News from Europe

Religious statue removal to be decided in French court

Back in 2020, a group called The National Federation for Free Thought requested that The statue of the Virgin Mary, in the village of La Flotte-en-Re France be removed. They claimed it was not in accordance with the separation of church and state.


This statue of the Virgin Mary was originally built in 1945 “by families happy to see their children return home from the war,” said the mayor of La Flotte Jean-Paul Héraudeau.

After being hit by a car and ruined in 2020, the statue was rebuilt identically. In response, the National Federation for Free Thought claimed it should be taken down as it violated the separation of church and state. Their website states  “Neither God nor Master! Down with the clergy and long live Social(ism)!”

This separation law was established in 1905 and prevented the rebuilding of religious symbols in public spaces. “If it hadn’t been for this accident, there would have been no debate or even procedures” stated Jean-Paul Héraudeau.

The Federation has had some success in the past with this allegation as seen when a cross was taken down in the town of Ploermel on similar grounds. Defenders of the statue claim it is part of the historical heritage of the town as opposed to having religious meaning. This case creates a precedent and it will be important to discuss the freedom of religion of the inhabitants in relation to the removal of religious symbols in public spaces. 


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