Contribution of secularism and discrimination law to the protection of religious pluralism: the French experience

Frédérique Ast


In public debate and in the media, French secularism is often understood as a straightforward principle that not only prescribes the separation of Church and State and the neutrality of the State but also, by extension, a ban on all religious expression within the State institutions or more generally in public. This ideological point of view is nonetheless without any legal foundation in France. This paper aims at demonstrating that the genuine rationale and objective of French secularism consist for the State to treat all religions equally. It may even lead, to a certain extent, to the funding and the accommodation of religious needs, in order to guarantee individual and collective expression of religious beliefs. Moreover, non-discrimination law has also become a suitable legal tool to fostering religious pluralism in France.

Published online: 11 December 2017


secularism; accommodation; non-discrimination; religious pluralism

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