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The handling of new spiritual
                                       :          movements by the French state:
                                                  the anomalies




    O           ver the centuries, the image of France has often swung between the
                “country of freedom” and the “birthplace of intolerance”. To quote
                only one example, the Saint-Barthélemy massacre, on 24th August
    1572, was the result of campaigns of crazy rumours concocted against
    Protestants. 30,000 of them perished in a few days throughout all of France.
    In the 1970s, associations specializing in the fight against New Religious
    Movements began to spring up in France. Intense lobbying, based on the
    spreading of fear of spiritual and religious minorities, allowed them to obtain
    public finance close to the figure of a million euros every year for themselves
    as well as for the government structures that they inspired.
    The European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on the Cult
    phenomenon (FECRIS) was itself founded in France, born of that Franco-
    French sphere of influence whose action is tainted with intolerance. The
    FECRIS has become the relay, on a European level, of these campaigns that
    fight against minority movements. In 2006, the only public financial support
    for the FECRIS came, in fact, from the French Prime Minister.
    Militant groups, such as the FECRIS, frequently boast about the French
    experience which they claim is at the cutting edge as regards the fight against
    minorities, as it has managed to create government instances and a new
    legislation to “safeguard against the dangers of the new beliefs”.
    The reality on the field is however a long way from justifying the necessity of
:   these extraordinary measures that violate freedom of belief.
    This brochure brings together the testimonies of some senior civil-servants who
    are directly concerned, through their work, with the issue of the new spiritual
    and religious movements in France.
    Rumours have, since the 1970s, fuelled the tabloid-press and have often
    been the justification for the granting of significant funds to associations that
    are fighting against the new spiritual and religious movements, and creating
    a lot of suffering amongst their members.

:   As you will be able to see, these official testimonies nullify such rumours.

                                                                                        1
The handling of new spiritual
                                         :           movements by the French state:
                                                     the anomalies




    Summary

X    The official figures regarding the “cult problem” given by 5 ministries p. 5


X    Statement of Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister,
     to the National Assembly                                                  p. 7


X    Ministry of the Interior                                                 p. 11


X    Ministry of National Education                                           p. 13


X    Ministry of Justice                                                      p. 15


X    Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Service                          p. 17


X    Ministry of Foreign Affairs                                              p. 19


X    Others: ‘Renseignements generaux” (French Intelligence Service),
             General Director of the National Police Force,
             Justice, National Gendarmerie                                    p. 20


X    Enquiry by the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity                        p. 25


X    State cost: in staff                                                     p. 29


X    State cost: in funding                                                   p. 31


X    Where does this alarmist information on new forms of spirituality
     come from?                                                               p. 33


X    But what are the real problems that need to be addressed?                p. 35


X    Conclusion                                                               p. 37

                                                                                      3
The handling of new spiritual
                                                      :         movements by the French state:
                                                                the anomalies




The official figures regarding the “cult problem” given by 5 ministries

             X    “We noticed that it [the sectarian problem]
                  was very marginal.”
                  Ministry of Justice (see page 15)
                                                                                    0
             X    “No incident involving children.”
                  Ministry of the Interior (see page 11)                            0
             X    “During the past school year (…) 19,000 reports
                  to the District Attorneys, concerning children
                  who were believed to be in danger for various
                  reasons. When we asked the academy inspectors
                  which, amongst these endangered children,
                  were cases involving sectarian movements,
                                                                                    8
                  they told us that there were 8.”
                  Ministry of National Education
                  (see page 13)


             X    “In the last three years […], we have not had
                  any cases.”
                  Ministry of Youth, Sports and
                  Community Service (see page 17)
                                                                                    0
             X    “I have only found evidence of two cases.”
                  Ministry of Foreign Affairs
                  (see page 19)
                                                                                    2
                                                                                                 5
The handling of new spiritual
                                            :         movements by the French state:
                                                      the anomalies




Statement of Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister,
to the National Assembly


               On September 6th 2005 the Prime Minister, in response to a
               question asked by MP Philippe Vuilque, president of the study group
               on cults, declared:


          X    “Cases of physical or psychological
               mistreatment of minors relating
               to the belonging of one or both
               parents to a so-called sectarian
               movement are extremely rare.”




                                                                                       7
The handling of new spiritual
                        :     movements by the French state:
                              the anomalies




    Parliamentary Enquiry Commission


     From June to December 2006,
     a Parliamentary Enquiry Commission
     questioned many government officials
     on the situation of children
     within spiritual minorities in France.

X    Their statements are as follows:




                                                   XXX




                                                               9
The handling of new spiritual
                                           :           movements by the French state:
                                                       the anomalies




XXX   Ministry of the Interior

       Statement of Mr Didier Leschi
       Head of the Central Bureau of cults
       Tuesday October 17th 2006


  X    “So, during a monitoring committee of the MIVILUDES, I requested that a
       survey be made in cooperation with local health authorities and hospitals
       in order to make a census of the facts constituting breaches of the peace
       related to blood transfusion refusals.
       The representative from the Ministry of Health within the decision-making
       body of the MIVILUDES told us, at that time, that such a census was
       impossible because, fearing legal proceedings, hospital management staff
       would hesitate to report breaches of the peace.
       This explanation seems weak to me, especially if the lives of thousands of
       children are at stake.
       The figure of 45,000 Jehovah’s Witness children has at times been put
       forward. Hospital workers are protected by their status and are obliged to
       report criminal offences to the District Attorney.
       In light of this hearing, I asked the prefectures [regional government
       authority] to count the number of incidents linked to bloods
       transfusion over the past three years. A few incidents came to light,
       which were often resolved through discussion. No incident involving
       children or lives considered at risk condition was noted.”


