Varieties of Secularism

9. Laïcité and Secular Attitudes in France
Nathalie Caron


he American notion of “being secular” has no easy translation in the French language and context. Part of the difficulty stems from the ambivalence of the use of the term secular in the United States.1 Under the influence of politics and culture wars, the words “secular,” “secularist,” and “secularism” are undergoing a semantic shift that tends to narrow and polemicize their meanings. The situation has lately been exacerbated, possibly by the tragedy of 9/11, undoubtedly by the so-called “religion gap” that determined voting patterns in the 2004 elections, as well as by recent controversies over the nature of American identity in a changing social and political environment.2 While retaining their original sense connecting them to the broad conception of an autonomous society independent of religion, the words secular, secularist, and secularism have taken up new meanings. As an increasing number of Americans are “[working] themselves out of a religious frame of mind,” sociologists have used the terms to refer to individual postures on matters of religious choice, while among religious conservatives they have become synonymous with irreligious and irreligion, godless and godlessness, Atheist and atheism.3 A second difficulty in defining who is secular in France is that although the adjective secular can easily be translated into French by séculier (from the Latin saeculum i.e. “century,” and then “world,” as in English) the translation that spontaneously, although somewhat grudgingly, comes to a French mind is laïque, which associates the initial question “who’s secular?” with issues of laïcité. Institutionalized and immortalized in 1905 by the law on the separation of church and state, laïcité is an essential component of French identity and exceptionalism, to which there is no satisfactory linguistic equivalent in the American English language, and which is also complex and polysemic.4 Referring to laïcité, however, is unavoidable when discussing who is secular in France since, whether as a cause or a consequence, laïcité creates the conditions


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of French secularity today. In this short chapter I transpose the term secular into the French context. Hence I do not confine the definition of the term secular to that of laïque, but also extend it to the sociological meaning it has acquired in English, that of “non-religious.”

The French Are All Secular
As French political leaders like to emphasize, the French Republic rests on a secular ideal, called laïcité. It is the “grammar which enables the different religions to talk to each other,” the “pillar” of the French model of integration, the “cornerstone of the republican pact.”5 French laïcité is not a choice or a particular spiritual option, but a national founding principle specified by law and inscribed in the incipit of the Constitution, which separates not only church and state, but also what is religious from what is not. Article 1 of the 1958 Constitution states: “France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.”6 As a result, a French citizen is necessarily secular and is expected to appreciate the notion of laïcité as a value inherent in republicanism, which it enhances by ensuring the equal treatment of all religions and by protecting freedom of religion and of conscience. In the United States, the religion clauses of the First Amendment to the American Constitution place freedom of religion beyond the reach of legislation by a negative phrasing, but they commit only Congress (“Congress shall make no laws”).7 In France, by contrast, the principle of laïcité is positively defined and associated with the notions of indivisibility, democracy, equality, and liberty of conscience. As such it binds the whole nation by contractual obligation. The word laïcité, coined in the 1870s, comes from the Greek laos, which designates the unity of a population: “The laic is a man of the people, whom no prerogative distinguishes or elevates above the others…. He can be the faithful member of a particular religious group, but also someone with an atheistic worldview, the founding conviction of which is distinct from that which inspires religion.”8 Laïcité refers to an institutional system informed by a secular worldview that determines a civic and moral ideal, unifies the community, and legitimates sovereignty. Hence it shapes a social frame in which the boundary between religion and non-religion is much clearer than in the United States where civil religion permeates public life.9 It is both an organizational frame establishing the neutrality of the state in religious matters, and an attitude about the proper

