Cults in France
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N° 2468

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Recorded with the Presidency of the National Assembly on December 22, 1995.





Mr. Alain Gest,


Mr. Jacques Guyard,



(1) This Commission is made up of: Messrs. Alain Gest, president, Jean- Pierre Brard, Mrs. Suzanne Sauvaigo, vice-presidents, Messrs. Eric DoligŽ, Rudy Rooms, secretaries, Jacques Guyard, reporter; Messrs. Jean-Claude Bahu, Pierre Bernard, Raoul BŽteille, Mrs. Christine Boutin, Messrs. Jean-Pierre Brard, Jean-Franois Calvo, Rene Chub, Mrs. Martine David, Messrs. Pierre Delmar, Bernard Derosier, Eric DoligŽ, Jean-Pierre Foucher, Jean Geney, Alain Gest, Jean Gravel, Jacques Guyard, Pierre Lang, Gerard Larrat, Claude-Gerard Marcus, Thierry Mariani, Mrs. Odile Moirin, Messrs. George Mothron, Jacques Myard, Mrs. Catherine Nicolas, Messrs. Francisque Perrut, Daniel Picotin, Marc Reymann, Marcel Castlings, Rudy Rooms and Mrs. Suzanne Sauvaigo.

Humans right and public freedoms.


1.- The impossible legal definition 8
2.- The imprecision and diversity of the definitions resulting from the current language 10
a) Etymological approach 10
B) Sociological approach 11
c) Approach based on the danger of the cults 11
d) The concept retained by the Commission 12
1.- The evaluation by General Information 15
2.- Evaluation by Different Experts 27
1.- Main current tendencies 32
a) The nature of the sects 32
B) The structure of the sects 34
c) Topics Developed by the Sects 34
d) The Perception of the Sectarian Phenomenon 35
2.- Factors of Potential Expansion 37
a) The response to significant needs 37
B) Increasingly Sophisticated Recruitment Techniques 41
c) A Financial Power 46
1.- Method adopted by General Information 49
2.- Results of the investigation 60
1.- Many and varied illegalities 66
2.- A harmfulness which largely exceeds the field of illegalities noted by the courts 74
a) Dangers to the individual 76
B) Dangers to the community 80

1.- Regulations which, while guaranteeing freedom of religion, make it possible to repress the abuses of sectarian movements

a) The spiritual movements have several legal frameworks for expressing themselves 85
B) A significant legal arsenal makes it possible to penalize cultic "drifts" 90
2.- A radical reform does not appear desirable

a) Inappropriateness of a legal statute specific to cults 97
B) Risks of recognizing the cults as religions with a whole share 101
1.- Better to know and make known 102
2.- To better apply existing laws 110
3.- To improve the legal device 116
5.- To help the former followers 123



88 members of the Branch Davidian cult died either by suicide or at the end of confrontation with the police in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993; 53 members of the Solar Temple cult died, committed suicide, or were assassinated in Switzerland and in Canada on October 4, 1994; 11 died and 5,000 were wounded in the attack with gas perpetrated in the subway of Tokyo by the Aoum sect on March 5, 1995: without returning on older facts - but everyone still remembers the collective suicide of the 923 members of the People's Temple in Guyana in 1978 - here, in less than three years, the assessment of the most serious criminal intrigues of which certain cults were guilty. When such things happen, the media hastens to investigate the cult phenomenon, the opinion is moved - rightly - then the attention falls down until the following spectacular episode which will be the subject of the same processing. But, during this time, a certain number of cults insidiously continue to achieve their daily misdeeds in the quasi-general indifference.

The report written by Alain Vivien at the request of the Prime Minister and published in 1985 under the title "Cults in France: Expression of Moral Freedom or Factors of Manipulation", which presented a picture of the cult phenomenon and analyzed the principal aspects of them before formulating a certain number of proposals, had the great merit to constitute the first thorough and objective study on the dangers of cults and to alert the public authorities and the opinion on a reality the strength of which was hitherto badly known. That being, here we are now more than ten years since this document was published, and are forced to note that the measures that it recommended for the most part, in spite of their interest and simplicity, remain as a dead letter, sects continue to thrive and exploit, for their more large profit, the distress in which the evolution of our society plunges many of our contemporaries, ready to allow themselves to be deceived by the apparent spirituality of a speech of which they have the illusion that it can bring the response to their waitings.

It was thus legitimate that the national representation is concerned to measure a phenomenon whose evolution, since the report of Mr. Alain Vivien, is known little about, to appreciate the dangers which it poses to individuals and society, and to give a report on the measures necessary to fight it. Therefore the national Assembly has it, by adopting unanimously on last 29 June the motion for a resolution presented by Mr. Jacques Guyard and the members of the socialist group, created a board of inquiry "charged to study the phenomenon of cults and to propose, if it is necessary, the adaptation of the texts in force."

