France: anti-semitic violence at pro-Palestinian rally
In the first three months of 2014, Reuters reminds us that more Jews left France for Israel than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, citing economic hardships in France's stagnating economy but also rising anti-Semitism as a factor.
The riots in Sarcelles (northern subburbs of Paris) on the 20th of July, 2014 won't curb the trend: jewish shops and a synagogue were deliberatly targeted by Muslim protesters who were supposed to demonstrate for Palestine. The French government reacted very strongly, as Reuters reports here (link).
European Court of Human Rights upholds French full veil ban
The European Court of Human Rights has just upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil - the niqab. A case was brought by a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression.
The court ruled that the ban "was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face". The Strasbourg judges' decision is final - there is no appeal against it. From BBC Europe (more here, link).
French Catholics more and more open to far-right National Front
France's National Front stormed to victory: 25% (24 seats); Classical right UMP 21%; President Hollande's Socialists got a poor third with less than 14%.
For observers of the French religious scene, these elections have also signed the end of a lasting feature: French Catholic's tendency to boost Europe and to reject far-right National Front.
Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict (2014)
Her book traces the global, national, and local origins of the conflict between Muslims and Jews in France, challenging the belief that rising anti-Semitism in France is rooted solely in the unfolding crisis in Israel and Palestine. Maud Mandel shows how the conflict in fact emerged from processes internal to French society itself even as it was shaped by affairs elsewhere, particularly in North Africa during the era of decolonization.
To read more, click here (link).
Regardsprotestants: Gateway into the French-speaking protestant world
Better late than never: let's emphasize the great value of Regardsprotestants, a French-speaking website dedicated to news from a Protestant perspective. The Pastor Eugène Bersier Foundation, with the help of WordAppeal, has launched it at the beginning of 2013.
A unique and remarkable gateway into the French-speaking Protestant world, www.regardsprotestants.com unites content from about 60 French Protestant media (blogs, TV, press, radio, etc.). From society to faith, culture and international affairs, the website covers all topics that are making headlines around the world. This new website - completely free - is gaining a growing attendance. It is aimed at people of the Protestant faith, and more broadly, to anyone interested in religion.
To know more, click here.
"Adopt a priest" : up-to-date French catholic fundraising
"The Catholic church in France can't be accused of lacking a sense of humour. Six Catholic dioceses in Normandy have banded together to encourage the faithful to "adopt a priest" via an online video as part of their annual fundraising drive. The 48-second video, which has already been viewed more than 22,000 times since being launched last week, targets young donors with its parody of a popular French dating site, adopteunmec.com (adopt a guy)."
Read more here (from The GUARDIAN)
And link here to the video (link)
Legacy of a bold and talented French photojournalist
"The French government has confirmed the death of Camille Lepage, a 26-year -old photojournalist working in the Central African Republic. The country is wracked with political instability, resulting in widespread violence, internal displacement and sectarian tension. Her body was found by French peacekeeping troops on May 13, 2014." (click here to read more)
Camille Lepage was not only a very talented and bold young photojournalist (published by Time Magazine, The New York Times etc). She was also powerfully advocating for left-behind countries and people, especially South Sudan where she found home in JUBA for 2 years.
Faith in Empire: Religion.. & Colonial Rule in French Senegal
"Faith in Empire is an innovative exploration of French colonial rule in West Africa, conducted through the prism of religion and religious policy. Elizabeth Foster examines the relationships among French Catholic missionaries, colonial administrators, and Muslim, animist, and Christian Africans in colonial Senegal between 1880 and 1940. In doing so she illuminates the nature of the relationship between the French Third Republic and its colonies, reveals competing French visions of how to approach Africans..."
A new book on French Huguenots in Paris
"How did the Huguenots of Paris survive, and even prosper, in the eighteenth century when the majority Catholic population was notorious for its hostility to Protestantism? Why, by the end of the Old Regime, did public opinion overwhelmingly favour giving Huguenots greater rights? This study of the growth of religious toleration in Paris traces the specific history of the Huguenots after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685."
Let's thank Professor David Garrioch for this new synthesis:
"French evangelical networks before 1555: proto-churches?"