                                                                              Source: report no. 3507
                                                   recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                                              on December 12th 2006.
                                                                     Summary of hearings – page 446


       NB.
       The InterMinisterial Mission for Vigilance and Fight against Sectarian Abuses
       (MIVILUDES), created by decree on November 28th 2002, is under the authority
       of the Prime Minister.

                                                                                       XXX
                                                                                                         11
The handling of new spiritual
                                      :          movements by the French state:
                                                 the anomalies




XXX   Ministry of National Education

       Statement of Mr Jean-Yves Dupuis
       General Inspector
       Tuesday October 10th 2006


  X    “In preparation for our hearing before your enquiry commission, we
       quickly carried out a survey with all our academy inspectors. During the
       past school year, the academy inspectors and vice-chancellors of academy
       [regional education authority] made 19,000 reports to District
       Attorneys concerning children who were supposed to be in danger
       for various reasons.
       When we asked the academy inspectors which were the cases
       involving sectarian movements amongst these endangered children,
       they told us that there were 8.”



                                                                        Source: report no. 3507
                                             recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                                        on December 12th 2006.
                                                               Summary of hearings – page 348




                                                                                 XXX

                                                                                                   13
The handling of new spiritual                                                                                                                            The handling of new spiritual
           :      movements by the French state:
                  the anomalies                                                                                                                                :           movements by the French state:
                                                                                                                                                                           the anomalies




XXX   National Education:                                                                                               XXX   Ministry of Justice

                  Statement of Mr Thierry-Xavier GIRARDOT                                                                      Statement of Mme SANCY
                  Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry for national education,                                            Office of Legal affairs of legislation, Director of judicial
                  higher education and research                                                                                protection for youth
                  (Minutes of the session of October 10th 2006)                                                                Tuesday October 3rd 2006

              X   Mr Thierry-Xavier GIRARDOT:
                  “The unit for the prevention of sectarian phenomena has prepared a                                      X    “Three years ago, in collaboration with a Judge for children, we carried out
                  quantitative report over the most recent period: the number of verifications                                 a survey in order to pinpoint statistically what the sectarian problem
                  carried out, the number of formal demands to send children to school,                                        might represent in the work of magistrates and educators, and we
                  etc. I do not know if we have data concerning the entire period since the                                    noticed that it was very marginal in comparison with all the other
                  law came into effect, but over the past year, we have counted slightly                                       problems that our administration has to handle for these same
                  fewer than 3,000 children schooled at home, carried out 1,119 checks, of                                     minors, namely, problems of violence, of lack of schooling, of
                  which 23 resulted in a formal demand to send the child to school in a                                        professional integration and of domestic difficulties.”
                  teaching establishment, not generally for reasons related to sectarianism,
                  but simply because the education provided by the family did not meet the
                  requirements of the 1999 decree, henceforth codified in the regulatory
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Source: report no. 3507
                  part of the education code.”                                                                                                                         recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                                                                                                                                                                  on December 12th 2006.
                  Mr Chairman:                                                                                                                                                           Summary of hearings – page 288

                  “Of these twenty- three children, exactly how many cases involved
                  the sectarian phenomenon?”
                  Mr Thierry-Xavier GIRARDOT:
                  “I’m not sure there was a single one…”
                                          Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                           on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 334




                                                                                                                                                                                                           XXX

22                                                                                                                                                                                                                           15
The handling of new spiritual                                                                                                                                       The handling of new spiritual
           :      movements by the French state:
                  the anomalies                                                                                                                                           :           movements by the French state:
                                                                                                                                                                                      the anomalies




XXX   French Intelligence Service, National Police Force:                                                                XXX   Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Service

                  Statement of Mr Joel BOUCHITE                                                                                            Statement of Etienne Madranges
                  Central Director of the “Renseignements generaux” (French                                                                Director of youth and popular education
                  Intelligence Service), of the Ministry of the Interior and Territory                                                     Wednesday October 18th 2006
                  development (Minutes of the session of October 4th 2006)

              X   Mr Joel BOUCHITE:
                  “In any case, 60,000 children within our national jurisdiction, that seems
                                                                                                                                      X    “The minister has set up a national unit coordinated by the general
                                                                                                                                           inspector. Representatives from the youth, sports and community service
                  a lot to me. In the course of our operations in the field, in the prefectures,                                           administrations meet regularly. It hears experts, summons departmental
                  with the national education administration, the DDASS (social services                                                   managers, and ensures that the minister’s policy of prevention is indeed
                  dealing with children), the recreational centers and all organisations                                                   carried out.
                  dealing with youth, we have never had 60,000 reports, nor even                                                           At a local level, we have appointed a correspondent in each department
                  30,000, but at the most a few dozen…”                                                                                    [administrative subdivision of France administered by a Prefect].
                                                                                                                                           These correspondents forward information to us. But this is not enough.
                                          Source : report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                       on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 329-330                           We regularly organize meetings with the regional directors for youth and
                                                                                                                                           sports.
                                                                                                                                           […]
                                                                                                                                           The forwarding of information takes place via the correspondents,
                                                                                                                                           but also via our inspectors, who inspect sports establishments,
                                                                                                                                           vacation centers and recreational centers.
                  Statement of Mr Michel GAUDIN                                                                                            Statistically, in the field of youth, we have very little information
                                                                                                                                           forwarded to us.
                  General Director of the National Police Force                                                                            […] Statistically, over the past three years, we had no evidence of
                  (Minutes of the session of October 11th 2006)                                                                            minors being deliberately put at risk.”

