A new book by Martin Peltier, published by Renaissance Catholique, is briefly summarized at the publisher's website. The very short précis is hardly sufficient to make a judgment, but what struck me was the remark about Nicolas Sarkozy's ulterior motives in his so-called campaign for "positive laïcité", i.e., placing all religions on an equal footing and encouraging equal respect for all of them:
By raising the issue of the "Christian roots" of France and of "positive laïcité" in Rome last December 20, 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy made waves. The outrage of the old guard of defenders of laïcité reached the boiling point, and they declared the republican pact to be in danger.
The republican pact referred to is the strict separation of Church and State as decreed by the law of 1905. Since being elected, Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a veritable campaign to bring religion back into the public debate and to persuade the population of its importance. But, of course, he had his reasons...
However, if we take the time to read the book he wrote in 2004 – The Republic, Religions and Hope – and if we compare it to other statements, we soon perceive that the primary concern of Nicolas Sarkozy is Islam. His only reason for modifying the law of 1905 is to integrate Islam. The State will pay for mosques and the training of imams. The ghettoes will thus be pacified.
Beyond this policing effort, the President, indifferent to any revelation, hopes that the three religions of the Book come together to spread their common values on behalf of a humanistic globalization. His God is modernity, his God is the Republic.
I have lost track of the number of times I have said here that Sarkozy's only purpose in opening the debate on religion was to prepare the French population for the institutionalization of Islam. Because without the issue of Islam, there was absolutely no reason to talk about, let alone modify, the 1905 law. For better or worse, the French people had long ago adjusted to the law. But he had to force them to re-adjust to a modified law that allowed State funding for mosques. And in order to do this he created a phony debate on the need for all men to recognize the importance of religion (i.e. Islam).
Many Christians did not see this and welcomed the new debate, thinking it applied to them. On the other hand, the defenders of laïcité, most of whom are socialists and pro-immigration, became alarmed at the thought that he was shoving religion down their throats, when in fact he was merely justifying the State funding of Islam.
Martin Peltier's book, entitled Nicolas Sarkozy, the Republic, and Religions, can be ordered for 15 euros at the Renaissance Catholique website.