France Unveils Secularism Charter for Schools (and the rest of the world should follow suit)
(I’ve summarized and translated the main points)
1. France is an indivisible, secular, democratic, social Republic, that respects all beliefs.
2. The Republic ‘organizes’ the separation of church and state. There is NO state religion.
3. Secularism guarantees the liberty of conscience. Each individual is free to believe or not believe (in whatever they want).
4. Secularism allows for the free exercise of citizenship, reconciling individual liberties with equality and fraternity.
5. The Republic guarantees the respect to its principles in schools.
6. Secularism in schools guarantees students the conditions to form their own personalities whilst protecting them from any type of proselytism or pressures that would influence their choices.
7. All students are guaranteed access to a common and shared culture.
8. The secular charter guarantees freedom of speech to students.
9. It guarantees the right to non-violence and non-discrimination, and equality between boys and girls.
10. School staff is obliged to teach secular values to students.
11. Teachers have the duty of being neutral.
12. Students cannot invoke religious grounds to question the curriculum.
13. Students cannot invoke religious grounds to break school rules.
14. It is prohibited to wear (to school) anything that ostensibly demonstrates membership of a religion.
15. Through their reflections and activities, students will contribute to ‘giving life’ to a secular environment in schools.
Okay… so it’s not the best written charter I’ve ever seen. That’s somewhat surprising because generally my compatriots take great pride in the use of language- but anyway, it’s a good idea. To be more effective it should really have been written in a way to get secular ideals across in a more straightforward way. That would also have helped teachers impart these ideas. One of the fundamental concepts in explaining freedom of religion is that it’s an INDIVIDUAL freedom. It’s the right for a citizen to follow the tenets of a religion, but never the right for a citizen to oblige another citizen to follow the tenets of a religion. I find that’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of the issue. If it were explained early, a lot of hassle could be avoided. You have the right to not eat pork, you do not have the right to persecute those who do. You have the right to not get gay-married, you don’t have the right to interfere with those who do…