Given the harm that institutionalized religioun has done to our humanity I’m hesitant to favor reconstruction at all costs. Maybe it’s ok to allow these icons to fall, even at the hands of malevolent actors. Perhaps we could use these terrible tragedies as an opportunity to transition to social constructs not steeped in authotarian conventions?
I would agree that the church owners failed to update fire safety standards (I don’t know if the recent renovations included sprinkler systems) and the secular French state has not seen fit to subsidise upgrades to church property, until it burned. Now the state is offering hundreds of millions to rebuild because it is a tourist attraction. Pardon my cynicism.
The state hasn’t offered hundreds of millions. The top French billionnaires did.
The same billionnaires who are regularly in the news because of their tax evading habit.
And chances are that the generous donation will be deductible from what little tax they pay, and they will also get a nice plaque with their names in the newly rebuilt Notre Dame, because they are such upstanding citizens.
Shame they couldn’t be bothered to pay for, in part, the firefighters who actually saved the building.
(Not to mention schools, hospitals, train services… anything usually to do with the plebs, those silly people who do pay their taxes)
From the Notre-Dame website, the most recent renovations were
1965 : stained-glass windows refurbished
1990-1992 : renovation of the pipe organ, and then cleaning of the façade
in the 2000s, there was some change to the organisation on the floor.
So mostly just for show, nothing seems to have to do with safety.
There had been a call for donations for renovations which raised 150 millions, and they had just started after some months spent installing scaffolding very carefully. Those might have had some impact on safety, but I do not know if a sprinkler system was considered. It might be now that there is a lot of room to work with.
The responsibility for lack of care may be a bit of a mess administratively speaking, as it looks like both Church and State are involved.
Apparently the cathedral wasn’t insured, because for such religious buildings, built before 1905, the State is its own insurer [meaning they aren’t insured] (A decision dating back to 1889, apparenly. Following a few storms in the late 1990s/early 2000s, a report pointed out that maybe it should be revised.)
Edit: the Architectes des Bâtiments de France may also be involved in whatever renovations happen, and may decide that some things cannot be done to certain listed buildings.
This makes sense - if you think racist violence should be rewarded.
Historically black churches formed the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, and continue to be an important organizational force in the black community today. That’s why they were targeted by white supremacists in the first place.
So maybe just don’t go there right now.
And maybe stop trying to find a “bright side” in an act of racially-motivated domestic terrorism.
I’m an atheist myself, but I still recognise that houses of worship aren’t solely about paying homage to a particular flavour of Invisible Bearded Sky Man™ or enriching and giving power to His sales reps on Earth.
For example, Notre Dame Cathedral is a monument to human ingenuity and creativity as much if not more than it is one to a corrupt purveyor of superstition. Historically Black churches in the American South served as safe forums for African-Americans to meet and politically organise at a time when the Jim Crow police state afforded them very few other options in that regard (and that persist in that function now).
I’m all for addressing the corruption and institutional dysfunction of the RCC, for going after the anti-LGBTQ bigotry of some African-American pastors, and for reducing humanity’s dependence on organised religion in general. But intelligent and thoughtful people can do that without thinking it’s ok for “these icons to fall, even at the hands of malevolent actors” – especially since those malevolent actors often claim to be acting on behalf of their own flavour of IBSM™:
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