N° 24, 2008/1 – God Is Far from Brussels
edited by François Foret, Xabier Itçaina, 2008/1 (n°24)
François Foret, Xabier Itçaina – God Is Far from Brussels. The Informal Europeanization of Religion
Pierre Bréchon – The Religiosity of Europeans: Diversity and Common Tendencies
This paper presents the evolution of the religious panorama in various European countries, underlining the importance of the phenomenon of secularization and the emergence of recomposed beliefs in floating and hesitant forms. It also shows the wide-reaching diversity of religiosity in the different European countries and maintains that it is not possible to argue that the religious situation of Europe is exceptional compared with that of the rest of world. It analyzes the sociology of believers and unbelievers and shows that the world of religiosity and non-belief always has a strong impact on value systems.
The rulers of Western societies are confronted today with diverse cultural identities based more clearly than in the past on beliefs and religious affiliations, a veritable melting pot of referents and identity links. The organization in 2006 of a conference on local authorities and religious individuals entitled Strategies for Consolidating Inter-religious Dialogue held at the initiative of the Committee on Culture and Education of the Council of Europe immediately raises at least two preliminary questions: what is the significance of this initiative, and why pay attention to the local level?
In the intellectual debates linked with the construction of Europe as a polity, religious controversies have been of growing importance. In particular, the debate on the influence of the Christian heritage in the definition of a European identity informs us about the political use of the idea of Europe. This debate allows for the resetting of the various uses of religion as a resource. The comparison between France and another Catholic country (Italy) allows us to consider sources of variation in the intensity of this debate. This debate reveals the reintroduction of a civilization paradigm in the representation of history.
Should the principle of integration take into account the religious or cultural specificities of people of immigrant origin? Such is the question raised by debates around the wearing of Muslim headscarves in public places, combining the question of religious freedom with that of the integration of populations of immigrant origin. Comparing the points of view of groups claiming the right to wear religious signs in schools in Belgium and France, our research shows that most choose to adapt to the rules of the country where they live in the hope of having their demands satisfied. In short, there does not exist in Europe any homogeneous opposition to the prohibition of religious signs in public places, the arguments expressed depending each time on the jurisdiction of each country.
Florence Bergeaud-Blackler – The Regulation of Industrialized Ritual Slaughter in the European Union: Limits and Perspectives
In our secularised societies, a few domains still exist where the political temptation to regulate the religious field has not totally disappeared. This is the case of the slaughter industry in Europe. An increasing number of these ritually slaughtered meats circulate in the conventional food chain which poses the question of their double status, that of food and that of a religious product. As they revise this directive will the European Union reflect on the regulation of religious foods? This revision represents a unique opportunity for us to reflect on what main issues are at stake in the regulation of religious slaughter.
This paper considers the relatively high proportion of French women elected to the European Parliament between 1979 and 2004 compared to the French national parliament, arguing that the effects of the voting system must be considered. Moreover, the analysis must necessarily relate first to the European Parliament’s position in the French political arena and second with political and social struggles in France during the same period. For those aiming to gain access to the European Parliament, gender appears to be a profitable political resource. This situation contributes to favoring women even if they are not fully socially prepared for professional careers in politics.
Areas of Research
Sophie Duchesne, Virginie Van Ingelgom – How Do Discussions Become Political When the French, English, or Belgians Speak about Europe?