Secularization affects medical-moral issues such as contraception, abortion and generally, the right to life. Although it might be evident first in public behaviour, it acquires a degree of officiality when it is embraced by government, and thereafter spreads quickly. As secularization permeates a society, government is eventually officially divorced from anything to do with religion, whether through a state church, subsidies for religious education, or any other institution of preferment that advances or establishes one creed above another. Acts of legislation may eliminate: tax advantages conceded to churches; religious tests or oaths for civil office; censorship and other religiously-inspired barriers to freedom of expression.
Secularization can be see as several types of concepts: (a) The decline of religion from an objective standpoint, such as, institutions, membership or participation in worship. (b) Institutions, practices and activities traditionally done by religion being assumed by non-religious social processes, such as, education being done by the state. (c) Norms from religion being transposed to the world, for example, the institutionalization of the norm of equality. (d) The world being desacralization, [ie] approaching the world through rational explanation and manipulation rather than through awe and a sense of mystery. (e) Religion conforming to the world.
2. All religious beliefs known in history help create and sustain the bond between man, other men and nature. But if faith weakens in the onslaught of science, technology and secularism, then man is truly isolated. In any increasingly secularized society, religious faith is less than ever a motivating force and an explanation of the surrounding world. Awareness of and concern with the fundamental problem of human existence has been rejected. People are no longer concerned with the meaning of life.
3. Secularism has profound limitations and is ultimately fatally flawed. If in the end we are only accountable to ourselves, where is the moral obligation to be found which puts self-realization of others before our own ? If we are morally autonomous how are we to tackle the rebellious self which chooses the destructive, immoral way ?< 4. On the one hand one is forced to note in the very heart of this contemporary world the phenomenon which is becoming almost its most striking characteristic: secularism. We are not speaking of secularization, which is the effort, in itself just and legitimate and in no way incompatible with faith or religion, to discover in creation, in each thing or each happening in the universe, the laws which regulate them with a certain autonomy, but with the inner conviction that the Creator has placed these laws there. The last (Vatican) Council has in this sense affirmed the legitimate autonomy of culture and particularly of the sciences. Here we are thinking of a true secularism: a concept of the world according to which the latter is self-explanatory, without any need for recourse to God, who thus becomes superfluous and an encumbrance. This sort of secularism, in order to recognize the power of man, therefore ends up by doing without God and even by denying Him. New forms of atheism seem to flow from it: a man centered atheism, no longer abstract and metaphysical but pragmatic, systematic and militant. Hand in hand with this atheistic secularism, we are daily faced, under the most diverse forms, with a consumer society, the pursuit of pleasure set up as the supreme value, a desire for power and domination, and discrimination of every kind: the inhuman tendencies of this "humanism." (Papal Writings, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 1975).
5. That which seems to Us not only the greatest evil but the root of all evil is this: often the lie is substituted for the truth, and is then used as an instrument of dispute. On the part of not a few religion is passed by as a thing of no importance, and elsewhere absolutely prohibited in family and social life as a remnant of ancient superstitions; public and private atheism is exalted in such a way that God and His law are being abolished, and morals no longer have any foundation. The Press also too often vulgarly reviles religious feeling, while it does not hesitate to spread the most shameful obscenities, agitating and with incalculable harm leading into vice tender childhood and betrayed youth. (Papal Encyclical, Anni Sacri, 12 March 1950).
6. Finally, these new conditions have their impact on religion. On the one hand a more critical ability to distinguish religion from a magical view of the world and from the superstitions which still circulate purifies it and exacts day by day a more personal and explicit adherence to faith. As a result many persons are achieving a more vivid sense of God. On the other hand, growing numbers of people are abandoning religion in practice. Unlike former days, the denial of God or of religion, or the abandonment of them, are no longer unusual and individual occurrences. For today it is not rare for such things to be presented as requirements of scientific progress or of a certain new humanism. In numerous places these views are voiced not only in the teachings of philosophers, but on every side they influence literature, the arts, the interpretation of the humanities and of history and civil laws themselves. As a consequence, many people are shaken. (Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et Spes, 1965).
2. Secularization is not necessarily inimical to religion; it does not necessarily produce secularism, an ideology that opposes, or is indifferent to, religion. Many theologians argue that secularization is a part of the maturation of faith and that new demands on religion is giving birth to new creativity.
3. "The Church is bold in speaking of itself as the sign of the coming unity of humanity. However well founded the claim, the world hears it sceptically, and points to 'secular catholicities' of its own. For secular society has produced instruments of conciliation and unification which often seem more effective than the Church itself. To the outsider, the churches often seem remote and irrelevant, and busy to the point of tediousness with their own concerns".
4. Secularism is based on the assumption that, whatever the differences between people, we share this life in this world and must make the best of it ourselves. It does not claim that humans are the centre of existence, or that they are morally autonomous, or that the are accountable only to themselves. They insist that they are accountable to each other as well as to themselves.
5. Secularism demands a total separation between the church and state in the Muslim world; free Muslim societies can exist only where this principle is adhered to. Secularism places Islam as an event within history not outside it. It rejects the idea that any society of the late 20th century can be thought of as "pure", and argues that the attempt to purify the modern Muslim world of its inevitable hybrid characteristics will lead to equally inevitably tyrannies. Secularism seeks to end the repressions against women that are instituted wherever the radical Islamists come into power. And, most of all, secularists know that a modern nation-state cannot be built upon ideas that emerged in the Arabian desert over 1,3000 years ago.
6. It is not very helpful to say that growing secularization has the effect of decreasing moral prohibition to commit crime. The decline in Christian church worship has been going on for decades, and in the USA, where 98% of the adult population professes a belief in God, the rate of crime growth is one of the highest in the western world.
7. Literalism is on the rise in all faiths. Charismatic sects and New Age cults are growing. And there is a burgeoning interest in spiritual healing, the paranormal, fortune telling, life after death, ghosts, spiritual experiences, luck and superstition. With such eccentricities, how can this possibly be considered a rational, secular society?