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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The term “secularism” stands as one of the most multivalent phrases in the contemporary global political lexicon. Mutually irreconcilable definitions of the term exist side by side in popular, journalistic, and even scholarly discourse. In an effort to reduce the confusion, this chapter suggests that the term “political secularism” be employed in contradistinction to “secularity,” “secular humanism,” or usages that equate secularism with atheism. It is argued that the fundamental principles that undergird political secularism have a lengthy and complex genealogy in Christian political philosophy, be it of the Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, or Reformation periods. These ideational taproots inform and tincture the modern political concept of secularism in a variety of intriguing ways. They have also resulted in contemporary political secular projects that are at once divergent from one another, in flux, and constantly evolving.

Keywords: political secularism, atheism, Marsilius of Padua, Martin Luther, John Locke, separation of church and state, secular humanism

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