Constituted on last 11 July, the Commission decided, during the meeting that it held on July 18 to organize the course of its work, to place under the mode of the secrecy the whole of hearings to which it would proceed in order to allow the greatest freedom of speech to the people of which it would request testimony. Pursuant to the commitment entered into with the witnesses, this report will thus not comprise in appendix the report of hearings which nourished the reflexions of the Commission, nor even the list of the people that it heard. In the same spirit, is not mentioned in the report the origin of the remarks of which it quotes.

Twenty hearings were carried out under these conditions, for a total duration of twenty-one hours. They have enabled the Commission to gather knowledge of information, people's experiences and analysis, people of various titles, a thorough knowledge of the cult phenomenon, some in administrative capacities, some doctors, some lawyers, some men of the Church [priests?], some representatives of association of assistance for victims of a cult, and, of course, some former followers of cult movements and some leaders of cult associations. The Commission, in addition, requested the input of various administrations to try as well as possible to refine the knowledge of the field of its study. One must note that the requests were answered with unequal eagerness and zeal. If the Ministry of Social Affairs, that of the Foreign Affairs, the Prefecture of Police of Paris and, especially, the Ministry of the Interior (Central Dept. of General Information), helped the Commission very effectively in its search and its reflexions, the Ministry of Economy and Finances (General Dept. of Taxes), and the Ministry of Justice (Dept. of Criminal Affairs and the Graces[?]) indeed transmitted only very tardily information they have.

Such as it is presented in this report, the result of the whole of the work undertaken by the Commission will disappoint those which would have expected to find there revelations or new anecdotes. It did not have the means, and, moreover, it was not its mission, to devote itself to search or call into question something which fell within the competence of the services of the police and, if necessary, of justice. While being based on the work of a very great interest carried out by the central Management of the general Information, on the search and the analyses carried out by specialists in various disciplines, finally, on oral or written testimonies of people having lived themselves within a cult or whose close relations knew or know this experiment, it tried to apprehend a moving, complex and often disguised reality as well as possible pretences.

As it will be seen, the Commission was at the first confronted with the difficulty in defining the term of "cults" to delimit its field of study. Nevertheless, it chose not to be deterred by what is actually only one false obstacle, and to follow with perseverance an empirical step that some could judge insufficiently ambitious but whose modesty hides a preoccupation of realism and an effectiveness. So it is that without a systematic spirit [? esprit de systme], without a fixed mental image of any kind, and taking great care not to proceed with some amalgam abusive nor to fall into paranoia, without showing of other-worldliness or, at least, naivety, that the Commission tried to appreciate contours of a phenomenon which, although difficult to understand, seems to develop, before noting that it reveals itself in diversified forms and is often characterized by dangerous practices, and, finally, to release the means of a response adapted to this danger.

* *


The Commission first of all sought to appreciate the current extent of the cult phenomenon and, in the light of some of its characteristics as well as its recent evolution, to release the its probable tendencies of development. In spite of the difficulties which it met to define the phenomenon being the subject of its study and to measure it, it appeared to the Commission that it conceals potentialities of expansion which must justify an increased vigilance on behalf of the public authorities.


First, the approach to the phenomenon of cults, like every other, assumes that this concept is clearly defined.

However, all the studies, all the works devoted to associations known as cults recognize the difficulty of such a step, that the Commission measured throughout its work: indeed, the concept of cult, particularly difficult to define in the current language, is completely unknown from the French law.

Obviously, this situation could only make the Commission's task more difficult. Having been confronted with this difficulty from the very start of its search, the Commission did not want to let itself lock up in the alternative to which it leads logically: either to try to give a legal definition to the concept of cult intended to be used as a basis following its work, with the risk to run up against the principle of the freedom of conscience, or to consider that it could not validly continue to work because of impossibility of proceeding to such a definition. It has, with modesty but also in a preoccupation with an effectiveness, follow-up an empirical step, by noting the existence of organizations various commonly called cults and while seeking to specify contours of what can be included under this name to establish from them the characteristics which can justify that one is interested in it, even that one is worried some.

1.- The impossible legal definition

The legal absence of definition of cults in law results from the French conception of the notion of secularity.

The origin of this conception is to be sought in article 10 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the citizen who lays out that "no one should be bothered for his opinions, even religious, provided that their demonstration does not disturb the law and order instituted by the law ". The writers of the Declaration thus clearly posed the principle of the neutrality of the State, of its discretion with regard to religious opinions.

This attitude must be supplemented by a more positive approach, which entrusts to the State the responsibility to ensure each one the free exercise of the religion of his choice; Article 2 of the Constitution of October 4, 1958 specifies thus that France, [la•que?] Republic, "ensures the equality in front of the law of the citizens without reference of origin, race or religion" and it "respects all beliefs." This recent constitutional dedication[?] had been outlined by the preamble to the Constitution of 1946 which, whatever the debates relating to its legal consequences, recalled the attachment of the French people to the declaration of 1789 and with the "fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic."

