Today is the U.S. release date of “La Rafle” (The Roundup) , a French film that follows the Jewish tenants of Parisian apartment house during the little known roundup and deportation of Paris’s Jews during WWII. The film is based on real events and real people, and it is one of the most moving WWII films I have seen in a very long time. The film serves as a reminder of the tragic the results of religious hate.
“La Rafle” is based on an event that took place in 1942 and, 70 years and two months later, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a saddening study that sheds light on some alarming trends about the global rise religious oppression. To some readers, this may not be surprising. We have been hammered and disheartened by all the news about the religious fallout from the Arab Spring, growing tensions and violence in religiously diverse African countries and, earlier this year, by the sham trial and conviction of Pussy Riot band members for blasphemy in Russia.
But under these obvious reminders, there was also some surprising data in the study. One country where social hostilities toward religious groups moved up since last year is France. In fact, France now falls under the category “High” on the Social Hostilities Index, alongside some other countries whose presence on that list is surprising, including the U.K., Germany, and Ukraine.
The U.K. and France are among the world’s pioneers of social democracy and liberalism, countries where what we call “western tradition” was incubated and where some of the ideals of our modern civilization were first espoused. Germany and Ukraine had catastrophic experiences with religious hatred. One would think all four of these countries would have learned the important lessons about the existential dangers of religious prejudice, but unfortunately this does not seem to be the case.
Perhaps the most surprising surprise (for me) in the PEW study was that religious freedom is also on the decline in the U.S. Like our European counterparts, the U.S. is undergoing a resurgence of religious oppression, and indicators of social hostilities toward religious groups and government restriction on the free practice of religion are both rising. This is alarming.
All of our societies, both here and in Europe, need a reminder of just how tragic the results of hate can be, so I highly recommend attending a showing of “La Rafle” (The Roundup). If you know anyone who needs to be reminded about how religious hate impacts our world, this film is a perfect fit.
Chief of Staff