How did secularism appear in Quebec?

How did secularism appear in Quebec? < /p> UPDATE DAY

Secularism, as a principle, is neither a recent invention nor a weapon against Muslims. Only history allows us to understand its genesis and its importance. While Ottawa's appointment of Amira Elghawaby as an advisor on the fight against Islamophobia raises passions, let's take a look at a recent book that focuses on this principle.

How did la&ium;cité appear in Qué ;bec?

Photo taken from Wikicommons The French historian Éric Anceau, specialist in secularism.

In a very enlightening summary, the historian Éric Anceau presents secularism as an “ideal for the peaceful organization of the city”, which considers “that what is common to all men must be superior to what is separates them”. 

Ending Religious Wars

For a long time, kings presented themselves to their subjects as the representatives of God on earth. They were both the political leaders and the spiritual guides of their kingdom. 

What to do, however, when a part of the subjects criticized the dogmas of the Church? Should they be excommunicated, imprisoned, physically exterminated?

The French elites asked themselves these questions during the second half of the 16th century when Protestant ideas emerged. For 40 years, France was torn apart by religious wars. The massacres are numerous, the violence extreme. Each side, convinced of possessing the truth, refuses any compromise.

Separating Church and State

The great King Henri IV, the mentor of Samuel de Champlain, proposed in 1598 the Edict of Nantes, which allowed Protestants to practice their religion in complete peace of mind. To ensure the harmony of the kingdom, the State had to be above religions. 

Before being Catholics or Protestants, the subjects of the kingdom were French. This traumatic experience explains why France has been a leader in secularism. While here, the Church imposed its dogmas, its law and often its censorship, modern France adopted a series of laws which defended a strict separation of Church and State, especially at school. 

From Louis-Joseph Papineau to Éva Circé-Côté, many Republicans here would have liked Quebec to take this path, but they were in the minority. It took until the Quiet Revolution and the decline of the Catholic Church for secularism to find defenders.

Politician Louis-Joseph Papineau and, later, journalist Éva Circé-Côté are among the personalities from here who campaigned for secularism long before the Quiet Revolution.

Eva Circé-Côté

Two models

How did secularism appear in Quebec?

photo taken from Passés Composés Laïcité, a principle: from antiquity to the present time
Éric Anceau,
Paris, Pasts compounds,

The interest of Anceau's book is to show that all Western societies have been confronted with the issue of the troubled relationship between religion and politics. In France (and in Quebec), it is the State which guarantees freedom of conscience to all in the face of a long-standing very powerful Catholic Church.

However, in the United States, where secularism at the French people are considered intolerant, on the contrary they are wary of the state. It is that the first Americans belonged to minority religions that fled the official Anglican Church. This “antipattern” American society, writes Anceau, was “historically constructed with the aim of protecting religions against state interference”.

Modernity has therefore produced two approaches to religion. The first, republican, gives more importance to the group, to the community of citizens; the second, liberal, is centered on the rights of the individual. 

Since Bill 21, Quebec has opted for the first approach. But multicultural Trudeauized Canada has certainly not said its last word…