ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, June 28   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 
Flecha
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Evangelicals' relationship to Roman Catholicism
Pope Francis and some evangelical pastors and theologians have expressed their aim of walking the "path towards unity". Do you agree?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Interview
 

“Freedom of religion is being ‘redefined’ as a very narrow right”

In France, the timely “Libre de le dire” campaign adds an Evangelical voice to the debate about freedom of religion and ‘Laicité’. Jurist Nancy Lefèvre thinks the pressure from politicians and the media causes Christians to be “unsure about their rights”.

AUTHOR Joel Forster , Evangelical Focus PARIS 02 MARCH 2015 18:35 h GMT+1
place, France Place de la République. / Pierre Yves Brunneau

France is in the midst of a major debate about freedom of speech in the media, in schools and on the street, and about how people with faith convictions should express their ideas in the public arena.



The Paris shootings against Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket are fuelling this conversation about freedom of speech, a topic which French Evangelicals had been reflecting on some time before the Islamist attacks.



French Evangelicals united in the CNEF (National Council of Evangelicals in France) launched a campaign named Libre de le dire in May 2014.



“Wherever you are, you have the right to speak”, was one of the central ideas of the initiative which wanted to reassure Christians and people of other faiths. Their aim was not to ask for new rights, but to make sure every citizen in France understands that freedom of conscience and religious freedom are not privileges but rights that are to be fully used in the work-place, in school, in public places, at church or at university.



 



POLITICIANS AND MEDIA “REDIFINING” FREEDOM OF RELIGION



 



Nancy Lefèvre

“Freedom of religion tends to be ‘redefined’ as a very narrow right which only covers freedom of worship and freedom to express one's religion in the private sphere (meaning family, or within the religious community),” explains Nancy Lefèvre, a jurist of the CNEF who is leading the Libre de le dire campaign.



“This freedom is largely underestimated,” thinks Lefèvre. In France, “the state and the media” pushed ideas which “come in contradiction with the legal definition of freedom of religion and belief as established under international standards –article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights- or under French Law, the ‘Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen’… and even under the Laicité principle”.



This does not mean French Christians are being persecuted like in other places. “We are not talking about persecution in France and Christian are no victims, like persecuted believers in Eastern Europe for instance. Obviously the threats to freedom of speech and freedom of religion are more subtle in France that in other countries where violations thereof are directly threatening people's life and security”.



 



WHAT IS ‘LAICITÉ’?



The main problem is how the very French concept ‘Laicité’ has been evolving. There is a “wrong idea that is largely confusing French people about freedom of religion,” argues Lefèvre. Its original definition refers to the separation of the state and religions, “which is a guarantee of freedom of religion, pluralism and neutrality of the state”.



But nowadays the concept has been used by secularists who think this neutrality “should extend to the citizens or the people living on French soil themselves”. But reality is that “neutrality, as a legal consequence of ‘Laicité’, applies to the State and to civil servants, not to people,” clarifies the jurist. 



“These misconceptions lead to a chilling effect as people are unsure about their rights and as society wrongfully imposes neutrality where freedom of religion should prevail,” alerts Lefèvre.



 



‘JE SUIS CHARLIE’ VS. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM OF SPEECH



Freedom of Speech has been vividly defended after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris.



“Unfortunately, this defence, largely endorsed by French people under the ‘Je suis Charlie’ motto, did not cover the defence of the expression of all opinions”, evangelicals in France are realising.



“Did it cover the freedom of all, or only of those who can criticise, offend or worry the religions or their institutions? Did it defended to the same extent the expression of opinions that could be less popular, as the ones of Christians, or of organisations like churches or ‘La Manif pour Tous’ opposing same sex marriage, surrogacy or euthanasia, or the freedom to speak about one's faith, to explain it and to try to convince other people thereof?”, asks Lefèvre.



The climate has been changing in the last years, and “these misconceptions or narrow understanding of these fundamental freedoms have detrimental consequences”. French society has come to the point, argues the CNEF, in which “people fear to exercise their freedom of speech and freedom of religion to their full extent...the rights are therefore directly threatened because they diminish in practice by society standards”.



 



THE CAMPAIGN



Libre de le Dire started publicly 10 months ago, but “in 2015, it appears as fully in line with French news”, says Lefèvre.



“This shows how relevant CNEF was when we prepared the campaign, back in 2013. It all started with the growing awareness of CNEF leaders about the gap between the law and how it was understood, about the potential threats and the great need of legal security and education on these crucial themes.”



 



Libre de le dire logo.



