‘Secularism: a question of boundaries’, a symposium organised by IDETCOM
from November 8, 2018 to November 9, 2018
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Amphithéâtre Guy Isaac (MI V)
21, allée de Brienne
31042 Toulouse Cedex 9


Organised by IDETCOM, a specialised research institute in the Law Faculty of Toulouse 1 Capitole University, this conference invites attendees to reflect on the separation of church and state at a time when the concept is confronted by new challenges and circumstances.

Secularism is an inherent quality, even a cornerstone, of the French Republic. While its value is widely accepted, there is nowadays less agreement on its meaning than in the past. It is always a point of discussion where the focus falls on the consequences of the country’s secularism. In fact, secularism, understood as the separation of church and state and enshrined in law in 1905, has softened or even deteriorated, making way for a new concept of secularism that some seek to adjectivise. Is this secularism evolving, adapting, being used or disappearing?
This conference invites attendees to reflect on the separation of church and state at a time when the concept is confronted by new challenges and circumstances. The central focus is one of boundaries. Boundaries that the separation of church and state has established itself between public and private life, between the rule of law and God’s rule, etc. and which are today in dispute. Territorial boundaries, questioned by secularism, are not applied in certain areas of France and sometimes applied in different ways at the local level.
Can the institutional framework of secularism be redefined by tidying up legal texts? Should we rethink, revisit, renew it by properly considering the religious reality of the country or analyse the reality of secular institutions, re-examine the founding texts and rebuild and test the principle of secularism? Does secularism need to be adapted to contemporary relations between creed and politic or should we study the theoretical principle of secularism to ensure legal interpretations are no longer so distant from the general framework of a secular republic? These are alternatives posed nowadays and which this symposium intends to look at.

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