              X   Michel GAUDIN:
                  “I have the feeling that the phenomenon, whilst it is worrying in certain
                  specific cases involving children, is not a form of delinquency which                                                                                                                      Source: report no. 3507
                  has the scope to generate too much concern.”                                                                                                                    recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                                                                                                                                                                             on December 12th 2006.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Summary of hearings – page 459
                                          Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                      on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 385-386

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      XXX

20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      17
The handling of new spiritual
                                       :           movements by the French state:
                                                   the anomalies




XXX   Ministry of Foreign Affairs

       Statement of Mme Françoise Le Bihan
       Deputy Director of the Department for French people abroad
       and for foreigners in France (DFAE)
       Tuesday October 17th 2006

       “Our department is in charge of everything relating to the consular
  X    protection of French citizens abroad, and therefore of children. Thus it is
       within the entire perimeter of our actions that I looked for those aspects
       which might be of interest to your mission. To do so, I differentiated
       between the illegal displacement of children, arranged marriages which
       may involve children, the help that we give to French children residing
       abroad who are in distress. Within this vast domain, I only found
       evidence of two cases related to sectarian behavior: the first one, in
       Canada, which was all over the newspapers, is that of Mrs Getliffe and her
       children [Mrs Getliffe, a French mother, kidnapped her children who were
       allowed to visit her during the holidays. The custody of the children had
       been given to the divorced father, a member of a minority group living in
       Canada. She was sentenced to several months of imprisonment in this
       country], the second, for which I do not wish to give names, involves the
       father of a child whose mother took him to Switzerland.
       […]
       Mr Chairman:
       Have you not been informed of reports of displaced children in ashrams in
       India?
       Mme Françoise le Bihan:
       No. For both of the departments which make up our administration, the
       one concerned with the implementing of conventions regarding legal
       cooperation and the other with consular protection, there have been no
       cases other than the two I have just mentioned.”
                                                                          Source: report no. 3507
                                               recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                                         on December 12th 2006.
                                                            Summary of hearings – page 4532-433


                                                                                     XXX
                                                                                                     19
The handling of new spiritual
                                                         :               movements by the French state:
                                                                         the anomalies




XXX   Justice:

                     Hearing with Mme Carola ARRIGHI de CASANOVA
                     Deputy Director of the Administration of judicial and civil affairs
                     and Seal (DACS) at the Ministry of Justice
                     (Minutes of the session of October 12th 2006)

                 X   Mme Carola ARRIGHI de CASANOVA:
                     First of all, I must point out that two departments deal with the illegal
                     displacement of children: the office for civil and commercial international
                     assistance which deals with almost all of the international conventions,
                     such as those regulating the obtaining of proof and the transmission of
                     judicial acts, and the mission for assistance in international mediation for
                     families – the MAMIF – which was created in 2001 within my sub-
                     department in order to try to resolve certain domestic conflicts, either in
                     cases where we haven’t been able to apply international conventions, or in
                     cases where we feel there is a possibility the parents will reach an
                     agreement.
                     I should say right away that we are hardly ever faced with situations
                     related to cults.”
                                            Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                             on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 390




                     Statement of Mr Michel RISPE
                     Head of the Office for civil and commercial international
                     assistance at the Ministry for Justice
                     (Minutes of the session of October 12th 2006)

                 X   Mr Michel RISPE:
                     “To date not one file has been opened, amongst the five hundred
                     files we have, in which there have been allegations of belonging to a
                     sectarian organization.”
                                            Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                             on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 391


                                                                                                                          21
The handling of new spiritual
                                                        :               movements by the French state:
                                                                        the anomalies




XXX   Gendarmerie nationale*:

                  Statement of General Guy PARAYRE
                  Director of the National Gendarmerie*
                  (Minutes of the session of October 4th 2006)

             X    Mr. Guy PARAYRE:
                  “Associations interested in cults sometimes claim that 20,000 minors
                  could be under the influence of sectarian movements. The absence of a
                  norm for precisely delineating the sort of situation in which it is reasonable
                  to speak of the implication of these minors in such movements
                  nevertheless requires that we approach these figures with care.
                  In any case, even if they only constitute the visible part of the
                  phenomenon, the number of cases dealt with by the gendarmerie is
                  at a much lower level than these estimations: since 2004, only
                  thirty-seven proceedings have been initiated by units of the
                  gendarmerie.”


                                           Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly
                                                            on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 319




                  *A national force sharing various police duties




                                                                                                                         23
The handling of new spiritual
                                                              :           movements by the French state:
                                                                          the anomalies




Enquiry by the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity
This file is also very illustrative, it was obtained by requesting the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity for
access to administrative documents. In it we can find methods of investigation that are quite biased. On
23rd June 1998, at the request of the Inter-ministerial Observatory on cults, a very alarmist set of files,
mentioning serious potential risks, was sent to 32 General Councils [translator’s note : a General Council is
an administrative body at county level] selected due to the presumed situation of children at risk in groups
described as “cults”.
Almost all of the answers from the General Councils show that the actual situations are completely the
opposite of what the Observatory had estimated, and that the children aren’t faced with any difficulties,
were in good health and led a life like that of other children.
Here we present you with the answers from the General Councils that responded to the enquiry:


                   X       General Council of Alpes de Hautes Provence, letter dated 27 July 1998
                           “[…] do not compromise their health, their safety, their morality or their
                           educational conditions”
                           “ In addition, given the above declaration, on 23rd January 1997, the
                           Children’s’ Judge dismissed the case for educational assistance concerning
                           these minors”

                   X       General Council of Alpes-Maritimes, letter dated 20 August 1998
                           “ [..] is the father of 3 children, the youngest of which, aged 15 years, was
                           experiencing no difficulty”.
                           “For the moment, this context hasn’t been the subject of any particular
                           report and the community [..] is unknown to the county social services.”

                   X       General Council of Bouches-du-Rhône, letter dated 30th July 1999
                           “The children are undergoing normal schooling”

                   X       General Council of Corrèze, letter dated 9th February 1999
                           “I hereby inform you that there are no minors living in ‘communities’ or cult
                           communities in the county of Corrèze.”

                   X       General Council of Drôme, letter dated 18 December 1998
                           “A school inspection carried out in 1997 proved satisfactory.”

