The French military did not welcome such an effort, and Macron's government responded with an alternative plan for compulsory civic service, France 24 reports.
Macron has promoted the plan on the grounds that it fosters social cohesion and patriotism to combat political, economic and religious divisions. The program will give young people "causes to defend" and "battles to fight in the social, environmental and cultural domains," he predicted.
Cell phone use is also restricted to one hour of free time in the evenings, a rule intended to encourage engagement between the participants.
Gabriel Attal, secretary of state to the minister of national education, said that after dinner the program participants will debate social issues.
"For example, discrimination based on sexual orientation and disability or radicalization," Attal told the newspaper Le Parisien. After the French women's soccer game, he said, there was "a discussion of gender equality."
Attal stressed the need to give new experiences to young people and get them away from habitual surroundings, including their familial and social surroundings.
A source near Attal told La Vie that there will be no accommodation for religious dietary needs, though leaders will ensure "a balanced diet."
"If you do not want meat, you can take a double serving of lentils," the source said.
"The diets of the so-called religious are thus forced to give way to republican conformism," commented La Vie.
Guidoni said that in his view, French law permits much more than is allowed under the rules of the compulsory civic service.
"With the exception of freedom of conscience, the rest of the constitutional framework relating to secularism does not seem to be respected," he commented. "The citizen is free to express his opinions--including religious ones--as long as this does not disturb the functioning of public order."
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He said that no consideration was given to the idea of having chaplains for the service centers.
Over the next seven years, the compulsory program is set to become mandatory for all French youth age 15-16, who will number about 800,000 per year. The live-in section of the pilot program cost about $2,275 per person, which could mean an eventual cost of $1.8 billion per year.
At present, all French citizens must take part in a one-day Defense and Citizenship course after turning 18 years old. The course includes presentations from the French military and a test on the French language.
In 1997, French leaders abolished the traditional 10 months of compulsory military service for young men.
Student groups were also among the critics of Macron's new civic service program.
"We share the government's concerns about the lack of social integration but we think that universal national service is not the right response," Orlane François of the umbrella group the FAGE student union, told Agence France Presse. "Two weeks in barracks would appeal to some segment of the population nostalgic for military service, but not the young people who are our primary concern."