Moderate Secularism, Religion as Identity and Respect for Religion

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Political secularism takes many forms but a fundamental distinction is between radical and moderate kinds. The latter is a genuine secularism and not just a failure to take secularism to its logical conclusion. The failure to appreciate this obscures the secularism that exists in western Europe. Namely, an accommodation of organised religion which sees it as a potential public good or national resource (not just a private benefit), which the state can in some circumstances assist to realise—even through an ‘established’ church. I adumbrate five types of reasons the state might be interested in religion: truth, danger, utility, identity and respect. The challenge facing such secularism today is whether it can be pluralised or multiculturalised, in particular whether it can accommodate Muslims. A ground for optimism is the respect that some people, especially some Muslims, have for religions other than their own.
Translated title of the contributionModerate Secularism, Religion as Identity and Respect for Religion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-14
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • moderate secularism
  • establishment
  • Muslims
  • respect
  • religion


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