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relationship between the political and religious spheres and, more broadly, religion and society. Scholars have distinguished between laïcisation and secularization and shown that laïcisation aimed to reduce the social significance of religion as an institution by engaging political power, whereas secularization is the outcome of social evolutions to which political power adapted or in which it participated.10 The historian Jean Bauberot has argued that laïcité was the result of a conflict in which the state had to destabilize religious institutions—mainly Catholic —to assert its authority and ensure democratic liberties, whereas secularization should be viewed as a cultural transformation that has taken place mostly in countries with a Protestant culture.11 Hence “French laïcité cannot be properly understood without taking into account the struggle against clericalism, namely against the power of the Church over society and individuals, particularly in the field of education,” and that struggle originates the French specificity.12 Laïcité is a result of a historical process of laïcisation that started during the Revolution, when the old monarchical regime collapsed and with it the religious origin of its sovereignty. 13 In August 1789 the authors of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen declared “The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation” (Article 3) and asserted liberty of conscience (Article 10). The domination of the Catholic Church, which legitimized the Old Regime, was subsequently challenged as the Church was subordinated to the state: clerical property was nationalized and the Civil Constitution of the Clergy reorganized the hierarchical structure of the Church. After the fall of Robespierre, who had imposed a deistic religion called “the Cult of the Supreme Being” the principle of church and state separation was reestablished (1795) without, however, being fully implemented.14 Napoleon’s Concordat in 1801 recognized the Catholic Church as the majority religion while preserving the religious liberty acquired by the Revolution.15 In the 19th century, a fierce confrontation opposed the “two Frances,” a Catholic France and a republican France. Put differently, two different visions waged “a war of religion:” one considered France the “eldest daughter of the Church” (“la fille aînée de l’Église”) and the other saw France as the daughter of the Revolution.16 In the second half of the century free thinking and anticlericalism based on reason and the progress of science radicalized the conflict. So did the debate on secular schooling (l’école laïque) in the 1880s when primary education became free of charge, mandatory and secular. Religion was no longer taught in schools, but one school-free week day was made available for religious education.


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The law on the separation of church and state, which was eventually passed in 1905, abolished the Concordat. It was supported by the Jewish and Protestant minorities, which were seeking to resist the hegemony of the Catholic Church. Its principles established that “the Republic assures freedom of conscience.17 It guarantees the free exercise of worship” (Article 1) and says that “The Republic neither recognizes, nor salaries, nor subsidizes any religion” (Article 2). The law was not applied to Alsace-Lorraine, which was then part of the German empire. Nor was it extended to French Guyana, a colony. To this day the law does not apply in those regions. As the relationship between church, state, and society became less strained, compromises were reached under the acceptance of a “secular pact” (pacte laïque).18 Attitudes towards religion became more benevolent and less hostile— “more open.”19 Today, laïcité is widely accepted. Contrary to what is often said, the 1905 law had not confined religion to the private sphere, but it had privatized the institution of religion by giving religious groups the status of non-profit associations. Laïcité does not exclude religious expression from the public sphere, but respects all beliefs by establishing a distinction between an individual’s private life and his public dimension as citizen, based on the idea that “it is as a private individual that, in his personal life, an individual adopts spiritual or religious convictions, or does not, which he can of course share with others.”20 The process of laïcisation and the subsequent 1905 law, however, have fashioned a reserved behavior vis-a-vis religion and rendered the public expression of religious beliefs sparse—French people do not talk about religion—and even out of place, in the case for example of a president or any political figure bound by the neutrality of the state. Besides, while ensuring the “social recognition of religion,” laïcité has fostered a somewhat paradoxical lack of acknowledgement and knowledge of religions—the French state and by extension French people tend to ignore religion.21 And yet France is a secular state with a Catholic culture, as the persistence of the religious elements in French public life demonstrates. One striking example is the number of public holidays in the French calendar —Easter Monday, Ascension Thursday, Pentecost Monday, Assumption Day, All Saints’ Day, Christmas—the Christian orientation of which comes under regular criticism by secularists or members of religious minorities.22

Some Are More Secular Than Others
Despite, or rather because of, the compromises reached under the secular pact, laïcité became a hot topic of debate again when the left and then the right sought to reform the status of private, mostly Catholic, schools. In 1984, the

