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A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
Resetdoc Videos
IT Monday, 14 July 2014

Multiple Secularisms: The Indian Democracy and Minority Religions

Alfred Stepan, Columbia University (2/2)

“In the very strict sense, explains Professor Alfred Stepan from Columbia University, there is not one democracy in the world that has strict separation between Church and state. For example, 100% of the 27 members of the European Union give money for religious education, one third of them have established churches. But we really have to be aware about the existence of multiple secularisms, not one: many of the secularisms are very religiously friendly, as in Indonesia, as in India, as in Senegal; other secularisms are not, especially as far as minority religions are concerned. For example, Western tradition is amazingly narrow in terms of what we grant public holidays for. The Scandinavian countries, the Benelux and England, those countries alone have 76 official religious holidays, which are compulsory: you have to pay the workers. But not a single one of them if for a minority religion, being a non-Christian religion. 100% of those 76 holidays are all for Christians religions. Now, what exists in the multiple secularisms of India is different: In the constitution they have six religious holidays for the majority religion, hindus, but ten for minority religions, and this is extraordinary. And Indonesia has six for Islam and five for other religions. Even in Senegal. These are all countries which have a religiously-friendly approach towards democracy, and all democrats; they all have “twin tolerations” and none of them have a really strict secularism.”


Interview and Production: Nina zu Fürstenberg
Video: Edward Gerry
Video Editing: Anna Fanuele

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