IS LACIT THE CIVIL RELIGION OF FRANCE?

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IS LACIT THE CIVIL RELIGION OF FRANCE? Powered By Docstoc
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                             IS LAICITE THE CIVIL RELIGION OF FRANCE?

                                                            BLANDINE CHELINI-PONT*


   According to Robert Bellah, in his article, “Civil Religion in
America,” civil religion is a combination of collective rituals that
reveal a devotion to the unity of a nation and a national mythology
made up of a diffusion of beliefs and representations that consti-
tute the dominant mental attitudes of a society.1 Civil religion has
its own unique history and its own mythical or providential origins.
It allows the population of a country to identify itself as such. It
gives a national group the feeling of belonging, attachment, and a
common sense of pride.2 From this definition, Bellah considers
civil religion a real religion, which he calls a “national faith.”3
   The famous French intellectual Regis Debray believes that there
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is something more primitive and invincible beyond this faith, a
state of very elaborate feelings of belonging that he calls le sacre,
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“the sacred.”4 According to Debray, the sacred “allows a group of

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      * Assistant Professor in Contemporary History, Universit´ Paul C´ zanne of Aix-en-
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Provence, France. Ph.D. 1994, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. She works on the
contemporary changes of the French la¨cit´ concept and national mythologies and their
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connection with constitutional foundations. See, e.g., JEREMY GUNN & BLA
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: This article proposes to discern concepts in three different facets, juxtaposed against one another: 1. Laicite, 2. the Republique, or "Republic," and 3. France itself. It is like a presentation of the French trinity, a small secular allusion to the Catholic heritage of France. Returning to the idea that inspired this presentation, la laicite is an important part of the French outlook but it does not represent the entirety of French thought, nor is it sufficient to define France's entire civil religion. Secularism is part of a larger ensemble that represents the Republic and provincial France. From one end to another, the French triptych is like a garden that must maintain and cultivate its diverse species. The religious changes, the emergence of cultural peripheries, the multiple identities of its citizens, all of which grow without any kind of unifying narrative, are of little help in the management of this garden.
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