The legal status of the worships which result from such a conception of secularity is contained entirely in the first two articles of the law of December 9, 1905 relating to the separation of the Church and the State, which lay out that "the Republic ensures the freedom of conscience ] guarantees the free exercise of worships " (Article 1) and that it "does not recognize, does not pay, nor does not subsidize any worship." (Article 2).

The principle of neutrality of the State thus means that the religious beliefs are not a public fact subject to the restrictions related to the respect of the law and order, that the religious fact concerns the only individuals, of the only private sphere of the citizens.

Thus is explained that the State, faithful to its "indifference" displayed with regard to religions, never gave a legal definition of those. If the doctrines admit that they are characterized by the meeting of subjective elements (faith, belief) and of objective elements (the rite, community), a definition of a religion cannot be noted in the substantive law.

This one is restricted to regulate the life of the legal structures as well as social practices which constitute the support of the religions (associations, [cultuelles?] or not, religious congregations); it does not make any legal distinction between the various worships, does not carry out any discrimination, positive or negative, between them.

One conceives legal impossibility consequently to define the criteria allowing to define the social forms which can take the exercise of a religious belief, [a fortiori?] to distinguish a Church from a sect.

The board of inquiry was thus confronted from the very start of its activity with the paradox to have to work on a juridically non-existent sector. Its position was all the more delicate since, impossible to define in right, the concept is also difficult to handle in the current language.

2.- The imprecision and diversity of the definitions resulting from the current language

The concept of cult, even in the current language, is not unequivocal; various levels of analysis are not undoubtedly enough to testify to the diversity - and the richness - of the concept.

a) Etymological approach

An etymological study shows that the term "cult" [the actual French word is "secte." I have been using "cult" because that's the sense in which it's used in the report. Wherever "cult" appears in this translation, "secte" is the original French. To my knowledge, there is no separate word for "cult."] appeared around the 13th - 14th centuries and that it can be connected to two Latin roots: one connecting it to the verb to follow, the other with the verb to cross.

This hesitation on the semantic origin still today impregnates all of the dictionaries.

Significant is the definition provided by the LittrŽ dictionary, for which a cult is "the whole of the people who make profession of same doctrines " or "which follows a marked opinion of heresy or error."

The Robert dictionary distinguishes between those people "who have the same doctrines within a religion" and those who "profess the same doctrines."

In all the cases, the two supposed origins of the concept induce, simultaneously or alternatively, the two ideas of common belief and/or rupture compared to a former belief.

It is on this concept of rupture that the dictionary of the religions (PUF, 1984) insists, defining a cult as "In the original sense, a group who dispute the doctrines and structures of the Church, generally involving dissidence. In a wider sense, any minority religious movement."

B) Sociological approach

Sociology defines a cult as a group in opposition to that of Church. Thus Max Weber proceeded to specify these two concepts one compared to the other; for him the Church is an institution of health [salut?] which privileges the extension of its influence, whereas a cult is a contractual group which stresses the intensity of the life of its members.

Ernst Troeltsh continued the work of Weber and stressed that the Church is ready, to extend its audience, to adapt to society, to pass compromises with the States. A cult, on the other hand, is located in withdrawal compared to global society and tends to refuse any link with it, and even any dialogue. It adopts an identical attitude with regard to the other religions, so that in this sense ecumenism could be used as a criterion to distinguish Church and cult.

c) Approach based on the danger of the cults

The term "cultish" appeared during wars of religion and impresses of a strong pejorative connotation. It is applied to the member of a cult characterized by his intolerance, blind adhesion, and narrow-mindedness.

The modern language was strongly marked by this pejorative connotation: nowadays, the term "cult" makes reference to minority religious or pseudo-religious movements of recent appearance, secessionists or not.

The debate regarding "dangerous cults" or "cultish drifts" still accentuated the pejorative aspect of the concept.

Several people heard by the Commission developed in front of it approaches of the definition of cults based on the danger of the movements. One of them thus formalized the result of this step, while giving as a definition of cults:

" Groups aiming by operations of psychological destabilization at obtaining from their followers an unconditional allegiance, a reduction in the critical spirit, a rupture with the references commonly allowed (ethics, scientists, civic, educational), and involving dangers to the personal freedoms, health, education, the democratic institutions.

These groups use philosophical, religious or therapeutic masks to dissimulate objectives to be able to influence and exploit their followers. "

From such a point of view, the stress is laid moreover on the insidious character of the cultish drift, because it is difficult to trace a border between "legitimate " operation and the danger zone, i.e. between:

- free association and the coercive group,

- conviction and a certainty which is impossible to circumvent,

- engagement and fanaticism,

- the prestige of the head and the worship of the guru,

- voluntary decisions and completely induced choices,

- search of alternatives (cultural, morals, ideological) and rupture with the values of society,

- loyal group membership and unconditional allegiance,

- skillful persuasion and programmed manipulation,

- the mobilizing language and the nŽolanguage (the "set language"), [literally "langue de bois," language of the woods, meaning perhaps language that hides things?]

