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Origins of secularism

Reader comment on item: Secularism - Will It Survive?

Submitted by Roger D. McKinney (United States), Oct 18, 2005 at 11:20

On the origins of secularism, you might want to look more closely at its history. The Dutch Republic was the first to give its citizens religious freedom in 1572 because Dutch Protestants were convinced that government should not force religion on anyone. By establishing the first republic in Europe since Rome, they placed political power in the hands of a group of representatives who were very religious. Everyone expected their religions to guide their politics, but no one religious group had veto power. In the US, Rhode Island established freedom of religion in the US. Religion has always been a major part of political discourse in this country. Historically, secularism has restrained the state from forcing religion upon people and kept religious groups from dictating policy, but it has never excluded religion from public life. Your definition of secularism is a recent and new definition.

The danger to secularism in the US comes from the irreligious, not the religious. My group, the Southern Baptists, are among the staunchest supporters of historical secularism. By removing religion from public discourse, irreligious people want to change the definition of secularism and impose a type of paganism on the whole country
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