(This is a third question in a series of questions about the same passage. The first question presents a longer passage, which gives more context.)

Quand la discussion a été entamée à propos des signes religieux , Bouchard-Taylor, et ensuite de façon plus large à propos du fait religieux dans l’espace public, dans les institutions, ceux qui ont osé exprimer leur préférence d’un état laïc... Encore, en chœur, les mêmes, fidèles au poste...

DeepL could not translate the bolded part into English that I understand, so "le fait" is probably used in a characteristically French way that I don't understand:

When the discussion was started about religious signs, Bouchard-Taylor, and then more broadly about the religious fact in the public space, in institutions, those who dared to express their preference for a secular state... Again, in chorus, the same ones, faithful to the post...

I'm not sure what "a discussion about the religious fact in the public space" means. What does "la discussion à propos ... du fait religieux" mean?

Here are some of my guesses:

  • Does it mean "a discussion about the fact that religion exists in the public space"?
  • Does it mean "a discussion about 'the religious fact' in public space. ('The religious fact' is a euphemism for something that I assume you understand, such as 'the reality that religion exists and the tensions surrounding this fact' )"

1 Answer 1


The idea communicated by "fait" in this context is read in the following definition.

(TLFi) B. − Ce qui est arrivé, ce qui existe.
1. Ce qui est effectivement arrivé, ce qui existe réellement, événement ou état de choses.

Therefore, "le fait religieux dans l’espace public" stands for any manifestation in a public space that can be connected to religion: instead of keeping necklaces with crosses hidden under the shirt display of those crosses over the shirt, praying in the street, wearing T-shirts that display religious symbols and precepts, religious demonstrations, religious processions, wear the hijab in the street,… All of that constitutes the religious fact in the public space, if we may call it so in English, and I think we may.

The discussion is about these religious manifestations, their legitimacy, how they impinge on various principles, legal, moral, practical, etc.

  • Ah, this makes it much clearer; it even works in English, too, though it sounds a little academic: "a discussion about religious manifestation in public space".
    – silph
    Aug 30, 2021 at 6:44
  • @silph It is, no doubt, a philosophical subject.
    – LPH
    Aug 30, 2021 at 6:47

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