Like all founding concepts, secularism is a difficult idea. Maybe that’s why many countries’ constitutions don’t explicitly mention it, despite its pervasiveness. The author of this book wonders if this is the concept that most distinguishes the West from the rest of the world. Secularism implies the autonomy of law from the ethical-religious sphere, from which law effectively arises but from which it historically emancipated itself. Secularism guarantees the autonomy of both civil affairs and religious matters. Secularism sits at the heart of political and religious pluralism. Secularism is a method capable of uniting believers and non-believers and creating the conditions for the coexistence of divergent outlooks on life. Secularism repudiates antagonistic fundamentalism and dogmatic closure. In sum, secularism has many faces, and the author reviews them one by one, recomposing them in a unified perspective including them all, which indeed is the main feature of our civilization. This informative book is written by an expert who plays the role of the teacher. He adopts a compelling point of view, taking into account the war which sets the West against the non-secularism of Putin’s Russia.
Augusto Barbera is emeritus professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Bologna and currently sits on Italy’s Constitutional Court.