"Over eight hundred Reformed churches sprang into existence in France between 1555 and 1562. Their advent occurred after a thirty-five year period of buildup, during which evangelical doctrines gained adherents throughout the kingdom and local networks formed out of which those churches would coalesce. (..) why and how these conventicles grew and then suddenly metamorphosed into well-organized churches remains largely a mystery"
Thanks to Jonathan Reid, this mystery is solved now. In a Open edition full text version now available, let's read his contribution "French evangelical networks before 1555: proto-churches?", in Philip Benedict, Silvana Seidel Menchi & Alain Tallon (ed.), LA RÉFORME EN FRANCE ET EN ITALIE, Ecole Française de Rome, 2007 (p.105-124).
Religion and Gay Marriage Opposition in France
Coordinated by the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, Religionfactor.net is analyzing for us "Religion and Gay Marriage Opposition in France" (link).
Blasphemy in Secular France
Is it allowed, or not, to trash religions, deities, beliefs?
Implying, for example, that Manuel Valls (French interior minister), "proclaims his own devotion to Israel, because his wife is Jewish", is just plain wrong!
However, Diana Johnstone's paper is a stimulating article and I recommand it for reading.
Dieudonné, controversial French comic: freedom of speech at stake?
One of the most gifted French contemporary stand-up comedian, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala is also the most controversial. His bizarre journey led him to be condemned several times for ugly antisemitic remarks. These days, he makes headlines because of his new show, Le Mur, which has been banned in many places.
This has stirred debate about freedom of speech. Where does it start, where does it stop?
Happy new year !
Religion and secularism in France: see FRANCE.FR
As 2014 just began, let's emphasize the great value of France.fr, officially launched in 2010.
Religion and Culture (Michel Foucault), a new 2013 edition
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was one of the most important French intellectual figures of the twentieth century. He is known for many significant writings, including The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969) and the first volume of The History of Sexuality (1976). More than enough to take a look with great interest at this new edition of Religion and Culture (Routledge, 2013).
The editor of this collection of texts and essays is Jeremy R. Carrette, formerly Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Stirling (a great city where I was fortunate to live for one year).
South Sudan : leaving hatred behind ?
As heavy fighting plagues South Sudan since mid-december 2013, let's share a wish (see below):
May this motto replace hatred (picture taken in Juba, 2d december, 2013)
Juba (South Sudan): studying its changing Christian landscape
Independent since 2011, South Sudan is a rapidly changing country, with huge challenges ahead. As a scholar working on religion from a social science perspective, I am currently studying the changing landscape of Christianity in Juba, the capital.
After a belated landing in Juba on the 23d of November, I will leave on the 2d of December, 2013. Meanwhile, as I do my best to document my study, several pictures are posted on a Flickr Album you can enjoy here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pilgrimseb/sets/721576379507...
Welcome to the World Religion Watch (French-based)
Let's praise the The Observatory for Religious Phenomena (World Religion Watch) for its focus on providing resources in English. This French-based group was founded in 1992, within the framework of a research contract, under the guidance of Bruno Etienne, emeritus Professor at the Institute of Political Studies. It is now led by Professor Raphael Liogier.
After having obtained the status of "seed team", it has since acquired ongoing impetus as a widely acknowledged study group focusing on the sociology and political analysis of religious phenomena. Website here.
An amazing South Sudan refugee's testimony published in France
This is a book to remember. In Je suis encore vivante (transl, "Still Alive"), Mrs Naomi Baki, a young mother and refugee from South Sudan, shares a unique story of survival, from deep South Sudan to France, crossing Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Turkey and Greece, where she stayed for almost 10 years. This is a heart-wrenching story of redemption, from bondage (forced conversion into Islam), to freedom and full refugee status (10 years card residency) granted by France.
For historians, woman's right advocate, social activists, and every reader keen to learn a "bigger-than-life" story of Hope in the midst of persecution and misery, this amazing book (link) is a must-have.
Just edited by the French respected publisher Le Cerf (2013), with the much valuable help of Marie Taurand and Sophie Porteil, this book is not yet translated in English. But it will come!
For being lucky enough to know the author, Mrs Baki, let's say she is also a wonderful and convincing speaker, particularly fluent in English (her mother tongue along with Gbaya, her tribal language).
Regulating religion in Europe: a French author to read
As the French (and Canadian) debate is still quite polarized by "laïcité" (laicity) and the challenge of public regulation of religion, let's have a wider look and remind (among others) the works of Jean-Paul Willaime (link to his page).
A worldwide leading sociologist of religion, Director of studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, Religious Studies section) and former president of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR), visiting professor at the College of Europe, Dr Jean-Paul Willaime is always worth being read.
He has authored many articles in English, including "European Integration, Laïcité and Religion" (link).
A much needed book to understand Health and Wealth Gospel
This growing movement, mostly popular within some Charismatic circles, is taking roots in France. The two biggest Evangelical congregations in Paris, which are Charisma Eglise Chrétienne and Paris Centre Chrétien, could be described as linked to Prosperity Gospel.
This is why Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press, 2013), authored by Kate Bowler, is not only needed in America. It is also a great tool for a better understanding of a world-wide movement much more diverse than what most people think. Good review to be read here (link).
The burqa affair in Europe: a major comparative study
In recent years, the wearing of the full-face veil or burqa/niqab has proved a controversial issue in FRANCE and in many multi-cultural European societies. Focussing on the socio-legal and human rights angle, The Burqa Affair Across Europe (Ashgate, 2013), edited by Alessandro Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli (linked to my GSRL research team) provides a useful comparative perspective on how the issue has been dealt with across a range of European states as well as at European institutional level.
In so doing, the work draws a theoretical framework for the place of religion between public and private space. With contributions from leading experts from law, sociology and politics, the book presents a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to one of the most contentious and symbolic issues of recent times. Link to the publisher's website.
The connexion: a reliable source of information
The Connexion is the best-selling newspaper for English-speakers in France.
This paper provides essential news and practical information to help its readers understand and integrate into the French community. It is also very well-informed, including topics about religion (which is one of this blog's top interests).
Here is a weblink to discover more about this reliable English-speaking source of information about French society, including laicity ("laïcité") and religion.
Pentecostal narratives, a techne designed to deal with rapid changes?
In a few days, a symposium on Pentecostalism and Transnationalism will be held at the University of Western Sydney. Far from old Europe and France? Not so far actually.
Annalisa Butticci's documentary on African Pentecostals is focused on Italy. And Mark Hutchinson's paper (University of Western Sydney) appears very stimulating to explain Pentecostal narratives in France and Europe. His point is that "internal stories of pentecostals are a source for understanding the movement as a form of ‘techne’ for dealing with rapidly changing contexts, in particular those associated with globalisation". Full program here (PDF).
"When religion comes to an end" (Conference to be held in Brussels)
A very stimulating conference will focus on "When religion comes to an end... Political and Social factors in the demise of religions". Organized by the BABEL association, it will be held in Brussels (9-11 september, 2013).
Among the speakers, Paul Airiau will analyze the collapse of priest-recruitment in contemporary catholic France.
French Protestant History on iTunes
Who wants to discover French protestants in an easy, user-friendly way? Wait a minute, iTunes has something for you. The Protestant Library was created as an extension of the Internet site www.museeprotestant.org, of the Virtual Museum of French Protestantism (Pasteur Eugène Bersier Foundation of French Protestant History).
The first volume, "History of Protestant France" exposes the main characteristics of Protestant France from the XVIth to XXth century: of Calvin's time to the Edict of Nantes and to the 1905 law, including the period of the “Desert”. Click here for more (link)
British and Commonwealth Methodism in London (Matthew Wood)
On Monday afternoon, the 13th of May, 2013, the GSRL research team (Paris, France) had the opportunity to listen to a fascinating in-depth analysis of "the price of enthusiasm: British and Commonwealth Methodism in the "Global City".
The main point of Matthew Wood's topic was to study interactions at a local Methodist level in London, in order to understand better the cultural challenges of remixing Methodist identity today through the impact of migrations.
Levenson Prize 2013 for a groundbreaking book on religion in China
As a colleague of both in the French GSRL team, I very proudly recommand Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer The Religious Question in Modern China (University of Chicago Press, 2011), a groundbreaking book which obtained the 2013 AAS CIAC Levenson Book Prize!
The Religious Question in Modern China, co-authored by Vincent Goossaert and David Palmer, is a tour de force account of Chinese religiosity over the past century and across mainland China, the "new Chinese states" of Taiwan and Singapore, and diaspora communities in Southeast Asia and further afield.
It digests and makes legible a huge body of research (including their own major monographs) to a general China readership that often ignores or stereotypes religion in and from China. For those who study Evangelicals, lots of up-to-date material and analysis will also be found there. A must-read!
Diaspora of Brazilian religions
Thanks to Cristina Rocha & Manuel A. Vásquez, a new book on the Diaspora of Brazilian Religions (Brill, 2013) sheds a much-need light on these new trends.