An American friend of mine posted a succinct and personal definition of secularism in another forum, and I wondered what you all made of it. Does it go far enough? Is it inclusive or exclusive enough? How might it be improved?
"Secularism is dedicated to the destruction of the concept of faith-based coercion as a legitimate part of the overall concept of good governance. It is needed not only in Islamic countries, but also *here* (in fact, we used to have it; it is still in the Constitution). Secularism is not atheism or other flavors of freethought; it is religious liberty but not religious dominion, and is legally guaranteed by the separation of church and state."
This is a very good approximation to a definition. Secularism is definitely not a synonym of atheism. Furthermore, "atheism" as a label does not designate the fundamental issue, which is religion, not an abstract belief in a creator, and the problem encompasses supernaturalism and superstition. A focus on "God" per se comes from the monotheistic religions which dominate our civilization. But having said this, I'll go further with secularism. Secularism means relegating supernaturalist and religious interpretations of the world to private life and personal lifestyle, and removing them as justifications for public policy and common social life. Secularism is not only separation of church and state, but separation of religion and supernaturalism from common public interaction in society outside one's private voluntarily chosen circle of believers.
It sounds to me like he focuses a bit too hard on politics. Secular Humanism, I believe, is a glimmer of hope that suggests human beings are able to act righteously without having to be told what to do. The Egyptians believed that you were asked two questions before being admitted into the after life... And yes, I heard this from "The Bucket List"... One: Did you find joy in your life, and Two: Did your life bring joy to others. This suggests a perfect canvas for where to start on moral fiber. Without any influences of society or politics, popular beliefs, public scrutiny and so on, one can determine whether or not their deeds are good or bad. I Think your friends definition was too specific, because the meaning of right and wrong; good and bad; are left for the individual to decide. But Secular Humanism suggests that even though the balance is left to no fact, that it exists without a god. The meaning of Good is "Positive" and Bad is "Negative", So really, Secularism is merely a way of expressing that every human being, whether under a delusion that a god dictates it or not, has a feeling somewhere in their brains, that there is a right, and there is a wrong. Perhaps Secular humanism is what some WOULD call... God.