Circa 2018: “Turkey and India under their current leadership are sliding further and further away from secularism and closer and closer to religious intolerance.” wrote Steven Conn in 2018 in his review of the book, Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom, by Andrew Copson, published by Oxford University Press, 2017.
By the way, this is the judgement and conclusion of Steven Conn and not of the book or Capson.
“When the University of Texas surveyed 195 national constitutions from around the world, researchers found that over 70 of them declare some variation of the secularist ideal.”
Steven Conn shows his superior scholarship above Copson, by writing, “Though Copson doesn’t mention this, secularism emerged in the 18th century in part because of the memory of the Age of Religious Wars, and the Thirty Year’s War in particular. John Locke and James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and others understood full well that one predictable consequence of state-sponsored religion was that states would go to war over religion.”
What would you predict about religious states?
Those of us who are wondering what was the Thirty Year’s War. It was the Thirty Year (1618-1648) Europe’s deadliest religious war, one of the bloodiest in history where 8 million people lost their lives.
You can see the origins of religious tolerance here.
But they would not stop lecturing India.
Steven Conn went on to write, “There is a timeliness to this book that Copson touches on in his final chapter. Secularism is under attack around the world in ways that are as unexpected as they are frightening. 70 out of 195 national constitutions might be seen as a glass half full, or it might be seen as sluggishly disappointing. Whipping up religious hatred, whether for nakedly political purposes or for genuinely religious goals or both, has become depressingly common. Turkey and India under their current leadership are sliding further and further away from secularism and closer and closer to religious intolerance.”
Did you see 70 out of 195 is glass half full. No, my friend, it at best 1/3rd and that too when all ‘declarations of some variation of secularist ideals’ are included.
If you have a respect for empirical data, the reality is secularism is still fledgling.
Steven Conn’s lecture for India, however, does not end. He adds “Copson does not present new history in these considerations, but he usefully underscores that secularism, while it may have originated in the West, has a strong global appeal. More to the point, in a society as dizzyingly diverse as India, secularism has real utility as a way to keep governments from promoting or discriminating against any particular faith.”
Reality is this (in USA):
“A few years ago, Thomas Jefferson received a demotion from the Texas State Board of Education. The conservative Republicans on that august body voted to remove Jefferson from the first rank of Founding Fathers in the state’s high school curriculum. The reason for this posthumous pink-slip was not that Jefferson was a slave-holder or even that he fathered children with one of those slaves. Rather, Jefferson’s sin in the eyes of those Texans was to have authored the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state.”
On ground, “Secularism is a fraud ab initio. It is something that can never be in real life. Ask 100 persons what is secularism? And you will have more than 100 answers.
USA is a secular State. But US President takes oath of office by the Bible. He is head of the State and takes oath not by the Constitution of the USA but by Bible.
So is true about many other States of the World.
No surprise. After all, State is made up of the people of one faith or another.
And man is not machine that you can turn on and off by press of a button.
A Christian even after becoming part of the State remains Christian.
A Muslim even after becoming part of the State remains Muslim.
A Hindu even after becoming part of the State remains Hindu.
A Jew even after becoming part of the State remains Jew.
Or for that matter, a person of whatever faith even after becoming part of the State remains what he or she has been by faith.
Communism has been the latest faith.
It is a faith of ‘No faith in God or Religion’.
So how do your separate State (governance) and the Church (religion)?
In democracies, State is elected by the people and it ought to be representative of the people including their faiths.
And it is only natural that a person of a certain faith treats his/ her faith above all else. That is by continuing with his/ her faith, which by conduct is over other faiths.
Those who don’t know like Steven Conn, Secularism was added in the constitution of India in 1976 by Congress Party under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. It was added during national emergency and by extending the term of the Parliament by Congress. It was added to regain power by labelling opposition as Communalist. It is another matter that Congress lost power in 1977.
So much for Secularism on ground in USA and India.
In India, that is Bharat, religious gurus (leaders) advised State about what is just, fair and good for the people of the State.
The wars were fought between Dharma and Adharma, to establish Dharma (righteousness) in the society, not between my faith-fuls and followers and your faith-fuls and followers.
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