[The] critique of secularism has become the template for recent explorations of liberalism and secularization processes in the post-colonial context, particularly those that wish to explore the inner logics of Islam. Asad’s critical analysis of secularization in the Muslim world demonstrates how the demands of Western conceptions of church-state relations can amount to a form of ideological cultural (i.e. Christian) imperialism. But this is a critique that is based on a very selective genealogy of Christianity, a genealogy that excludes the Eastern Orthodox Church and conflates Christianity with Western Christianity. On one hand, it is an understandable exclusion given that Asad‟s critical focus is the movement of secularist discourses from Western Europe into its former colonies. On the other hand, it excludes an entire history of Christianity that might have produced a very different conception of religion than the hegemonic Western one, one that might have been more tolerant and inclusive of Islam.
Exploring this alternative genealogy of Christianity might reveal different collective understandings of the appropriate roles for the state and church. Indeed, Orthodox believers may not believe that “secularism” was imported from or imposed by the West, although scholars like Chaterjee (quoted above) argue that it has been universally coercive in its application. Instead, in the Bulgarian case, the local version of secularism grew out of the nation‟s own unique historical trajectory. This history is distinct from the Protestant and Catholic histories of the West. It is a history that for most modern Bulgarians begins in the ninth century when a medieval Bulgarian king, Boris I, Christianized the Slavs and when the Bulgarian kingdom embraced Orthodoxy and sided with the Byzantine Empire during the Great Schism of 1054.