Report: Seminar “Secularization, Religion, State” 7th session

27 June, 2009 HANEDA Masashi, Secularization, Religion, State

On June 22, 2009, we held the seventh session of the seminar “Secularization, Religion, State.”

In this session, we discussed TANIGAWA Minoru’s work The Cross and the Tricolor [Jūjika to sanshokuki] (Tokyo: Yamakawa Shuppansha, 1997). The presenter was Mr. ŌNO Akiyoshi (RA at UTCP). According to KUDO Yoko’s Religion vs. State: “Laïcité” in France and the Birth of the Citizen [Shūkyō v.s. kokka: Furansu seikyōbunri to shimin no tanjō] (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2007), TANIGAWA’s book is “an explanation of Laïcité, based on historical research”, and the only Japanese book on the topic that is both academic and popular.

The author tries to reconstruct the history of the French Revolution from the viewpoint of a “revolution of folkways”, in order to gain a many-sided understanding of modern France. Since the second half of the 17th century, the Catholic Church in France was included in the administration of absolute monarchism, and cultivated the everyday life of people. As a result, most of the inhabitants, especially in rural areas, lived a daily time and space that had a religious rhythm. The French Revolution is a “secularization of time and space”, a so-called “revolution of folkways” or “cultural revolution”, in that it brought about a detachment of religious practice from daily life. At the first half of the 19th century, the secular state sought the subsumption of the Church, yet nonetheless priests in villages were in charge of primary education. During the days of the February Revolution, although Catholicism was temporarily rehabilitated, conflicts between the Church and the Republicans became more and more intense. As a consequence, even the rural public adopted an attitude of anticlericalism. The Third Republic, therefore, introduced the three principles of “free, compulsory, and secular” primary education, through the Jules Ferry laws (1881-1882). It abolished Gallicanism, which began in the 16th century, through the law of the Separation of Church and State (1905). Since then laïcité has determined the framework of law of the French Republic.

During the discussion, one of the participants asked the presenter about the control of family registers and testaments. Mr. Ōno explained that in these cases the transition from the Church to the republic was relatively smooth, contrary to the case of education, which was one of the biggest issues throughout 19th century. Another attendant questioned whether the process of laïcization depicted in the book is really “particular to French modernity.” Prof. Haneda answered that a comparative study might be possible between, for example, France and Spain, since both share features such as Catholicism and the House of Bourbon. In addition, Prof. Haneda noticed that the concept of “morality” is an important issue, namely whether it is the Church or the republic that vouches for norms of living.

Reported by UCHIDA Chikara

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