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Religion and State in the public sphere

Laïcité(s) : religion et espace public

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Published on Thursday, December 06, 2018 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

Relations between religions and the State are well known to take multiple forms throughout the world. Some countries know an officially watertight separation between the two; others give a primary place to a given religion in the social order, to the exclusion of all others; others still have a State religion or established churches while at the same time guaranteeing freedom of conscience as well as forbidding any faith-based discrimination. Between the extreme of State atheism and the other extreme of a system explicitly based on the precepts of a given religion, the range of relations between Religion and the State is very wide. This interdisciplinary conference intends to describe and to analyse this diversity.

Announcement

Jointly organised by the Espaces humains et interactions culturelles (EHIC) research centre (Clermont Auvergne/Limoges Universities) and the Oxford Center for Methodism and Church History (Oxford Brookes University).

Place and time: Clermont-Ferrand (France), 21 & 22 November 2019

Argument

The speech given on 9 April 2018 by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, before the conference of French Catholic bishops, drew much comment, notably because of the French president’s statement that “the link between the Church and the State has been damaged and (...) it is important to repair it[1]” and also because of his calling for the French Catholics’ “political involvement in our national debate and in our European debate because [their] faith is part of commitment that this debate needs[2]”.

This episode shows the complex – and sometimes confrontational – relation which still exists in France between religions – and in particular Catholicism – on the one hand, and the public and political sphere on the other. The aim of this conference will be to examine this relation in France, in Britain and in other countries.

Relations between religions and the State are well known to take multiple forms throughout the world. Some countries know an officially watertight separation between the two, as is the case in France where “the Republic doesn’t acknowledge, endow or subsidise any religion[3]”; others give a  primary place to a given religion in the social order, to the exclusion of all others (e. g. the Gulf Monarchies or, to a lesser extent, Algeria); others still have a State religion or established Churches (e. g. England and Scotland) while at the same time guaranteeing freedom of conscience as well as forbidding any faith-based discrimination.

Between the extreme of State atheism (the USSR yesterday and, today, Cuba and North Korea) and the other extreme of a system explicitly based on the precepts of a given religion (Iran), the range of relations between Religion and the State is very wide. This conference intends to describe and to analyse this diversity.

These relations broadly fall under three categories, which could be called, for brevity’s sake: 1. Hostility; 2. Favour; 3. Indifference. Depending on the religion/confession under consideration, the three relations can simultaneously coexist in a given country.

Various perspectives can be adopted by potential speakers to the conference. For instance:

  • In the field of Law, papers could deal with the way legislation and/or case law deal with the intervention of religion in the public sphere. Papers could be comparative, or deal with a single judicial system.
  • In the field of History of the Americas, a possible topic could be those militant Evangelicals (such as the present mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcello Crivella; or men and women from the US Religious right) who run for public office and whose political action is explicitly based on their faith.
  • In the field of British History, a starting point could be the very diverse situation existing on the subject in Britain with two Nations out of four having a State Church, and twenty-six bishops of the Church of England sitting in the House of Lords. One could also study the challenges and justifications such a state of fact raised throughout the centuries, from believers as well as non-believers. Papers could also deal with the role of the Secular Society and Humanists UK which regularly call for the public sphere to be totally religiously neutral.
  • In the field of Theology, speakers could study the way in which the Churches and religions see the State, as well as the various theories on the links which should/could exist between Religion and the State. Papers could also deal with the Catholic Church’s social teaching whose premise is that faith makes it necessary for the believer to become active in the public sphere, as Pope Francis wrote in 2013: “no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society[4].”

This list of academic disciplines and topics is purely indicative, and submissions from researchers and practitioners from other fields are warmly encouraged.

Submission guidelines

Potential speakers are invited to submit a title and an abstract of 250 to 300 words along with a brief bio-bibliography to Dr Jérôme Grosclaude, jerome.grosclaude@uca.fr

before 15 January 2019

It is expected that the papers delivered during the conference will be published as a volume at a later date.

Papers will be delivered in either French or English.

Evaluation

  • Jérôme Grosclaude (Université Clermont Auvergne)
  • Peter S. Forsaith (Oxford Brookes University).

References

[1] “[L]e lien entre l’Église et l’État s’est abîmé, et (…) il nous importe (…) de le réparer.”

[2] “[S’]engager politiquement dans notre débat national et dans notre débat européen car [leur] foi est une part d’engagement dont ce débat a besoin”. See the English translation of the speech at http://www.elysee.fr/declarations/article/transcript-of-the-address-given-by-the-president-of-the-french-republic-before-the-bishops-of-france/. For an example of media reaction, see also “Macron veut ‘réparer le lien’ entre l’Église catholique et l’État”, Le Monde, 10/4/2018, http://www.lemonde.fr/religions/article/2018/04/10/macron-veut-reparer-le-lien-entre-l-eglise-catholique-et-l-etat_5283135_1653130.html#5Eok7ZvSFaEDY85x.99.

[3] “La République ne reconnaît, ne salarie, ni ne subventionne aucun culte”, article 2 of the milestone law separating Church and State (9 December 1905).

[4] Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24/11/2013), § 183, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html. Pope Francis was here following in the footsteps of several of his predecessors, such as Pius XI who had spoken in 1927 of “the domain of charity in its largest sense, (...) political charity”, and John Paul II in his encyclical Centesimus Annus (1/5/1991).

Places

  • Maison des sciences de l'homme de Clermont-Ferrand - 4 rue Ledru
    Clermont-Ferrand, France (63)

Date(s)

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Keywords

  • religion, laïcité, société

Contact(s)

  • Jérôme Grosclaude
    courriel : jerome [dot] grosclaude [at] uca [dot] fr

Information source

  • Jérôme Grosclaude
    courriel : jerome [dot] grosclaude [at] uca [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Religion and State in the public sphere », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, December 06, 2018, https://calenda.org/514267

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