France's Stance on Religion


France's Confusing Approach to Religion

You know how at dinners in America you don't want to bring up politics because it causes to many controversies and debates and possibly fights because people feel uncomfortable? That's how people feel about religion in France. You can't bring it up without it pressing someone's buttons. And understanding the state of religion in France is very confusing, probably thanks to the weird laws in place. 

France's goal is to not allow any religion in the public sector. Children are not allowed to have religious displays at school, whether it be hijab or a necklace with a cross on it. It's not allowed. And many people debate whether this should be a rule, that people should have the religious freedom to wear the things they want as long as the school does not force them to. But people want to be completely ridded of religion in the public sector. They don't want to see anything related to religion. 

La Sainte Chapelle
But here comes the kicker: everything relating to holidays or days off comes from religious holidays, specifically Catholic holidays. That's right they don't want you to wear a hijab at school but they want you to take the day off for All Saints Day. How that makes any sense, I don't know. Almost all the days off are because of religious holidays. A few here and there are because of wars. So that's what confuses me and a lot of other expats, even some French people. Why is France so anti-religion but still practices many catholic things? And like America, less and less people are practicing a religion. The older generation is still religious, but the anti-religion movement is able to gain legitimacy as less and less people are deeply attached to their faith. 

So this once devotedly Catholic nation is now trying a modern approach to religion while still keeping it's ancient traditions. Sounds confusing, that's because it is!

Note: this post was not written in response to the 1/7/2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo. The attack by three extremists does not represent a religion as a whole, which is why I chose not to include it in my observations. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of the attack.

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