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The True Intentions Behind the French Plan to Further Secularize Schools

Jeffrey Bruno

Aleteia - published on 05/28/13

Let Us Refound the School, published in February 2013, the Education Minister explains that “In our republican tradition, it is the school’s responsibility not only to produce a free individual, emancipated from all guardianships – political, religious, familial, social – so that he can make his own choices as an independent, fulfilled, and happy individual, but also to educate the informed citizen of a democratic, just, and fraternal Republic” (p. 12). The Minister warns the reader, as if it were necessary, that “the Republican school has never claimed to be neutral toward all values. While secularism has indeed meant religious neutrality […], it has never meant philosophical or political neutrality” (p. 134).

One of the determinisms from which children must be freed is that of gender identity. Mr. Peillon announces in his book that the “battle against gender stereotypes and homophobia must be waged forcefully at all levels of education. Gender stereotypes must be challenged starting in primary school” (p.128). Addressing the education authorities, Mr Peillon said last January, “The government is committed to relying on the youth to change mentalities, particularly through education that teaches respect for the diversity of sexual orientations.” (Letter from Vincent Peillon, National Education Minister to the rectors , dated January 4, 2013)

The book in which Mr. Peillon reveals his personal thought is The Revolution Is Not Over, published by Seuil in 2008. Here is what he says about the school:
It is up to
[the school] to break this circle [of determinisms], to produce this self-institution, to be the matrix that constantly generates Republicans to build the Republic, a preserved Republic, a pure Republic, a timeless Republic within the actual Republic. The school must work the miracle of begetting in which the child, stripped of all his pre-Republican ties, will rise up to become a citizen, an autonomous subject. It is a new birth, a transubstantiation brought about in the school and by the school, this new Church, with its new clergy, its new liturgy, its new tablets of the Law. Republican and secular society has no choice but to ‘teach itself’ (Quinet) to be a perpetual renewal of the Republic in every Republican, a continuous begetting of each citizen in every child, a peaceful but permanent revolution”.(
The Revolution Is Not Over, Seuil, 2008, p. 17)

The link between the school and secularism is clear: the school-church is the place for teaching the secularism-religion. He adds:

Because of its desire to remove religious determinism and scientific determinism, the Republican synthesis is forced to invent a new metaphysics and a new religion in which it is man … who will appear as an infinite that constantly “transcends himself” (J. Lagneau).
This religion is not a religion of God made man, nor is it a religion of a man who makes himself God. It is a religion of the man who creates himself through constant movement (p.141-142).

Later, he continues:

What socialism still needs in order to emerge as the thought of a new era is a new religion.
Thus, a new dogma, a new regime, a new cult must arise so that a new society will take the place of the old. Secularism itself can thus appear as this religion of the Republic that was desired since the Revolution
It is to socialism that the Republic will turn in order to carry out the religious revolution that humanity needs, by being both a moral revolution and a material revolution, and by putting the latter at the service of the first (p.195).

In his biography of Ferdinand Buisson

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