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Legal exceptions

Beyond the exceptions contained in the 1905 Act itself, the legislator has intervened on several occasions to correct situations which may prove to be discriminatory in a religious landscape that is profoundly different from what it was in the early 20th century.

Article 2 should be read together with Article 1 of the Law of 1905, according to which “The Republic ensures freedom of conscience. It guarantees the free exercise of faiths subject solely to the restrictions published hereafter in the interest of public order”. These provisions can be construed as imposing a commitment by the state to protect the expression of religious beliefs, which extends to funding if necessary.

From among the exceptions, spiritual assistance should be cited first. Article 2 of the Law of 1905 provides that: “there could, however, be incorporated into said budgets expenditure relating to running chaplaincy services intended to ensure the free exercise of worship in public establishments, such as high schools, primary schools, old people’s homes, asylums and prisons.”

As regards the important issue of schools in the history of French secularity, one should highlight the Debré law of 31 December 1959; it deals with the relationship between the state and overwhelmingly Catholic private educational institutions, linking them to the public education service and, as such, organizing their funding.

In addition, religious activities and organisations benefit from a set of tax exonerations and deductions.

D 16 April 2013    AAnne Fornerod

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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