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left sought to unify the private and state systems of education and in 1994 the right favored resorting to public funding for the construction of private religious schools. The scope of the resistance, which in both cases forced the governments to abandon their proposals—together with the more recent debate on the Muslim “veil” (headscarf ) in schools show that “school remains the place where the historical trace of the war between the two Frances, persists.”23 The understanding of secularity in France indeed cannot be dissociated from a full appreciation of the crucial role of public (state) schools, secular places par excellence. The link between schools and laïcité was conceived in reference to the Enlightenment motto “Sapere aude! ” and Condorcet’s idea that “instruction,” as distinct from parental education, was political and schools the vehicle for emancipation, universal progress, liberty, and equality.24 The champion of secular schools is the FCPE, the largest parents’ union, which emphasizes that secular schools are where “children of all origins learn how to live and work together whatever their religious and philosophical convictions.” Freedom of conscience and freedom of thought coexist to combine respect for religious pluralism with the construction of critical minds.25 As in other secular countries, laïcité is now confronted with issues of pluralism. The main change France is faced with is the growing presence of Islam, which is now France’s second religion and which, as Daniele HervieuLeger remarks, although hardly a new phenomenom “questions and disturbs the normal way [European] society deals with religion in the public space.”26 Other changes must also be taken into account. These testify to the vitality of religion within the secular framework, namely the arrival of North African Jews in the 1960s who had a much more visible religious culture than the already existing Jewish population, the increasing visibility of evangelical and Pentecostal Protestantism, the attraction of Buddhism, as well as the multiplication of “new religious movements” and the related fear of “cults.”27 In 2003, the law banning conspicuous religious symbols in public schools raised new passions which, as it was debated, divided the proponents of laïcité. Two years later, the centenary of the law on church-state separation provided the opportunity for an in-depth reflection on the meaning of France’s founding principle as well as a debate over the relevance of a revision of the 1905 law.28 Three major secular attitudes can be broadly defined in relation to laïcité. Some, advocating an “open laïcité,” are concerned with the free exercise of religion, but are also tempered by a revision of the 1905 law. Those favoring a “laïcité in movement” are sensitive to social and religious change, but remain faithful to the history of the secular ideal. Finally, the more militant laics defend the French republican model by denouncing the dangers of


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“communitarianism” and calling for the strengthening of the 1905 law.29 Seen from a certain viewpoint, the most “secular” today belong to the third category (laïcité de combat ). That category fosters a movement that has recently gained some momentum in a context of putting emphasis on the need for a new understanding of Enlightenment thought.30 The most vocal proponents are members of the FCPE, scholars or polemicists, all unbending defenders of the 1905 law. Thus, Henri Pena-Ruiz defines laïcité in Kantian terms within a transcendal framework: “the misreading of this status is the blind spot of the conceptions that seek to renegotiate it ceaselessly, as the religious landscape and the power struggles underlying it fluctuate.”31 Heirs of 19th-century rationalist freethinkers and anticlericals, members of this group often view religion with suspicion, and in some extreme cases with a downright hostility, and tend to confine religion to the private sphere. French hardline secularists defend freedom of thought above all and are ardent supporters of the law on religious symbols in schools, which they see as an emancipating factor for women.32 Today, the feminist journalist Caroline Fourest, editor of ProChoix, is probably one the most representative figures of that trend, which wages a war on totalitarian ideologies. It focuses on a fight against Islamic, Christian, and Jewish fundamentalisms, defined as manifestations of political projects for changing societies that draw on a rigorous moralistic vision of religion.33

Please Don’t Call Me a Secular Catholic
In an article on secular and fundamentalist attitudes in France and other Western countries, based on two surveys of the International Social Survey Programme (1991 and 1998), the sociologist Yves Lambert concluded that, among countries in which secular attitudes are more frequent than fundamentalist ones, France is the most secular.34 He found that 40 percent of the French have secular attitudes, characterized by an opposition to the direct influence of religion on society, with few socio-demographic and economic variations. Hence in the 1998 survey, 63 percent of the French disagreed with the idea that politicians who do not believe in God are not suitable for public office and 55 percent believed that religious authorities should not try to influence governmental decisions. In an attempt to explain the causes of the high degree of secularism in France, Lambert examines the relationship between religious attitudes and attitudes to laïcité in schools. He notes that while it is impossible “to say if secular attitudes in France are the cause or the consequence of laïcité,” laïcité in schools is supported by a large majority of the French population, Catholic or not, secular or not.35 Attitudes to laïcité, however, interact with political orientations,

