La seconde moitié du XXe siècle a été marquée par un déclin des valeurs dites traditionnelles, qui prônaient la subordination de l'individu à son groupe d'appartenance et aux autorités établies, et par la montée des valeurs individualistes, selon lesquelles la seule loi de Dieu, de la cité ou de la tradition n'est pas légitime en elle-même ; c'est dans l'individu, et en lui seul, que réside le principe de ce qui est bon pour lui. A ...
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Le fait religieux est revenu au premier plan de la conscience et de l'opinion politiques. Cette résurgence, largement sentie comme un retour du refoulé, rencontre la méconnaissance et soulève l'inquiétude. Dans l'agitation des esprits et la surexposition médiatique, un phénomène important est laissé dans l'ombre, peut-être faute d'inspirer un sentiment d'étrangeté : le catholicisme, ou plus exactement les bouleversements discrets que traverse la religion historique de la France, celle-là même pour qui fut conçu le ...
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As France prepares to mark the centenary of the separation of Church and State in 2005, the current concerns about the presence of religious symbols in state schools (above all, headscarves worn by Muslim girls) show that the debate is far from over. Above and beyond the issue of religion in schools, the question touches the more general problem of attitudes to Islam in French society. How can we prevent secularism, which is a core value of the French education system, from leading to the exclusion of some pupils? And what can be done so that the French version of Islam distinguishes the temporal from the spiritual?
In this debate it is hard to find more relevant reading matter than A Letter Concerning Toleration published by John Locke in 1689. Although there are plenty of texts about tolerance dating from the 17th century (Spinoza, Bayle), Locke's Letter has become the best known reference, because it is so clear and concise. Starting from a conception of the freedom of judgement essential for all human beings, Locke defines the strict limits on the rights of the two institutions (Church and State), the one concerned with man and his worldly goods, the other with matters of faith and the eternal salvation of his soul.
According to Locke, the right to toleration has nothing to do with religious convictions; instead, it is essentially a practical political issue relating to the conduct of social relations. He makes a radical distinction between politics and religion: anyone who confuses two spheres that are so different in their origins, their ends and their concerns is muddling two things that are diametrical opposites, Heaven and Earth. Tolerance in Locke's view nevertheless involves restrictions, above all with regard to convictions that seek to impinge upon the State's sphere: Roman Catholicism because it is ruled from abroad, atheism because he sees it as basically unsuited to maintaining the moral ties essential to political life. Having had some experience himself of the business of the State, Locke was totally uncompromising about the boundary between public law and divine law: his obsession as a champion of liberalism (in the sense of respect for individual liberties) was with the social disorders arising from arbitrary actions by magistrates or from religious fanaticism or, worse still, the combination of the two.
The Roman Catholic Church -with a billion followers, the world's largest faith community -is stepping up its efforts to make an impact internationally. Jérôme Montes analyses the main forces behind Vatican diplomacy.
The Pope, he says, has a key role: his perception of the world determines the behaviour of his Church, which must continue to spread its influence but also, in a more recent development, wield greater political authority. The Pope must therefore be involved on all fronts and give direction to his pontificate.
The job of the Vatican diplomatic service is to make his views heard abroad. Radios, newspapers, television stations and the Internet are all used to spread the Pope's influence. In addition to the media, the Pope's travels have a strong political dimension and give him an international platform to express his opposition to racism, injustice and conflict.
As well as normal diplomatic channels, the Vatican also relies on new networks of a wide range of non-governmental actors whose mission is to defend human rights in the Pope's name, and who provide a fitting means of developing informal diplomatic links until such time as the Vatican can be fully integrated into the United Nations Organization. Lastly, the Church is keen to foster the ecumenical movement and inter-faith dialogue, and this must remain an important branch of Vatican diplomacy.
Montes concludes that the next Pope will have to redefine the Church's position in the world and, like John Paul II, will have to be a travelling pontiff, visible internationally and able to capture the attention of the world media if he wishes to tackle the challenges of modern times and the rise of fundamentalist movements.
