Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

Secularism vs Communalism

Though both Secularism and Communalism are related to ruling and governing of a nation, they are not one and the same; there is a huge difference between them. Communalism is referred to as the system where different ethnic groups form their own communes and each commune is expected to be an independent state. Also, the whole nation becomes a federation of such communal states. Secularism is the principle of separation of state affairs from the religious and traditional beliefs. In such a situation, religious institutions, teachings, etc. are not taken into consideration in governing and decision making in the nation. Let’s look at the two terms in depth before moving on to the difference between secularism and communalism.

What is Communalism?

In any country, there can be many ethnic groups. In communalism, each ethnic group gets together and form its own commune. So, different ethnic groups form different communes. The whole nation becomes a federation of these independent communities. Communalism highlights one’s strong attachment to his/her ethnic group rather than to the society or nation in which he/she lives in. Communalism is also defined as the principles and practice of communal ownership. That means, the property ownership is mostly common, and everybody shared the profits and losses of the commonly owned properties. Moreover, in communalism, different ethnic communes have their own representatives for the elections, and they vote separately for their parties.

Communalisms are more or less self-owned communities. They follow their own rules, beliefs and culture. However, the founder of modern communism, Karl Marx criticized the traditional view of communal property ownership, which was unsuccessful and impractical. He accepted the idea of communalism but stressed on the private ownership rather than communalist property ownership.

Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

What is Secularism?

Secularism is the detachment from religion and religious beliefs with regard to state affairs. Thus, the government institutions and agents do not go along with religious thought in state businesses. This type of a government looks at the religion in a neutral way. If there is more than one religion in the nation, all of them may be treated equally. The religious beliefs should not influence the decision-making within the state according to secularism. This type of a government is not against the religion, but it can be said that it is more independent of the religion. Also, the religious laws are usually replaced by civil laws in secularism and this also helps to reduce the discrimination against the religious minorities.

 Secularism vs Communalism

Secularism keeps religion away from state affairs

What is the difference bet ween Secularism and Communalism?

• Definition of Secularism and Communalism:

• Communalism is the ruling system where different ethnic groups form their own independent states and the whole nation becomes a federation of these communes.

• Secularism is the separation of the government institutions and decision-making from the religious beliefs in the particular nation.

• Role of Religion:

• Since different ethnic groups form their own communes, they follow their own religious beliefs and there is no intervention from anywhere.

• In secularism, the state and the religion are separated from each other and the state sponsors all the religions that existed within the nation.

• Property Ownership:

• Communalism has common property ownership where everybody has the ownership of a certain property.

• Secularism entertains private property ownership, and there is not much focus on that matter.



Images Courtesy:

  1. The Ritual Dance of the Shakers, Shaker Historical Society via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. St Walburge RC Church by Mdbeckwith (CC BY 3.0)