France: “significant” increase in sectarian aberrations in 2021 but declining figure for the evangelical movement


Two years after the start of the health crisis, France is facing “an unprecedented increase in acts of a sectarian nature”, with a “significant” increase in referrals to the Interministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Abuses (Miviludes) . 153 concern evangelicals, this is the lowest figure since 2015 for this Christian movement. 

Miviludes received 4.020 referrals in 2021, an increase of 33,6% compared to the previous year and almost 50% compared to 2015, according to the report, sent to the press.

Alongside "spirituality multinationals", such as the Church of Scientology, Anthroposophy or Jehovah's Witnesses, there are also "2.0 gurus", who are at the head of "mobile, changing and impalpable" groups. characteristics of a sectarian phenomenon "in a gaseous state", according to the public body.

Abuses related to health and personal development

"The excesses related to health are among the most worrying," said AFP the Secretary of State for Citizenship, Sonia Backès, in charge of these subjects. In 2021, 744 referrals concerned this subject.

Nearly 70% of health referrals related to “unconventional healthcare practices such as naturopathy, reiki, new Germanic medicine, etc. “, details the activity report of Miviludes.

The Miviludes report cites the case of two people suffering from cancer who died after following the precepts of a "naturopath", who claimed to help them heal "through natural remedies such as cocktails of oils essential foods, a diet centered on fruit and vegetable juices, severe and prolonged fasts”.

Apart from health, abuses in the personal development sector (mainly coaching, 173 referrals in 2021) are also monitored.

Among the other "subjects of concern" in 2021 are the eco-villages where "psychological or even physical or sexual violence" has been observed on people who have gathered in these community and autarkic places of life.

A movement like the French branch of the international association Mankind Project is also under the radar, in particular for the “radical changes in behavior” observed following “initiation courses in masculinity”.

"The Christian movement in the broad sense" (293 referrals including 106 on Catholicism and 168 on Protestantism) concerns the Interministerial Mission, which describes for example the influence exercised in religious communities such as La Famille, a group made up of eight Parisian families , or the originally Protestant movement of the Plymouth Brethren.

153 referrals for the evangelical Protestant movement

As the director of communication of the National Council of Evangelicals of France Romain Choisnet points out on Twitter, 153 referrals concern the evangelical Protestant movement. A number, which according to the report, “includes both evangelical churches and self-declared churches”.

If this is the lowest figure since 2015 for this movement, Romain Choisnet believes that it is "still too many victims, certainly below reality". He calls for ensuring that “our Christian communities are safe places, in love and respect for all, as Jesus showed us the example”.

Faced with the "significant" increase in sectarian aberrations in 2021, Sonia Backés announced that "Assises on sectarian aberrations and conspiracy" will be organized "at the beginning of 2023" to bring together the actors in the fight against these phenomena and come up with a sheet road for the years to come.

Camille Westphal Perrier (with AFP)

Image credit: Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock / Ministry of the Interior to which the Miviludes

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Summary of news for September 29, 2023

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