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ERIC Number: EJ912431
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1085-4908
Secularism, Secularization, and John Dewey
Hickman, Larry A.
Education and Culture, v25 n2 Article 4 2009
There seems to be an unwritten agreement among most Americans that there are three topics that are best avoided in polite company: (1) politics; (2) personal finances; and (3) religion. The American reluctance to discuss religion with acquaintances at a dinner party or picnic may be a part of a larger phenomenon: a manifestation of the secularism that emerged from the disastrous European religious wars and the Enlightenment, and that is arguably, as a consequence of those experiences, enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is worth noting in this connection that some observers have taken pains to distinguish secularism from secularization. "Secularism," as it has generally come to be understood, is the ascendency of political control over the public activities of religious institutions. Secularism means that no religion is to be privileged over any other in the sphere of political life, including education. Although there are notable exceptions, in the United States, secularism generally means that religious organizations must compete on all fours with publics of other sorts. But secularism is by no means identical with an assault on religion. On the contrary. By legislating the place of religion in society, secularism in fact provides a safe harbor for religious diversity. "Secularization," on the other hand, is now generally understood as a condition in which religious considerations cease to function as central factors in the lives of individuals, even though those individuals may still represent themselves as religious, and may even continue their affiliation with religious institutions. In January 2008, the Pew Research Center published a major study entitled "Religion in America: Non-Dogmatic, Diverse and Politically Relevant." More than 35,000 Americans were interviewed for the survey. Based on John Dewey's published work and his correspondence, one can get a fairly good idea of what he would have had to say about secularism, secularization, and the Pew report. In this article, the author discusses this matter under four heads: (1) dogmatism or diversity; (2) supernaturalism; (3) the claim advanced in some quarters that Dewey sought to undermine religion; and (4) "remnant" or "benign" supernaturalism. (Contains 25 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment; United States Constitution