The results relating to religion of the European Values Survey in 1981 and 1990 highlighted the special case of Europe, where religious belief has been declining steadily. New surveys were carried out in 1999, supplemented by studies by the ISSP (International Social Survey Programme) in 1998, which make it possible to analyse and assess the pattern of religious belief in Europe. Yves Lambert shares some results here.
He starts by presenting a map of religious views in 11 European countries - Catholic, Protestant and mixed, with a description of the status of each group. Depending on the context and the period, modernity has led to decline, change and revival of belief.
In the following section, he outlines the different types of believers and non-believers: Christians who go to church regularly, occasionally or not at all, agnostics and convinced atheists. The relationship with Christianity is varied, highly individual and "pick and mix"; religion tends to be perceived in terms of relativism and probability.
Yves Lambert then analyses the relationship between religious views and moral values. It seems that the average regular church-goer considers faithfulness, order and authority to be more important, whereas the average convinced atheist is more permissive and politically aware but less nationalistic; yet, the differences tend to decrease.
In the final section, Lambert identifies three main trends based on an analysis of 25 variables: a continuing move away from religion; a revival of Christian commitment with an increase in almost all types of religious observance; the growth of "alternative" beliefs among agnostics, in the form of individualized, unfocussed ideas not related to Christianity.
The author concludes that, since the 1990s, religion - no longer in competition with its fiercest rivals, Marxism and rationalism - can now acquire a new credibility. In the context of today's general disenchantment, in which everything is reassessed, religion may develop in ever more varied and unpredictable ways. What is novel is that the situation is completely open.
Henri Mendras, au siège de l'association Futuribles International, a pour l'essentiel présenté les grands traits de son dernier essai, La France que je vois. Fruit du travail de 20 années à l'Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques (OFCE), en particulier avec l'équipe Louis Dirn, cet ouvrage revient sur l'ensemble des tendances décelées et donne à leur endroit le sentiment de l'auteur (sur un ton plus personnel que ne l'est la seule matrice Louis Dirn ...
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En exergue à son intervention au siège de Futuribles International, Jean-François Mayer a voulu insister sur le fait qu'il s'intéressait à tout ce qui regarde les interactions entre les facteurs politiques et religieux. Il ne prétend pas être originellement ni exclusivement spécialiste ddes fondamentalismes, même si, à l'occasion des évènements du 11 septembre 2001 et de l'afflux subséquent de demandes d'expertise et d'opinions, il s'est trouvé une fois de plus sollicité pour s ...
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Ce rapport rassemble les travaux issus de la première réunion d'une série de six séminaires de recherche consacrés à des domaines différents de la vie des Européens. Il remarque que les croyances des Européens et leur évolution lors des progrès de leur intégration, sont rarement prises en compte dans les analyses de la construction européenne, alors que le sont les politiques communes, les institutions, les valeurs partagées. Il se demande si les croyances religieuses, morales et éthiques peuvent aider ...
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Sous la direction de C.J. W. L. Wee, cet ouvrage rassemble plusieurs contributions divisées en trois grandes parties. La première (« The State »), analyse le rôle de l'État comme facteur de développement en Asie du Sud-Est. La deuxième (« The cultural lineages of " Asian " capitalism ») retrace l'histoire d'un capitalisme « asiatique » et montre comment ce dernier a dû affronter les conceptions issues du libéralisme anglo-saxon, en particulier dans le contexte de la guerre froide. Dans ce cadre, est également ...
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Roger Masters has already written for Futuribles (n° 228, February 1998), but his topic then was the future of the nation-state. This time, in an article begun before the tragic events of 11 September 2001, he discusses a more limited field: to paraphrase Montesquieu, not so much the "nature of things" as the "accidents of fate".
Masters highlights two aspects of this dreadful "accident". First, the altruistic element. Arguing as an evolutionary biologist, as he did in 1998, he sees the Islamist kamikazes as an example of self-sacrifice pushing individuals to die in order to increase the chances of survival and reproduction of others with similar genes to their own. The role of the environment is not, however, overlooked, since such altruism is more likely to occur in societies with a high birth rate and short life expectancy (the so-called developed countries, with their low birth rates and long life expectancy tend, by contrast, to exhibit individualistic/hedonistic patterns of behaviour).
