Peter Leithart, in a brilliant piece of simultaneous satire and book review, offers an interesting take on secularism as religion, and the myth that "religion" is inherently violent. Truly, it is secularism that is the inherently violent ideology. But let Leithart tell you instead of me:
In the beginning was religion, and only religion.
Now religion was irrational, absolutist, and divisive, and so chaos was on the face of the earth. Religion drove kings mad. Because of religion, because religion was all, Catholics killed Protestants, Protestants killed Catholics, and both Protestants and Catholics killed pagans across the seas. And darkness covered the face of the earth.
And from the darkness, far in the West, came the Liberal State, and the Liberal State said, Let there be light. And there was light. And the darkness was afraid.
And in the Liberal State there was no religion. And the Liberal State called itself Secular. And it was so.
And the Liberal State said, Let us divide religion from life, and, lest the darkness return, let us place between religion and life a firmament that cannot be crossed. Let us bury religion deep in the heart of man, where it can do some small good but no harm. And let us make religion innocuous and rational.
And the magicians and sorcerers and court prophets shouted and said, All you have commanded, so shall we do.
And it was so. And the Liberal State saw that it was good.
And peace dripped like honey from the rock and flowed like wine from the mountains. Lions supped with lambs. All nations rejoiced in the Liberal State, for its mercy endures forever.
And still the darkness grew strong. It wept and called itself Beck. It raged and grew a beard and called itself bin Laden.
And the Liberal State said, The darkness has grown strong and will soon be as one of Us. We must grow stronger, for we are light and light must triumph over darkness.
And the Liberal State said, Eternal vigilance is the price of secularity.
And all the peoples said, Amen, and Amen. Most of them, anyway.
Tis only the beginning: read the whole thing.