Aggressive secularism seen by a cartoonist

“Aggressive secularism” can be defined as a radical expression of secularism, which not only seeks to exclude religion from the public domain, but also from various private spheres. It is based on the indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations based on the conviction that religion should not have a visible influence on society, particularly on education and politics. This view is becoming more and more common in the Western world and has already inspired a number of policies, laws and court rulings.

Martha Nussbaum[1], while almost exclusively referring to cases of intolerance against Muslims, analyzes the sharp rise of anti-religious sentiments in the Western world, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Many academics have made similar observations[2]. The topic has also become an inspiration for cartoonists, who make allusions to the far-fetched consequences of anti-religious sentiments as shown in this example:


[Translation in English: Fokke & Sukke are visiting the stable. “Your family is marked in our database as ‘potentially religious fundamentalist”]
Source: (23/12/2013).

Aggressive secularism is not a very obvious persecution engine, but creeping and influencing different societies. Every phenomenon and sign of Christianity, be it a cross worn at a necklace, be it a cross in a school or a courtroom, has to be wiped off the public sphere.

Increasingly, limitations can be witnessed in the free expression of the Christian faith and its general acceptation in Western society. Examples hereof are the discussions about parental rights, the Lautsi case, the refusal to allow Dutch municipal employees to refrain from performing homosexual marriages, hate speech legislation and anti-discrimination laws. The various forms of denial of Christians to participate in public life is the scope of a declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, issued on July 10th 2011, in which it urges the governments of European countries to combat intolerance and discrimination against Christians, recommending that a “public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians be initiated and that the right of Christians to participate fully in public life be ensured.”

Moreover, Christian convictions on marriage, sexual relations or other questions not getting along with the general perception of morals are harshly denied, let alone any action led by these convictions (Baskerville, 2013)[3]. One of the main streams of influence is anti-discrimination legislation; another one is gender mainstreaming (Peeters, 2012)[4].

[1] Nussbaum, Martha C., The New Religious Intolerance. Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013).
[2] See for example, “Dr. Govert Buijs: Antireligieus sentiment in debat”, Reformatorisch Dagblad, 29-01-2013,
[3] Stephen Baskerville, “Sexual Stalinists”, The Salisbury Review, Spring 2013, Vol 31 No 3.
[4] See Marguerite A. Peeters, The globalization of the western cultural revolution. Key concepts, operational mechanisms (Clamecy: Institute for Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics, 2012)

The Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America is a program of the Foundation Platform for Social Transformation, a registered charity in Voorburg, The Netherlands under Chamber of Commerce #50264249.

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