I start a new thread as a reaction to MADHUKAR KULKARNI's claim, that India were a secular coutnry.

I consider a country as secular, when

  • there are no laws or rules based on or influenced by religious and similarly irrational beliefs.
  • there are laws and rules protecting people from being harmed by behavior caused by religious and similarly irrational beliefs.   These rules are enforced.
  • no tax payer's money or publicly owned property is used in favor of religious and similarly irrational beliefs.


The number of secular citizens does not make a country secular.

I am not sure, if there is any fully secular country on earth.

Germany is not a secular country.  As an example, shops are closed on Sundays by law for religious reasons.

India is not a secular country.
- Cows causing traffic chaos are not removed, because they are considered as sacred.
- Astrology is taught in universities.
- People are allowed to bathe in the sewage water of the river Ganges and spread diseases, because the bath in the water is an expression of a religious.

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Since Maruli has started this discussion based on my reply, in all fairness she should have included my reply too in her post. This would have enabled others to make a balanced judgement. I will therefore try to remember my reply and state it here briefly.

Hindu, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Zoarastrians,  Sikhs and even a small scattering of Jews are staying together in peace in India. All are getting equal opportunities without consideration of religion. All are equal before law. Evrybody is able to practice his religion. There is no discrimination. India is a large country with a large variety of people and so what Maruli has observed is not a character of the entire country. There is some tension between Hindus and Muslims, but the Mislims also are under the above secular laws.

I may add here that you will find most secular muslims in India.   

I started a new discussion by suggesting a definition of what makes a country secular.   Since in my definition, the proportion of believers to non-believers is not defining secularity, I am not at all debating any statement about the number of secular people in India.   

Secularity is not only freedom for all religion, it includes the protection from other's relgion.

By the way, during a two-months visit to India, I personally experienced religious beliefs as ubiquious.  

I am sorry to say Maruly that you have a skewed vision. What secularism has got to do with peoples personal belief? The same people who are religious in their private life may support secularism in public life. If this is not believed, then a country can not be secular until all its population is atheist. And what cows have got to do with secularism? If you feel this relevent, then I may add that the Indian cows are very secular because they neither practice any religion nor worship any god.

A secular country to me means the same as a secular state: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_state

A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.

Maruli Marulaki

If this is what you mean by a secular state, then your original post is entirely wrong. How about withdrawing it?

I think what Maruli is trying to say is people's personal beliefs, shape the way governments rule/act. If a river were a health hazard, here in Canada, people would be banned from bathing in it for health reasons til it was cleaned up, no matter what religious relevance there is. By the same token, if there were cows on the road, they would be removed as a safety issue. And as I mentioned before, here in Canada, churches pay no taxes BECAUSE they are a religion. All that sure sounds like supporting religion, not being neutral to it. So different levels of non-secularism, but still is...

I think maybe, Madhukar, you and a few others here are getting, "treating all religions equal" and "treating religion neutral" confused. Two VERY different things. Both my country and yours (and maybe all?? Honestly don't know), from what I can tell, support religion very much...not neutral to it.

Rudy V Kiist

It is not difficult to accept things if they are put correctly, therefore I accept what you have said in good spirit. I may still say that these things are a small matter for determining secularism. As we say in India, "secularism is enshrined in our constitution." That is how we value secularism. All religions are protected by one law, all get opportunities under one law and all are treated equal by the same law. No man, no people, no country gets everything it wants and everybody always makes small alllowances for some specific situations, so, a sane person takes this in to account before passing a judgement, particularly as negative as Maruli wants to make it.

I'm glad you're taking it in good spirits as I'm mostly saying the stuff I am to make one think...so here's another thing to ponder.

Again, I'll use my own country as reference, because it is the one I know best, but I believe applies to most. Why do religions even need special laws from the ones we already have? If I join a dog kennel club or a knitting club, or whatever, I'm already protected from harm or prejudice from existing laws (and if they don't exist in your country, then you have even bigger problems). The only reason I see to single out religion in my country is to allow religions to break existing laws. For instance, if I started a dog kennel club and said no gays are allowed or women are not allowed to be leaders, someone could (and most likely would) take me to court for discrimination and rightfully win. Churches can and do have that freedom. In other words, I'd argue NO religious group should be afforded extra rights over and above the average citizen or group.

I can't commit crimes against a dog kennel club OR my local church, with or without special laws made up for them...so why have those special laws? (other than giving them the right to break normal laws).

If a river were a health hazard, here in Canada, people would be banned from bathing in it for health reasons til it was cleaned up, no matter what religious relevance there is. By the same token, if there were cows on the road, they would be removed as a safety issue.

That is, what I mean.  A secular country protect its citizen from all damage, including damaged caused for religious reasons.

I don't see the link.  You can only link to the causes for not doing so, if they're religious in nature.  You're way off base with the first part of your second sentence.

One more remark.   I do not mean secularity of a country as a dichotomy.   From an atheist's perspective, a secular country according to my definition would be the ideal, even though there may not be any one country fulfilling the criteria.  

But it is possible to compare countries along a secularity scale.  

It's simply a matter of definition. And it can get more confusing when a country's official position is one thing, but the public enforces or demands another. US clams to be secular, yet I see numerous protests against mosques, not just from citizens, but from a number of politicians.

And what if a country allows religion in general to control it's state affairs? No one religion in particular, but an accumulation of all the religions. For example, here in Canada (and many countries I believe), you just have to call your group religious (any one will do) and you don't have to pay taxes. It's one thing to have freedom of religion, but is it secularism if you're allowed to live off the backs (taxes) of the rest of the population because of your religion? I don't know...

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