Has the French government declared war on religion?

A lot of folks are upset about a proposed new law in France:


And it isn’t just religious folks who are alarmed about this bill. A number of human rights organizations and some foreign governments (including the U.S.) have expressed concern over the proposed new law.

So: Is this a case of humanists over-reacting? If so, what measures (if any) should be taken to protect people from abuses by religious groups?

So…your cite is “The Foundation for Religious Freedom”, which won’t even give me a link to read the bill itself, so that I can make up my own opinion.


Also, if–as claimed in forf.org–the bill has already been signed into law, then it isn’t “a proposed law” anymore. So which is it?

Is the BBC good enough for you, asshole?


Decaf, my man, decaf.

See, nice, simple cite to a news source. Whee.
Still wondering if you have actual text of the law; I like to read things for myself (though I suppose it’s in french, and my french is more that a bit rusty).

A Google search for “About-Picard Bill” brings up “Bill Picard, Motivational Speaker” and “Big Bill’s
Star Trek Stuff”.

Add “France” to the search string. Ah.

There is one “Letter to the Editor” from February 2001 protesting it, but it refers to it as “proposed”.

This website says it was passed in June 2000, on the 22nd, to be specific.


So does this one.

So does this one.

This one’s different.

So, is it law, or not? I have no clue how the French legislative branch works. So, what? They pass the bill, then they discuss it? :confused: After it’s “passed”, it has to go back and forth some more before it’s really passed?
Anyway, the bill itself is probably on the Web somewhere, but I don’t feel like rummaging through all the Google hits to find it.

Manners, my man, manners. I wouldn’t have flamed if you hadn’t been rude to me in the first place. Asshole.

While I’m an avowed atheist who would love to see an end to religion in our lives, I do think this (proposed? passed?) bill is wishy-washy. Why limit the ban to “cults,” given that IMO all religions are cults?

(Religion is just what a cult wants to be when it grows up. :slight_smile: )

Either have the balls to ban religion outright, or don’t bother.

Either way, you aren’t allowed to call someone an asshole in Great Debates. You’ve been around long enough that you should have figured that out by now.

Lonesome Polecat:

[Moderator Hat ON]

No matter how rude you think someone might be, you are not allowed to call anyone an asshole in Great Debates. Particuarly not twice. Don’t go for three.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

Some more links for you just in case you still aren’t happy:





Sigh, it seems that the Catholic Church can’t win debates against Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like, so they work with the socialists to have this repressive law passed.

‘Mental manipulation’, that is what we do here all the time. Will the French go after us now?

You know, this is a tough one. Oppose the bill, piss off the French. Support the bill, piss of the Scientologists. I really can’t decide which is more appealing.

Decisions, decisions, decisions… Couldn’t agree more with that sentiment though.

Though I was born in France, I left there when I was seven, so I’m not sure how there parliament works. It may be similar to the Australian model, where a law has to be approved in the lower house and the senate before it is officially law. Often, a proposed law is passed in the lower house, is discussed by the Senate, but is rejected and returned to the lower house with suggested modifications. This continues till the proposed law is passed, dropped or a double dissolution is requested (new election for both houses).

If anyone is particularly interested in the details of this law, or what needs to happen before it officially becomes law, I can email people for an answer/details. I guess I can always pull up the French site for the Ministry of Justice and try and translate, but that thought sends shudders down my spine!

Actually, I have some comments and observations to add, but I think I won’t, because LonesomePolecat is being such an a-…uh, is being so rude. I don’t think Myrr21’s first comment was rude to LP at all, and only very gently critical of the forf.org site. And Myrr21 exhibited still more good manners by not returning the rudeness.

I’m going to play somewhere else.

I think it is a great law. It doesn’t give the government the power to just banish religion, but rather to get rid of corrupt religious leaders. With this law, you can get rid of the cults that everyone hates, and do it in a legal fashion. And you can get rid of people who brainwash other people.

I think it’s a great law. If organized religions are all they’re cracked up to be, then they should not have to worry.

It’s true - the law is aimed squarely at Scientology and all the other criminal, predatory cults (which are quite small compared to Scientology).

To say that the French government has “declared war on religion” is to use the exact same lingo that Scientology’s propagandists started tossing around when the German government began giving them a hard time - that the Germans were treating Scientologists like the Jews in the '30s were treated etc., “the world cries out for justice” etc. It’s very cynical and tasteless and assumes that Scientology is a legitimate faith.

In reality, all of Europe has begun to show its distaste for this bucket o’crap religion which seeks to accumulate money and real estate and - by recruiting government employees - influence and intelligence sources in positions of power. When Scientology is made illegal anywhere - as it in in Greece, for example - it’s actually a VICTORY for human rights.

Read the rest of this article at http://www.xenu.net/archive/WIR/

(or for fun just browse http://www.xenu.net for a few hours)

I think the Bill in question is No. 83 on this list: Proposition de loi tendant à renforcer la prévention et la répression des mouvements sectaires portant atteinte aux droits de l’homme et aux libertés fondamentales

As far as I can tell, the Bill provides for an organisation[sup]*[/sup] to be dissolved if it is engaged in activities which create, maintain or exploit the psychological or physical subjugation of people who participate in those activities, provided that the organisation or its directors have been convicted of one of a specific list of offenses. These include, among others, various things which seem to fall into the category of assualt or offences against the person, placing a minor at risk, practicing medicine or pharmacy illegally, public dishonesty and fraud.

In other words, it does not create any new offences per se but allows for organisations which are already breaking the law to be wound up. Any law-abiding religions organisation has nothing to fear.

Bear in mind that Franch attitudes to freedom of speech and religion are different from those in the USA. Organisations such as the Scientologists have been successfully prosecuted in the past for peddling false “cures”, and the fact that they are a religious or quasi-religious organisation does not offer them any protection, just as the First Amendment in the USA does not extend (I assume) to false or fraudulent claims made by commercial organisations.

*[sup] “personne morale”, which I imagine is like a legal person or a body corporate in English law. No doubt somebody will have a better idea of what it means than I do.[/sup]

Thanks, TomH, it helps to see the law itself before I make up my mind and go charging half-cocked one way or another.

As far as I can tell, it allows the government to dissolve religious groups that engage in criminal activity: injuring members, putting minors in danger, selling restricted drugs, etc.

All this law does is allow a “religious” organization that engages in illegal activity as a whole to to dissolved, instead of going after one of the leaders at a time while the group re-forms.


Bills must passed by both Houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, after which the President must either promulgate them within 15 days or insist that Parliament reconsiders.

According to the Senate website, the Bill has reached the stage of petite loi, which means that is has been passed by both Houses, but in different forms. In this case, it appears that the Senate amended the version passed by the AN (the manuscript amendments shown on the .pdf version). The Bill must now pass backwards and forwards between the two Houses (a process known as the navette, or shuttle) until they have both agreed on a final text.

The bill has not been finally passed, but it has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and they are now just arguing about the details. The important thing is that Parliament has agreed to the principle, and it is highly likely to become law sooner rather than later.


[Moderator Hat ON]

It is also not a good idea to make it explicitly clear what insult you are intending to say. If you make an oblique insult obvious enough that everyone knows what you’re saying, then believe it or not, I know what you’re saying, too.

[Moderator Hat OFF]