Essay on The Meaning Of Secularism And Religion

Essay on The Meaning Of Secularism And Religion

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The words “Secularism” and “Religion” are used to describe abstract concepts with subjective definitions. As distinct as they are, they also act as mirrors to each other; as one cannot survive without the other to push against, no matter what definition is given to them. These words as defined by various writers, feminists, scholars and historians can be used to define and query these two categories. Gross, Castelli, Cady & Fessenden, Mahmood, Braude and Moallem use examples, culture, and opinions to define each in a different way. While they may be categories, secularism and religion are also answers to some of mankind’s biggest questions; but ultimately they are one in the same and seek to unite followers under a common cause.
“Feminism is the conviction that women really do inhabit the human real and are not ‘other’, not a separate species” (Gross 16) Proclaims Hindu scholar Rita Gross, in a tone that says, “Feminism is common sense”. Gross defines secularism and feminism as one in the same; on the opposite side of the spectrum of religion. While taking liberal views, Gross appreciates religion and encourages those studying it to take two steps; drop one’s worldviews and enter the phenomenon. This is empathy and learning this way promotes understanding, in comparison to an ethnocentric view that fosters “intolerance and chauvinism”. As for her formal definition of “religion” Gross defines it as “any belief that functions as a significant arbiter for actions”. This leaves room for factors not usually considered “religions” such as political alignment, superstitions, morality, and most importantly feminism. Feminism is an inherent part of secularism and is defined as a movement towards political, economic and social equality ...

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...and women were finally given this basic right in the 1920’s. The unattainable promise of full secularism has been screwing over women and minorities since the enlightenment. Cady and Fessenden define this as the “Myth of Liberalism”: “the political exclusion of women, the property-less, [and] colonial subjects in liberalism’s history as the gradual but inevitable extension of ‘liberalism’s’ incomplete project of universal emancipation”(6). Ultimately, self-serving secularism makes promises it cannot keep. Feminism, in comparison according to Cady and Fessenden is not necessarily secular and is a way for women of all cultures to empower themselves without leaving their religious identity behind. As categorized by Cady and Fessenden, liberalism is a myth, feminism is accommodating and supportive, Secularism leaves women behind and religion is entangled in all of them.

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