- l'esprit de corps and the fusionnel [melted together without any individuality] group.

One measures at which point it is, under these conditions, difficult to reason in an objective way, to be located between vulgarizing and the diabolisation, blindness and the abusive tolerance on the one hand, generalized suspicion on the other hand: it is however this way which chose the Commission.

d) The concept retained by the Commission

The Commission indeed noted that if the difficulty of defining the concept of cult were underlined by all the people that it heard, the reality concerned seems unanimously encircled, except naturally by the followers and leaders of the cults which deny this character with their grouping (while being able to recognize it with others) and prefer to evoke the terms of "Churches" or of "religious minorities."

The Commission does not claim to succeed in it with what all those which work on the question of cults, often for many years, did not arrive, i.e. giving an "objective" definition of cults, likely to be accepted by all. Work of the Commission is thus based on a certain number of ethical choices which it does not seek to dissimulate.

Among the indices making it possible to suppose the possible reality of suspicions resulting in describing as cult a movement being presented in the form of a religion, it retained, endorsing the criteria used by the General Information in the analyses of cult phenomenon to which proceeds this service and which was communicated to the Commission:

- mental destabilization;

- exorbitant character of the financial requirements;

- isolation from society

- danger to physical health

- embrigadement [bringing into the "troops"] of the children;

- the more or less antisocial speech;

- disorders with the law and order;

- importance of the legal contentions;

- the possible diversion of the traditional economic circuits;

- attempts at infiltration of the public authorities.

Your Commission insists on the fact that, the definition of cults proving with many regards difficult, it carried out its work while taking care not to endorse the definitions of cults suggested by its interlocutors, by nature engaged, with a title or another in the promotion of the new religions or the fight against their excesses - realities or supposed --.

It was conscious that neither the innovation, neither the small number of followers, nor even the eccentricity could be retained as criteria making it possible to describe a religious movement as a cult; the greatest contemporary religions were often, at their beginnings, sects with a small number of followers; many established and socially allowed rites today could in the beginning cause reserves or oppositions.

The field of the Commission's study has thus been voluntarily restricted to a certain number of association joining together, generally around a spiritual head, some people sharing the same belief in a being or a certain number of transcendental ideas, itself located or not in rupture "traditional" religion" (Christian, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist) which have been excluded from this study, and on which have, at one time or another, weigh the suspicion of an activity contrary with public law and order or with personal individual freedoms.

The difficulty in defining the concept of cult, which will however be used in the continuation of this report, led the Commission to retain a beam of indices, of which each one could lend to long discussions. It thus preferred, with the risk of [froisser?] many susceptibilities or to carry out an analysis partial to reality, to retain the common direction that the public opinion allots to the concept.

With defect[?], the Commission could not, noting the difficulties encountered at the time of the attempt at definition of the phenomenon, allow that to stop its work. Such an attitude would undoubtedly have diverted, and, moreover, would have prevented the Commission from analyzing the real problems arising from the development of a certain number of associations.

Difficult as it is to define, the phenomenon of cults cannot in addition - but also of this fact - be measured with precision.


Any attempt at total measurement of the cult phenomenon encounters a certain number of obstacles, which must be briefly described.

The inaccuracy surrounding the definition of the concept is of course the first of them: how to measure a phenomenon of which there is not a definition accepted by all?

Secondly, it is difficult to quantify the activity of multiple associations revolving around such and such a movement, to distinguish, for example, the regular listener of conferences organized by an association close to a cult, with a follower of the latter.

Thirdly, the choice of criterion being used to measure the phenomenon is so random: Does one have to obtain the number of followers or that of the sympathizers, to suppose that one or the other of these two concepts can receive a satisfactory definition? Taking into account the family or social impact of the phenomenon, does one have to include the entourage of people directly concerned to correctly appreciate the number of "victims"?

Moreover, the cults themselves are not always able to quantify with relative precision the number of their members. Various indices even make it possible to affirm that some of them artificially inflate in order to accredit the idea of an audience which they do not have in reality, whereas others voluntarily minimize it with an aim of not drawing the attention of the public authorities.

The real audience of different cults cannot, finally, be measured only by the yardstick of numerical criteria: the international establishment of the sect, its financial capacities, its possible strategy of infiltration contribute for much to its audience, its capacity of interference, its danger.

These methodological reserves posed, it is, however, necessary to try to better encircle, on the quantitative level, the cult phenomenon.

Two types of evaluation were communicated to the Commission: one results from the observations of the Central Management of General Information; the other, more indirect, of the studies of a certain number of experts.

1.- The evaluation by General Information

The cult phenomenon has been an object, since a score of years, of a regular follow-up by General Information. However, the topicality of the phenomenon and the limited means of the DCRG [Direction Centrale des Renseignements General = General Information] do not authorize the frequent execution of work of synthesis.

