The true meaning of secularism

Once President Bill Clinton started singing the praises of Yale law professor Stephen Carter’s works, such as The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion, sales went up exponentially. Explaining how preserving a special role for religious communities can strengthen democracy, Carter criticizes contemporary American law and politics for marginalizing religious faith such that it cannot be a resource for political action. In his more recent book, God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics, Carter expresses his concerns about the risks and limitations of political involvement for religious people and communities. He writes,
‘We must never become a nation that propounds an official religion or suggests that some religions are more American than others. At the same time, one of the official religions we must never propound is the religion of secularism, the suggestion that there is something un-American about trying to live life in a way that puts God first. Quite the contrary: Preserving the ability of the faithful to put God first is precisely the purpose for which freedom of religion must exist.’
(Excerpt from Rosalind Hackett’s “Rethinking the Role of Religion in Changing Public Spheres’

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