Did you know that Luther’s ideas began to spread in France from 1520 onwards. The authorities did their best to oppose them. From 1540, under Jean Calvin’s influence, a new Church took shape, but separate from the Roman Catholic Church.
To know more, just click here (link), to reach the French-based Virtual Museum of Protestantism, an excellent website dedicated to spread scholarly information about Protestantism, France and worldwide.
Many sections are carefully crafted in English, so English-speaking readers have no excuse missing them!
The CNEF survey also details progress in national coverage: 87 per cent of the country is now said to be within half an hour's drive of an evangelical congregation. Pastor David Buick's paper emphasizes the fact that there's a growing open-mindedness, too: many evangelical churches that aren't CNEF affiliates are included in the statistics.
Eurojihad examines the sources of radicalization in Muslim communities in Europe and the responses of European governments and societies. In an effort to understand the scope and dynamics of Islamist extremism and terrorism in Europe, this book takes into account recent developments, in particular the emergence of Syria as a major destination of European jihadists. Angel Rabasa and Cheryl Benard describe the history, methods, and evolution of jihadist networks in Europe (including FRANCE) with particular nuance, providing a useful primer for the layperson and a sophisticated analysis for the expert.
It is more than likely that the majority of religious attenders in the Paris area today do come from an immigrant background. Immigrant faith? It's not a footnote. It is a major aspect of contemporary religion!
Thanks to Phillip Connor, Immigrant Faith (NYU Press, 2014) is providing new comparative insights on this major topic.
It examines trends and patterns relating to religion in the lives of immigrants. The volume moves beyond specific studies of particular faiths in particular immigrant destinations to present the religious lives of immigrants in the United States, Canada, and Europe on a broad scale.
Religion is not merely one aspect among many in immigrant lives. Immigrant faith affects daily interactions, shapes the future of immigrants in their destination society, and influences society beyond the immigrants themselves. In other words, to understand immigrants, one must understand their faith.
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).
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.
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).
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.
"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)
"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..."
"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).
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).
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.
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?
As 2014 just began, let's emphasize the great value of France.fr, officially launched in 2010.
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).
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.
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).
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).
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.
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)
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.
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.
France is a particularly interesting case study because it hosts both the largest Jewish community in Europe and the largest Muslim community. The electoral rise of the National Front since the mid 80s has polarised the political debate around the issues of immigration and national identity.
This is why this international conference about the evolution and reconfiguration of prejudice towards minorities (Jews and Muslims) in contemporary France is so strategic. Organized by Nonna Mayer, Vincent Tiberj and Tommaso Vitale, it will be held in Sciences Po Paris (France from the 18th to the 20th April 2013. Program here (PDF).
In the last 10 days, observers of the French religious scene have been amazed by this news: the Grand Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has been accused of plagiarism and cheating on his CV, pretending he obtained an "agregation de philosophie", a prestigious but extremely difficult to obtain achievement. After both accusations appeared to be true, Rabbi Gilles Bernheim finally resigned today after having refused to do so.
As a high moral authority, publically involved in the defense of traditional marriage in the current French debate around same-sex marriage, Gilles Bernheim has shocked many.
More news about it on Thelocal.fr (link).
Many different streams have built up the French left-wing tradition, including a growing trend in favour of multiculturalism, and a lasting pro-palestinian stance.
No wonder if according to polls, about 9 out of 10 French muslims voted for François Hollande (former leader of the Socialist Party) at the last presidential elections (2012).
However, it would be a mistake to conclude that the current French authorities play "soft on radical islam" and jihadists.
All the contrary! (click here to continue)
For lovers of French political and religious History, this is great news: the face of "Good Henri IV", the highly revered French king who died 400 years ago in 1610, has been reconstructed by a team of French researchers led by Philippe Charlier. Using scans of the skull believed to belong to the monarch, they created a very lively portrait of what Henry the fourth (a former Huguenot) looked like.
"Bravo"! (link here)
As far as France is concerned, I choose the huge media attention on "cellar Evangelicals" after a tragic accident that happened in Stains (Paris subburbs) on the 8th of April, 2012 (Easter).
Paris is not only the "city of light". It is also a multicultural metropolis where poverty, unemployment, high property prices and sometimes difficult relations with local authorities mean that minority religion have a hard time finding decent worship places.
For many years, media attention was mainly focused on islam. Scholar Gilles Kepel rightly highlighted a "cellar islam", lacking proper space in French subburbs.