January 3, 2008


Sarkozy and Secularism (Robert Royal, January 3, 2008, First Things: On the Square)

A few years ago, I was in the middle of giving a lecture in Paris about religious persecution and martyrdom during the twentieth century when a woman stood up and shouted, “The French state has been repressing and killing Christians ever since the Revolution—and it has to stop!” Her outburst had more to do with her own pent up frustration than anything in particular that I was saying, but it immediately struck me that she had given voice to a feeling of religious disenfranchisement in France that we almost never hear about. Nicolas Sarkozy did not exactly express the same frustration when he went to Rome on December 20, but when the president of the French Republic makes an extended plea for the public affirmation of the value of faith in a high-profile venue, some equally unexpected cri de coeur has just come over the European horizon.

A few French friends have tried to convince me that there was nothing new in Sarkozy’s speech at the Palace of St. John Lateran, where he was installed as an honorary canon, which he had not already said in his 2005 book, La République, les religions, et l’esperance. Others tell me that if he even succeeds in half of what he wants to do, it will be virtually a nouveau regime in France. My reaction falls somewhere in between. When I read Sarkozy’s book last year, I was struck by two things: his belief that the French have to learn to talk about religion in public again and his willingness even to raise questions about the socialist inspired antireligious laws of 1905 that abolished some religious orders and confiscated religious property.

You can't be Anglospheric without reverting to a faith base.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 3, 2008 4:46 PM
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