Religion and Secularism in France Today  book cover
1st Edition

Religion and Secularism in France Today

ISBN 9781032003436
Published May 3, 2022 by Routledge India
136 Pages

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Book Description

This volume explores the dynamic life of religion and politics in France.

The separation of church and state and the autonomy of school education from religion are the two fundamental pillars of France as a secular republic. The historical construction of French secularism (laïcité) was particularly marked by the strong opposition between the state and the Catholic church. However, the religious disaffiliation of a significant proportion of the French strengthened state secularism, which gradually became more consensual – despite some persisting tensions in the school context.

Yet, in the last decades, several factors have revived public debate on laicity: the quarrel over ‘sects’ and new religious movements; controversies over Islam, today the second-largest religion in France; and, more recently, dispute over bioethics. Faced with these challenges, laicity as well as the religious groups involved have been changing.

The authors of this book, ranking amongst the best French experts in the study of religion and secularism, introduce the reader to a living and lived laicity influenced by the social and religious dynamics of contemporary France. They demonstrate that the configurations of French secularism are both more flexible and complex than they appear to be. The volume investigates the extent to which the French idea of secularization has been pushed to be more thorough and radical in its interaction with its other European counterparts.

A key work on French political thought, this volume will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of international politics, political philosophy, political sociology, and religion and politics.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rajeev Bhargava

Preface: Secularism in France today by Violette Graff



Introduction: the complexity of the French principle of Laïcité

Philippe Portier and Jean-Paul Willaime


1. A brief history of French laïcité

Jean Baubérot

2. The three stages of French secularism

Philippe Portier

3. How did Catholicism shape and challenge French laïcism

Denis Pelletier

4. Minority Religions, Protestantism, and the laws on religion in France

Jean-Paul Willaime

5. From acceptance of diversity to debating multiculturalism: France facing affirmations of identity in the late-twentieth century

Martine Cohen

6. The role of French secularism in the making of the Islamic collective identity

Claire de Galembert

7. Secularity, religion, and the construction of Europe

Jean-Paul Willaime


Appendix: Chronology of Political French History

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Philippe Portier is Professor of History and Sociology of Secularism at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, PSL, France.

Jean-Paul Willaime is Emerite Professor of History and Sociology of Protestantism at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, PSL, France.