What does almost everyone know about France and religion in the last decade or two?
Well, yes, many of the Christian churches are sparsely attended, but what do we know beyond that? That we've seen a lot of hostility toward immigrant Muslims who have come to France from the Middle East and elsewhere seeking a better life.
For instance, there has been the big controversy over France denying the right of Muslim school girls to wear the traditional Muslim head scarf, or hajib.
So where would you look to find a suburban community that is working hard -- and actually succeeding -- at creating an environment of interfaith hospitality? Not France, right?
It turns out that the Paris suburb of Bussy-Saint-Georges is doing exactly that, with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others cooperating to create an atmosphere in which all are welcome and fear is reduced. The piece to which I've linked you here is front the Jewish newspaper The Forward, and it's really quite a surprising and inspiring read.
As the paper reports, "Jews have joined Muslims, Catholics and Buddhists in planning a sprawling 'Esplanade of the Religions' that will include houses of worship from each of the faiths." (The under-construction esplanade is seen in this photo.)