Two assessments have been drawn up to date, one within the framework of the development of the report of Mr. Alain Vivien "Cults in France,", in 1982, the other at the request of the Board of Inquiry.

The very complete and fine analysis which was given to General Information retains a definition of a cult based on the supposed danger of the various movements, itself deduced from the existence of one or more indices among the following: mental destabilization, exorbitant financial requirements, rupture with the environment of origin, attacks to the physical integrity, enlisting of the children, antisocial speech, disturbances with the law and order, legal contentions, diversions of the economic circuits, infiltration of the public authorities. On these bases, were listed, within the framework of each metropolitan department, associations filling at least one of these ten criteria.

Additionally, for each movement, the following are distinguished: "the organization mother" of the various "subsidiary companies" which revolve around it, that those are "official" (local antennas bearing the name of the cult), or "masked" (various associations, even civil or commercial companies).

The various "organization-mothers" have, moreover, is the subject of a quantitative evaluation allowing to distribute them between those which count less than 50 followers, between 50 and 500 followers, 500 and 2,000 followers, more than 2,000 followers. It is to be announced that only the movement of the Jehovah's Witnesses exceeds in France the 10,000 faithful ones (their number is estimated at 130,000).

For the most part, esoteric movements or those attached to anthroposophie [humanism?], although sometimes predisposing individuals weakened with a "cultish advance," were not mentioned, because of their objective harmlessness. In the same way, the immense majority of the groups claiming exclusively to be New Age, multiples and with the often confidential audience, were excluded from this study as being still at the "cultish fringes."

Aggregation, at the national level, of the results obtained by department makes it possible to initially draw a certain number of charts, the first showing the number of cults, the second showing the number of their followers, the last showing the dynamics of the movement.

  • The Cult Structures
  • The number of movements listed by the DCRG and answering one of the criteria of danger indicated above amounts today to 172 for the "organization-mothers." The inclusion of the "subsidiary companies" in the study makes it possible to note the existence, in France, of a veritable "cult nebula" numbering more than 800 satellites.

    A study of the geographical distribution of the sects shows that the phenomenon is not uniformly distributed over French territory.

    The organizations mothers concentrate essentially on four large areas (Chart No. 1):

    - the first includes l'Ile-de-France and its departments bordering to extend to la Manche and part of Brittany;

    - the second irradiates around the estuary of the Gironde to touch the North of Aquitaine and the South of the Poitou-Charentes area;

    - the third draws a radius to extend itself to the near total of the area Provence-Alpes-C™te d'Azur;

    - the fourth finally is circumscribed at two Lorraine departments, the Moselle and Meurthe and the Moselle.

    Conversely, the areas Centre, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Maine et Loire, Franche-ComtŽ seem relatively saved.

    The inclusion of the "subsidiary companies" in the cartographic representation does not modify the representation of the cult phenomenon, even if it increases the impression of diffusion on the whole of the national territory (Chart No. 2).

    This impression is still increased if one associates with this last cartographic representation the influence represented by the Jehovah's Witnesses, whose places of worship ("Kingdom Halls") are numerous in a certain number of departments little touched by the remainder of the cult phenomenon, in particular le Calvados, le Finistre, les PyrŽnŽes Atlantiques, le Doubs (Chart No. 3).

  • The Cult Followers
  • If it is difficult to carry out a precise figuring, it is more difficult to distinguish the true follower from the occasional disciple or of the simple sympathizer. General Information estimates at 160,000 the number of at least occasional followers, and at 100,000 the number of sympathizers.

    It is however necessary to refine these results while making the point that 80% of the movements gather less than 500 followers, nearly 60 sects number even less than 50 followers. One thus notes a concentration of the cult phenomenon in forty movements, which one will see, in addition, that it is those which generally answer a great number of criteria of danger.

    The following lists present, classified alphabetically and in sections by number of followers, those movements which can, using the yardstick of the defined criteria, be described as cultish.

    - Cult Movements of Less than 50 Followers: [I left the names in French, with translations in brackets when needed. - Translator]

