There is no state religion in France. It emphasizes freedom of religion and the country does not prioritize any particular religion. Still, France has the highest proportion of Christians, especially Catholics, so traditions and customs follow Catholicism. Most of France’s historically important buildings, such as Notre Dame, are Catholic churches. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into French religion today.
French “Laicite” and its contradiction
Generally, in France, religion is legally prohibited from being displayed in public. (Orthodox Separation Act dated December 9, 1905) Basically, each person’s religious beliefs are practiced in each family and should never be displayed in public. This is called “Laïcité” and is an idea that has taken root since the French Revolution. In short, it is also the result of legalizing “Orthodox separatism.” So the Islamic scarf problem (a problem stemming from Islamic rules that a Muslim woman must hide her hair) is often a hot and controversial issue in France. This kind of problem is a phenomenon that is not seen in England, for example, you can see a policeman wearing a turban from India, but it is quite common in the world. However, in France, it is strictly prohibited by law to express an individual’s religion in schools, government offices, public workplaces and facilities.
After all Catholic!?
Now, returning to the story of Laicite, while advocating strict Orthodox separation, the Catholic element is publicly permeated into people’s daily lives, and in my opinion, “Laicite”. Isn’t it far from the spirit? There is a feeling. A typical example is a French holiday. There are 11 official holidays throughout the year in France, more than half of which are all about Christ. Are there any holidays related to “Buddha” in Japan?
In France, which truly boasts Laicite, I feel like I’m already lost from here. What do you think?
Uneasy situation of moderate Muslims in France
In addition to Catholics, there are Muslims, Jews, Protestants, and even Buddhists in France. (By the way, France is the country with the most Buddhists in Europe.) The percentages of each are as follows.
Catholics: 65% Muslims: 7% Jews: 1% Others: 2% (ifop French Opinion Poll 2011 Wikipedia excerpt)
Anxiety about Islam
Under religious liberalism, it doesn’t matter which religion you choose in France, of course. However, recently, due to a series of terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals, the number of people who have concerns and distrust of Islam is increasing. To add to that, the significant breakthrough of the far-right party, which plays a central role in immigration exclusion, especially the exclusion movement against immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, makes me uneasy, even for me, who is not a Muslim. It is around this time that I cannot hide it.
The rise of the far right
The winners of the second round of the French presidential election last year were Le Pen from the Far Right National Front and Macron from the young centre-left (La République en Marche). Jean-Marie Le Pen was the first to remain the leader of the National Front in the final vote of the presidential election in 2002. Later, his daughter Marine Le Pen succeeded as leader of the National Front, but with more sophisticated political policies than her father, she survived until the final battle of the presidential election. It cannot be denied that this background is influenced by the political role of religion in France. In France, religious factors have a great influence on political policy, which cannot be imagined in Japan. The most victims are moderate Muslims. They are currently being attacked indirectly from the Islamic extremist movement and directly from the French far-right.
French atheist Athée
In the previous section, I introduced the proportion of each religion in France, but I did not specify it in particular, but there are “atheists”. According to the American Gallup, the countries with the highest number of atheists are China, followed by Japan, the Czech Republic, and France in fourth place. In particular, polls say that in France, the proportion of atheists surged from 14% to 29% between 2005 and 2012.
Ghost of the French Revolution
However, most French people are usually baptized at birth, so even though they are French, they do not forget to respect the Catholic tradition of the majority. However, the more realistic view is that they do not properly carry out their duties, especially as Catholics.
Behind this is a strict adherence to the Orthodox Separation Principle, but in my opinion, is the ghost of the French Revolution pulling behind?
Not much religious influence
What did you think? France, like Japan, is a country with many atheists and seems to be less influenced by religion, but the recent turmoil in the Islamic extremist movement suddenly revealed the weight of the sleeping religion. That may be the reality of religion in France today.