In France, you don't talk about religion. Full stop. Case closed. Go back to your mille feuilles.
It's not because it's divisive. You won't even get the discussion started―shut down before you've finished your opening sentence. A lot of folks on the outside look to Liberté, égalité, fraternité as a model for how a society should function. Having spent nine years here and thousands of hours in class rooms talking with adults of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, I can tell you it's a motto of paradoxical frustration. Under the stoic banner of Liberté, égalité, fraternité lies a broken, archaic system founded on a revolution that ultimately keeps people imprisoned by their own sense of entitlement. And no, this is not a post to bash the French way of life or its people. I love living here and plan to live here for a long time. All I want to say in this post is, it's time to evolve ideas!
Given the terrorist attacks and the bloody history of France, the historic lack of discussion has utterly strangled the country and given fire to terrorist organizations who seem to constantly have the nation of wine and cheese on the back foot.
Things seem to be changing, though. The murder of a priest outside of Rouen has brought the conversation into the mainstream and the media. A recent service for Fr Jacques Hamel saw Muslims and Catholics embrace, casting aside the secularism that's worn like a badge of honor here. I get that church and state are separate, but I feel one of the great powers against terrorism here is seeing real unity. This is not just symbolism or play acting.
It's time for the French to not see the pulpit as a bête noir, but as a platform where action currently towers over the incessant, repetitive drone of politicians chasing their tails in search for a solution to a situation that is out of control.
Liberty must mean freedom for all, whether you have a cross around your neck or a head scarf.
Equality must mean tolerance for all, secular or not.
Fraternity must mean embracing our neighbour and listening to what they have to say.