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4 September, 2004

Laïcité - wassat?

As a couple of people have requested, a definition of the word 'laïcité', which I used a couple of days ago:

In France and some other French-speaking countries, La´citÚ is a prevailing conception of the separation of church and state and the absence of religious interference into government affairs (and conversely). The concept is related to secularism, but does not imply hostility towards religious beliefs. [I don't think 'secularism' implies hostility either - NRT]

The term 'la´citÚ', in its current sense, implies free exercise of religion, but no special status for religion: religious activities should submit to about the same set of laws as other activities and are not considered above the law. The government refrains from taking positions on religious doctrine and only considers religious subjects from their practical consequences on the inhabitants' lives.

La´citÚ does not imply, by itself, any hostility of the government with respect to religion. It is essentially a belief that government and political issues should be kept separate from religious organizations and religious issues (as long as the latter do not have notable social consequences).

When it comes to individuals, the French consider religion a private matter whose ostentatious display is generally out-of-place.

Me too. I have no problem with other people having religious beliefs, so long as I don't have to hear about them.

Coincidentally, Anders quoted this same definition earlier in the week. I suppose it's not too surprising, as the subject is in the news at present. Or maybe we were both divinely inspired ;)

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