French religious policy is based on the concept of laïcité, a strict separation of church and state under which public life is considered completely secular. France was historically regarded as the “eldest daughter” of the Roman Catholic Church. The French Revolution of 1789 saw a radical shift in the status of the Church with the launch of a brutal de-Christianization campaign. After the back and forth of Catholic royal and secular republican governments during the nineteenth century, laïcité was established under the Third Republic and codified with the 1905 Law on the Separation of Church and State. The 1958 constitution of the Fifth Republic 1958 guarantees freedom of religion. Today, most French citizens still identify as Catholics, although church attendance is very low. Through immigration, mainly from North Africa, Muslims have come to comprise an increasing number of the French population. French Muslims have faced problems balancing their religious obligations with laïcité; a 2004 law on conspicuous religious symbols prohibits students and teachers from wearing Muslim headscarves in public schools.
January 1, 2009
The book Secularism and State Policies toward Religion explains variation in public policies regarding religion by analyzing the contrasting trajectories of the United States, France, and Turkey. In particular, Ahmet Kuru investigates why American state policies are tolerant of public religiosity, whereas French and Turkish policies often seek to restrict its public visibility. Kuru argues that the dominant ideology concerning religion in the United States is "passive secularism", which...
March 14, 2002
In this interview with Religioscope, Mark Noll describes the historical roots of Protestant missionary work and notes the transition from denominational to inter- and non-denominational efforts. He remarks on the linkages between international trade and missions, as well as the persistent perception that American missionaries are willing instruments of US foreign policy. Noll also discusses growing cultural sensitivity among missionary workers and the tensions often created by proselytism.
January 1, 2002
In Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought in France, Ivan Strenski explores the key role that sacrifice has played in French culture and nationalist politics. He traces the history of sacrificial thought in France, beginning with its origins in Roman Catholic theology. He explores case studies such as the Dreyfus Case, the French armys strategy in World War I, French fascism, and debates over public education to show the manner in which each was dependent upon the...