Modern day secularism is nothing but veiled atheism and it can never bring about peace in the world.
" … Kick out secularism. Kick out secularism." [Srila Prabhupada, Aligarh, October 1976]
Th e French diplomatic magazine 'Label France' recently published an article entitled One hundred years of secularism 'A la Francaise .' "Since February 2005, France is supposedly celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the law of 1905, which officially separates the Catholic Church from the State. In the article, the author claims that secularism is not a weapon used against religion. On the contrary, he says, "Secularism facilitates the peaceful co-existence of all spiritual convictions." Alongside, he mentions the law of March 2004, which states, "In schools, high-schools and colleges, the wearing of symbols or clothes by which the students may express any religious belonging is forbidden ." Finally, he proclaims that the law of 1905 is 'simply the affirmation of the principle of the French Republic, which guarantees to one and all the freedom to practice the religion of his or her choice.'
However, this question may be raised: What is the most important duty of a government towards its cit izens? Is it not to uphold religious principles?
According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, the government must imperatively make sure that the citizens are properly engaged in their prescribed duties, both material and spiritual. The Bhagavatam states:
yasya rastre pure caiva
bhagavan yajna pure caiva
ijyate svena dharmena
"The king is supposed to be pious in whose state and cities the general populace strictly observes the system of eight social orders of varna and asrama, and where all citizens engage in worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead by t h eir particular occupations." [SB 4.14.18J
In Mayapur in March 1976, the Back to Godhead staff asked Srila Prabhupada the same question:
BTG: What is the actual duty of the government?
Srila Prabhupada: To understand what God wants and to see that society works toward th at aim. Then people will be happy. But if the people work in the wrong direction , how can they be happy? The government's duty is to see that they are working in the right direction. The righ t direction is to know God and to act according to His instructions. Bu t if the leade rs t h emselves do n ot believe in th e supremacy of God, and if they do not know what God wants to do, or wh at He wants us to do, then how can there be good governmen t? The leaders are misled, and they are misleading others. That is the ch aotic condit ion in the world today.They're manufacturing their own way of governing. And that is th eir defect. They will never be successful. They are imperfect, and if they go on manufacturing their own ways and mean s, they will remain imperfect. There will always be revolutions-one after another. There will be no peace."
In a conversation in A tlanta in March 1975, Srila Prabhupada said, " … The duty of the state, duty of the father, duty of the teacher, everyone, those who are guardiansthey should teach th eir subordinates how to become fa ithful to God. This one qualification will make them perfect. That is not being done. Everyone is godless mostly. And th erefore there are problems, chaotic condition . Nobody is abiding by the supreme law. Everyone is creating his own law."
STATE'S DEFINITION OF SECULARISM
Government officials affirm that secularism is not meant to deny religion, at to establishatheism. The first article of the law of 1905 even declares , "The Republic assures free dom of thought. The Republic assutes the unimpeded ptactice of all cults ."
However, we observe that the 50- called "unimpeded practice of all cults" is fully prohibited in schools. Indeed, not only does th e government forbid students to wear any religious insignia, but also, more dangerously, it categorically rejects from the official curriculum any notion of the existence of God, of a divine creation, or of the existence of the soul. In some places, a few courses on world religions are taught, out of diplomatic convenience. But the overwhelming authority of the atheistic patadigmn evertheless rules the class rooms. Undeniably, the governmen t teaches students that the 'Big Bang', chemical evolution, Darwinism etc., are actual facts. In brief, the government teaches atheism.
In 1883, the famous philosopher Jules Ferry wrote to all the Fren ch school teachers : "The law must fi tst and fo remost distinguish between two domains which have been confused with one another fat too long, namely beliefs, which ate petson al, subjective, variable, and , on the other hand, knowledge, which is common and indispen sable to one and all." Hete, Fetry reveals the prejudice, which lies at the foundation of secularism, namely the conviction that atheism is knowledge, and not belief. If the government maintains that it en sures the equality bet ween a ll beliefs, it forgets th at ath eism is itself also a belief!
The fact is that the government leadets ate themselves atheistic and wan t to keep everyone else the same way. Under the garb of secularism, they fotbid any religious exhibition in the schools, both in the dtess code and in the curriculum.
