Modern Enlightenment based constitutionalism accords secularism a privileged position: by remaining secular, the public sphere should warrant neutrality among religions and among the latter and non-religious ideologies in order to provide an optimal setting for the realization of freedom of religion as well as of freedom from religion. In recent decades, however, this institutional secularism has come under intense attack from a number of different quarters intent on dislodging it from its constitutional pedestal. These attacks have targeted secularism’s claim to neutrality from religious as well as non-religious perspectives. So long as secularism is the target and as its constitutionally privileged place is perceived as not fully eliminated, it can easily be portrayed as benefitting from an unfair advantage in the clash of ideologies. But what if secularism lost all priority, preference or advantage in the constitutional firmament? In that case, should secularism stand on an equal footing with religion? Or should it be cast as the irreligious or anti-religious in a struggle against religion? Or else, should secularism reemerge as primus inter pares or, on the contrary, as subordinate among all existing competing conceptions of the good? With this in mind, I explore the case for “ideological” secularism as one of many conceptions of the good competing against others in a post-secular constitutional polity. Adopting a pluralist perspective, I conclude that under current circumstances ideological secularism is easier to defend than institutional secularism.
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