Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Secularism: US vs France
Sam Ghandchi
سکولاریسم: آمریکا در مقایسه با فرانسه

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One hundred and fifty years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville who had come to the United States from France, in 1835, wrote in his book entitled 'Democracy in America," how impressed he was by America's success with secularism (1).

But 15 years ago, following the horrific massacre of Sept 11th, 2001, by radical Islamists in the US, which was preceded by 22 years of Islamist terrorism abroad (2), US did not capitalize on the great secular heritage of the West to wage an ideological battle against Islamist extremism.

In contrast, less than three months has passed since the Paris attacks of Daesh (3) and already France has started an all out ideological battle against Islamist extremism relying on the secular heritage of the West (4).

The experience of the people in the West with secularism, US or France, although a very rich tradition, is not in the immediate memory of the people and dates back to years long passed (5). France is reviving this heritage in the current ideological challenge. It is time for the US to also capitalize on the secular heritage of the West, to wage an ideological battle against Islamist extremism. We are already 40 years late in this endeavor (6).


Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi
January 30, 2016


1. “On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomena increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it I questioned the members of all the different sects; I sought especially the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different creeds and are especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests, with whom I became intimately acquainted. To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and explained my doubts. I found out that they differed upon matters of details alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point….

The short space of threescore years can never content the imagination of man; nor can the imperfect joys of this world satisfy his heart. Man alone, of all created beings, displays a natural contempt of existence, and yet a boundless desire to exist; he scorns life, but he dreads annihilation. These different feelings incessantly urge his soul to the contemplation of a future state, and religion directs his musings thither. Religion, then is simply another form of hope itself. Men cannot abandon their religious faith without a kind of aberration of intellect and a sort of violent distortion of their true nature; they are invincibly brought back to more pious sentiments. Unbelief is an accident and faith is the only permanent state of mankind. …When a religion founds its empire only upon the desire of immortality that lives in every human heart, it may aspire to universal dominion; but when it connects itself with a government, it must adopt maxims which are applicable only to a certain nations. Thus, in forming an alliance with a political power, religion augments its authority over a few and forfeits the hope of reigning over all.” [Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol 1, Vintage Books, Page 319-321].

2. From Salman Rushdie to WTC

3. From NY to Paris, 15 Years of Terror

4. Guardian: France to overhaul secularism teaching to help stop radicalisation

5. What is Secularism? 

6. Time for a Global Secular Initiative 

















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For a Secular Democratic & Futurist Republican Party in Iran