Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Secularism as a way of organising states and political communities really had its heyday in the mid-twentieth century. That was the time of the universal declaration of human rights that declared that everyone had a right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This was a time when leading global powers like the United States, like France, had secular states themselves and they were countries that other regions of the world looked up to as examples of modernity. The founding fathers of new states like India were seeing secularism as an essential part of being a modern state. In the last few years the picture has become slightly less rosy for secularism. There’s less cause to be optimistic.
Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds There’s been a movement away from secularism in some states; religious ways of governing are seen as the dominant alternative for example, in the Arab world, and that is growing in strength; as part of the backlash in places like Russia, China, and Turkey against universal human rights; there’s also been a backlash against secularism. There are also political groups of course, for example in the Arab world, who do prize secularism as a goal, who are rising up as dissident groups to try and achieve it.
Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds Groups in countries like China who are trying to do the same thing, human rights activists in Russia and across Africa, and in almost every region of the world, who under extremely difficult conditions are trying to achieve progress toward secularism and to equal rights. And humanists everywhere are allies of, and in the vanguard of that struggle.
The state of secularism
Andrew Copson reveals some of the dangers secularism faces around the globe today.