As for the destructive element, it can be traced back ultimately to globalization. An increasingly unpredictable world and an ever widening gap between what the ordinary person knows and the state of science and technology together create a need for scapegoats whose destruction will put everything right. This is the role that some types of Islam, which promise Paradise to those who die for the jihad, is undoubtedly playing. Yet in his analysis and his recommendations, Roger Masters never allows us to forget that all beliefs, both religious and nationalist, may become messages of hate, though this is not inevitable. As a result he emphasizes the need to avoid lumping together mainstream Islam and the terrorist networks.
Over the last two decades there has been a marked rise in alternative belief systems. Guy Michelat analyses this phenomenon, drawing on studies that he has made in collaboration with Daniel Boy, and he offers several observations.
According to his findings, women are more likely to be believers than men; the younger the age-group, the greater the belief in the paranormal; and, by contrast with astrology, belief in the paranormal is not uncommon among those who have gone on to higher education.
Furthermore, while 81% of French people think that scientific advances lead to progress, 51% of them agree with the idea that science will never be able to explain everything. For many people, the "parasciences" will in the future be accepted as science. There is a desire, on the one hand, to legitimize the supernatural through science and, on the other, to cultivate the charm and mystery of alternative beliefs.
In addition, although belief in the paranormal has increased as Roman Catholicism has declined, the new beliefs are not opposed to religious beliefs, and are even more often found among those who believe in God and an afterlife.
Finally, in hoping for rational explanations, people resort to parascientific beliefs -in an odd twist of modernity and the spread of the ideology of progress. This magical knowledge, far removed from scientific rigour, soothes their fears about death and provides psychological and emotional support. People are most likely to resort to the paranormal where there is anomie, with the concomitant vulnerability, poor social and work relationships, fear of the future and loneliness.
Guy Michelat concludes by saying that, just when "off the peg" collective belief systems are declining and traditional points of reference are disappearing, people are acquiring greater freedom (and with it, greater anxiety), so that they seek personal solutions as a substitute for the major belief systems of the past.
Cet ouvrage dense se propose de revenir précisément sur ce qu'est la charia, « comment elle apparaît à l'Occident, comment elle est influencée par lui », notamment à l'occasion des événements postérieurs au 11 septembre 2001. Car son auteur, directeur de recherche au CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) et fondateur et président du Centre de philosophie de la stratégie, grand spécialiste des sociétés musulmanes contemporaines, allègue qu'on ne saurait prétendre expliquer les tensions doctrinales et leurs ...
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The need to believe has not disappeared, perhaps quite the opposite, but it is related less and less to the creeds of established religions.
Danièle Hervieu-Léger argues that we are witnessing a combination, on the one hand, of belief becoming more individualized and subjective and, on the other, of organized systems of religious belief being "deregulated". Each individual therefore expects to do things his own way, to put together his own version of the truth by drawing on an ever-expanding supply of symbols, albeit not without its constraints, but nevertheless freeing himself from family background and from the specific context in which these symbols were created.
Curiously, however, the more that belief becomes a matter for the individual, the more homogeneous it becomes. The writer indeed argues that, as people abandon the major belief systems of the past and develop their own little belief systems "reduced to affects", there is an increasing standardization of spiritual products, as the extreme personalization of beliefs ultimately generates only marginal differences.
Furthermore, Danièle Hervieu-Léger adds, the more belief is homogeneous, the more mobile the believers become. They move around, "borrowing from the range of available materials and knitting them together as they go along into their own mass of meanings", as well as making the most of the enormous growth of communications which now allows easy access to the most disparate sources of beliefs.
Yet, paradoxically, the more beliefs become homogeneous and believers move around, and the wider the gulf between their beliefs and their group membership, the greater their need to belong to a community. "The collapse of the major institutionalized systems of truth leaves individuals somewhat bewildered." Because they no longer have the "minimum degree of certainty" that they need, they are at risk of taking refuge in the future in new closed systems of thought.
Whereas religion was on the wane in the 1960s and 1970s, for the last 20 or 30 years there has been a great boom in spirituality of all kinds, though admittedly now more vague and individualized. But, according to Yves Lambert, beyond these two developments, secularization then renewal, we are witnessing decline, adaptation, attempts to conserve or to innovate which he tries to clarify here from the viewpoint of a sociologist of religions.
