General Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

What was the very first country to have a secular government?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) April 24th, 2016
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

Irukandji's avatar

There hasn’t been one yet. At least, not really. There are a few giving it a good try, but no one has succeeded.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh gosh. You’re trying to go back hundreds of thousands of years, way before any kind of recorded history. We can have archeological records, but we can only make deductions from that as to something = religious reasons or happenstance.

There is no way on earth to find the answer.

JLeslie's avatar

An entirely secular society? I don’t know of any. That you be interesting if there has been one.

When I first read the Q I was thinking secular governments, but an entire society that is secular? That’s a tall order. There are communities or groups of people who are secular, but they live among the religious usually.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie he asked what was the first entirely secular community.

NerdyKeith's avatar

I’m going to request that this question be put back into editing. What I meant was “What was the very first country to have a secular government?”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh! That’s entirely different. But..probably just as unanswerable, unless you qualify “Modern day,” and specify dates.

hsrch's avatar

The USSR, I believe, was a secular society.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As far as “modern day,” I do believe @hsrch is correct. They did try, anyway. Didn’t last too long though. You need more than one generation to break beliefs like that.

But we still don’t have other history to compare it to.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Ok question has now been updated, so it’s a lot closer to what I meant to ask.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, we’re still back at square one. How far back do you wish to go?

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Dutchess_III As far back as the start common era (CE) or recorded history goes.

Irukandji's avatar

Okay, so you’ve gone from asking “what was the first secular society” to “what was the first secular government.” But do you mean secular de jure, or secular de facto (that is, “officially secular” or ”actually secular”)? A lot of countries have said they are secular (with different meanings of “secular”), but none have really achieved it.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Irukandji Secular, as in separation of church and state. Allowing religious beliefs and institutions carry on while not conflicting with civil rights and law.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The thing is, governments quickly discovered that aligning themselves with what ever God quickly gave them unbelievable power to manipulate their citizens.

Irukandji's avatar

@NerdyKeith As I hope you’ve realized, this question is more complicated than you think. Even still you haven’t really distinguished between de jure and de facto secularism (since “allowing religious beliefs and institutions carry on while not conflicting with civil rights and law” could be done either way). But it sounds like you mean to be asking about the first instance of de jure disestablishment. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that appears to be the United States of America in 1791. Even though a lot of people had advocated for a separation of church and state before that time (going all the way back to ancient Greece in the Western world), no one actually seems to have enshrined it in law until the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

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