|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.