Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Origins of Secularism
The real secularism was born in France to stop Christian aggression and not to help its ferocious expansion. How was born originally this idea in France?On 9 th December 1905, a law was passed in France with the sole aim of separating the church and the state. Prior to this law, State funded churches and helped them financially. Like many European nations, France had a long tradition of government-established religion. Through out much of the nation's history, the Roman Catholic Church received official preference. But, the luxurious life led by some of church's clergy showed that they had lost touch with the needs of the common person and this gap was at the origin of an anti-clerical backlash. This law is the essence of French principle called "laiciité". Translating it as "secularism" may not be quite correct. Because, in India secularism tends to tarnish exclusively the image of only one religion: Hinduism. But, in France, secularism was born in reaction to the ever-growing Christian interference in the social and political realms of the nation. This law states solemnly that "The Republic neither recognizes, nor salaries, nor subsidizes any religion". The 1905 law ended state endorsement and direct funding of religious groups. Another important point is it prevents intervention of VATICAN in the internal matters of France. Arisitide Briand, author of the law, succeeded in negotiating an agreement with Vatican to let the French government name its own diocesan bishops. We need to erect a legislative fortress inspired by this courageous attempt of the French in preventing the Christian Church from spreading it's tentacles in the political domain, against the continuous onslaught of Christians. But, even this separation is incomplete because French government pays, even today, salaries of teachers in private religious schools. But, the idea of "laicité" got deeply entrenched in the French mind and became stronger than ever with the country's present constitution adopted in 1958 which contains a guarantee of secularism which the French call "laicité". It states, "France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. IT should ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion." Thus the monopole of catholic religion was dismantled by the proposal of a "neutral nation" which gives more importance to the freedom of conscience.Thus, the French used the concept of "secularism" to break the backbone of Christianity in France.