Secularism and the Right to Spirituality

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People have a claim-right to spirituality. It is therefore the duty of society, including secular societies, to enable its members to exercise this right. This means that spirituality should not be left to the realm of laissez-faire, and that society has a moral duty to nurture spiritual opportunities for children and adults. Moreover, I uphold the idea that all people, including those who live in secular societies, have the right not only to any spiritual life, but to their own, that is, spiritual values consistent with their particular upbringing. Unfortunately, secular societies do not see themselves as responsible for the cultivation of their members’ spirituality. At the same time, they suffer from a public spiritual void. I claim that this void is due to the overwhelming role occupied by work in the lives of people of secular societies, as well as to an overly narrow understanding of leisure, here referred to as leisure-1. The combination of work and leisure-1 has marginalized practices of contemplation that are the core of any spiritual practice. These practices constitute a special kind of leisure, leisure-2, that forms the foundation of spiritual life. I argue that secularism need not be characterized as an un-spiritual, worldly culture, and demonstrate that philosophy as practice and tradition belongs to the particular spiritual tradition of the democratic secular culture—that is, philosophy is secularism’s own spiritual practice. It is the duty of governments to provide secularists with the opportunity to practice philosophy.