INTRODUCTION - A Secular Age beyond the West: Religion, Law and the State in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa

INTRODUCTION - A Secular Age beyond the West: Religion, Law and the State in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa

By Mirjam Künkler, John Madeley, and Shylashri Shankar
Cambridge University Press, 5 July 2021

In A Secular Age (2007), Charles Taylor offers a magisterial account of secularization's historical processes in defining the relationship between the religious and the nonreligious in the North Atlantic World.1 The feature that most interests him was the emergence of what he calls “Secularity III” in Western Christianity (but not Eastern Orthodox Christianity). Three phenomena characterize Secularity III: exclusive humanism (one that does not appeal to the divine), the presence of meaningful options between belief and unbelief, and its availability to large numbers of people, not just elites. How North America and Western Europe, historically dominated by Protestantism and Catholicism, created a context where its citizens are free to believe or not believe and to switch faith without the threat of political or social sanction is Taylor's main focus.