FRENCH PRESIDENT SARKOZY BACKS RELIGION IN SCHOOLS AND CALLS FOR A "RENAISSANCE"
Sarkozy explained that such a national rebirth would only be possible through a reform of the French education system. Sarkozy clarified that such a reform must include "rewarding the good, punishing the faults, cultivating an admiration of that which is good, just, beautiful, great, true and profound and [cultivating] a detestation of that which is bad, unjust, ugly, insignificant, untrue, superficial and mediocre. That is how a teacher renders his service to a child in his care."
In his letter, Sarkozy bucked the secularist establishment that has long mandated a total rejection of religion presence in any French schools or curricula. "I am convinced that we should not leave the issue of religion at the school door." He cautioned that he was not advocating for proselytizing in schools or teaching solely "within the framework of a theological approach."
Rather, Sarkozy explained, "The spiritual and the sacred always accompany human experiences. They are the source of all civilization. One can open up [more] easily to others and one can dialogue more easily with people of other religions when one understands their religion."
Sarkozy continued in his letter to remind educators that they must instill the virtue of patriotism in their young charges so that they will grow to be responsible citizens of France, of Europe and of the world. He also called on educators to work to inspire an appreciation for culture in France's young people.
Sarkozy drew his letter to a conclusion, echoing a teaching of the Catholic Church in this regard. He said, "Parents, vous êtes les premiers des éducateurs." Translated, it means "Parents, you are the primary educators." Sarkozy encouraged parents to be intimately involved in the education of their children. Alluding to the many difficulties that parents of today face in an age of broken homes, expensive education and high unemployment rates. Sarkozy promised governmental effort to make education possible for all young French citizens.
Sarkozy concluded his letter, "The time for a new beginning has come. It is to this new beginning that I invite you. We will navigate it together. We are already slow [in beginning]."
Also, Sarkozy stated in an interview from 2004 with Catholic publication, La Croix, as follows:
"I defend laïcité, one of the foundations of the Republic. (...) Religious feeling is so important that every one must be guaranteed the right to live their faith, to express it, to transmit it to their children. (...) All our fellow citizens are equal before laïcité, those who believe and those who don't. Laïcité is also the neutrality of the State. Not disinterest. The State has no religious convictions but it guarantees to each one the right to express his convictions."
Should religion be taught in schools?
I am in favor of teaching the history of the great religions... I am not for the reading and discussing of sacred texts in school. Commentary is subjective, we would have a new religious war on our hands. On the other hand I feel it is more important to know the great events of the great monotheistic religions than to know the Greek gods. (...)
What is the contribution of Christianity in our national identity?
France is two thousand years of Christianity, integrated with the moral of laïcité. François Mitterand understood this when he placed a church in his campaign poster. At the time nobody said it was a violation of laïcité. France is covered with churches. The Catholic religion is one of the foundations of French identity. But identity is not a fixed notion. It is built layer by layer. France is a synthesis.
The above excerpts were taken from Christianity Today and La Croix