                                                                                                    XXX
                                                                                                                25
The handling of new spiritual
                                                       :             movements by the French state:
                                                                     the anomalies




X X X Enquiry by the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity
              X Generalfairly long of Gironde, by the Medico-Social Centre,
                    “After a
                             Council                 letter dated 1st October 1999
                                     period of observation
                     I have received no information that would lead us to suspect cult practices.”

                     General Council of Isère, letter dated 18th August 1999
               X     Group 1 “The children were in good health, their bodyweight was rather
                             above the norm at birth. Everything was normal.”
                     Group 2 “No element of danger concerning the children was observed by
                             the social assistants of successive sectors, who intervened in
                             this community.”

                     General Council of Jura, letter dated 21st December 1998
               X     “The enclosed social report currently makes no mention of any particular
                     difficulties.”

                     General Council of Haute-Loire, letter dated 13th November 1998
               X     “The findings are that, in the local community, no suspicious way of life has
                     been noticed concerning the children who attend the school. The nursery is
                     medically monitored by an independent medical doctor.”

                     General Council of la Moselle, letter dated 24th September 1998
               X     “The schooling and socialization of the children is proceeding according to
                     what is current normal practice. The same is true for medical care.”

                     General Council of la Saône et Loire, letter dated 10th February 1999
               X     “All the children are attending school, in local schools, and these families
                     pose no particular problem.”

                     General Council of Tarn-et-Garonne, letter dated 10th February 1999
               X     “As regards particularly those children residing in the Tarn et Garonne
                     region, whose families are involved in these structures, neither the
                     neighborhood, nor the medico-social workers nor the schools have informed
                     us of any particular problems in their regard.”


                                                                                                      27
The handling of new spiritual
                                                  :           movements by the French state:
                                                              the anomalies




State cost: in staff
The disinformation regarding spiritual minorities has led the Government to take
extraordinary measures, mobilizing all of the State’s services.


           X      MIVILUDES :
                  The office: 13 people
                  Steering Committee: 26 people
                  Orientation Committee: 30 people

                  70 training sessions, 2,000 people trained in 2005

                  Several trips abroad.
                                                       Source: MIVILUDES Report to the Prime Minister, 2006




           X      A national network of “cult” correspondents:
                  One or several ‘cult’ correspondents per ministry
                  A county ‘watchdog’ cell in each Police County Headquarters
                  A ‘cult’ correspondent in each school administrative sector
                  A magistrate specializing in ‘cults’ in each Court of Appeal



           X      National Assembly:
                  Three Parliamentary Enquiry Commissions in 11 years

                  A permanent study group at the National Assembly
                                                                          Source: National Assembly website




                                                                                                              29
The handling of new spiritual
                                                   :          movements by the French state:
                                                              the anomalies




State cost: in funding
Stabilizing public finances is, at present, and rightly so, a government priority as well as
a concern for French citizens.
The private anti-cult associations UNADFI, CCMM and FECRIS seem to be escaping this
rule and are neither subject to restriction nor inspection of their expenditure.
                   Private associations
                   almost 100 % financed by the State
                   or by the local authorities
                   UNADFI
                   Ministry subventions 2005:                          368,373.00 €
                   Membership dues and donations:                                    1,954.00 €
                                                                     Source: profit and loss accounts 2005


                   CCMM
                   Ministry Subventions
                   2001 (last available year):                          197,572.00 €
                   Prime Minister’s subventions
                   For the acquisition of new premises:                700,000.00 €
                   Membership dues for 2001:                                         7,006.00 €
                   Note: in 2001 the CCMM went into receivership and the premises
                   purchased with this Prime Minister’s subvention were sold off a few
                   months later to pay off the debts of the association.
                                                                Source: annual accounts 2001 and annexes


                   FECRIS
                   Prime Minister’s subventions 2006:                     50,000.00 €
                   Membership dues:                                                  2,782.00 €
                                                                   Source: report 3363, National Assembly
                   Note: in 2005 and 2006, according to our documentation, France was the
                   only state to finance this association.
                                                                                                             31
The handling of new spiritual
                                          :               movements by the French state:
                                                          the anomalies




Where does this alarmist information
on new forms of spirituality come from ?
        A limited but active group of militants are submerging parliamentarians,
        the government, the local authorities, the media, etc. with alarmist
        information.
        Amongst them we find: Jean-Pierre Brard, Georges Fenech, Philippe
        Vuilque, Catherine Picard.
        Their messages have changed very little over the past 20 years.
        Below are some quotes which show their state of mind:
        “Only a special legislation, establishing the offence of membership,
        …. would allow us to fight this phenomenon.”
                                   Jean-Pierre Brard (MP), France Soir dated 27/12/95
        “A cult misdemeanor must be created”
                                   Jean-Pierre Brard, Télérama [translators note: this is a TV magazine]
                                                                                    31st January 1996

        “We need an anti-cult law inspired by the law of 1936 against
        factious groups. This new text would recommend the pure and
        simple prohibition of cults.”
                                       Jean-Pierre Brard, 93 Hebdo 8/14 August 1997
        “I’ve never had any dialogue with anyone whatsoever that was in
        any way connected with cult movements”.
                                                                  Georges Fenech
                (President of the Parliamentary Enquiry Commission on cults — 2006),
                                                                             Sud Radio 8th June 2007


        “We have decided, in agreement with all the parliamentarians
        working on a European level on this subject, to say what must not
        be defined. Because the definition of the term ‘cult’, which in France
        is not legally defined, would allow cult movements to leave the
        framework of the definition”              Catherine Picard, former MP,
                      author of the law of June 12, 2001 and president of the UNADFI.


                                                                                                           33
The handling of new spiritual
                                           :           movements by the French state:
                                                       the anomalies




But what are the real problems that need to be addressed ?

