Copyright 2014 Grand Masonic Orient of Ireland
"Laïcité" is one of life's rules in a democratic society. It imposes that all men are given, without distinction of class, origin or denomination, the means to be themselves, to have the freedom of choice, to be responsible for their own maturity and masters of their destiny.
The "laïque" humanism relies on the principle of total freedom of conscience.
Freedom of the mind : liberation in regard to all dogmas ; the right to believe or not to believe in God ; autonomy of thought concerning religious, potitical and economical constraints ; emancipation of life styles in relation to taboos, prevailing ideas and dogmatic rules.
"Laïcité" is a relatively new conception, born in France and exists in its present form since 1905.
"Laïcité" is basing on two pillars: one is ethical (a complete freedom of moral conscience), the other legal (the separation of churches and religion from the state). It establishes the difference between two distinct worlds: general interest and individual conviction.
It has also become important to recognize "the existence of a multitude of different cultures" which can only grow with the European integration of countries which are so different from each other. The problem is to know how to manage these cultural differences without losing our conception of republican universality.
"Laïcité" is one of the basic rules in a democratic society. It imposes that all men are given, without distinction of class, origin or denomination, the means to be themselves, to have the freedom of choice, to be responsible for their own development and being masters of their destiny.
The "laïque" denounces the claim of churches or religious organizations to, exercise an over dominating influence in all aspects of the civilian, political and economical sector.
The "laïque" humanism relies on the principle of total freedom of conscience. Freedom of the mind : liberation in regard to all dogmas ; the right to believe or not to believe in God ; autonomy of thought concerning religious, political and economical constraints ; emancipation of life styles in relation to taboos, prevailing ideas and dogmatic rules.
"Laïcité" aims to liberate men from everything, which alienates or corrupts their minds, particularly atavistic beliefs, prejudices, preconceived ideas, dogmas, oppressive ideology and cultural, economical, social, political or religious pressure.
"Laïcité" aims to develop in human nature, within the framework of a permanent intellectual, moral and civic formation, a critical mind along with a feeling of solidarity and brotherhood.
The freedom of expression is the corollary to total freedom of conscience. It is the right, and the basis to speak, to write and to distribute individual and collective thoughts. The new techniques of communication make this requirement even more vital. However, in this field of information and communication, more than elsewhere, there must be a special vigilance of the powerful means of manipulation and perversion of the mind.
The laïc morality is based on the principle of mutual tolerance and the respect of others as well as oneself. The good is all that liberates, all that emancipates; the evil is all that enslaves and degrades.
Tolerance is a logical consequence of the aforementioned values, they fail when social harmony is jeopardized.
The refusal of racialism and of segregation of all sorts is inseparable from the "laïque" ideal. The new society that we would like to have cannot simply be a juxtaposition of communities who for better ignore each other or for worse kill each other groups. A society founded on peace cannot build itself on definitive separation of cultural, linguistic, religious, sexist or other groups. The transition is too easy from separation to segregation, rivalry and conflicts.
The "laïque" ideal can in no way adapt to the idea of "separated development" often practiced in Anglo-Saxon societies. The very principle of "positive discrimination” could not lead to the liberation of any group. The only way to social development is integration - different from assimilation - everybody participating in a community of free citizens with equal rights and equal duties.
The "laïque" moral code finally leads to a necessary social justice: equal rights and equal chances. Free education, schools, the right to information and open-mindedness are the conditions of this equality.
The rules are clearly defined and based on human rights. No group, political party, sect or church, can claim to penetrate, or even more to turn the functioning of the republican society to its advantage. The separation of the church from the state is the cornerstone of social "laïcisme". lt admits neither exception nor modulation nor adjustment. Its totality and its integrality are the conditions for its existence.
Scientific progress must be free of all influence from pressure groups, notably religious influence. General interest and human respect must be the only context for this progress.
The "laïcisation" of "life styles" (love and sexuality, death, illness) is a major point. The liberty to choose one's way of life, the social modes of life for couples and families, the fundamental guarantees for liberty in this context, children's rights and dignity, are so many fields of application for a "laïcité" as guarantee for the freedom of body and spirit.
Finally, culture and artistic creation, and also information and communication contribute to the development of awareness,. It is necessary to permanently ensure that no religious or dogmatic taboos and also no economical or ideological pressure groups can impose the slightest limitation to liberty, even by economically stifling the vitality of minority groups.
By way of a conclusion
"Laïcité" is a progressive idea, and has many fields of action.
"Laïcité" is based upon humanistic principles built up over the years. It is a strong signification and value in favour of individual liberty. It is the strongest guarantee of civil peace. It includes social ethic.
The philosophy of secular humanism (alternatively known by adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism) embraces human reason, ethics, and social justice while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.
Though it posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or God, it neither assumes humans to be inherently evil or innately good, nor presents humans as "above nature" or superior to it. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology — be it religious or political — must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy.