This article concerns secularism, the exclusion of religion and supernatural beliefs.
For other forms of being secular, and perspective on the terminology underlying the word "secularism", see secularity.
- in philosophy, the belief that one's own life can be best lived, and the universe best understood, with little or no reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts.
- in society, any of a range of situations where a society less automatically assumes religious beliefs to be either widely shared or a basis for conflict in various forms, than in recent generations of the same society.
- in government policy, having less entanglement between government and religion than is traditional (ranging from reducing ties to a state church to promoting secularism in society).
In studies of religion, modern Western societies are generally recognized as secular:
- there is near-complete freedom of religion (you can believe in any religion or none at all, with little legal or social sanction);
- religion does not dictate political decisions, though the moral views originating in religious traditions remain important in political debate in some countries, such as the United States; in some others, such as France, religious references are considered out-of-place in mainstream politics;
- religion is not as important in most people's lives as it once was.