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  • Foundations of Truth

How Political Correctness Burned at the Notre Dame Cathedral

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Throughout the Bible, people erected monuments and altars to remind future generations of important things from the past. For example, Abraham erected altars marking where he met with the Lord; Noah built one when leaving the ark; and Joshua raised one on entering the Promised Land.

Nations throughout history have followed this pattern, including France. Perhaps one of its most majestic memorials is Notre Dame Cathedral. Located on an island in Paris (the Île de la Cité), it receives over 13 million visitors each year.[1] For centuries—including through both internal revolutions and world wars[2]—it has stood as “the House of God and the abode of men.”[3]

It is not only impressive today but has been for centuries—including when visited by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. He told his adoptive son, William Short: “You lost much by not attending the Te-deum at Notre Dame yesterday. It bids defiance to description.”[4]

(The Te Deum is a religious service constructed around an early fourth century Christian hymn titled “Thee, O God, We Praise.”) The majesty of the Christian worship services held there were beyond description.

The world watched in horror as this iconic memorial to God recently burned. But fortunately, nearly four hundred firefighters were able to save the Cathedral, and international fundraising efforts to restore the global landmark have already begun.[5] French President Emmanuel Macron confidently pledged: “We will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral. We will make it even more beautiful than before.”[6]

Wait! The openly secular French government is working to rebuild a church dedicated to the worship of Jesus Christ? Where are the usually deafening cries for separation of church and state? —the public denouncements against showing partiality to one religion over another?

Apparently, that vocal hostility against historical religious symbols occurs primarily in America. In fact, a record one-in-three Americans now believes that a purely Christian memorial is unacceptable,[7] and one-in-five even believe that “a religious memorial that has been in place for more than 50 years” should be torn down and destroyed.[8]

For these Americans, apparently the burning of a centuries-old religious monument was long overdue. In fact, a Harvard professor even celebrated that the destruction of Notre Dame was a joyful “act of liberation.”[9] But not so for the people of France. In fact, while firefighters were desperately working to save the Cathedral, the nearby streets became their own cathedrals as citizens united across religious, gender, racial, and political lines to sing Ave Maria.[10] Their voices testified to a shared love of God and bore witness to the nation’s past history of faith.

Amazingly, after the fire was extinguished, the Cathedral’s golden cross still pierced upward through the rubble.[11] This is a symbolic lesson for us all: don’t let difficulty or tragedy extinguish our core message. We can light the future by remembering God’s promises from the past. As Founding Father John Jay, President of Congress and author of the Federalist Papers, affirmed: “The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the Source from which they flow.”[12]

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] David Oliver, “What you need to know if you're planning to visit Paris,” USA Today (April 16, 2019), here

[2] Karen Zraick, “Notre-Dame Cathedral: Facts and a Brief History,” The New York Times (April 15, 2019), here

[3] “High place of Christendom, one of the most visited monuments!” Notre Dame de Paris (accessed April 24, 2019), here

[4] Thomas Jefferson, “To William Short, 2 April 1785,” Founders Online (accessed April 24, 2019), here

[5] Lucy Handley, “Apple joins French firms in pledging millions to rebuild Notre Dame after fire,” CNBC (April 16, 2019), here

[6] Ruth Brown, “Macron pledges to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral within 5 years,” New York Post (April 16, 2019), here

[7] George Barna, “Summary of Attitudes About Memorials and Religious Symbols,” First Liberty (February 12, 2019), p. 3.

[8] George Barna, “Summary of Attitudes About Memorials and Religious Symbols,” First Liberty (February 12, 2019), p. 3.

[9] EJ Dickson, “How Should France Rebuild Notre Dame?” Rolling Stones (April 16, 2019), here

[10] Jennifer Hassan, “With Notre Dame aflame, witnesses sing ‘Ave Maria’ in the streets of Paris,” Washington Post (April 15, 2019), here

[11] Josh Hafner, “The cross still stands and votives remained lit. Signs of hope out of the Notre Dame cathedral fire,” USA Today (April 16, 2019), here

[12] William Jay, The Life of John Jay (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), Vol. I, pp. 457-458, to the Committee of the Corporation of the City of New York on June 29, 1826.

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