“No truly compatible candidates with the Christian ethics”: French evangelicals choose between disappointment and fear

The National Council of Evangelicals in France calls to work to make sure “divisions do not find their way into our communities”. Thierry Le Gall explains why there is a “divorce” between President Macron and Bible-believing churches.

Joel Forster

PARIS · 27 JUNE 2024 · 12:46 CET

Crowds at Champs Élysées on a Bastille Day. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="https://unsplash.com/photos/people-walking-on-street-during-daytime-Mb3EHZ-HY1w">Yiwen</a>, Unsplash, CC0.,
Crowds at Champs Élysées on a Bastille Day. / Photo: Yiwen, Unsplash, CC0.

When the movement uniting most evangelical churches and organisations in France came together for its annual gathering, there was one big topic on the table: the surprise general election around the corner.

The National Council of Evangelical Christians (CNEF), which represents around 745,000 believers in over 2,000 churches, celebrated its General Assembly only four days after Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, announced a snap election for this coming Sunday.

The CNEF has been intentional in recent years in seeking good relationships with the government, but there has also been disappointment in matters such as religious freedom and new plans in laws related to the beginning and end of life.

“The divorce is real between evangelical Protestant Christians and Emmanuel Macron”, Thierry LeGall told Evangelical Focus. He serves as the director of the Pastoral Service for Parliamentarians of the CNEF and is one of the evangelical Christians in France who best knows what happens in political circles.


Why evangelicals are deeply disappointed with Macron

It is “likely that a large number of evangelical Protestant voters will turn away from the candidates representing the presidential party”, says Le Gall, and there are two specific movements that have “largely contributed” to the disappointment among French evangelicals, a faith minority that has grown 15-fold since 1950.

One was the approval of the so-called ‘anti-separatism law’ (2016), which “initially was designed to combat radical and political Islam” but “failed to hit its target and made it more difficult to set up new evangelical places of worship and operate religious associations”.

It is an example of an increasing “surveillance secularism” that has “heavily penalised” Christians, the CNEF representative laments.

The other move was President Macron’s push to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia in France, something that goes “against the wishes of the majority of medical professionals and of Christians”. The CNEF said in May the draft law discussed in parliament was “an attack against humanity” that would put pressure on “fragile people who feel a kind of duty to leave life”.


A society in crisis

For Thierry Le Gall, the expected growth of the hard right nationalist ideas of Marine Le Pen has to do with a French society swimming in “feelings of insecurity, delinquency, the loss of civic sense among citizens, and the deconstruction of our school and healthcare systems”.

The middle classes are suffering and “many French households are dangerously close to a form of financial and material precariousness”, a category described as “the working poor”.

“Previous governments might have been too slow in implementing the necessary reforms, but the French people are disappointed with the results of the head of state’s 7-year-old policies on their daily lives”.


The Church as a witness to living hope in society

Addressing the General Assembly on 11 June, the CNEF’s President, the Baptist Erwan Cloarec, proposed in his speech “a pastoral approach not only to ensure that the divisions and invective that plague society are not imported into our communities (...) but above all to help the Church to be a leaven of peace and a witness to living hope”.

It is obvious that also evangelical Christians are “worried, and express this in renewed prayer”.

The reality is that “the choice of a candidate for the legislative elections remains a delicate one in many constituencies, where there are no ‘profiles’ that are truly compatible with Christian ethics”, says Le Gall.

Some local candidates might have expressed a public commitment to the Christian faith, but church members should always vote bearing in mind that “they are both citizens of the earth and citizens of heaven”.

“It’s mission impossible to find an electoral program that is 100% in line with our biblical convictions”, says Le Gall. And the CNEF encourages Christians to “commit themselves in word, in prayer and in deed”, but also “detach themselves from any plans to impose a theocracy”, he concludes.

One more year
At Evangelical Focus, we have a sustainability challenge ahead. We invite you to join those across Europe and beyond who are committed with our mission. Together, we will ensure the continuity of Evangelical Focus and Protestante Digital (Spanish) in 2024.

Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).

Published in: Evangelical Focus - europe - “No truly compatible candidates with the Christian ethics”: French evangelicals choose between disappointment and fear