Religious Freedom undermined in France

Really a rant and a question for my American brothers and sisters…

Moslem headscarves are to be banned in France. Am I the only one that’s very worried about this?

The ban is, of course, wider than headscarves (that’s a perculiarly prominent issue in France), it is proposed to extend to items such as Jewish skullcaps and large crucifixes, whatever “large” means.

The rationale for this is that church and state should be seperated, just as they are in the States.
So here are my thoughts and I’d appreciate your reasoning too….

I can understand why there was such a fuss over the 10 Commandments memorial in Alabama. Even though I don’t agree with the court’s decision I can understand why they ruled as they did. The judiciary is an organ of the state and, as such, laws about seperation of state and religion are obviously compromised when such a memorial is erected.

But that memorial was put up by an organ of the state whereas now we are talking about people who are served by the state. So, under the rationale provided, I can understand why (for example) a cross should not be worn overtly by a teacher or hung on the classroom wall but to ban students from displaying it is nonsensical. How is the student representing the state? How is it compromising the state?

Taken to it’s obvious conclusion I would be banned from any religious expression in the following circumstances.

Voting
Receiving healthcare at a government funded hospital
Walking on the street, after all the street is provided and maintained by local government.
Can I not even put a torn bible in my dustbin?

I’d appreciate some thoughts from the Americans. How does this work out? Is such a rule overstepping the issue of church/state?

Personally, I think that what is going on is not an insistance that church and state be seperated but that there be no religious expression at all. That’s the real motivation behind this and other moves, methinks.

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2 comments on “Religious Freedom undermined in France

  1. There are times when I am actually very glad to be American.

    We do have strife from time to time over religion in the public sphere — you probably followed the controversy we had over the “10 commandments” monument that for a while was located in the Alabama State Courthouse.

    But for the most part we exist peacefully as an intentionally pluralistic society. This includes allowing people the peaceful expression on their body of religious symbols like crosses, yarmulkes, headscarves, or even pentagrams.

    I find it boggling that the Prime Minister would call this ban “respectful of differences.” I feel quite emphatically that enforced secularism is not the way to go about respecting religious differences. That’s just counter to my instincts.

  2. The Church/State provision in the constitution was originally intended to prevent the state from interfering with the free expression of religion by promoting one set of beliefs over another.

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