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The True Intentions Behind the French Plan to Further Secularize Schools

Jeffrey Bruno

Aleteia - published on 05/28/13


, he specifies about this secular faith that “the whole operation really consists in changing the very nature of religion, of God, of Christ, and of finally defeating the Church. Not just the Catholic Church, but any Church and any orthodoxy. Human deism, the humanization of Jesus, a religion without dogma or authority or Church, the whole purpose of secularism is not to abandon the ideal, the infinite, justice and love, or the divine, but to renew them in the end as part of a requirement and a task that are at once intellectual, moral, and political.” (A religion for the Republic: the Secular Faith of Ferdinand Buisson , Le Seuil, 2010, 277)

These quotes (which cannot do total justice to their author’s intelligence) offer a glimpse, for the uninitiated, into the ideological background of the moral and civic education project. We have yet to know its precise content, and how teachers in the public and private sector will teach it, up to at least one hour per week, according to the Minister’s wishes.

As one can see, the Minister’s ambition and faith are considerable, and the challenge to integrate the youth is no less considerable. One may still be skeptical of this secular faith and its effectiveness, but can one still express it openly? His education will be compulsory for all children and the classes will be graded .

What is the stance of private schools toward the project of rebuilding society through schools? Do they have anything else to offer, and do they have anywhere near the same missionary zeal as Mr. Peillon? In any case, private education under contract is in the paradoxical situation of being forced to teach this secular morality, while having to impose a ban on religious education to its students.

According to its contents, this moral teaching is likely not only to strike against the “specific character” of private education, but also the natural right of parents to ensure the education and teaching of their children “in accordance with their religious and philosophical convictions,” a right guaranteed particularly by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Finally, the bill contains a more symbolic provision: it states that “the Republic’s motto and the tricolor flag must be displayed on the façade of any public or private school under contract. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 shall be applied in all these institutions.”(also see this) It is not clear whether the symbols of the republic should be placed above or below the cross which often adorns the façades of Catholic schools.
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