Srila Prabhupada says, "All the education, its propaganda is how to make the world godless ." [Morning Conversation, Aptil11, 1977, Mumbai.] Elsewh ere, Srila Prabhupada reminds us, "[In Kali Yuga] systematically there is ptopaganda by a section of people to stop glorification of the name and fame of th e Supreme Lord ." [SB 1.5.11]
FLAWS OF SECULARISM
From an outsider's angle of vision, one may put forth the argument that since there exist so many religions, each one possessing very different beliefs and practices, isn't it wiser to teach an atheistic curriculum, thus remaining neutral, in order to avoid any type of favoritism towatds anyone religion? The answer is "No." To repress religious sentiments, to ignore sacred scriptures, and to affirm the socalled authen t icity of the atheistic scientific theories does not represent a neutral stance at all. It is not simply by fo rbidding studen ts to outwardly express theit faith th at the governmen t can maintain peace and equality. The dress code is, after all, an external consideration. Certainly, what is the use of dressing the same way at school if we kill each other in the street? The issue lies deeper than silk scarves and meral crosses. Similarly, excluding all notions of God in the curriculum does not guarantee that students of various religions will adopr rhe arheisric world, nor does it assure that they will not harbor fanatic sentiments in private. The riots rhat took place in recent past all over France blatantly show us that a government, which supports atheism, can never bring about peace. Indeed, citizens can never be happy under a government, which defies religious principles. Srila Prabhupada explains, "Prahlada Maharaja …. His father was very careful that nobody comes and instructs his son about Vedic way of life or God consciousness, Krsna consciousness …. He appointed teachers for his son, strictly prohibiting about … Just like nowadays it has become secular state. This is the present situation of the world, atheist class. Don't talk of God. But they do not know rhat they have not much improved by "don't talk of God". The situation is becoming grimmer and grimmer. But they have no eyes to see . … This Godless civilization will not make th em happy. That's a fact." [Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.1, April IS, 1972, Hong Kong,]
Who are the vict ims of this atheistic propaganda? The victims are the young innocent students. Instead of giving them a chance for spiritual development, modern-day leaders make sure to extinguish any spark of spiritual inclination that studen ts may possess.
The popular idea that rhe followers of diffe rent religions have radically different worldviews and therefore th ey hate each other is false propaganda. The fact is that the same essence is present in all religions, and t ruly religious people are respectful towards everyone. Sri Isopanisad and Bhagavad-Gita clearly states:
yas tu sarvani bhatany
tato na vijugupsate
"He who sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord wirhin everything never hates anything or any being." [Isopanisad Mantra 6] And,
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
"The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant , a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]." [Bg 5.1S]
If school teachers are aware of the principle of seeing all living beings as parts-and-parcels of God, where is the fear if students wear th e C hristian cross or the Muslim scarf? If school teachers make sure th at the principles of austerity, cleanliness, truthfulness, and mercy are upheld by all studen ts regardless of th eit teligion, where is the fear of favoritism? If teachers teach studen ts that the cosmos was created by God, who is one without a second, where is the room for conflict? Avoiding favoritism is therefore dependent on spiritual understanding and not on artificial restrictions. Discerning show-bottle fanaticism from true spirituality is easy when one is equipped with proper knowledge. So-called secularism is but a flowery camouflage to establish and reinforce atheism.
The solution, rather, is rooted in spiritual knowledge. The solution is to equip the teachers with actual understanding of the essence of all religions. There are universal principles common to all faiths. It is these principles, whi ch the secular governmen t should ascertain and uphold in the schools and colleges.
Srimad-Bhagavatam states that the government's prime duty is to make sure that the citizens follow religion and worship God. Srila Prabhupada explains that the government should make sure that anyone who claims to be an adherent of a particular religion should follow its teachings completely. A Hindu should act like a Hindu; a Muslim should act like a Muslim. Eg. One of the ten commandmen ts of Christianity is "Thou shalt not kill." Therefore, it is the government's duty to see that anyone who is professing Christianity should not eat meat. If he does so, he should be punished. Similarly, a Buddhist should follow the teachings of ahirhsa (non-violence) As members of ISKCON, we firmly believe that the Vedic scriptures such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are the topmost sacred texts, containing all the knowledge found in every other scripture. We urge all governments to formulate their school curriculum based on these Vedic texts . Ind eed , it was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who boldly declared that if all the books in the en t ire world were burnt, and th at only Srimad-Bhagavatam remained, nothing at all would be lost. Echoing his words, Srila Prabhupada replied to a follower:
Bob: What is the proper duty of the teacher in society? Let us say a science teacher. What should he be doing in the classtoom?
SriIa Prabhupada: .. You sh o uld simply teach about Krsna.
Bob: He should not teach about …
Srila Prabhupada: No. That will include eve rythin g. His aim sh ould be to know Krsna. If the world governments are not yet ready to take such a meas ure of solely teaching Krsna consciousness at school, they sh ould at least fo llow the advice of Srila Prabhupada regarding secular governments and should make sure that practit ioners of various religions are ind eed practicing their own religions. This would indeed be a real positive step forward in the right direction and will bring about peace in the world.
Candrasekhara Acarya Dasa is a disciple of His Holiness Bhakti-caru Swami Maharaja