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55 percent of those favoring a strengthening of laïcité in schools are found on the left. Interestingly though, attitudes to laïcité cut across attitudes to religion. Among those supporting a strengthening of laïcité Lambert finds a substantial number of Catholics and believers. Conversely non-religious people and non believers can express non-secular ideas when they support a more flexible laïcité.36 Secular attitudes can also be defined in relation to religiosity and to the sense of religious belonging. As in the United States and other industrialized countries, the “no religion” category in France (sans religion), the equivalent of the American Nones, has been growing since the 1980s and gained even more speed in the 1990s. At the same time, while remaining by far the dominant religion, French Catholicism has declined.37 In 1999, 53 percent of the population affiliated with Catholicism, as against 71 percent in 1981.38 Figures vary, but it is estimated that today a little less than one-third of French people belongs to the no religion category, an ill-defined constituency composed of “non-believers,” people who do not belong to any religion, people who do not identify as religious, anticlerical people, Agnostics, Atheists, and those who are indifferent to religion. A survey published by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies establishes that in 2004, 23.9 percent of women and 30.6 percent of men identified as “no religious practice, no feeling of belonging” (ni pratique ni sentiment d’appartenance ), with the highest rate found among people aged between 15 and 24 (40 percent of women, 45 percent of men).39 Men with intermediary professions, employees and workers, managers, executives, and people with intellectual careers have the highest rates, while the lowest rates are observed among farmers and retired people.40 As in other industrialized countries, the typical secularist is male, young, and with some education. Despite the growth—less than 10 percent identified as not religious before the 1980s—few studies are devoted to that category whereas secularization had generated countless surveys, articles and books.41 Sylvette Denefle’s Sociologie de la sécularisation, published in 1997, is still the only, albeit not the definitive, book on the topic, in which the author suggests that the category be defined in positive terms.42 As noted above, the no religion category is very diverse, a diversity that Denefle’s study does not reflect. Lambert qualifies her study by identifying three subgroups. Less than a third are convinced Atheists, anticlericals and rationalists (the group Denefle’s sample of 78 people best represent). The other two thirds are comprised of people “indifferent” to religion and people “interested” in spirituality.43


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Lambert observes that both institutional religion and religiosity are weakening and that more people are now declaring themselves convinced Atheists—in 1999, 14 percent of the whole population did against 10 percent in 1990.44 And yet, he observes that after-death beliefs (life after death, hell, paradise, reincarnation), “parallel beliefs” (astrology, telepathy, charms), and attention to ceremonies (attached to birth, marriage, death) are growing, especially among the youth and to a lesser degree baby boomers, thus revealing “ a general religiosity.”45 Hence, from 1981 to 1999, while the belief in a life after death weakened among Catholics it grew among non-religious people, whether Atheists or not.46 Even more paradoxically, the belief in God—usually conceived as some vital force—is growing among young people who declare themselves convinced Atheists.47 As Lambert points out, the non religious are not what they used to be. In the context of deinstitutionalization, people are free to choose their own religions, or rather their own way of believing.48 French seculars participate in the transformation of spiritual belief described by sociologists. This spiritual transformation occurs in opposition to Catholicism, with which the words religion and religious are usually associated.

This chapter defines two distinct meanings of the word secular in the French context. One is related to issues of laïcité and individual attitudes towards the relationship between religion and society. Following the work of other authors, it has distinguished three ways of looking at laïcité today, one being “open” to change and hence revision of the law on church and state separation, the other two varying in degree in their defense of strict separation. The second meaning of “secular” refers to non-religious worldviews and private attitudes to religious and spiritual feelings. The French are obsessed by laïcité, but they know little about it and also about the role of what it is supposed to protect, namely religions.49 They have reservations about religion in the world, but tend to ignore the evolution of private religiosity in France.50 Looking at this cherished French idea through American glasses, at a time when it is challenged by the vitality of religion and confronted with pluralism, provides useful insights into the current transformation of French society. Conversely, probing into the uses, meanings, and interpretations of the term “secular” from a foreign perspective should help to assess the significance of the controversial use of the term in the U.S.

9. Laïcité and Secular attitudeS in France EndnotEs
1. 2. “Secularism: A Symposium,” Religion in the News, vol. 8, n°3, Winter 2006.


See for example “Churchgoing Closely Tied to Voting Patterns,” USA Today, June 2, 2004; Samuel Huntington, Who are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity (Simon and Schuster, 2004), p. 82-83. In his study of baby-boomers’ religiosity, Wade Clark Roof identifies a category he labels “Secularists,” in “Toward an Integration of Religion and Spirituality,” Michele Dillon, ed. Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 147. This category is growing in the US, see Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, Religion in a Free Market: Religious and Non-Religious Americans— Who, What, Why and Where (PMP, 2006). On the use of the term by religious conservatives David Klinghoffer, “That Other Church: Let’s Face it: Secularism is a Religion. Let’s Treat it as Such,” Christianity Today, Dec. 21, 2004. Françoise Champion, “La laïcité n’est plus ce qu’elle était,” Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 116 (2001), [On line], URL: html. Page viewed June 9, 2006. This critical note on four recent books on laïcité underlines the polymorphous quality of laïcité. In conclusion, the author calls for a reflexion on “what is laïcité today?”. Senate, Annex to the Minutes of the February, 25, 2004 session; Jacques Chirac, December 12, 2004; Commission de réflexion sur l’application du principe de laïcité dans la République, Rapport au président de la République, December 11, 2003. The Stasi commission, named after its head, Bernard Stasi, was in charge of the report on religious symbols in public schools which inspired the 2004 law. “Republican pact” has become a buzz phrase in French political rhetoric. It was popularized by General De Gaulle in the mid-1940s to refer to what united the French when the Fourth Republic was created following WW2. “La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. […],” Constitution of 4 October 1958, Assemblée Nationale. French laïcité was already inscribed in the 1946 Constitution. Phillip E. Hammond, David W. Machacek, and Eric Michael Mazur, Religion on Trial: How Supreme Court Trends Threaten Freedom of Conscience in America (Walnut Creek, AltaMira, 2004), p. 11. Henri Pena-Ruiz, Qu’est-ce que la laïcité ? (Paris, Gallimard, 2003), p. 21. Jean-Paul Willaime, “Laïcité et religion,” Grave Davie et Daniele Hervieu-Leger, dir., Identités religieuses en Europe (Paris, La Découverte, 1996), p. 156.






