Church-State Activism vs. Secular Activism: Is One Clearer Than the Other?

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When I shared the recent post, Many Atheists Are Not Secular Activists, on Medium, I got a great comment in response. The commenter noted that he almost skipped over it because he saw "secular activist" in the title and thought, "I'm not a secular activist." He didn't think it applied to him because he assumed "secular activist" referred to "...one of those atheists who works to convince others that atheism is the only correct way of thinking." But it did apply to him.

Then reading between the lines of your story I realized you meant secular activism as working against problems caused by people not observing proper separation of church and state.

I do that all the time.

It just never would have occurred to me to call it secular activism.

I have been referring to "secular activism" instead of "the separation of church and state" or "church-state separation" for two reasons. First, it is briefer. I am working hard to be more concise. But I could have used "church-state activists" in the title, and that might have been clearer. The second reason I've been using "secularism" is that it strikes me as being somewhat broader. Church-state activism seems to focus only on specific breaches of the separation of church and state. Secular activism does that too but may not be as limited. I don't know if this is the case, but that's what it seems like.

I'm now wondering if I've been making a mistake. "Secularism" or "secular activism" are not as clear as "the separation of church and state" or "church-state activism." I see "secularism" used more outside the United States. Within the United States, the separation of church and state might be a more familiar concept.

In any case, this was one of those comments that got me thinking. Being more concise is great, but not if it comes at the expense of clarity. And I might be wrong about secular activism being broader than church-state activism. Maybe they are the same thing.

What do you think? Are most Americans more familiar with the separation of church and state than secular activism? I'd guess they are.