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Law consolidating the principles of the Republic

  • April 2021

The Senate’s examination of the draft law reinforcing the respect of the principles of the Republic has started on 30 March
This draft law had been announced in 2020 by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron.
During the first passage of the law through the National Assembly in February 2021, Jews, Christians and Muslims had expressed their concern about the text.
Before the debate in the Senate, Christians again expressed their fears in a statement published on 10 March. The Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders of France had considered that this text went against the separation of the Churches and the State operated by the 1905 law and "risked undermining the fundamental freedoms of worship and association".
Many religious groups are organised under the general regime of association (known as the 1901 law). The bill encourages them to register under the 1905 regime, which is more transparent in accounting and financial terms, in exchange for tax or financial benefits. However, this change in organisation is accompanied by obligations (such as the certification of accounts) and controls, which raise concerns about religious freedom.
In response, the Minister of the Interior assured that the text "in no way threatened the freedom of religions" (see Le Monde), and that the 1905 law had already undergone numerous modifications without its principles being called into question.
On 25 March, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme (National Consultative Commission on Human Rights) issued a second opinion on the bill. It reiterated that the text should be revised. In particular, it is opposed to the introduction of a double declaration system for associations and religious unions and would also like to see the obligation of neutrality extended only to persons in direct contact with public service users. It also makes recommendations on the conditions for implementing religious practice.
The Senate’s examination of the bill, which was adopted on first reading by the deputies in February, began on 30 March. More than 600 amendments->https://www.nouvelobs.com/politique/20210330.OBS42050/le-projet-de-loi-sur-le-separatisme-arrive-au-senat-pour-deux-semaines-de-debats.html] were tabled.
On the same day, the Conference of Religious Leaders in France (created in 2010 and bringing together six leaders responsible for Buddhism, Christian churches - Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant -, Islam and Judaism) published a tribune on secularism.

D 1 April 2021    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

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