2Catholic Church to the situation which was at hand. The minority status of Islam hardly warrantedmeasures more drastic than those used to combat the Catholic Church.There is evidence of
during the revolution of 1789 and during Napoleon’s rule which
sought toovercome the influence of the Catholic Church. However, Gökariksel and Mitchell (2005) suggest that thenotion of
only really crystallised during the Third Republic. Because of the immense power enjoyedby the Catholic Church during the
, a move was made towards church-state separation. The1682 Déclaration du Clergé en France is viewed by many as the first step, made by France towards theconcept of
The combative nature of
emerged here as the balance of power shifted from astate influenced by the church to a state which had political power over the Catholic Church. Therevolution in 1789 saw a strengthening of the concept of
claration des Droits de l’Homme et
conferred a freedom of conscience to society which would not have been previously possiblebecause of the power and standing of the Catholic Church. Wallach-Scott (2007:91) suggests that this
“was intended to secure the allegiance of individuals to the republic”.
The constitution of 1791 asserted that all religions would have equal standing while maintaining theprivileged position of the Catholic Church. The state, in maintaining some control in decision making andpaying the slaries of priests, kept some power over the church. This perceived need for continued controlillustrates the nature of the threat posed by the Catholic Church at the time of the revolution. Because of this, Barbier (1995) argues
that at the time of the revolution, the French state failed to become a “
un état veritable moderne
is not complete without absolute church-state separation.
” whichfollowed from this period, which Barbier (1995: 31) describes as “
un politique viollement anti-
was designed to target the destruction of the Catholic Church by withdrawing its funding and recognition.However, Barbier clarifies that these were motivated more by a lack of funding than a wish to fulfil thedesire of church-state separation. What resulted was a semi separation between the church and the state
which Barbier (1995:33) describes as “
l’état révolutionnaire [qui] continue la traditionne
fter what Barbier (1995:35) describes as a “
court period de separation.
”, the charter of 1830 reduced the
status once more referring to Catholicism as merely the religion professed by the majority of Frenchcitizens. Barbier (1995) comments that this legislative move was important as it appeared to move theissue of religion from the public to the private sphere.. However, one must note here that despite thisseparation between the French state on the one hand, and the very powerful Catholic Church, on theother, where a long continuing conflict existed, French society did not deem it necessary to impose anysuch laws which resembled that of 2004 banning religious symbols. Granted, Catholicism was the mainreligion practised at the time but, it is clear that the separation of religion into public and private sphereswas not the only factor at play during the inception of the 2004 ban on religious signs.