8. 9.

10. Jean Bauberot, Histoire de la laïcité en France (Paris, Que Sais-je, 2000), p. 20 n.1. See also Karel Dobbelaere, Secularization: A Multidimensional Concept (London, Sage Publications, 1981). 11. Jean Bauberot, “Laïcité et sécularisation dans la crise de la modernité de l’Europe,” Cahiers français, n° 273, oct.-nov. 1995, p. 29-30. 12. Willaime, “Laïcité et religion,” op. cit., p. 156.


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13. Bauberot, Histoire de la laïcité en France, op. cit., p. 4. The author points out that the notion of a secular (laïque) state truly emerged during the Revolution and refers to a “prehistory” of laïcité, namely the long secularizing process prior to 1789 by which institutions progressively dissociated themselves from the Catholic Church. 14. Ibid., p. 16. 15. Ibid., p. 19. The Concordat was signed in July 1801 by Pope Pius VII and Napoleon. For Henri Pena-Ruiz, it partook of a “logic of Old Regime theologico-political domination more than it was “a step in the process of laïcisation” as Bauberot has it (Qu’est-ce que la laïcité ? op. cit., p. 151) 16. Bauberot, Histoire de la laïcité en France, op. cit., p. 29. 17. Freedom of conscience refers to the freedom of thinking for oneself, which includes agnosticism and atheism and integrates freedom of religion. 18. Bauberot, Histoire de la laïcité en France, op. cit., p. 87-88. Bauberot’s notion of “pacte laique” is criticized by Pena-Ruiz who contends that the 1905 was not the result of negotiations, but a governmental decision (Qu’est-ce que la laïcité?, op. cit., p. 302). On the compromises showing that the separation between Church and State is not absolutely strict, see Jean Bauberot, “La France, République laïque,” Jean Bauberot, dir., Religions et laïcité dans l’Europe des douze (Paris, Syros, 1994), p. 63-64. 19. Willaime, “Laïcité et religion,” op. cit., p. 164. 20. Pena-Ruiz, Qu’est-ce que la laïcité ?, op. cit., p. 12. 21. On the occasion of the centennial of the 1905 law Archives des sciences sociales de la religion published a special issue on the notion of state “recognition” of religion banned by Article 2 (n°129, 2005). The question of religious studies (“l’enseignement du fait religieux”) is another debated issue in France today. See Regis Debray, “L’enseignement du fait religieux dans l’école laïque,” rapport au ministre de l’Éducation Nationale, February 2002, 8-15. 22. Pentecost Monday, traditionally a public holiday, was transformed in 2005 by Prime Minister Raffarin’s conservative government into a working “Day of Solidarity” as part of a program designed to benefit old and handicaped people. The issue is highly controversial, not because the move secularized the calendar, but because it changed a paid holiday into a working day… 23. Jean Bauberot, “La France, République laïque,” Jean Bauberot, dir., Religions et laïcité dans l’Europe des douze (Paris, Syros, 1994) p. 67. 24. Condorcet, Sur l’Instruction publique, 1791-1792. 25. Fédèration des Conseils de Parents d’Élèves des Écoles Publiques website, http://, page viewed June 9, 2006. 26. Daniele Hervieu-Leger, “Islam and the Republic: The French Case,” Thomas Banchoff, ed., The New Religious Pluralism and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). The number of Muslims – secular and practicing – is estimated at 5 or 6 million. Laïcité proscribes questions on religious belonging in the national census.

