Secularism, the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education, is an increasingly hot topic in global public, political, and religious debates. Andrew Copson tells the story of secularism, discussing secular republics and the challenges they can face from resurgent religious identity politics.
- Traces the history of secularism from the eighteenth century to the present day
- Examines the deep tensions a secular state faces from resurgent religious identity politics, and those a religious state faces from insurgent secularists
- Considers how secularism connects with contentious issues such as blasphemy, religious persecution, religious discrimination, and freedom of belief
About the Author(s)
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association), where he was previously Director of Education and Public Affairs; President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union; and a former Director of the European Humanist Federation. In these capacities he is one of the most experienced and prolific advocates of secularism, its study, and its implementation. For over a decade he has carried out a range of national and international practical
secularist policy work and spoken internationally on secularism. He has been an associate of the Centre for Law and Religion and the University of Cardiff since 2008 and represented the secularist point of view on public or other bodies such as the Foreign Office's Advisory Panel on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Woolf Institute's Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life. He co-edited The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook on Humanism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), with A C Grayling.
"This is an exceptionally careful, fair-minded and positive introduction to the many meanings of a word often carelessly used. It will be an enormous help to all who want to understand better the current controversies about religious belief and modern society." - Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
"Secularism is of growing importance all over the world, yet it is also an approach with deep roots reaching far back into our history. Andrew Copson elegantly explores this history as well as secularism's importance today, showing how it evolved and how it is the key to de-escalating so many of the modern world's points of conflict." - Dan Snow
"Andrew Copson is one of the most thoughtful people in the world on secularism. We have never needed a sane, intelligent, persuasive guide to secularism more than now - so I'd say thank God for this excellent book, if that wasn't too obviously ironic." - Johann Hari
"A timely tour de force and indispensable analysis for anyone seeking to get to grips with the roots, philosophy, and current controversies surrounding secularism which are challenging our vexed world." - Professor Francesca Klug, author of Magna Carta For All Humanity: Homing in on Human Rights
"A secular state embraces freedom of religion or belief, the equal treatment of persons regardless of faith, and the separation of religious and state authorities. In this wide-ranging and timely study Andrew Copson describes the virtues of secularism as the guarantor of equal dignity, freedom, and security for all, but also the various platforms from which it is opposed, and its fragile and increasingly beleaguered state across the world. Scrupulously fair, his book brings much-needed clarity into a confused and embittered area of dispute." - Simon Blackburn, author of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction and Plato's Republic: A Biography