The Challenge | A Country Lacking Hope

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)


When people think of France, they often think of the country's famous monuments, like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe; or the famous regions, such as Paris, the French Riviera, or Provence; or even the rich culture, including the arts, food, and wine. Few people realize that underneath the beauty and history, France is an almost completely secular nation. Like many other countries, there is a strong cultural attachment to their Christian heritage, but few people in the country believe in anything, and even fewer know Christ.

A big reason for such a large movement away from religion as a whole goes back to the history of the country. In the time leading up to the French Revolution, the Catholic Church was one of the most powerful organizations in the country. The church was the largest land owner and survived tax-free despite owning some of the best land in the nation. Due to the size and power of the Church, during the revolution there was a concerted effort to remove the power and influence of the Church. The Church was seen as being too connected with the monarchy and therefore a threat to the individual rights given to the people of France. As a result, the idea of state-mandated secularism became popularized and the doctrine of Laïcité was formed.

Laïcité

Laïcité, or secularism, is a central part of the French approach to government and individuality. For many French, faith is a private matter that is best kept inside of your home or place of worship. Conspicuous evidences of faith are often seen as rude or intrusive. As a result, many French people view conspicuous displays of faith with skepticism or even outright hostility.

The Decline of Faith

France is a secular society where only 15% of French citizens believe religion—any religion—is important in their lives. In large part, thanks to the dominance and power of the Roman Catholic church during the Enlightenment period and the French Revolution, people saw democracy as a way to liberate society from the rule of the church. The culture has embraced postmodernism and relativism of beliefs and morality, but this has come with an emptiness that has left the French looking for more.

 

 

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