French evangelicals welcome new law to combat cults


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”.

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.