Secularism is generally the assertion that certain practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious belief. Alternatively, it is a principle of promoting secular ideas or values in either public or private settings. It may also be a synonym for "secularist movement". In the extreme, it is an ideology that holds that religion has no place in public life.

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  • Merely methodological excision from the soul of the imagination that projects Gods and heroes onto the wall of the cave does not promote knowledge of the soul; it only lobotomizes it, cripples its powers.
    • Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), p. 42
  • Christian morality and the asceticism of Jesus Christ have been dissolved in the acid of capitalism and secularism....If Jesus Christ were to appear today in the heart of Europe, rather than in the Middle East or Palestine, wouldn't they crucify him again in Europe? Does Jesus support the culture dominating Europe and America today, or does he oppose it? A while ago, a certain church in England officially allowed a same-sex marriage, and the priest joined two men in matrimony.
  • Religious ideas, supposedly private matters between man and god, are in practice always political ideas.
    • Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish (1990), Chatto Counterblasts
  • Whoever desires to live among men has to obey their laws—this is what the secular morality of Western civilization comes down to. ... Rationality in the form of such obedience swallows up everything, even the freedom to think.
    • Max Horkheimer, “The End of Reason,” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (1982), p. 29
  • A genuinely democratic society requires a secular ethos: one that does not equate morality with religion, stigmatize atheists, defer to religious interests and aims over others or make religious belief an informal qualification for public office. Of course, secularism in the latter sense is not mandated by the First Amendment. It's a matter of sensibility, not law.
  • If believers feel that their faith is trivialized and their true selves compromised by a society that will not give religious imperatives special weight, their problem is not that secularists are antidemocratic but that democracy is antiabsolutist.
    • Ellen Willis, "Freedom from Religion," The Nation (February 19, 2001)
  • For democrats, it's as crucial to defend secular culture as to preserve secular law. And in fact the two projects are inseparable: When religion defines morality, the wall between church and state comes to be seen as immoral.
    • Ellen Willis, "Freedom from Religion," The Nation (February 19, 2001)

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