Difference Between Secularism and Communalism – Communalism and Secularism

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The difference between Secularism and Communalism lies in their ideologies. Secularism and communalism are two different schools of thought. Both secularism and communalism are essential components of a political system. The philosophies and views of these elements differ greatly from one another.

Difference Between Secularism and Communalism PDF

The difference between secularism and communalism is that communalism means a strong attachment to one’s community and religion. Secularism is the exact opposite; it dictates complete separation or indifference towards religion and promotes religious exclusion from social and national politics. In this article, let us discuss the difference between secularism and communalism in detail.

Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

Though secularism and communalism are concerned with ruling and administering a country, they are not the same; there is a significant difference between them. The difference between secularism and communalism is mentioned in the table below.

Secularism vs Communalism

Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

Points of difference




Secularism is a political idea to organize a state and its society without coercion of faith or belief, promoting freedom of religion for all its members and imposing no discrimination based on religion.

Communalism, as a political idea, uses religion, committing individuals of society entirely to community beliefs.

It is used as an ideology to unify a community and promotes religious isolation from other groups.


George Jacob Holyoake was an English secularist and newspaper editor who first coined Secularism in 1851.

The term first came into existence during British colonial rule in India.

In the early 20th century, the 4th Earl of Minto began communal electorates and legalized communalism in India through the Morley-Minto Act in 1909.

History in India

‘Secularism’ was added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976, stating, ‘India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic.’

Communalism was introduced in British India when the British struggled to resolve the riots between Hindus and Muslims.

Communalism is often used as an instrument for division and exploitation by the higher and elite classes.

Core principles

Secularism treats all religions equally in the sense that no single religion is favoured over the other in any form.

It separates religious institutions from the institutions of the state and does not dominate politics with religious ideas.

It also promotes freedom of thought and freedom to change their beliefs within the rights of others.

Lastly, it bans discrimination on religion and promotes equal treatment for all individuals.

Communalism, as a political idea, uses religious and cultural differences to win over people and make political ends meet.

Communalism creates feelings of superiority among one’s community and intolerance towards other communities.

Communalism promotes the isolation of a community from mainstream society.


Secularism creates diversity, democracy, a plural society, etc.

It promotes no disputes over religion and beliefs and bans religious symbols in schools, public places or events, etc.

However, no country has been able to perfectly apply the ideal principles of secularism.

Communalism often leads to discrimination against a religious group regarding employment, education, politics, commerce, etc.

This often results in hostility, tension, and competition leading to communal riots and violence among communities.

Communalism and Secularism

Communalism means putting a person’s ethnic group’s loyalties ahead of the interests of the entire society. The idea of secularism holds that all matters of state are independent of religious matters and beliefs, and vice versa.

It is important to study the difference between secularism and communalism regarding their different belief systems, modes of applications, etc., to stay informed of the political happenings in the country.

What is Communalism?

The concept of communalism describes a form of government in which the nation-state is viewed as a loose association of autonomous communities. There are separate elections for each ethnic group’s representatives under this electoral system. A collective ownership principle is used here.

  • Communalism emphasizes a person’s strong ties to their ethnic group rather than to the community or country in which they reside.
  • The ideals and practices of communal ownership are another definitions of communalism.
  • Consequently, everyone shared the gains and losses of most properties owned in common.

What is Secularism?

According to the secularism concept, religious institutions and individuals are kept apart from government officials and those who represent the State. Therefore, the freedom to be free from religious norms and their teachings can be defended by secularism.

  • According to secularism, religious convictions shouldn’t affect how the government makes decisions.
  • Although it can be claimed that this style of administration is more autonomous of religion, it is not opposed to religion.
  • Additionally, secularism typically replaces religious laws with civil laws, significantly lessening discrimination against religious minorities.


Key Difference Between Secularism and Communalism

The key difference between Secularism and Communalism is that Secularism is the partition of the government organizations and decision-making from the spiritual ideas in the respective country, while Communalism is the ruling system where distinct racial groups become a coalition of these communes.

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