Why Explore Secularism
Secularism raises significant questions about how we balance freedom of, and from, religion with other rights. These are some of the most important questions which arise in all of the humanities, from religious and belief education to citizenship, and from the arts to history. The Commission on Religious Education has recognised secularism as a key concept in the study of religion and worldviews. By using Exploring Secularism, you and your students will join a long tradition of people from all faiths and none, of artists and authors, of politicians and philosophers, judges and theologians, all of whom have grappled with these debates.
What is secularism? How do secularists and their critics address freedom of and from religion?
The Core Principles Resource Pack features nineteen original resources, presentations, exercises and stimuli for students to explore secularism’s basic political philosophy of separation, freedom and equality. Through real world examples, different viewpoints and thought experiments, students will understand, apply, contrast and critique secularist reasoning.
They’ll form their own opinions and understand others’ on what secularism is, where it comes from and why it is supported or opposed. Students will explore how religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination affect our lives and the decisions we make.
Freedom of expression is a key value in a pluralist society and in the development of secularism. Restrictions on free expression – both formal and informal – are common features of religious privilege and discrimination. The modern secularist movement in the UK first emerged in reaction to restrictions on critical speech about religion and the state
In these resources students will explore a variety of legal, philosophical, political and moral viewpoints on freedom of expression. They will contrast and critique different theories on the limits of free expression through thought experiments, exercises and real world examples.
Respect for equality and human rights are fundamental aspects of most forms of secularism. Increasingly, political and moral debates are framed around competing interpretations of equality and human rights. In these resources students will learn how equality and human rights are protected in UK and international law. They will contrast and critique a variety of secularist and non-secularist viewpoints and form their own opinions on the key questions. Including: What is freedom of and from religion? What are its limits? Should we have ‘one law for all’? What does religious discrimination look like?
People of all faiths and none and in all societies have considered how people’s beliefs impact on them and the rights of others. Secularism seeks to create a framework in which the rights of all in society are protected. Many pressing social issues concern different interpretations of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination. In these resources students will contrast and critique different viewpoints on the role of secularism and religion in society. They will explore key questions. Including: What is a secular democracy? What is a theocracy? Are secularism and pluralism in conflict? Should religion influence government? Should religions run public services? What are ‘British Values’?
The arts and literature have played an important role in every human rights and social change movement including secularism. Societal discussions such as the right balance between freedom of and from religion are often explored through the arts. Different arts and literature can both reinforce religious privilege and discrimination, and challenge it through providing expression for new ideas and promoting tolerance.
Some of the most important events and changes in British history have involved debates over the role of religion in the state and the lives of individuals. Our modern concepts of freedom of and from religion have evolved over time. Important changes have been secularisation and the evolving relationship between church and state.