Political Secularism

Throughout the past several weeks of class, my understanding of secularism has broadened.  I have realized that a secular America does not simply refer to a country that is losing religious prevelance. Rather, there are many different theories on secularism– most which are quite complex. We have also read and discussed in class the tie between politics and religion, and how the pews have become increasingly conservative in both their political affiliation and their interpretation of scripture.

For Wednesday, I read Caitlin Killian’s discussion on legislation in France that bans religious symbols in certain public spaces. Killian explained the different arguments for and against these religious restrictions, and studied how different demographics feel about said restrictions. Although the author did not conclude if the laicite was right or wrong, she did explain how the reasons for the government’s forced secularization has political foundations. As Islamophobia is unfortunately on the rise, some people support the banning of religious symbols as a way to prevent the visibility of Islam. Some support the ban because they haven’t really seen religious symbols much in their daily life, so they wouldn’t notice much of a difference. Killian also explains that some people believe that the laicite will take pressure off of Muslim girls who are forced to veil, or will be threatened if they don’t. Of course, some of these claims could be justification for underlying religious discrimination.

The political views associated with secularism legislation in France vary on demographic, most specifically with generation. After reading Killian’s report, I now understand the close tie between secularism and politics, and how its presence varies form country to country.