French secularism and the fight against separatism

From the 1905 laïcité of separation to the 2021 laïcité of surveillance


  • Nancy Lefevre


laïcité, France, religious associations, religious minorities, secularism, separatism


Meant to fight separatism, the French Act to strengthen the respect of principles of the Republic of 2021 transformed the laïcité of separation into a laïcité of surveillance. This article discusses the historical roots and conceptions of laicity underlying the 2021 reform, according to which religion seems to be viewed as a possible enemy, separating the citizen from the Republic and impairing universalism of rights. The article focuses on the impact on religious organisations resulting from the state’s greater control over religious groups’ activities, places of worship and foreign funding. It closes by reflecting on the way forward for defenders of religious freedom.

Author Biography

Nancy Lefevre

Nancy Lefevre serves as in-house legal counsel to the Conseil national des Evangélique de France and is a prominent defender of religious freedom in that country.