    Alliance Rose Croix / Association Recherches Culturelles [Rose Cross Alliance/Cultural Search Association] [Rosicrucians -editor]
    Association Culturelle ALPHA
    Association de soutien à l'oeuvre de Sundari - L'Ecole de l'essentialisme [Association of support with work of Sundari - TheSchool of Essentialisme Association]
    Association Le Droit de survie [The Right of Survival Association]
    Association spirituelle d'Haidyakhan
    Centre d'applications psychiques "Raphaël" [Center of Psychic Applications "Raphael"]
    Centre d'épanouissement et aide François de Sales [Center of Blooming? and Aid Franois of Sales]
    Centre de développement humain [Center of Human Development]
    Centre de thérapie Dalmatie [Center of Dalmatie Therapy]
    Clé de l'univers [Key of the Universe]
    Club prélude à l'Age d'or [Prelude to the Golden Age Club]
    Communauté de la Thébaide [Community of ThŽbaide]
    Communauté Les boucheries [The Butcheries Community]
    Cosmos - Intuition - Ailes
    Dakpo Shampa Kadgyu
    Ecole de la préparation de l'évacuation extra terrestre [School for Preparation for Extraterrestrial Evacuation]
    Eglise Khristique de la Jérusalem Nouvelle ordre de Raolf, d'Arnold et d'Osmond [Church Khristique of the New Jerusalem order of Raolf, of Arnold and of Osmond]
    Eglise philosophique Luciférienne [Philosophic Church of Lucifer]
    El - Etre son corps [El - Be its Body]
    Emissaries of the divine light
    Enseignement et thérapie de recherches évolutives [Teaching and therapy of evolutionary search]
    Etre-Exister-Energétique [Be-Exist-Energetics]
    Fondation Saint-germain
    Grande loge souveraine internationale magique et theurgique de rite égyptien - Cagliostro [Grand Lodge Sovereign International Magic and Theurgique[?] of Egyptian Rite - Cagliostro]
    Ermitage du Christ de la paix [Hermitage of Christ of Peace]
    Insight seminars - Innergy
    Institut de psychanimie
    Institut de recherches psychanalytiques [Institute of Psychoanalytic Research]
    Institut Frank Natale
    Kofuku no kagaku (institut pour la recherche du bonheur de l'homme) [Institute for Research of Happiness of Man]
    L'arbre au milieu [The tree in the Environment]
    La nouvelle ère [The New Era]
    Le suicide des rives [The suicide of the banks (as in river banks)]
    Landmark education international - Le forum
    Le club des surhommes [The Club of the About-men]
    Le village du verseau [The Village of Aquarius]
    Les amis de la confrérie Saint-Andréas [The Friends of the Saint-AndrŽas Brotherhood]
    Les amis de Marie - Les pauvres de Marie [The Friends of Mary -- The Poor Ones of Mary]
    Les croisés de la nouvelle Babylone [The Cross Ones of the New Babylon]
    Les jardins de la vie [The Gardens of Life]
    Loisirs et santé - Le corps miroir [Leisures and Health -- The Body Mirror]
    Lumière dorée [Guilded Light]
    Méthode Sylva de contrôle mental [Silva Mind Control]
    Ordonnance des scribes scientifiques et des mystères initiatiques [Order of Scientific Scribes and Initiatory Mysteries]
    Ordre des chevaliers de France et de la Trinité Sainte [Order of the Knights of France and of the Holy Trinity]
    Ordre du temple universel [Order of the Universal Temple]
    Red concept limited
    Révélation de la 7ème heure [Revelation of the 7th Hour]
    Savoir changer maintenant [Savior to Change Now]
    Shinji Shumeikai France
    Spiritual Emergence Network France - Respiration holotropique [Holotropic Breathing]

    - Cult Movements with from 50 to 500 followers:

    Amis de la croix glorieuse de Dozule
    Arche de Marie
    Association de défense des libertés d'expression dans l'institution française (ADLEIF)
    Association de méditation en France
    Association Nouvelle Acropole France (ANAF)
    Association pour l'unification du christianisme mondial
    Association pour la promotion des arts industrieux (APPAI)
    Association pour la recherche et l'étude de la survivance (APRES)
    Association Vo Vi de France - Amis de la Science du non être de France
    Centre d'Etudes Gnostiques
    Centre d'information OSHO
    Centre de documentation et d'information et de contact pour la prévention du cancer
    Centre de méditation Mahatayana
    Centre du cygne Djivana Prana - Source de vie
    Centre du Paraclet
    Centre international de parapsychologie et de recherche scientifique du Nouvel Age
    Cercle initiatique de la licorne Wicca occidentale
    Comètes oxygènes - Le moulin du soleil
    Communauté pour la propagation de la vie universelle
    Communion de satonnay
    Eckankar France
    Energie et création - Energie et créativité
    Energy world
    Espace culturel Etre maintenant (ECEM)
    Etude tradition et recherche en énergétique (E.T.R.E.)
    Faculté de parapsychologie
    Famille de Nazareth
    Fédération française pour la conscience de Krishna
    Fédération internationale pour le développement de l'alimentation instinctive (FIDALI)
    Fondation Elan vital
    Harmonie holistique
    Humana France - TVIND
    Iesu no mitama kyokai (Eglise du Saint Esprit de Jésus)
    Institut de recherche physique et conscience
    Institut de Saint-Preux
    Institut des sciences holistiques de l'Ouest
    Institut théologique de Nimes
    L'Eglise à Paris
    La famille (ex-enfant de Dieu)
    La science du mental
    La voie de la lumière (unité de recherches pour l'évolution de la lumière)
    La voie internationale
    Le grand logis
    Lectorium rosicrucianum (Rose-Croix d'or)
    Lumière du Maat
    Maha Shakti Mandir
    Mandala 33
    Mission Swmi Atmananda Atma Bodha Satsanga
    Mission Timothée
    Mouvement humaniste
    Office culturel de Cluny - Fédération nationale d'animation globale
    Ogyen Kunzang Choling
    Ordo Templi Orientis
    Ordre apostolique - Therapeutic healing environment
    Ordre du Graal ardent
    Ordre du lys et de l'aigle
    Ordre monastique d'Avallon
    Ordre rénové du Temple (ORT)
    Oxyon 777 (ex-Harmonia)
    Paravidya sagesse suprême
    Partage international communication
    Philosophe de la nature
    Reine de la paix - Ordre du coeur immaculé de Marie et de Saint Louis de Montfort
    Saint Bani
    Seimeikyo Europe
    Sister mouvement rasta
    Société holosophique de France
    Star's edge international - Méthode Avatar
    Sukyo Mahikari - Lumière de vérité
    Tradition Famille Propriété
    Vital Harmony SA

