The concept of Secular State can be properly understood only after an appreciation of the true meaning of Secularism. Secularism is a way of life and conduct guided by material considerations devoid of religion and spirituality. The basis of this ideology is that material means alone can advance the welfare of Mankind and that religious beliefs retard the growth of human beings. What is called other worldliness finds no place in this ideology; rather it is inconsistent with it. Materialism is another name for Secularism. It means that matter is the ultimate reality. The concept of God and spirituality, the ideas of Heaven and Hell, the ideas of moksha and nirvana are mere blind beliefs. Life in this world is the ultimate end. There is no life beyond or after this world. Happiness in this life is the supreme goal. A Secular State is not easy to define. The idea of a Secular State was put forward by Marrilio of Padau in the 14th century. In his famous book Edfensos Pacis, he declared the rights of citizens are independence of the faith they profess, and no man may be punished for his religion”. This however, was merely a formulation of an idea that took centuries to take roots and develop. Indian Constitution Notes
According to the liberal democratic tradition of the West, the Secular State is not hostile to religion, but holds itself neutral in matters of religion, such a State, is not moved by an active hostility to religion as is to be found in the Communist tradition. The Secular State of which the USA may be regarded his an example, guarantees. “Individual and corporate freedom of religion, is nut constitutionally connected to any particular religion not does it seek either to promote or interfere with religion.” The basic features, of a Secular. State are as follows: It does not establish, recognize or endow any religion. It extends full religious freedom to its citizens. The citizens are allowed to follow any religion they like, propagate their religion, change their religion, build and maintain their places of worship and other institutions and give religious institution to their children.
It treats all its citizens equal before law irrespective of their religious faith. It does not discriminate against any citizen in matter of public employment on the ground of religion. It does not take, the responsibility for the religious or spiritual welfare of its citizens.In what it does for the welfare of its citizens it is guided b worldly reason and considerations of other worldly happiness. However, the idea of Secular State does not mean that the state can in no circumstances interfere in the religious matters of citizens. If the religious activities and practices of citizens are repugnant to public morality or breach the rights of other citizens or endanger the security, stability and integrity of the state, the state has not only the right but a duty to interfere in religious matters e.g. no individual or group can be permitted to inflict physical or mental torture or social indignity on others in the name of religion. Similarly if a religious organization or order inflicts upon any of its members a physical penalty or confiscate his property for the violation of its principles or commands, it is the duty of the state to protect the religious order. In other words, a religious organization cannot exercise powers, which belong to the sovereign state.