            RAPE
       X    A rape every 2 hours
            4,412 cases of rape committed on adults
                                                                 Source: Ministry of the Interior, 2005




            SUICIDE
       X    A suicide every 40 minutes
            160,000 attempted suicides
            More than 11,000 deaths per year
                                                                                Source: infosuicide.org




            DRUG TRAFFICKING
       X    An arrest every 5 minutes
            93,817 questionings for use of narcotics
            78,287 seizures of narcotic products
                                                       Source: National file of perpetrators of offences
                                                       against legislation on narcotics (OCRTIS), 2006




            SCHOOL VIOLENCE
       X    A serious incident every 6 minutes
            82,007 serious incidents reported in 2005/2006
                                                        Source: Department of Education data- SIGNA




            ROAD ACCIDENTS
       X    ROAD ACCIDENTS
            82,993 accidents involving personal injury — 105,980 injured
            4,942 killed
                                                       Source: Ministry of Interior - Road Safety, 2006



                                                                                                           35
The handling of new spiritual
                                                                                                                             :          movements by the French state:
                                                                                                                                        the anomalies




                                                                                             Conclusion
                                                                                              The facts recounted in this brochure confirm what our association
                                                                                              has upheld since its creation : citizens members of spiritual and
                                                                                              religious minorities are perfectly integrated in French society.
                                                                                              It is therefore unjust and unacceptable that actions of harassment be
                                                                                              taken against them, actions that are financed by the taxpayer to
                                                                                              the extent of more than a million euros per year (this figure only
                                                                                              takes the financing of the UNADFI, the CCMM, the FECRIS and
                                                                                              the MIVILUDES).

                                                                                              To attack spiritual and religious beliefs and practices represents
                                                                                         :    a disturbance of the peace !

                                                                                              In its article 9, the European Convention for the Protection of Human
                                                                                              Rights and Fundamental Freedoms stipulates: “Everyone has the
                                                                                              right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right
                                                                                              includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom,
                                                                                              either alone or in community with others and in public or private,
                                                                                              to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and
                                                                                              observance.”
                                                                                              Similarly, the Law of December 9, 1905 established the principle of
  Co-ordination of Associations and Individuals                                               separation between Churches and the State and guarantees freedom
         for the Freedom of Conscience                                                        of religion, article 1: “The Republic ensures freedom of conscience.
The association Cap LC was created to defend opinion minorities; it is open to                It guarantees the free exercise of worship, restricted only by those
individuals and associations of all obedience that share a profound attachment to             limitations decreed in the interest of preserving law and order.”
freedom of conscience. A witch hunt — initiated by a few people — is being carried out
                                                                                              We hereby request the cessation of the discriminatory policy against
in France against groups dealing with spiritual and personal enhancement, alternative
medicine and psychotherapy, new religious movements… CAP LC wants to create a
springboard of information, communication and action for individuals and groups
                                                                                         :    minority beliefs.

affected by the following issues: freedom of conscience, religious freedom, freedom of
therapy, freedom of conviction, freedom of thought, freedom of worship.

     12, rue Campagne Première - 75014 Paris — www.coordiap.com


                                                                                                                                                                         37
                            © CAP LC 2007 All rights reserved

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The handling of the new spiritual movements by the french state

