I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

French Satire, French Secularism

French satirical drawings.

French-American blog friend Vagabonde has written about January's grave events in Paris in a long and informative post. Here's an extract:

For centuries the authority of the Church in France was immense — they had total political and social control over the country.  It took a long time for the French to free themselves from the domination of the Church, and they now view all religious matters to be totally private.  My friend Peter of the blog Peter's Paris said 'laïcité [secularism] is a must for democracy! . . . Here, in France, we live together in a democratic state, not under any particular religion.  It's all about the defense of secularism and at the same time a struggle against religious fanaticism, of any religion. This includes, of course, the right to be non-religious!' (You can see his post here.)  This means that [political] candidates don't mention their religion when seeking office, don't swear on the Bible when taking office, and the President does not say 'So help me God' after taking the oath of office like in the US. It also means that atheists can hold office (seven US states still prohibit non-believers to hold office in their states). There is no 'In God we trust' on the money like on the dollar bills, no 'A nation under God' as in the US pledge of allegiance, and no 'In God we trust' as on the state of Georgia's motor vehicle license plates.  The separation is total — the French state is neutral.

Vagabonde's excellent mini-history of French secularism, the separation of church and state, and the French love of satire can be found here — I urge you to read it.

An equally interesting post from VagabondeOn Voltaire and Tolerance, is here.

5 comments:

Ruth said...

I agree. Vagabonde's posts on this topic have been very illuminating about the context for Charlie Hebdo!

George said...

The United States takes great pride in "separation of church and state." Alas, however, it's a bit of a fiction. For all the reasons enumerated by Vagabonde, church and state may be legally separated in this country, but, culturally, they are married and often share the same bed. Moreover, there are some in the religious right who would prefer a formal declaration that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation. Let us hope this never occurs.

Ruth said...

Amen, George!

Vagabonde said...

Thank you, I am honored that you have linked my post on your blog. What scares me in the USA is the trend that I have seen, in the last 20 years, to let the Christian Right get away with much of their propaganda. They are very rich and “stealthy” and are slowly changing the USA. It is very sad.

sackerson said...

The old Church/State thing. I think they should be separate. People's views on this are complicated. I've met evangelical Christians who think Church and State should be separate and I've come across atheists who don't, thinking that the key role that "cosy" Anglicanism has played over the years in primary education in the UK has functioned to reduce people's propensity for Christian-based religious extremism.