While identifying humanity’s most cherished ideals, there is one notion that ultimately supplants all others: the notion of freedom. The concept itself and its encompassing rhetoric have been utilized ad nauseam by virtually all contemporary social orders to validate the levels of civilizational maturity and, perhaps more importantly, to set goals to which the same should strive. However, irrespective of its categorical position at the very summit of conscious human existence, its interpretational elasticity allows for a diminishing number of concessions. This paper offers critique and examines interactions between multiculturalism, cultural relativism, religion, and secularism within contemporary Western societies. It utilizes historical examples of overt and latent free speech and human rights violations to demonstrate futility and incompatibility of the conventional and fundamentalist religious ideologies with the concepts of egalitarianism and secularism. The Abrahamic religion of Islam serves as a centerpiece example of instances discussed. The paper further describes and employs sociologist Stanley Cohen’s concept of moral panic in an attempt to anatomize the problem and the reactions stemming from it. The conclusion reiterates exigency of the matter and offers a glimpse into the perplexity, danger, and evolution of the soi-disant progressive Western democracies in relation to palpable prosperity of the human enterprise. Research materials comprise various internet-based and traditional print sources.
"The Crisis of Secularism: How Democracy Fuels Moral Panics and Religious Fundamentalism,"
Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science:
Vol. 1, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/themis/vol1/iss1/6