Secularity (adjective form secular) is the state of being separate from religion.[1] For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them. Nevertheless, both eating and bathing are regarded as sacraments in some religious traditions, and therefore would be religious activities in those worldviews. Saying a prayer derived from religious text or doctrine, worshipping through the context of a religion, and attending a religious school are examples of religious (non-secular) activities. However prayer and meditation are not necessarily non-secular being that the concept of spirituality and higher consciousness are not married solely to any religion but are practiced and arose independently across a continuum of cultures.[citation needed]

Most businesses and corporations are secular organizations. All state universities in the United States are secular organizations, while some private universities are church-related; among many, six church-related examples are Brigham Young University, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, Mercer University, and The Catholic University of America. The public university system in the United Kingdom and Australia are also secular, although many public primary and secondary schools are religiously aligned.

Despite occasional confusion, secularity is not necessarily synonymous with atheism nor agnosticism.

Origin of termEdit


This word derives from a Latin word meaning "of the age". The Christian doctrine that God exists outside time led medieval Western culture to use secular to indicate separation from religious affairs and involvement in worldly (or time-related) ones. This meaning has been extended to apply to separation from any religion, regardless of whether it has a similar doctrine.

Modern usageEdit

Examples of secular used in this way include:

Related conceptsEdit

  • Laïcité is a French concept related to the separation of state and religion, sometimes rendered by the English cognate neologism laicity and also translated by the words secularity and secularization. The word laïcité is sometimes characterized as having no exact English equivalent; it is similar to the more moderate definition of secularism, but is not as ambiguous as that word.
  • Secularism is an assertion or belief that religious issues should not be the basis of politics, a movement that promotes those ideas or (in the extreme) an ideology that holds that religion has no place in public life. Secularist organizations are distinguished from merely secular ones by their political advocacy of such positions.
  • Laïcisme is the French word that most resembles secularism, especially in the latter's extreme definition, as it is understood by the Catholic Church, which sets laïcisme in opposition to the allegedly far milder concept of laïcité. The correspondent word laicism (also spelled laïcism) is sometimes used in English as a synonym for secularism.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. "Secularity". ("1. The condition or quality of being secular. 2. Something secular.")

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