  • 1.
  • 2. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies O ver the centuries, the image of France has often swung between the “country of freedom” and the “birthplace of intolerance”. To quote only one example, the Saint-Barthélemy massacre, on 24th August 1572, was the result of campaigns of crazy rumours concocted against Protestants. 30,000 of them perished in a few days throughout all of France. In the 1970s, associations specializing in the fight against New Religious Movements began to spring up in France. Intense lobbying, based on the spreading of fear of spiritual and religious minorities, allowed them to obtain public finance close to the figure of a million euros every year for themselves as well as for the government structures that they inspired. The European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on the Cult phenomenon (FECRIS) was itself founded in France, born of that Franco- French sphere of influence whose action is tainted with intolerance. The FECRIS has become the relay, on a European level, of these campaigns that fight against minority movements. In 2006, the only public financial support for the FECRIS came, in fact, from the French Prime Minister. Militant groups, such as the FECRIS, frequently boast about the French experience which they claim is at the cutting edge as regards the fight against minorities, as it has managed to create government instances and a new legislation to “safeguard against the dangers of the new beliefs”. The reality on the field is however a long way from justifying the necessity of : these extraordinary measures that violate freedom of belief. This brochure brings together the testimonies of some senior civil-servants who are directly concerned, through their work, with the issue of the new spiritual and religious movements in France. Rumours have, since the 1970s, fuelled the tabloid-press and have often been the justification for the granting of significant funds to associations that are fighting against the new spiritual and religious movements, and creating a lot of suffering amongst their members. : As you will be able to see, these official testimonies nullify such rumours. 1
  • 3. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies Summary X The official figures regarding the “cult problem” given by 5 ministries p. 5 X Statement of Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister, to the National Assembly p. 7 X Ministry of the Interior p. 11 X Ministry of National Education p. 13 X Ministry of Justice p. 15 X Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Service p. 17 X Ministry of Foreign Affairs p. 19 X Others: ‘Renseignements generaux” (French Intelligence Service), General Director of the National Police Force, Justice, National Gendarmerie p. 20 X Enquiry by the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity p. 25 X State cost: in staff p. 29 X State cost: in funding p. 31 X Where does this alarmist information on new forms of spirituality come from? p. 33 X But what are the real problems that need to be addressed? p. 35 X Conclusion p. 37 3
  • 4. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies The official figures regarding the “cult problem” given by 5 ministries X “We noticed that it [the sectarian problem] was very marginal.” Ministry of Justice (see page 15) 0 X “No incident involving children.” Ministry of the Interior (see page 11) 0 X “During the past school year (…) 19,000 reports to the District Attorneys, concerning children who were believed to be in danger for various reasons. When we asked the academy inspectors which, amongst these endangered children, were cases involving sectarian movements, 8 they told us that there were 8.” Ministry of National Education (see page 13) X “In the last three years […], we have not had any cases.” Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Service (see page 17) 0 X “I have only found evidence of two cases.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see page 19) 2 5
  • 5. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies Statement of Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister, to the National Assembly On September 6th 2005 the Prime Minister, in response to a question asked by MP Philippe Vuilque, president of the study group on cults, declared: X “Cases of physical or psychological mistreatment of minors relating to the belonging of one or both parents to a so-called sectarian movement are extremely rare.” 7
  • 6. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies Parliamentary Enquiry Commission From June to December 2006, a Parliamentary Enquiry Commission questioned many government officials on the situation of children within spiritual minorities in France. X Their statements are as follows: XXX 9
  • 7. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX Ministry of the Interior Statement of Mr Didier Leschi Head of the Central Bureau of cults Tuesday October 17th 2006 X “So, during a monitoring committee of the MIVILUDES, I requested that a survey be made in cooperation with local health authorities and hospitals in order to make a census of the facts constituting breaches of the peace related to blood transfusion refusals. The representative from the Ministry of Health within the decision-making body of the MIVILUDES told us, at that time, that such a census was impossible because, fearing legal proceedings, hospital management staff would hesitate to report breaches of the peace. This explanation seems weak to me, especially if the lives of thousands of children are at stake. The figure of 45,000 Jehovah’s Witness children has at times been put forward. Hospital workers are protected by their status and are obliged to report criminal offences to the District Attorney. In light of this hearing, I asked the prefectures [regional government authority] to count the number of incidents linked to bloods transfusion over the past three years. A few incidents came to light, which were often resolved through discussion. No incident involving children or lives considered at risk condition was noted.” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 446 NB. The InterMinisterial Mission for Vigilance and Fight against Sectarian Abuses (MIVILUDES), created by decree on November 28th 2002, is under the authority of the Prime Minister. XXX 11
  • 8. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX Ministry of National Education Statement of Mr Jean-Yves Dupuis General Inspector Tuesday October 10th 2006 X “In preparation for our hearing before your enquiry commission, we quickly carried out a survey with all our academy inspectors. During the past school year, the academy inspectors and vice-chancellors of academy [regional education authority] made 19,000 reports to District Attorneys concerning children who were supposed to be in danger for various reasons. When we asked the academy inspectors which were the cases involving sectarian movements amongst these endangered children, they told us that there were 8.” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 348 XXX 13
  • 9. The handling of new spiritual The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX National Education: XXX Ministry of Justice Statement of Mr Thierry-Xavier GIRARDOT Statement of Mme SANCY Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry for national education, Office of Legal affairs of legislation, Director of judicial higher education and research protection for youth (Minutes of the session of October 10th 2006) Tuesday October 3rd 2006 X Mr Thierry-Xavier GIRARDOT: “The unit for the prevention of sectarian phenomena has prepared a X “Three years ago, in collaboration with a Judge for children, we carried out quantitative report over the most recent period: the number of verifications a survey in order to pinpoint statistically what the sectarian problem carried out, the number of formal demands to send children to school, might represent in the work of magistrates and educators, and we etc. I do not know if we have data concerning the entire period since the noticed that it was very marginal in comparison with all the other law came into effect, but over the past year, we have counted slightly problems that our administration has to handle for these same fewer than 3,000 children schooled at home, carried out 1,119 checks, of minors, namely, problems of violence, of lack of schooling, of which 23 resulted in a formal demand to send the child to school in a professional integration and of domestic difficulties.” teaching establishment, not generally for reasons related to sectarianism, but simply because the education provided by the family did not meet the requirements of the 1999 decree, henceforth codified in the regulatory Source: report no. 3507 part of the education code.” recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Mr Chairman: Summary of hearings – page 288 “Of these twenty- three children, exactly how many cases involved the sectarian phenomenon?” Mr Thierry-Xavier GIRARDOT: “I’m not sure there was a single one…” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 334 XXX 22 15
