Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Secularism Evolves from Religious Freedom in the Seeger Case

by Karl Fleischmann, Captain (ret.) in U.S. Army, Judge Advocate General Corps., graduate of Columbia College (A.B.), Phi Beta Kappa and Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Congress has long seen fit to recognize a right to exemption from active service for those who hold a conscientious objection. This was recognized by the Supreme Court in United States v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 623 (1931). It continues to apply to the occasional situation in which someone develops a conscientious objection during voluntary military service.


The Creationist Attack on Science and Secular Society

by Daniel G. BlackburnThomas S. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Biology at Trinity College, Hartford

In 1925, John Scopes was put on trial in Dayton, Tennessee, for mentioning the idea of evolution in a biology class that he taught at the local high school. The trial became a media circus, and gained national attention because of what it seemed to represent—a clash of science vs. fundamentalist religion, a conflict between local autonomy and national interests, and an intellectual battle between two great orators, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan. John Scopes was found guilty and fined, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality— an anticlimactic outcome to the historic conflict.

The Creationist Attack on Science and Secular Society

The Scientific Study of Secularism

Interview with Barry Kosmin in Point of Inquiry (Dec. 1, 2006).
In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, he details the scientific study of religion and secularism, the “secularization hypothesis,” religious diversity in contemporary America, and the rise of the nonreligious in recent years. He also explores the relationship between science and secularism.
Barry Kosmin is Research Professor in the Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture

Public Opinion and Support for the Separation of Church and State in the U.S. and Europe


by Barry A. Kosmin, Research Professor in the Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College and Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture

The idea of separating the institutions of the state, government and public life from the direct involvement and influence of organized religion arose during the Enlightenment. It became a feasible proposition as a result of the two great revolutions of the 18th century. In fact the American and French revolutions produced two intellectual and constitutional traditions of secularism and the secular state – a “soft secularism” and a “hard secularism”. Canadians, of course, rejected both these revolutions and so historically they are heirs to the Lockean tradition of religious toleration rather than of secularism per se.

Public Opinion and Support for the Separation of Church and State in the U.S. and Europe

Worldly Islam: The Sacred, the Secular

by Raymond Baker, Professor of International Politics, Trinity College

This course addresses two challenges:

  1. The inadequacy of dominant interpretive frameworks for understanding the global changes brought by the Information Revolution and the new Network Economy and Society; and
  2. Western incomprehension of Islam in the Global Age, with particular emphasis on Islam as a worldly as well as spiritual force.

While these two crises are widely discussed, they are rarely, if ever, discussed in tandem. The course opens with a theoretical consideration, derived from complexity theory, of the changed character of our world in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the transformations of societies and economies around the world by the new information technologies and the global market they enable. At the same time, the course proposes new ways of understanding Islam in our time, based on critical rereading of the Islamic heritage. What resources does the Islamic historical and philosophical heritage offer to contemporary Muslims to develop effective ways of contending with our globalized world? How have Islamic thinkers and power holders responded to assertive Western secularism? Why, with material conditions almost everywhere in decline, is Islam thriving in the new conditions of globalism, despite the weakness of its material base in failed societies, while secularism as a compelling ideological force appears to weaken?

The discussion format for the course requires that readings be completed for each meeting. Please do not attend class meetings for which you are not prepared, without indicating at the beginning of class that you have not done the reading. (Please note that the readings for this course are heavy and difficult; drop the course now if you cannot put in the time required.)

Books for purchase:

  1. Mark Taylor, The Moment of Complexity;
  2. David Waines, An Introduction to Islam;
  3. Albert Hournai, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age;
  4. John Esposito Unholy War;
  5. Raymond Baker, Islam Without Fear;
  6. Khalidi, Medieval Islamic Philosophical Writings;
  7. Williams, The Word of Islam;
  8. Stephen Zunes, Tinderbox;
  9. Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age;
  10. Mahatir Muhammad, Excerpts from Collected Works.
  11. In addition a packet of readings from Muahmmad Abduh, Ali Shariati, Yusuf al Qaradawy will be provided.


  • Taylor, The Moment of Complexity, Introduction, chaps 1 and 2
  • Taylor, The Moment of Complexity, chaps 3 and 4
  • Taylor, The Moment of Complexity, chaps 5, 6 & 7.
  • Waines, An Introduction to Islam, chaps 1-2
  • Waines, An Introduction to Islam, chaps 3-4
  • Waines, An Introduction to Islam, chaps 7-8



  • Williams, chap 1. “Word of God”, chap 2 “The News of God’s Messenger”
  • Williams, 3 “The Law of God”; 4. “Interior Religion: Sufism” 5. “The Statements of the Theologians”
  • Abduh, “Tawhid”


ISLAMIC THOUGHT philosophers, Islamic scholars, and Sufis.

  • Khalidi, Medieval, Introduction and al Farabi, X1 – 26


  • Khalidi, Medieval, Ibn Sina and al Ghazali, pp. 27 -98
  • Khalidi, Medieval, Ibn Tufayl, and Ibn Rushd, pp. 99- 180 (read Ibn Rushd first and carefully; skim Ibn Tufayl)



  • Hourani, Arabic Thought, preface, chap 1-6
  • Shariati, Religion vs Religion, entire.(handout)


  • Zunes,chaps 1-7.


