At a Dec. 11 conference, French interior minister Manuel Valls announced that new government surveillance policies will be aimed at shutting down religious groups including traditionalist Catholics if they show signs of a “religious pathology” that could lead to violence, reported Reuters.
The conference was held two days after French president Francois Hollande announced the creation of a new agency, the “National Observatory of Secularism,” to observe and promote secularism in the nation.
The agency will also propose ways to promote secular values in schools. Education minister Vincent Peillon said this education must renew an emphasis on the French values of equality and fraternity.
Peillon told a French newspaper that secularism “is not about simple tolerance” but is instead about “understanding what is right and being able to distinguish good from evil.”
Religious extremism is “an offense to the republic” that the government cannot tolerate, he said.
As examples of religious extremists, he pointed to creationists, radical Islamists, strongly traditionalist Catholics and ultra-Orthodox Jews “who want to live separately from the modern world,” Reuters reported.