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.