  • 10. The handling of new spiritual The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX French Intelligence Service, National Police Force: XXX Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Service Statement of Mr Joel BOUCHITE Statement of Etienne Madranges Central Director of the “Renseignements generaux” (French Director of youth and popular education Intelligence Service), of the Ministry of the Interior and Territory Wednesday October 18th 2006 development (Minutes of the session of October 4th 2006) X Mr Joel BOUCHITE: “In any case, 60,000 children within our national jurisdiction, that seems X “The minister has set up a national unit coordinated by the general inspector. Representatives from the youth, sports and community service a lot to me. In the course of our operations in the field, in the prefectures, administrations meet regularly. It hears experts, summons departmental with the national education administration, the DDASS (social services managers, and ensures that the minister’s policy of prevention is indeed dealing with children), the recreational centers and all organisations carried out. dealing with youth, we have never had 60,000 reports, nor even At a local level, we have appointed a correspondent in each department 30,000, but at the most a few dozen…” [administrative subdivision of France administered by a Prefect]. These correspondents forward information to us. But this is not enough. Source : report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 329-330 We regularly organize meetings with the regional directors for youth and sports. […] The forwarding of information takes place via the correspondents, but also via our inspectors, who inspect sports establishments, vacation centers and recreational centers. Statement of Mr Michel GAUDIN Statistically, in the field of youth, we have very little information forwarded to us. General Director of the National Police Force […] Statistically, over the past three years, we had no evidence of (Minutes of the session of October 11th 2006) minors being deliberately put at risk.” X Michel GAUDIN: “I have the feeling that the phenomenon, whilst it is worrying in certain specific cases involving children, is not a form of delinquency which Source: report no. 3507 has the scope to generate too much concern.” recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 459 Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 385-386 XXX 20 17
  • 11. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statement of Mme Françoise Le Bihan Deputy Director of the Department for French people abroad and for foreigners in France (DFAE) Tuesday October 17th 2006 “Our department is in charge of everything relating to the consular X protection of French citizens abroad, and therefore of children. Thus it is within the entire perimeter of our actions that I looked for those aspects which might be of interest to your mission. To do so, I differentiated between the illegal displacement of children, arranged marriages which may involve children, the help that we give to French children residing abroad who are in distress. Within this vast domain, I only found evidence of two cases related to sectarian behavior: the first one, in Canada, which was all over the newspapers, is that of Mrs Getliffe and her children [Mrs Getliffe, a French mother, kidnapped her children who were allowed to visit her during the holidays. The custody of the children had been given to the divorced father, a member of a minority group living in Canada. She was sentenced to several months of imprisonment in this country], the second, for which I do not wish to give names, involves the father of a child whose mother took him to Switzerland. […] Mr Chairman: Have you not been informed of reports of displaced children in ashrams in India? Mme Françoise le Bihan: No. For both of the departments which make up our administration, the one concerned with the implementing of conventions regarding legal cooperation and the other with consular protection, there have been no cases other than the two I have just mentioned.” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 4532-433 XXX 19
  • 12. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX Justice: Hearing with Mme Carola ARRIGHI de CASANOVA Deputy Director of the Administration of judicial and civil affairs and Seal (DACS) at the Ministry of Justice (Minutes of the session of October 12th 2006) X Mme Carola ARRIGHI de CASANOVA: First of all, I must point out that two departments deal with the illegal displacement of children: the office for civil and commercial international assistance which deals with almost all of the international conventions, such as those regulating the obtaining of proof and the transmission of judicial acts, and the mission for assistance in international mediation for families – the MAMIF – which was created in 2001 within my sub- department in order to try to resolve certain domestic conflicts, either in cases where we haven’t been able to apply international conventions, or in cases where we feel there is a possibility the parents will reach an agreement. I should say right away that we are hardly ever faced with situations related to cults.” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 390 Statement of Mr Michel RISPE Head of the Office for civil and commercial international assistance at the Ministry for Justice (Minutes of the session of October 12th 2006) X Mr Michel RISPE: “To date not one file has been opened, amongst the five hundred files we have, in which there have been allegations of belonging to a sectarian organization.” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 391 21
  • 13. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies XXX Gendarmerie nationale*: Statement of General Guy PARAYRE Director of the National Gendarmerie* (Minutes of the session of October 4th 2006) X Mr. Guy PARAYRE: “Associations interested in cults sometimes claim that 20,000 minors could be under the influence of sectarian movements. The absence of a norm for precisely delineating the sort of situation in which it is reasonable to speak of the implication of these minors in such movements nevertheless requires that we approach these figures with care. In any case, even if they only constitute the visible part of the phenomenon, the number of cases dealt with by the gendarmerie is at a much lower level than these estimations: since 2004, only thirty-seven proceedings have been initiated by units of the gendarmerie.” Source: report no. 3507 recorded at the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 12th 2006. Summary of hearings – page 319 *A national force sharing various police duties 23
  • 14. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies Enquiry by the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity This file is also very illustrative, it was obtained by requesting the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity for access to administrative documents. In it we can find methods of investigation that are quite biased. On 23rd June 1998, at the request of the Inter-ministerial Observatory on cults, a very alarmist set of files, mentioning serious potential risks, was sent to 32 General Councils [translator’s note : a General Council is an administrative body at county level] selected due to the presumed situation of children at risk in groups described as “cults”. Almost all of the answers from the General Councils show that the actual situations are completely the opposite of what the Observatory had estimated, and that the children aren’t faced with any difficulties, were in good health and led a life like that of other children. Here we present you with the answers from the General Councils that responded to the enquiry: X General Council of Alpes de Hautes Provence, letter dated 27 July 1998 “[…] do not compromise their health, their safety, their morality or their educational conditions” “ In addition, given the above declaration, on 23rd January 1997, the Children’s’ Judge dismissed the case for educational assistance concerning these minors” X General Council of Alpes-Maritimes, letter dated 20 August 1998 “ [..] is the father of 3 children, the youngest of which, aged 15 years, was experiencing no difficulty”. “For the moment, this context hasn’t been the subject of any particular report and the community [..] is unknown to the county social services.” X General Council of Bouches-du-Rhône, letter dated 30th July 1999 “The children are undergoing normal schooling” X General Council of Corrèze, letter dated 9th February 1999 “I hereby inform you that there are no minors living in ‘communities’ or cult communities in the county of Corrèze.” X General Council of Drôme, letter dated 18 December 1998 “A school inspection carried out in 1997 proved satisfactory.” XXX 25
