Emmanuel Macron’s political rival flouted France’s ban on nativity cribs in government buildings and called for the French people to stop apologizing for their Christian roots.
Laurent Wauquiez, front-runner to take the lead of France’s conservative party, The Republicans, and president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, circumvented France’s ban on nativity cribs in public spaces by claiming the nativity scenes in his offices are a cultural exhibit, according to Express.
France’s Council of State ruled in 2016 that nativity scenes could only be displayed in public spaces if they did not “demonstrate a public recognition or preference for a given religion,” but were intended to be “cultural, artistic or festive,” so as not to violate a 1905 separation of church and state law.
“Judges have banned us from displaying a nativity scene in the town hall and other public buildings,” Wauquiez said, according to Express. “And so this year, we have organised an exhibit about the art of making santons.”
Santons are traditional Christmas crib figurines made for nativity scenes. Wauquiez’s “cultural display” comes in response to a Lyon court’s November ruling against his office nativity displays as violations of France’s secular ideals.
Wauquiez’s right hand woman and deputy mayor of Bordeaux, Virginie Calmels, lauded the move as a bold stand for France’s Judeo-Christian heritage and slammed liberal critics who said the move violates France’s secularism.
“This is not a debate we should be having… The French need to stop apologizing for their Judeo-Christian roots,” Calmels said. “They need to stop denying these roots full stop. Is secularism being called into question because nativity scenes are on display in town halls? I very much doubt it.”
Wauquiez has criticized Macron for being too moderate, lambasted other French politicians for being naive about radical Islam, and called for France to stop offering free health care to illegal immigrants, according to Reuters. Wauquiez’s views have made him extremely popular within his party as he is favored to win leadership of the conservatives in December.
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