Secular derives from a Latin word meaning "of the age". The Christian doctrine that God exists outside time led medieval Western culture to use secular to indicate separation from specifically religious affairs and involvement in temporal ones. This meaning has been extended to mean separation from any religion, regardless of whether it has a similar doctrine.
- Date: 14th century
- b : not overtly or specifically religious <secular music>
- c : not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>
2 : not bound by monastic vows or rules; specifically : of, relating to, or forming clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation <a secular priest> 3 a : occurring once in an age or a century
- b : existing or continuing through ages or centuries
- c : of or relating to a long term of indefinite duration <secular inflation>
For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them. Nevertheless, both eating and bathing are regarded as sacraments in some religious traditions, and therefore would be religious activities in those world views. Saying a prayer derived from religious text or doctrine, worshipping through the context of a religion, and attending a religious school are examples of religious (non-secular) activities. Prayer and meditation are not necessarily non-secular, since the concept of spirituality and higher consciousness are not married solely to any religion but are practiced and arose independently across a continuum of cultures. However, it can be argued that these practices have arisen as a result of religious (non-secular) influence.
Most businesses and corporations, and some governments, are secular organizations. All of the state universities in the United States are secular organizations (especially because of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution) while some prominent private universities are connected with various religions.
The public university systems of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan are also secular, although some government-funded primary and secondary schools may be religiously aligned in some countries.