and assails it as the historic enemy o progress.”
)In common usage, though, a contrast is usually apparent between “secular”and “secularism.” “Secular” is the opposite o “religious,” and simply indicates anabsence o religious motivation or content (e.g. secular ceremonies, morality, art,etc.). “Secularism” is an ideology that opposes religious privilege and requently religion itsel. Because the British are typically non-religious rather than anti-religious, many people are secular but ar ewer are secularists.Unlike Americans, Britons are accustomed to the idea o state-supportedreligious education, religious broadcasting on network television, bishops in thelegislature, and so on. But unlike many continental Europeans, Britons do nottend to eel that they need protection rom religious institutions.Indeed, the implicit assumption seems to be that a modest dose o religionis good or people—or at least other people. The notion that God’s unction isto make children well-behaved, strangers helpul and shopkeepers honest meansthat outright secularism is less popular in Britain than one might suppose. Butas individuals themselves, having little desire or divine supervision, are mostly secular, the benign acceptance o public religion does little apart rom rustratesecularists and religious leaders impartially.
Social Scientifc Approaches
It has become conventional to ocus on three aspects o religious involvement:belonging, belie, and behavior. There are three distinct though overlapping ways o being secular: not belonging (not aliating), not believing, and notpracticing.None o these concepts is unambiguous. I the rather strict view is takenthat religious people must accept specic articles o aith and know basic churchdoctrine, then only a raction o the population qualiy. But i accepting theexistence o a higher power or an ultimate moral order counts as religious belie,the proportion is much more substantial.Similarly with religious practice, it makes a great deal o dierence whetherthe ocus is on regular attendance at services or i more occasional orms o practice with a strong social dimension (e.g., church weddings and baptismsor participation at Christmas, harvest estivals and the like) can be considered.Private prayer may provide more or less evidence o a religious disposition,depending on its orm, content, and motivation. Although aliation (belonging) is simply what Americans label “religiouspreerence” rather than a measure o commitment, the growth in Britain inthe number o those who say that they have no religion has ironically turnedthe simple willingness to accept a denominational label into an indicator o