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27. An anti-sect law was passed in 2001.


28. See for example Yves-Charles Zarka et dir., “Faut-il réviser la loi de 1905?” (Paris, PUF, 2005). 29. I borrow and adapt Jean Bauberot’s labeling in Histoire de la laïcité, op. cit., p. 119. Proposals for a revision can be found for example in Nicolas Sarkozy’s provocative book, La République, les religions, l’espérance : entretiens avec Thibaud Collin et Philippe Verdin (Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 2004), in which the Interior Minister advocates the public funding of religious buildings, mosques in particular, in a call for the integration of Islam into French society. Within religious communities, positions vary. For example, on Evangelical Protestants, see Sebastien Fath, “De la non-reconnaissance à une demande de légitimation?,” Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 129 (2005). 30. See Tzvetan Todorov, L’ésprit des Lumières (Paris, Laffont, 2006), p. 24. See also Michel Onfray, Traité d’athéologie (Paris, Grasset, 2005) p. 30. The renewal of interest in the Enlightenment is not limited to France, but has emerged in other societies in search of secular values. In the United States see Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (New York, Metropolitan Books, 2004), p. 359-60. 31. Pena-Ruiz, Qu’est-ce que la laïcité ?, op. cit. p. 10. 32. As it was debated the controversial law was supported by 69 percent of the total population and by 42 percent of the Muslim population (CSA poll, January, 26, 2004). For an analysis of the debate see Hervieu-Leger, “Islam and the Republic,” op. cit. To date there is little public analysis on the impact of the law. In 2004, 47 pupils were officially expelled from school (out of 600 cases), an encouragingly low figure according to the government. 33. Caroline Fourest, Tirs croisés: La laïcité à l’épreuve des integrismes juif, chrétien et musulman (Paris, Calmann-Levy, 2003), p. 12. See also La tentation obscurantiste (Paris, Grasset, 2005). “Caroline Fourest: Missionnaire de la laïcité,” Le Monde, May 12, 2006. Fourest’s first target was Christian fundamentalism as it expresses itself in the United States. The committed journal ProChoix has a wider scope of activities and interests than the American ProChoice movement, after which it is named, and also focuses on the defense of individual liberties. 34. Yves Lambert, “Attitudes secularistes et fondamentalistes en France et dans divers pays occidentaux,” Social Compass 48 (1), 2001, 37, 42. Lambert defines fundamentalism as a desire to structure society according to religious principles. 35. Ibid., p. 47. 36. Ibid., p. 45. 37. Daniele Hervieu-Leger, Catholicisme, La fin d’un monde (Paris, Bayard, 2003). 38. Yves Lambert, “Religion: développement du hors-piste et de la randonnée,” Pierre Brechon, ed., Les valeurs des Français, Paris, Colin, 2003, p. 175. 39. INSEE, Pratique religieuse selon l’âge, 2004. Accessible online. Twenty two per cent did in 1987, 25 percent in 1996 (INSEE, “L’état de la pratique religieuse en France,” n° 570, mars 1998).


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40. INSEE, Pratique religieuse par categorie socioprofessionnelle, 2004. Accessible online. 41. Lambert, “Religion” , op. cit., p. 170. 42. Sylvette Denefle, Sociologie de la sécularisation: Être sans-religion en France à la fin du XXe siècle (Paris, L’Harmattan, 1997), p. 8. The author has conducted her own survey, but also refers to G. Michelat, J. Maître, J. Potel, J. Sutter, Les Français sontils encore catholiques ? (Paris, Cerf, 1991) p. 105-110. 43. In Dominique Vidal, La France des ‘sans-religion’,” Le Monde Diplomatique, September 2001. 44. Lambert, “Religion” , op. cit., p. 174. 45. Ibid., p. 175-182. The author points out that women are more likely to turn to after-life or parallel beliefs, thus echoing previous patterns. 46. Ibid., p. 183. In 1999, 27 percent of convinced atheists believed in a life after death. 47. Ibid., p. 184. In 1999, the rate was 10 percent for people aged between 18 and 29. 48. Daniele Hervieu-Leger, Le pèlerin et le converti: La religion en mouvement (Paris, Flammarion, 1999). 49. The point that French people’s familiarity with laïcité prevents them from knowing it well is made by Bauberot, Histoire de la laïcité, op. cit., p. 3. 50. CSA poll, September, 7, 2005. Accessible on line.

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