel, like the rules of Christ’s time in Israel?

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