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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Notes Towards a (Re)definition of the “Secular”

Paper by Iain Benson

Iain T. Benson suggests that the term “secular” has received little analysis in any judgement by the Canadian courts. The author examines the meaning of “secular” in relation to the nature of human acts as based on faith, and also explores some contextual concerns.

According to Benson, “A deeper ground for moral education is both necessary to citizenship and largely missing from contemporary education of all sorts including the law.” Instead, there is a series of concepts including tolerance, equality, self-esteem, and rights that are disconnected and obscured. These terms are part of a superficial language of “values.” Benson suggests that faith needs to be recognized as an inevitable aspect of human action and culture; until it is, he posits that a simplified focus on “non-religious secular” will thin, rather than improve, society’s common life.

The author contends much can be gained from understanding these terms better. He concludes by stating that a better understanding of the scope of the term “secular” will provide the opportunity through law and society “to conceptualize a more robust protection of expressions of conscience and religion, thus building a more liberal and democratic society.”

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Iain Benson;
Publisher: Centre for Cultural Renewal [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2004; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF, Hard Copy

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Cities & Communities / Religion
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / Legislation
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / The Courts
Policy Articles / Cities & Communities / Religion / 2004
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / Legislation / 2004
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice / The Courts / 2004
Policy Articles / Cities & Communities
Policy Articles / Crime & Justice


Keywords / Tags:

secular; Canadian court judgements; moral education; values; non-religious secular; faith as part of human culture; liberal democratic society;