Atheists want free thinking- as long as you're not thinking about God

Have you heard about the unholy row that's been going on in France this Advent season? Of all things, it is about the French tradition of displaying nativity scenes in public buildings. One French court has stirred up a hornet's nest by ordering a regional government office to take down the Christmas crib it set up in its lobby as usual this year.

The western town of La Roche-sur-Yon, in the traditionally Catholic Vendée region, is appealing the order. Conservative politicians in other towns, especially those from the far-right National Front, have announced they will resist it.

The nativity scene at Béziers city hall, which has also been the subject of demands for its removal.
The court acted after a complaint from the ironically named atheist Freethinkers Federation, (Fédération Nationale de la Libre Pensée) which said the crib violated the 1905 laïcité law separating Church and state. A Federation official said the group pressed the issue in reaction to huge Catholic support for the mass demonstrations last year against the legalisation of so called "same-sex marriage."

Apparently (ridiculously) the French government is anxious not to be seen as only discriminating against Muslims, who have been banned from wearing burqas or niqabs in public. It wants to be seen as equally discriminatory to everyone! However critics say the government is leaning too far the other way to protect the country’s secular traditions.

Nadine Morano, an outspoken deputy with the centre-right UMP party, said “secularism must not kill our country, our roots and our traditions.”

The Tablet reports that Jean Baubérot, a leading sociologist, said the case reflected a growing focus in recent years on enforcing laïcité that began as a restrictive secularism meant to limit Muslim demands. “Once an anti-Muslim mood sets in, it ricochets and produces a tougher line towards other religions,” he said.

In neighbouring Belgium, two women disguised as police dismantled the large Christmas crib on Brussels' main Grand-Place square in a protest against the Government's austerity polices. They symbolically beat the statues with sticks and expelled them from the crib, as if they were illegal immigrant squatters, and put up a banner reading “Screw the Poor”. Bystanders watched as they went through their protest, until police came and led them away.


  1. Interesting. The kingdom of God is not of this world, indeed but it surely has conquered the world.


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