THE POLITICS OF SECULARISM: READING CHARLES TAYLOR

I can remember a time when “secular” was a dirty word. Growing up in an evangelical home secular meant, primarily, secular music: the kind of music which was forbidden because it was by, of, and for “the world.” To my well-meaning parents, the secularism of secular music was a slippery slope which might cause me, like Christian of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, to get caught up at Vanity Fair instead of proceeding onward in my heaven-bound journey. It took me quite a while before I realized that the word secular had far more than a negative meaning. To judge by the fears expressed on certain North American news outlets, though, there are still many today who see secularism primarily in terms of a subtraction – a perceived hidden agenda which intends to strip Christian believers of their capacity to express their beliefs publicly.

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