The reports about Andrew Brunson’s release are just another example of how little the media know about evangelical churches.
“Any restriction of freedom of worship, conscience, or expression would impoverish the nation spiritually and intellectually, and affect evangelical Christians who publicly testify to their faith”, says CNEF representative Thierry Le Gall.
The political scenario has changed much in France in the last three months.
After winning the Presidential and the parliamentary election, President Emmanuel Macron and his “En Marche!” party aim to re-establish the priorities for the country’s future.
During the campaign prior to the election, the new President said “religious expression must not be repressed in the private sphere”.
French evangelical Christians now hope the ongoing fight against radical Islamism will not “tempt” the new government to reduce the religious freedom in the country.
Thierry Le Gall is Director of Pastoral Services to Members of Parliament of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF). He answered to Evangelical Focus questions in the following interview.
Question. Which should be some of the top priorities of the new French government for the coming years?
Answer. The priority is economic recovery, but not at any price. Mass unemployment is a scourge that affects all categories of the population, especially the youngest, and those who are over 50 years old.
Nevertheless, the needed reforms should not be the cause of a greater impoverishment or an increase in the number of “poor workers” in France.
The French government must also take special care of the families in the aspects that concern them directly: housing, education, social protection, and health.
Question. What are your expectations when it comes to religious freedom and freedom of speech in France?
The President, the Prime Minister and his government have given reassuring signals to religions in France regularly evoking the will to maintain a “calmed laicité”.
The struggle against radical and armed Islam must not be to the detriment of the fundamental religious freedoms enjoyed by believers in France. It will, however, be tempting for the legislator to tighten laws in the hope of better protecting the nation and citizens.
Any restriction of freedom of worship, conscience, or speech would impoverish the nation spiritually and intellectually and directly implicate evangelical Christians who publicly testify to their faith. This is an important point of vigilance on which we are working with the Presidency of the Republic and the Parliament.
Question. How will evangelical Christians pray for the new government? Will you have a role in holding the government accountable?
Answer. The CNEF and our partner organisation Protestant Committee for Human Dignity (CPDH, in French) frequently encourage Christians and the churches in France to pray for the authorities.
During our last General Assembly, Pastor Etienne L’Hermenault, the President of the CNEF, said that our struggle as a body of Christ is not to conquer political power, but to keep our hands free to assume our prophetic role in society.
Read more news stories about France.