Societal pressures increasingly promote a sense of unhealthy secularism, the idea that religion should remain private and be segregated from our daily life experiences. However, the Church also supports a health separation of Church and state.
There is a strong tendency to privatize faith, to push it to the margins of society, confining it to people’s hearts or, at best, their homes, while excluding it from the marketplace of ideas where social policy is formed and men and women acquire their view of life and its meaning.
In recent decades many Catholics in particular have entered into the mainstream of American society. That has been a remarkable achievement. Often, though, this process also has widened the “split” between faith and life which Vatican II saw as one of “the more serious errors of our age” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 43). Thus American Catholicism itself has taken on some of the less attractive values of the secular culture.
While it is true that [the United States] is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? ...Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.
It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States comes to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms: the freedom of religion.
- Benedict's ongoing battle against secularism (National Catholic Reporter)
- Pope Benedict XVI vs. Secularism (National Catholic Register)
- The Jesuits and 'Secularization' (America)
- Is secularism standing in the way of raising our kids Catholic? (U.S. Catholic)