French evangelicals welcome new law to combat cults

The state seeks to better protect minors in social media contexts. The Evangelical Council says it promotes efforts to make all churches safe and free from any type of abuse.

Evangelical Focus

PARIS · 16 MAY 2024 · 13:43 CET

Photo: <a target="_blank" href="">Sean Hudson</a>, Unsplash, CC0.,
Photo: Sean Hudson, Unsplash, CC0.

France has a new law to fight against harmful religious cults.

The Law to “Reinforce the Fight Against Sectarian Drifts” (officially promulgated on 10 May) adapts the 2001 law to new scenarios in which groups might seek to manipulate the freedom of citizens psychologically or physically in new contexts such as social media.

Two new offences are described. One is “placing or maintaining a person in a state of psychological or physical subjection”. The other is “inciting a person to abandon or refrain from care, or to adopt practices that clearly expose the person concerned to a serious health risk”.


Evangelicals agree with the law

The National Council of Evangelical Christians (CNEF), which represents which represents over 700,000 believers, has said it supports such a law and hopes to “join the public authorities in protecting the interests and consent of individuals”.

French evangelicals welcome new law to combat cults

In France, evangelical churches in the past have suffered from being branded as cults by some media. Politicians (including government ministers) have also made confusing and often untrue statements in which evangelical Protestants were linked to harmful religious practices.

But the CNEF is regularly in touch with Miviludes, France’s prevention and information service trying to combat the action of harmful cults. The evangelical body also has the Stop Abus service prevent sexual abuse violence in evangelical church contexts.


Churches aim to be “safe places”

“Evangelical Protestants, whose Christian faith is freely chosen, want their churches to be safe places for those seeking to discover or live their faith in Jesus Christ”, said the CNEF, which is a member of the European Evangelical Alliance. “The collective exercise of religion does not exclude respect for the individual, and vice versa”.

The Evangelical Council therefore “encourages its members to respect the law as well as good practices within the Churches in order to guarantee the freedom and security of individuals and, more fundamentally, to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ for everyone”.

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