    - Cult Movements with 500 to 2,000 followers:

    Alliance universelle
    ANTHROPOS - Association pour la recherche sur le développement holistique de l'homme
    Association Subud de France - Susila Dharma France
    Association Sri Chinmoy de Paris
    Culte Antoiniste
    Domaine d'Ephèse
    Eglise évangélique de Pentecôte de Besançon [Evangelical Pentacostal Church]
    Eglise universelle de Dieu [Universal Church of God]
    Eglises du Christ international en France [International Churches of Christ in France]
    Fraternité blanche universelle
    Fraternité Notre Dame
    Invitation à la vie intense
    L'oeil s'ouvre
    La maison de Jean
    La parole de foi - Evangélisation mondiale
    Mouvement du Graal en France
    Ontologie méthodique culture et tradition
    Paris Dharma Sah - Lotus Sangha of European social buddhism
    Société internationale de trilogie analytique -sarl-
    Union des associations centres et groupes Sri Sathya Sai
    Université spirituelle internationale des Brahma Kumaris
    Vie chrétienne en France - Centre de vie chrétienne
    Viswa Nirmala Dharma - Sahaja Yoga

    - Cult Movements with 2,000 to 10,000 followers:

    Association Lucien J. Engelmajet
    Chevaliers du Lotus d'or [Knights of the Lotus of Gold]
    Communauté des petits frères et des petites soeurs du Sacré-coeur [Community of the little brothers and little sisters of Sacred Heart]
    Eglise de scientologie de Paris [Church of Scientology of Paris]
    Eglise néo-apostolique de France
    Eglise universelle du royaume de Dieu
    Energie humaine et universelle France - HUE France
    Institut de science vedique maharishi Paris - C.P.M. - Club pour méditants ( " Méditation transcendentale " )
    Mouvement Raëlien français
    Shri Ram Chandra Mission France
    Soka Gakkai internationale France

    Lastly, the number of Jehovah's Witnesses can be estimated at 130,000.

  • Dynamics of the Cult Phenomenon
  • One could a priori think of appreciating the dynamics of the cult phenomenon by comparing the two assessments drawn up with thirteen years of interval by General Information ().

    A certain number of reasons, however, prohibit us from being able to draw significant conclusions from such a comparison. Indeed:

    - the investigation of 1995, unlike that carried out in 1982, does not incorporate the results of the investigation (in progress) in the DOM-TOM;

    - the least sensitizing of the investigators to the specificity of the cult phenomenon had not been able, in 1982, to make it possible to include in the study the "masked subsidiary companies";

    - the qualification of certain movements considered as cultish in 1982 (Christian dissidents, anthroposophie [humanism?], esoteric groups) was re-examined in 1995. Conversely, new movements were qualified as cultish in 1995 whereas they did not seem such in 1982 (Lucien J. Engelmajer Association, said "the Patriarch"). the question remains hanging in addition for groupings recently appeared, which were not retained in 1995 (Grouping, Herbalife).

    Only of main tendencies can thus be released, which can be synthesized in the table hereafter:

    1982 1995
    Number of movements ~ 190 ~ 170
    Number of subsidiaries N/A ~ 800
    Number of followers ~100.000 ~160.000
    Number of above who
    are Jehovah's Witnesses
    75.000 130.000
    Number of sympathizers " 50.000 " 100.000

    Most significant seems to be the multiplication of the "subsidiary companies" of the cult movements, much more today than those detected in 1982, even if a precise enumeration had not then been carried out. Like it was already known as, the phenomenon of the "hidden satellites" was embryonic at the time and, in a general way, the cultts definitely were more disseminated than today. As an example, one will mention that, according to DCRG'S, nearly 60 subsidiary companies are attached to the Church of Scientology.

    The increase in the number of cult movements is undeniable. Typology study (cf. infra) shows that this increase is due to some extent to strength of the current "New Age," which saw the number of its structures increasing considerably, even if those gather only one low number of followers.

