13. Secularism

The word ‘secularism’ was first used in the 19th century by George Jacob Holydake. He derived it from the Latin word ‘Seculum’ meaning “this present age.” He used it in the context of social and ethical values or systems. Thus, secularism came to be known as a social and ethical system. The following principles were evolved by Holydake to mark this system :
Primary emphasis on the material and cultural improvement of human beings.
Respect for and search for all truth, whatever be its source, which can be tested in experience leading to human betterment.
Concern for this age or world and its improvement.
An independent rational morality, which does not base itself on faith in divine commandment.
Bradlaugh observed that secularism was hostile to religion and maintained that either secularism or religion should survive.
Chambers Dictionary : According to Chambers Dictionary secularism is, “the belief that the state, moral, education, etc., should be independent of religion.”
Oxford Dictionary : Oxford Dictionary defines secularism as, “the doctrine that the morality should be based solely in regard to the well-being of mankind in the present life, to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God.”
Webster’s Dictionary : Webster’s Dictionary state that secularism is, “the belief that religion and ecclesiastical affairs should not enter into the functions of the state.”
The limited sense of the word secularism is often placed in contrast with religion. Thus Webster gives us an alternative definition of secularism : “A system of doctrines and practices that rejects any form of religious faith and worship.”
Constitutional provisions
After obtaining her independence India adopted secularism as a way of life. Our Constitution guarantees the fullest freedom of religious belief and worship. It has laid down the following provisions in connection with religious and moral education in educational institutions.
Article 19(1) : “Subject to public order, morality and health and to other provisions of this part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom to conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.”
Article 21 : “No person may be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.”
Article 22 (1) : “No religious instructions shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.”
Provided that nothing in this clause shall apply to an educational institution which is administered but has been established under an endowment or trust which requires that religious instructions shall be imparted in such institutions.
(2) “No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person, or if such person is a minor his guardian has given his consent thereto.”
Article 30 (1): “All minorities whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institution of their choice.”
(2) “The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institution, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.”

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