Laïcité vs Religion: A conflict demanding introspection
By: Aditya Vashisht
Religion is a force capable of dominating more than half of the world. It can be seen and interpreted in nearly all the aspects of the human world. Throughout our lives, we will have an experience or a set of experiences which may be attributed to the above force. Some call it spiritual whereas some comprehend it as an invisible injunction. The pictures may be different, but the colour is the same. The question which now stands is that whether religion is a force in itself or is a catalyst of certain social forces?
Viewing it in the context of it being a force in itself, religion can be seen fulfilling those conditions. Obviously we cannot deny the fact of our ancestors being guided throughout their life by religion. Trouble should not be invited to excavate our deep past, a look at our parents and grandparents is sufficient to understand the role played by religion some decades ago at large. But the impact of this force at large on their lives depends on the content of that respective religion. Certainly, we have been hearing a unified philosophy of all the religions expounding the same message or they being the different paths to the same father, but the fact of the matter is that an average human does not comprehend in depth about such heavy discourses.
Humans need a code, which is a manifestation of why their religion is so important that they need to make it an all pervasive part of their life. This is the point where the unified philosophy of religion becomes diverse, this respective diversity being a double edged sword. The result is that this very force is justified and put into effect, the modes of these very actions being distinguishable. Many people attempt to exert that importance, thereby turning their individual character into that of a group member. The convergence of these two aspects does not produce a rosy, unique blend of the two at all times, but rather, it may give rise to an intense believer of that faith, who may be determined to cross many perceived obstacles to protect the force.
This above mentioned convergence of the individual into a fold becomes conflicting in a diverse society where so many religions are practiced, along with a creed of those individuals who do not believe in all of the doctrines and perform certain actions which may perfectly normal for them, but inflammable for others. This scenario then leads to a tense society where occasional confrontations between religion and a democratic society are commenced and then keep on moving on the same path. The intensity of these tensions vary, sometimes taking a partisan character and at other instances just provoking distress and tension. Therefore, by keeping these precedents, we can see that religion is certainly qualified to be considered as a force which posses an avenue for initiating a large scale mobilization and response. The French confrontation between laïcité and religion manifests that.
Bringing our attention to the other aspect of religion being a catalyst of certain social forces, the answer may be the same, but the intensity of that dominance varies. As stated earlier, religion can be a force in itself, but even a person not practicing it as intensely as it may be required (which of course is subjected to social standards) may also be provoked and may feel incensed at an act which may be questioning that very core of belief. The feature of this condition is that religion then suddenly takes a center stage and suddenly occupies a very large space of individual consciousness. Again the confrontation commences and both principles start their journey upon the similar path of confrontation. That is why the difference in the answers to both the questions is that of degree and not of kind. Therefore, if we look at both the questions of religion being a force or it being a catalyst, the answer depends upon the extent of the permission which we have given to religion to be a part of our lives.
The intensity of our allegiance to our respective faith sets the parameter for confrontation in any society. This respective conclusion is intended to state that religious influence need not be so large that it may provoke one to perform an act which may be in direct contradiction to the very faith for which that action was committed. At the same time, one should not perceive a blend of freedom and religion to be so colorful that it may incentivize one to comment upon a respective allegiance. Recent events around various countries are manifesting this confrontation, which is augmenting with every passing day by a touch of politics which is utilizing that mobilizing effect of religion.
Certainly, this situation will not remain as intense as it is at present, but this confrontation between French laïcité and religion has brought us to a point where we have to introspect about the role and influence of religion in our lives. Not all are confronting the laïcité doctrine, but a proper look is adequate to tell us the universal implications of this scenario.
Can these events help us in affirming our faith of religion being a source of tension and divisiveness, or are they just an attempt to justify the presence of religion in a secular society? Should this confrontation be granted the freedom to continue or should we analyze the role which religion plays in our life and in the life of the humans as a whole? The key to both the answers is ambiguous, since it is up to us to decide.
- Writer is a student & blogger