Every week, thousands of Poitevins gather around common beliefs, often far from the three well-known monotheistic religions. This new series sets out to meet them in order to discover their rites and understand their commitments.
The French believe less and less in God. Atheists would even have become the majority, according to a poll carried out in 2021 by the Ifop institute for the Association of Journalists on Religions. The symbolic bar has been crossed (51%), whereas they were 45% in 2004 and only 34% in 1947. In our country of Catholic influence, the churches are less and less frequented. However, every week, thousands of people continue to support more or less well-known places of worship. Until June 2023, the editorial staff of 7 goes to meet them to understand if their activities are confined to spirituality or betray other aspirations.
They and they are Antoinists, Anglicans, Orthodox, Buddhists, Baha’is or belong to different currents of Protestantism. Their rites are sometimes at odds with the main monotheistic religions. Others meet according to their country of origin. The scientific work edited by Anne-Laure Zwilling classifies them among Religious minorities in France (Bayard), a notion that appeared after the French Revolution (read below). Together, these believers choose to follow precepts that help them live daily.
The idea of this series is not to know who is “right” or who is “wrong” but rather to understand their place in society. ” For several years, we have witnessed an appropriation of religion for the purpose of identity, says Jérôme Grévy, professor of contemporary history at the University of Poitiers. Religare means to bind in Latin. Connect from top to bottom but also horizontally, between people. This identity dimension takes the form of rites, moments of communion, religious practices. ” Minorities cultivate difference. This is expressed by the language, the clothes, and also the religion which marks all the acts of life: birth, marriage, death… This sometimes reflects a difficulty in integrating », continues the teacher. This social history of religions is at the center of a new course given since the beginning of the year within the Faculty of Humanities and Arts. Proof that the phenomenon is far from being “extinct”.
Religious minorities, what are they?
This notion of religious minority was born with the Revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 dictates in its article 10: ” No one should be disturbed for his opinions, even religious ones, provided that their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by the Law.. This is the birth of religious pluralism. Of course, all this did not happen without difficulty. This new rule has caused conflict and death. ” Then in 1802, the Concordat declared Catholicism as the religion of the majority of French people, it was an observation, nothing compulsoryexplains Jérôme Grévy. This document signed by the Pope is an acknowledgment that there is no longer a state religion and that there are therefore minority religions. This notion was first pushed by Protestants. However at the time, priests, pastors and rabbis were paid by the State which also built temples and synagogues until 1905. Today, it is difficult to know precisely the number of faithful of such or such obedience. since there is no official census. You don’t declare your religion in France, unlike in other countries. Minority and majority therefore remain very relative.