Nativity scene in French town hall triggers annual secularism debate

France fears potential
Photo by Anthony Choren/

Le Figaro – An annual debate over the separation of church and state in France has once again reemerged as the mayor of the town of Beziers put up a nativity scene outside the town hall. 

The controversy first emerged in 2014 when mayor Robert Menard installed a nativity scene, complete with figurines, inside the town hall. The legality of this decision was quickly challenged by both a local resident and the NGO Human Rights League, who claimed that having a Christmas emblem inside the town hall was a violation of the December 9, 1905 law on the separation of the Church and State. However, the administrative court of Montpellier ruled in favour of the mayor. 

After a protracted legal back and forth in the following years, in 2017 the Council of State intervened to challenge the decision of Menard to continue installing the nativity scene. Yet, they were once again unsuccessful in finding a legal case to prevent it. 

Therefore, in 2022, once again the scene has been installed, this time with a crowd of hundreds of people gathering in the town to witness it be unveiled. 

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