The ISLAMIC SECULARISM of Mahatir Mohamad (Malaysian case study)


  • Esposito, chap 1-4


  • Baker, Islam Without Fear, Prologue, chap 1-6

Selected Research References for Course Development

  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna),


  • Avicenna on Theology, A. J. Arberry,
  • Risala fi’l ‘ashq (Treatise on Love) Translated by E. Fackenheim,



  • Books of the Ihya by Al-Ghazali
    • First Quarter: Acts of Worship
    • Second Quarter: Norms of Daily Life
    • Third Quarter: The Ways to Perdition
    • Fourth Quarter: The Ways to Salvation

All works in this collection are accessed through the main URL indicated above. The language of the work’s translation is noted for each link. The site is well organized by Quarters and books. All book titles within the Quarter are listed but there are several that are not available on this site. File formats are a mix of PDF, WORD and HTML. Files are quite large but can be easily downloaded. A link to the copyright information is provided at the bottom of the page.

Ibn Rushd (Averroes),


  • Tahfut at Tahafut (Incoherence of the Incoherence), Translated by Simon Van Den Bergh,
  • On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy,
  • On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, new translation by G.F. Hourani,
  • Faith and Reason in Islam- Averroes’ Exposition of Religious Arguments, translated by Ibrahim Y. Najjar,

These works are all provided in English but are in an HTML format and therefore not in an easily downloadable form and best viewed at their source URL.

Secularism Definitions:

  • The Secular Society, A brief history of the origins of the Secular Society beginning with George Holyoake.
  • Garver Joel S., Professor of Philosophy, LaSalle University, Deconstructing the Secular, a Summary of John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory,
  • Robert Green Ingersoll, Secularism, 1887, The Independent Pulpit, Waco, TX, An essay on the meaning of Secularism.
  • Einstein on Science and Religion, An essay by Einstein on the conflict between knowledge and belief.
  • The Secular Web, A website focused on an atheistic perspective of secularism.

Secularization Versus the Weight of Catholic Tradition among Spanish Women

by Sofia Rodriguez Lopez, Research Fellow, History, Geography and Art History Department, Universidad de Almería (Spain)

In order to measure the presence of secularism in Spain we must, first of all, consider the influence and impact of religion, in this case the established Roman Catholic Church, on civil society and public institutions, particularly as they affect the status of women. Then we shall analyze this problem by looking at the historical development of public services such as education and public health, which are traditionally considered to be the domain of the Church, and how they have undergone a process of secularization. Finally, we will determine the current relationship between women and the Catholic faith in Spain at the individual and collective levels.

Secularization Versus the Weight of Catholic Tradition among Spanish Women

The Ambiguous Position of French Muslim Women: Between Republican Integration and Religious Claims

by Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, Maître de conférences en science politique (Associate Professor of Political Science) at Universite Paris II Pantheon-Assas

The “veils quarrel”—also known as the “scarf affair”—is a useful point of entry into the problem of laïcité in France today, not only because of its topicality, but also because the issue epitomizes the challenge to which the French State, in its secular form, is confronted. When approaching the problem of some young veiled girls in the public schools, our country must consider the five million Muslims who live in France, half of whom have obtained French citizenship. Despite the fact that the right to family reunification—given to immigrants in 1976—has recently been repealed, and also that President Nicolas Sarkozy wants the process to be restricted, we must keep in mind that its implementation has entailed the permanent settling of hundreds of thousands of families, whose children, whether born in France or not, do not want to go back to the country of origin of their parents. Contrary to what was expected—i.e., that the immigrants, who arrived in the 1950s to participate in the industrial boom would go back home once their work was finished—there is a strong trend towards permanent settlement.

The Ambiguous Position of French Muslim Women: Between Republican Integration and Religious Claims

The Ambiguous State: Gender and Citizenship in Algeria

by Boutheina Cheriet, Professor in Comparative Education and Research Methodology, University of Algiers;Former Deputy Minister in Charge of the Family & Women’s Affairs, Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria.

What is the best way to examine the problem of citizenship and gender in the emergence of civil society and its dialectical relationship with a monolithic state in Algeria? One way is to analyze the Algerian debates over personal status in order to capture the nature of the relationship that links the triad of state, civil society and citizenship. This allows us to investigate the ambivalence that characterizes the nature of the state and women’s access to citizenship.

The Ambiguous State: Gender and Citizenship in Algeria.

Algeria: Prospects for an Islamic or a Secular State

by Kada Akacem, Professor of Economics at the University of Algiers; President of the Scientific Council of the Faculty of Economic Sciences.

What are the prospects for an Islamic state in Algeria nowadays? Before we can answer that question, we must first understand the political, economic, and social developments that have recently taken place in Algeria. These events will shed some light on the decline of the Islamist movements.

Algeria: Prospects for an Islamic or a Secular State.