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Unformatted text preview: UNIT 16 SECULAR AND THEOCRATIC REGIMES Structure Objectives Introduction Secularism and Secular Regimes 16.2.1 Protestantism 16.2.2 Social Basis of Secularism 16.2.3 Secular Regimes: Meaning and Features Theocratic Regimes Relevance and Trends in Secular Polity Let Us Sum Up Some Useful Books Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises 16.0 OBJECTIVES This unit examines the nature of the relationship between state and religion which constitutes an important basis for the classification of contemporary political system. After going through this unit, you should be able to : Define secularism and explain its origins; Identify the features of secular regimes; Describe the meaning and features of theocracy; and Recognise the importance and relevance of secular polity. The relationship between religion and politics has always been fraught with potential conflict. Religion is acknowledged to be a crucial source of legitimacy and political mobilisation in all societies, ranging from those that are avowedly secularist, such as communist regimes, to those that are theocracies. This factor, combined with the developments in the last three decades or so- the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the late 1970s, the growth of politic'ally committed religious movements in tlie 1980s, the resurgence of the New Right in the West and the collapse of secular co~nmunist regimes- diaw our attention to the role of religion in public life. It is in this context that the nature of relationship between the state and religion has emerged as an important basis for classification of contemporary political systems. We will first examine the concept of secularism and its evolution, before identifying the features of secular and theocratic regimes. Later, we will examine tlie trends in secular polity and relevance of secularis~n in contemporary world. The word secular, from which secularism is derived, refers to something concerned with temporal, that is with matters of this world than with something religious or otherworldly. Secularism as a doctrine can be defined as the attempt to establish a body of principles concerning human behaviour based on rational knowledge and experience rather than theology or the supernatural. In sphere of politics, secularism advocates that the domain of operation of religious influence should be restricted in society, and that in particular the state shoi~ld be Classification of Political independent o f religion. I t must be noted that when we talk here o f religious Regimes influence or independence from religion, we are referring to religion as an organised socio-political force and not merely as a system o f sacred beliefs. Secularism is a dominant feature o f modern times. Secularisation or the decline o f the prestige and power o f religion began in Europe and is closely associated with the break up o f the medieval feudal order in the 14th and 15th centuries....
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- Spring '12
- The Prince, ........., tlie