France is a country of free religion. The most popular religions here are Catholic Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. According to a survey conducted in 2010, 27% of French people believe that God exists, 33% said they admit the existence of some kind of energy or higher intelligence, and 40% answered that they do not believe in God or in the presence of man of the soul, not into energy. In this respect, France can be considered one of the most non-religious states. But the culture and faith in this country are closely related. So which religion in France is predominant and why do others exist? This we will discuss in this article.

religion of france

Historical overview

In the last millennium, France remained onefrom those European countries where the religion of Catholicism was considered to be principled. From the time of Charlemagne to the emergence of Protestantism in the 16th century, this state was one of the most powerful on the continent, where Catholicism, with the exception of traditional forms, was the only direction of Christianity. In France, the Catholic faith was firmly established, while in other parts of Europe, including England, Switzerland, the historical Netherlands, most of Germany and Scandinavia, various forms of Protestantism dominated.

After the revolution of 1798, the religion of France waswas taken under state control in order to contain revolutionary moods. Monastic communities ceased to exist. But in 1801 Napoleon signed an agreement with the Vatican, thanks to which the position of the church was restored.

what religion in France

Religion in France in the 19th century

For almost all this centurythe country in question was officially considered a Catholic state. But in 1905 a major event happened, thanks to which religion in France in the beginning of the 19th century underwent significant changes, - the separation of the state from the church took place. Since then, even though Catholicism has not ceased to be the predominant religion in this country, the Catholic Church, according to the Constitution, has become just one of many other religious organizations. The newly formed secular state gave its citizens the right to choose their religion. And today in this country, Catholicism freely coexists with Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and third-party cults.

Religion in our day

The main religion of France is Catholicism. But today, despite the fact that this religion on the territory of the secular state still has more supporters than any other, the time when most of the French considered themselves Catholics, has passed. Those who call themselves less than half the population today. The results of the survey conducted in 2011 show that 45% of French people consider themselves Christians, most of whom are Catholic. At the same time, 35% do not consider themselves to be a single religion, and 3% profess Islam.

religion in France in the 19th century

The number of church members, according topublic poll, here is one of the lowest in the world. In fact, this is only 5% of the population, and only 10% of those who consider themselves Catholics today attend church services. But, despite this, the culture of France is still largely Catholic, which was stressed in his speeches by the previous head of state Sarkozy.

Secularism - the "cornerstone" of the state?

Secularism today is considered "the cornerstonestone "of state self-determination of France. Compared with the United Kingdom or the United States, the importance of religion in the life of the society of the state in question is very small. In the UK and the US, politicians often organize meetings with religious leaders, take pictures with them at official receptions, and many important national events and events are preceded by religious ceremonies. But in France, everything is different. Public figures of this secular state, even if they call themselves Christians (which is becoming less popular with the members of the government at the moment), try for various reasons to hide from their prying eyes their religious life.

religion in France in the early 19th century

A special territory is the province of Alsace

In Alsace and Moselle, the relationship betweenstate and church other than in the whole territory of France, despite the approved unity of the republics. Here priests receive state salaries, and religious instruction in public schools and colleges is compulsory. In Strasbourg University there is a theological faculty, the only one in a state university in France.


Protestantism, another religion of France, hasmy history. In the Middle Ages, before this term appeared, many residents of southwestern France abandoned Catholicism and moved on to the heretical type of Christianity known as Catharism. Protestant faith was adopted in many regions of the country during the reformation. This religion was not encouraged, but it was not forbidden. In 1598, King Henry IV, himself a former follower of Protestantism, forced to turn to Catholicism to become the monarch of France, signed the Edict of Nantes. According to this document, Calvinists, known as Huguenots, were guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience. Many areas of France, especially in the southeast, then turned to Protestantism, and cities such as La Rochelle became the main strongholds of this religion in the country, officially considered Catholic.

main religion of france

The decline and revival of Protestantism

But in 1685 the edict was abolished by Louis XIV,which led to the mass emigration of Protestants from France. Religion in France in the 17th century was in some confusion. According to existing data, about half a million followers of this teaching left the country then and settled in Britain, North America, Switzerland and the historical Netherlands. Protestantism as a religion in France in the 18th century after the death of King Louis XIV began to slowly revive in some areas. And at the conclusion of the Great French Revolution, he was officially recognized as one of many existing forms of worship. Today, Protestantism exists locally throughout the country, but most followers of this religious trend can be found in the province of Alsace and North Franche-Comté in eastern France, as well as in the Sevennas in the south.

religion in France in the 17th century


Another religion of France is Islam. There are no exact figures, but, according to rough estimates, 6 to 7 million people, that is, about 8% of the population, are Muslims. A third of them, slightly more than two million, observe religious rituals. For comparison: 10 million practicing Catholics live on the territory of the country. Most Muslims in France are from North Africa, that is, descendants of those who once lived in its former colonies - Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

According to the research of sociologist SamirEl-Amgara, in France there are from 12 to 15 thousand Salafis, or radical Muslims, but only a small part of them shares the views of the so-called Islamists. Since 2000, mosques have started to be built in the country, and now there are more than 2000. They are executed mostly in a very low-key style. As for education, in France there are 30 Muslim, 282 Jewish and 8485 Catholic schools.

culture and religion of France

The connection between culture and religion

The culture and religion of France has always been crampedintertwined. The art of this country was strongly influenced by Christian and Catholic traditions. In medieval France, the greatest architectural structures were not castles and palaces, but great cathedrals and sometimes small churches. The best artists and craftsmen worked on the creation of frescoes, nadaltharnyh ornaments, stained-glass windows, carved refined sculptures intended for internal and external decoration of churches. In literature one can often find references to Christianity. The most famous work in French, "The Song of Roland", is the story of the great confrontation of Christians and Saracens, led by Roland, the nephew of Emperor Charlemagne. Most of the medieval literature was sustained in religious traditions, for example, popular in the Middle Ages Celtic legends. The work of famous composers was also strongly influenced by the religion of France, which can be seen in the works of Foret, César Franck, Vidor and Berlioz.

In conclusion, I want to say that in this articleonly basic religions were considered. It must be remembered that there are many more. Each form of religion greatly influences the cultural life of France and finds its admirers in this country.

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