  • 15. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies X X X Enquiry by the Ministry for Labour and Solidarity X Generalfairly long of Gironde, by the Medico-Social Centre, “After a Council letter dated 1st October 1999 period of observation I have received no information that would lead us to suspect cult practices.” General Council of Isère, letter dated 18th August 1999 X Group 1 “The children were in good health, their bodyweight was rather above the norm at birth. Everything was normal.” Group 2 “No element of danger concerning the children was observed by the social assistants of successive sectors, who intervened in this community.” General Council of Jura, letter dated 21st December 1998 X “The enclosed social report currently makes no mention of any particular difficulties.” General Council of Haute-Loire, letter dated 13th November 1998 X “The findings are that, in the local community, no suspicious way of life has been noticed concerning the children who attend the school. The nursery is medically monitored by an independent medical doctor.” General Council of la Moselle, letter dated 24th September 1998 X “The schooling and socialization of the children is proceeding according to what is current normal practice. The same is true for medical care.” General Council of la Saône et Loire, letter dated 10th February 1999 X “All the children are attending school, in local schools, and these families pose no particular problem.” General Council of Tarn-et-Garonne, letter dated 10th February 1999 X “As regards particularly those children residing in the Tarn et Garonne region, whose families are involved in these structures, neither the neighborhood, nor the medico-social workers nor the schools have informed us of any particular problems in their regard.” 27
  • 16. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies State cost: in staff The disinformation regarding spiritual minorities has led the Government to take extraordinary measures, mobilizing all of the State’s services. X MIVILUDES : The office: 13 people Steering Committee: 26 people Orientation Committee: 30 people 70 training sessions, 2,000 people trained in 2005 Several trips abroad. Source: MIVILUDES Report to the Prime Minister, 2006 X A national network of “cult” correspondents: One or several ‘cult’ correspondents per ministry A county ‘watchdog’ cell in each Police County Headquarters A ‘cult’ correspondent in each school administrative sector A magistrate specializing in ‘cults’ in each Court of Appeal X National Assembly: Three Parliamentary Enquiry Commissions in 11 years A permanent study group at the National Assembly Source: National Assembly website 29
  • 17. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies State cost: in funding Stabilizing public finances is, at present, and rightly so, a government priority as well as a concern for French citizens. The private anti-cult associations UNADFI, CCMM and FECRIS seem to be escaping this rule and are neither subject to restriction nor inspection of their expenditure. Private associations almost 100 % financed by the State or by the local authorities UNADFI Ministry subventions 2005: 368,373.00 € Membership dues and donations: 1,954.00 € Source: profit and loss accounts 2005 CCMM Ministry Subventions 2001 (last available year): 197,572.00 € Prime Minister’s subventions For the acquisition of new premises: 700,000.00 € Membership dues for 2001: 7,006.00 € Note: in 2001 the CCMM went into receivership and the premises purchased with this Prime Minister’s subvention were sold off a few months later to pay off the debts of the association. Source: annual accounts 2001 and annexes FECRIS Prime Minister’s subventions 2006: 50,000.00 € Membership dues: 2,782.00 € Source: report 3363, National Assembly Note: in 2005 and 2006, according to our documentation, France was the only state to finance this association. 31
  • 18. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies Where does this alarmist information on new forms of spirituality come from ? A limited but active group of militants are submerging parliamentarians, the government, the local authorities, the media, etc. with alarmist information. Amongst them we find: Jean-Pierre Brard, Georges Fenech, Philippe Vuilque, Catherine Picard. Their messages have changed very little over the past 20 years. Below are some quotes which show their state of mind: “Only a special legislation, establishing the offence of membership, …. would allow us to fight this phenomenon.” Jean-Pierre Brard (MP), France Soir dated 27/12/95 “A cult misdemeanor must be created” Jean-Pierre Brard, Télérama [translators note: this is a TV magazine] 31st January 1996 “We need an anti-cult law inspired by the law of 1936 against factious groups. This new text would recommend the pure and simple prohibition of cults.” Jean-Pierre Brard, 93 Hebdo 8/14 August 1997 “I’ve never had any dialogue with anyone whatsoever that was in any way connected with cult movements”. Georges Fenech (President of the Parliamentary Enquiry Commission on cults — 2006), Sud Radio 8th June 2007 “We have decided, in agreement with all the parliamentarians working on a European level on this subject, to say what must not be defined. Because the definition of the term ‘cult’, which in France is not legally defined, would allow cult movements to leave the framework of the definition” Catherine Picard, former MP, author of the law of June 12, 2001 and president of the UNADFI. 33
  • 19. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies But what are the real problems that need to be addressed ? RAPE X A rape every 2 hours 4,412 cases of rape committed on adults Source: Ministry of the Interior, 2005 SUICIDE X A suicide every 40 minutes 160,000 attempted suicides More than 11,000 deaths per year Source: infosuicide.org DRUG TRAFFICKING X An arrest every 5 minutes 93,817 questionings for use of narcotics 78,287 seizures of narcotic products Source: National file of perpetrators of offences against legislation on narcotics (OCRTIS), 2006 SCHOOL VIOLENCE X A serious incident every 6 minutes 82,007 serious incidents reported in 2005/2006 Source: Department of Education data- SIGNA ROAD ACCIDENTS X ROAD ACCIDENTS 82,993 accidents involving personal injury — 105,980 injured 4,942 killed Source: Ministry of Interior - Road Safety, 2006 35
  • 20. The handling of new spiritual : movements by the French state: the anomalies Conclusion The facts recounted in this brochure confirm what our association has upheld since its creation : citizens members of spiritual and religious minorities are perfectly integrated in French society. It is therefore unjust and unacceptable that actions of harassment be taken against them, actions that are financed by the taxpayer to the extent of more than a million euros per year (this figure only takes the financing of the UNADFI, the CCMM, the FECRIS and the MIVILUDES). To attack spiritual and religious beliefs and practices represents : a disturbance of the peace ! In its article 9, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms stipulates: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” Similarly, the Law of December 9, 1905 established the principle of Co-ordination of Associations and Individuals separation between Churches and the State and guarantees freedom for the Freedom of Conscience of religion, article 1: “The Republic ensures freedom of conscience. The association Cap LC was created to defend opinion minorities; it is open to It guarantees the free exercise of worship, restricted only by those individuals and associations of all obedience that share a profound attachment to limitations decreed in the interest of preserving law and order.” freedom of conscience. A witch hunt — initiated by a few people — is being carried out We hereby request the cessation of the discriminatory policy against in France against groups dealing with spiritual and personal enhancement, alternative medicine and psychotherapy, new religious movements… CAP LC wants to create a springboard of information, communication and action for individuals and groups : minority beliefs. affected by the following issues: freedom of conscience, religious freedom, freedom of therapy, freedom of conviction, freedom of thought, freedom of worship. 12, rue Campagne Première - 75014 Paris — www.coordiap.com 37 © CAP LC 2007 All rights reserved