Speech of the French Free Thought on the occasion of the rallies of the International Day of Free Thought of 20 September 2020

Dear friends, dear comrades,

Today is the International Day of Free Thought. I remind you that this initiative was taken at the second international congress of the International Association for Free Thought, in Mar Del Plata in Argentina in November 2011. Since then, we have not failed.

On September 20 is placed under the tutelary figures of Simon Bolivar and Giuseppe Garibaldi, liberators of Latin America. Garibaldi was nicknamed “the hero of the two worlds” because of his work in Latin America and Italy.

On September 20, 1870, Rome was attached to Italy. Italian troops entered the papal city through the Pia Gate. It was the end of the papal states, and the abolition of the temporal power of the Pope now confined to the private domain of the Vatican. It will take nothing less than Mussolini fascism to try to turn this property of the Church into a pseudo-state. We know that, contrary to what we are told here and there, this is not the case, and that the arguments aimed at portraying Bergoglio as a head of state are simply nonsense. Yes, the popes have lost their so-called temporal power, it is to be hoped that the Churches lose theirs everywhere on the planet. The free thinkers, humanists and atheists of the whole world work there, this is the meaning of our celebration today.

However, the spiritual power still has a significant impact on international institutions through the recognition of the Holy See as an observer, but even more so at the ILO and at UNESCO, where priests are officially responsible.

Dear friends, dear comrades,

On September 20, 1870, in Italy, the Temporal relegated the Religious to the private sphere for a time. Today, in France, it is clear that we are far from respecting this separation between the Churches and the State.

We all remember Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the Collège des Bernardins where he called for “repairing the link between Church and State”. It was obviously heard, since we see that since the recent municipal elections, some municipalities have created, from scratch, positions of clerical or spiritual assistants.

We also note that the new Minister of the Interior does not cease to present himself as the Minister of Cults, while this function was abolished by the law of December 9, 1905 of Separation of Churches and State. Nostalgia for the Republic is obviously not what it used to be.

We live in a time when words no longer make sense. That is how the word “secularism (laicity) is used to make him say the opposite of what he means. Secularism (laicity) is the absolute respect for the freedom of conscience and expression of that conscience. In the public sphere, public service agents are bound by a duty of neutrality because they represent the state. But everyone is free in the private sphere to express his ideas and opinions.

Everyone is free to associate with whom he wants to promote his ideas. This is called freedom of association, which was established by the great act of 1901. Today, we hear this government say that it would be necessary to share its concept of “the Republic and secularism (laicity)” in order to receive public subsidies. It is the reign of money-king at all levels.

There was a time when the supporters of the Concordat, who made religions public services and religious officials, said clearly: “Who pays, orders”. It was the time of intellectual serfdom. Consciousness was then under the bushel of the key. If we have to share the same “values” as this government to collect public subsidies, where is democracy, where is freedom, where is equality?

They want to impose the yoke of single thought where everyone must have the same “values”, the same ideas and associations must all say the same thing. And if this is not done, the television kapos remind us to order, waiting for the repression to intensify even more.

Under the guise of a health order, the repressive forces are everywhere, all the time. We even saw police officers go into schools to check that the children were wearing the “right” mask. Even under Vichy, the School remained a quasi-sanctuary, except where it said “Goodbye  children” (1). We have seen wage earners brutalized by the repressive forces for the same reason. And in the meantime, the government gives itself great pleasure to repress, forbid, regulate and suppress the demonstrations and rallies of those who dare to challenge its order and policy.

We can only increase the amount of freedoms we enjoy if we know how to defend those we already have. However, our freedoms are seriously threatened, as established by the recent Free Thought Congress. I invite you to read carefully our new issue of Arguments on Freedoms, available free of charge on our website. It is enlightening to see where we have come into totalitarian drift.

Dear friends, dear comrades,

In every country in the world, there were the same religious superstitious scenes of who would wave his totem gri-gri to ward off COVID-19. And at the same time, religions and religious deviated from the health rules that governments imposed on the population as a whole.

That is why the International Association of Free Thought is considering writing a Global Black Book on the pandemic to examine in detail the collusions between religions and states in this affair and to highlight the repression of some and the privileges of others. No continent has been spared this obscurantist wave.

We want to constitute a gigantic commission of inquiry across all countries and continents.

We will begin in Europe to show the harmfulness of the 14 Concordats, which we demand to be repealed outright. We will propose to all the associations with whom we maintain friendly relations and actions to meet in the framework of the European campaign against the concordats to establish this finding in a European conference.

We will also be reaching out to our sister associations in the United States to let them know what has happened and what is still happening on that continent.

Our World Congress on Education could not be held in September 2020 as planned. This is only part given, it should be held next year on the same theme and also in Spain.

We want to put human beings back at the heart of their destiny. Like Jacques Prévert:

«The peacock makes the wheel
Chance does the rest.
God sits in it
And man pushes him»

Dear friends, dear comrades,

In this place, let us also recall our fight for the full and complete rehabilitation of the Shot for the example of the imperialist war of 1914-1918. This is a major fight of our association, a fight against the sword allied to the goupillon. A fight for the soldier to remain a citizen and not a subject bound by obedience in an institution of non-droit, the «Great mute», the all-powerful army in front of the incorporated individual.

We are about to have a bill tabled in the National Assembly for the collective rehabilitation of the shots by at least three parliamentary groups. It will be necessary in the coming weeks to mobilize all the Deputies of all the constituencies to vote this proposal.

Let us repeat what we said to Chauny in the Aisne on April 20, 2019, by inaugurating the Monument in tribute to the Fusillés: We will draw up the exact picture of those who will take a stand or not. And we will be able to remember each other in the coming election deadlines. Since the Executive has disgraced itself publicly, we turn to the Legislative who is supposed to represent the will of the people. So we will see what is really going on. There are the words and there will be the facts.

We will not give in to this requirement, because what we want in obtaining collective rehabilitation is the recognition of the right to say NO to death, NO to war, NO to militarist barbarism.

By doing justice to the dead of the past, we want to save the living of today and tomorrow.”

Around November 11, 2020, as usual, we will organize more than a hundred peaceful gatherings in front of monuments for peace and against the war or in symbolic places. This year, we will open our gatherings to all those who work with us against the widespread involvement of youth through the Universal National Service and we will give them the floor.

Of course, we cannot end this speech without mentioning the object of all our efforts, for more than two years, on the soil of our country: a national demonstration of the defense of the 1905 law on the occasion of the government’s attempt to seriously revise it.

During our virtual National Congress, we were able to measure the commitment of many departmental federations for its success. We received the announcement of strong supporters in the associative, philosophical, trade union and political world.

It is the historical secular movement that is reconstituted. It is the Oath of Vincennes that comes back in memory of all. And yes, comrades, the rhythms of history are sometimes very slow, and, as the activity of volcanoes know long phases of silence. But the secular sentiment is still present, and we worked patiently upon his awakening. We will hold this indispensable place of consciousness of the secular movement. Comrades, without exclusivity, without occult dealings, in respect of the personality of each one, let us translate this movement that is built up in each of our Federations.

No god, no master! Down with the Clerical intriguers! Long live the Social!

(1) allusion to the film “Au revoir les enfants” evoking the deportation of Jewish schoolchildren (NdT)


[ translation by Reverso]