This is combined with the “desire of the CNEF to secure the best conditions for spreading and living the Gospel in France, as well as being peace workers for our country.”



The French evangelicals had already published a book on Laicity (‘La Laicité Française: entre l'idée, l'histoire et le droit positif’, BLF) in 2013, which clarified ideas and gave pratical answers to 10 FAQs about laïcité.



“The ‘Libre de le Dire’ campaign comes in the same perspective: coming back to the legal principles, outside polemics, to inform, clarify, give some clues and go against confusing ideas



 



EVANGELICALS SHOULD FIND “WIN-WIN” SOLUTIONS



All this is done is done in positive mood. “Freedoms of expression and religion are positive! They should not be considered as a threat but as positive elements of society. Our attitude is first not to under- or over- estimate the problems, so we try to address the issue with a non-polemical tone,” says Lefèvre.



“We wish to shade a different light on the issue so that public opinion, the media, public official understand better how to address them in a peaceful way, in a win-win solution. A key element of the campaign is to foster tolerance: we must acknowledge that our society is diverse, everybody does not share the same set of ideas, religious beliefs, opinions, questions of conscience... Let's consider how we can live together with a maximum extent of freedom of religion and expression instead of pressing everyone towards forced and artificial conformity”.



 



FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL, NOT ONLY FOR CHRISTIANS



The CNEF's view of social action is that it should ont only serve to their own cause, but achieve goals for all of society. “We promote freedoms of expression and religion for all, not only for Christians,” says Lefèvre. “The issue goes far beyond our own concerns, it impacts French society as a whole...believers and non believers”.



This means the website, the initiatives, the ideas of the campaign are communicated to “public opinion, both internally, meaning CNEF members, Christian Evangelicals but also other believers from other confessions or religion, atheists, secularists”, plus “the media, public officials and politicians.”



 



Lefèvre speaking about freedom of speech in the last CNEF convention. / CNEF



Newspapers and online portals have reacted to the campaign. Media like Le Parisien, Le Point, La Croix, la Vie, Christianisme Aujourd'hui have covered the campaign.



 



HOW TO GET INVOLVED



Lefevre finally encourages everyone to get involved “creatively”, promoting the “Libre de le dire” spirit: “Tell us what you think about it, give us some input (your stories, good or bad!), help us meet strategic people… we would love to have Libre de le dire more active on social networks”, says Lefèvre.



One last questions is if the initiative could be used in other European countries too. Yes, one “could think of ways to export the Libre de le dire concept to your country”, agrees Lefèvre.



Start thinking of your key issues, your key elements, key people” and “of course, pray for the development of Libre de le dire!”.



 



You can learn about the “Libre de le Dire” website, on the CNEF’s website and on the CNEF’s Facebook account. 


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - “Freedom of religion is being ‘redefined’ as a very narrow right”
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict

Shira Sorko-Ram, pastor and journalist in Israel, shares her views and a historical and biblical context on the latest events.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ” Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ”

Evangelical Focus asked the well-known Pentecostal pastor about his “open” approach to Roman Catholicism. Traettino defended his position about ecumenism during the Italian Evangelical Alliance 2016 assembly (8-9 April, Rome).

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA

Influence in society, evangelical identity and projects in Europe. An interview with Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance.

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
The abilities of Mefi-Boset The abilities of Mefi-Boset

Christian ministry Mefi-Boset has been working with people with intellectual disabilities in their leisure time, and supporting their families in Terrassa and Barcelona (Spain) for 20 years. 

 
Re-evangelise Europe and renew the biblical church Re-evangelise Europe and renew the biblical church

The 2017 European Leadership Forum gathered hundreds in Poland to celebrate the Reformation and connect to better share the gospel in diverse national contexts. See picture gallery.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How does the love of God affect my daily life? How does the love of God affect my daily life?

“God’s love is ontological, it cannot be in any way diminished by my poor performance”, says Jerry Root, Professor of Christian Education at Wheaton College (USA).

 
Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi on how the Protestant Reformation underlined individualism as a means to please God, and how secular Europe corrupted it.

 
Mangalwadi: Education and the Reformation Mangalwadi: Education and the Reformation

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi talks about how a renwed view of the Bible changed education systems in Europe.

 
What role does the Church have in Europe? What role does the Church have in Europe?

Evi Rodemann (Germany) talks about the unique contributions to society that only the Church can make. 

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
You-To live-How? You-To live-How?

The Roldan Camacho are a Spanish couple with deafness. They tell us how the whole family experiences everyday life through sign language. A video report by Gabriela Pérez.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.