The decline is the product, he argues, of modernity and the values associated with it: the primacy of reason, individualism and diversity. But with "ultramodernity", these same values (reason, individualism, etc.) have become relative, and this has deprived religion of its most formidable rivals but also led the Church to abandon its pretensions to hegemony. Religions have themselves become relativized: they are losing their authority and are developing "belief without belonging", a more personal form of faith.
We are thus witnessing a process of adaptation. "The crisis of rationality encourages the search for ways of expressing affects and subjective experience of the divine [...]; we are moving towards à la carte Christianity" and we are seeing a revival of belief in many forms as well as a coming together of the human and the divine. The principle of authority, of transcendance, is therefore being replaced by a spiritual quest that is more spontaneous and individualized. People no longer expect religion to provide the truth, but rather they want it to offer something in this new quest for fulfilment. Is Christianity falling apart or emerging renewed? asks the author, who concludes that by giving up its totalitarian character, Christianity is acting consistently with its original values.
However, the author recognizes that this process also provokes conservative reactions. Nevertheless, when he looks at the available studies, he notes that the fundamentalists everywhere remain in the minority and the adaptation of Christianity to modernity reveals its amazing capacities for innovation. He highlights the consequent expansion of new forms of religion typical of "ultramodernity": individualization, "autospirituality", pragmatism, mobility...
These four developments are happening but not with equal probability, concludes Lambert, and the "proliferation of religions" could give rise to quite different social changes in different regions.
For the last thirty years or so, as Françoise Champion notes, "alternative" belief systems have gradually gained ground in Western societies. Here she discusses the cultural conditions and shifts that have encouraged the growth of interest in these beliefs, from the example of mysticism and the esoteric.
Since the early 1970s, there has been a counter-culture movement challenging Western cultural values, in particular rationality. This trend has led to a postmodernist individualism associated with a shift away from Christian attitudes and a collapse of institutional religion, to be replaced by a vague religious sense, attracted by all that is mysterious and strange about human beings and the world. This is where believers in mysticism and the esoteric have established themselves, with their fascination with the marvellous and the magical, which gives alternative beliefs their strong position.
Added to this turning away from institutions are the many forms of questioning of the nature of scientific truth and of the possibility of new "paradigms", that have challenged traditional science. Yet the search for a more complex kind of science has so far led nowhere. As a result, it was agreed at the Cordoba conference that a new combination of science and spirituality was required which would make all kinds of non-standard realities possible.
Finally, Françoise Champion explains, people in the modern world give most weight to their own experiences, they enjoy dabbling in vague ideas and deliberately cultivate ambiguity and uncertainty. Usefulness is of greater importance than truth, and what matters most is what a belief offers in terms of well-being, happiness and solutions to personal problems. Today, people think they are more independent, that they have greater freedom to choose among and experiment with long established systems.
There are today two opposing views of the place of religious belief: that of Samuel Huntington, who argues that there are lasting differences between the Christian, Moslem, Confucian and other civilizations which will ultimately and inevitably lead to conflict; and that which argues that the processes of modernization and postmodernization will give rise to widespread cultural changes, with a general convergence of values despite initially divergent religious beliefs.
Jean Joncheray, basing his analysis on an article by Ronald Inglehart, first demonstrates that these two views are not as incompatible as they might appear, thanks to the "growing tolerance of diversity", if for no other reason. Then, focusing more closely on the position of Christianity in Europe, he wonders whether Christianity may not be "the religion to end religions". Taking up the arguments of Marcel Gauchet, he suggests that, by abandoning efforts to impose the truth by force, Christians have opened the way to human rights, freedom of conscience and therefore, to some extent, the decline of religion.
But matters are not so simple and Joncheray ends by offering three possible scenarios for the future of Catholicism in France:
- it might become "a marker of identity" in which a tiny minority of practising Catholics take refuge;
- it might be reduced to a cultural phenomenon, as French culture continues to be shaped by Christian values which are part of the "general heritage of the past" in French society;
- there might be a "revival of a religious outlook" which would arise as a democratic, pluralist and secular society attempted to provide itself once more with shared values derived from humanism.