A report presented to French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy has sparked controversy by proposing to amend the country’s strict laws separating church and state by allowing local authorities to finance the construction of new places of worship. The proposal drawn up by a committee under Paris law professor Jean-Pierre Machelon is seen by its supporters as responding to the lack of places of worship in France for Muslims and evangelical Protestants, two religious traditions almost totally absent from the country when the separation of church and state was approved in 1905. (Ecumenical News International)