Is secularism an increasing threat to religious liberty?

Following the recent burkini ban saga in France, the debate on religious liberty and the extent to which the state has a right to infringe upon these freedoms has yet again re-emerged as a hot topic of discussion. This isn’t a new debate, but one which appears to re-surface often, in light of media coverage of high profile cases.

Perhaps the burkini ban shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering France’s secular stance and its emphasis on the notion of religion being an entirely private matter. Nevertheless, even many advocates of secular values argue that the French have enacted this law as a means of promoting Islamophobia under the guise of secularism. However, France is not the only country we’ve seen in the spotlight due to restrictions on religious liberty. Russia recently enacted laws placing heavy restrictions on missionary activity and public evangelism.

It is interesting that in a climate of increasing emphasis on freedom of speech and the right to express one’s opinion, these very principles are being juxtaposed by increasingly tight limits on religious freedoms. Some would argue that such limits are an indication of an agenda to homogenise the views of the masses, presenting the illusion of freedom of belief whilst placing unfair limits upon which this ‘freedom’ ought to be expressed.

Is this a sign of things to come? Is secularism becoming increasingly authoritarian in nature? Or is secularism merely being used as a tool to enforce an authoritarian agenda? Perhaps such instances are one off occurrences? Let us know what you think.

Michael ‘Entitled’ Folayan
Contributing Writer & Rapper
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