    The progression of the number of followers and sympathizers is considerable since it is 60% for the former and 100% for the latter.

    Even if it cannot be measured with a scientific exactitude, cult dynamics is thus significant, whatever the criterion selected to appreciate it.

    This appreciation is corroborated by more indirect observations, more indirect of the experts who have studied the cult phenomenon.

    2.- Evaluation by Different Experts

    Two great associations have today as an aim the fight against the cult phenomenon.

    The oldest is the National Union of Associations for the Defense of the Family and the Individuals (UNADFI), which gathers twenty local associations, whose first was founded in 1974.

    Seven years later the Center for Resources, Education, and Action Against Mental Manipulation (CCMM) was formed on the initiative of Roger Ikor, following the death of his very young son, a victim of a cult.

    It is to be announced that other experts have a recognized competence on the cult phenomenon: doctors, academics, men of the church, journalists, they belong to the most various horizons.

    The table hereafter recapitulates the estimates provided on the number of followers of certain cults by certain a shade of works published between 1977 and 1987. It shows clearly that in the space of these ten years, the supposed number of the followers of each one of them increased considerably, except the Mission of Divine Light.

    UNADFI in addition communicated to the Commission an estimate, for 1995, of the number of followers of principal cults established in France. This partial census reveals, for only about thirty cults quoted, which does not include Jehovah's Witnesses, a number of followers higher than 120,000. This estimate thus seems appreciably higher than that of General Information, which estimates at 160,000 the number of followers of the some 172 groupings that they recognize as cults.

    The same variation is perceptible for the number of cultish structures, generally evaluated between 200 and 300 (one of the interlocutors of the Commission has even advanced the figure of 1,000).

    The following statement, made before the Commission, correctly translated the estimated importance of the cult phenomenon at the same time as the difficulty of apprehending it.

    "In quantity, it is very difficult to quantify the cult fact. The maximalists see cults everywhere and consider that there are hundreds of thousands of French who are touched. I believe that it is necessary to be more reasonable. There are undoubtedly a little aberrant forms of religiosity which are not therefore cults, the behavior of whose followers is not even particularly remarkable, nor even condemnable. I would say that there must be in France, at the present time, between 200 and 300 cults which have an importance and an extremely varied audience, that these environments are completely unstable, at the same time because some, like all the humanitarian organizations, develop whereas some others die, that they are influenced by foreigners, which means that some passage of foreign population foreign carries itself out and that at the same time some French expatriates to some other site where the cult is established. All these associations must concern, directly or indirectly, approximately a half-million French. When I say "directly," I'm thinking of course of the followers themselves, those which entered a cult and those which came out of there, with rigor those which are on the point there to enter, but also all the home and social environment of the followers of cults which naturally undergoes the repercussions of the practices and the cultish behaviors of the followers.


    Name of the Cult Alain Woodrow Claude Petit-Castelli Jean-François Mayer Janine & J. Marie Vermander Jean Vernette René Girault
    The New Cults Threshold 1977 Cults: Hell or Paradise ED of Messina 1977 The Cult News Stag 1977 The Cults [Diabolical?] Vôtres Ed. Soceval 1986 Cults at Our Door, Chalet 1987
    Children of God
    (Family of love)
    6.000 15.000.000 10.243 - 7.000
    250 à 300 - - - 200
    Seventh Day Adventists 2.500.000 - - - 4.100.000
    5.000 - - - 8.400
    MORMONS: Church of J.C. of Latter Day Saints 3.500.000 4.000.000 - 3.000.000 6.000.000
    10.000 - - - 15.000
    Jehovah's Witnesses 2.200.000 4.000.000 - 2.000.000 3.200.000
    64.019 - - 15.000 92.397
    Antoinistes 150.000 en 1900 - - - 20.000
    - 20.000 - - 2.000
    Scientistes Chrétiens
    Christian Science
    1.500.000 - - - 1.500.000
    2.500 - - - approx. : 1.000
    Krishna Consciousness 5.000 17.000 - - -
    several hundreds quelques milliers 450 - several hundreds
    Mission of the Divine Light
    7.000.000 7.000.000 - - 16.000.000
    2.000 3.000 - - 1.000
    Church of the Unification of World Christianity
    2.000.000 2.000.000 de 100.000 à 3.000.000 600.000 500.000
    1.000 - 100 à 200 - several hundred
    Nichiren Shoshu
    20.000.000 15.000.000 - - 7.000.000 (Japon)
    1.000 3.000 - - 6.000
    Transcendental Meditation 1.000.000 1.500.000 2.500.000 - -
    90 prof. 20.000 20.000 - 40.000
    RAELIENS - - 7.200 to 10.000 - 5.000
    - - 2.500 - 1.500
    Scientology 2.000.000 2 to 3.000.000 - - 1.000.000
    1.000 + 10.000 - 20.000 - 2.000

    Enumeration of the followers of sects in 1995 by UNADFI

    Name of the Cult Followers
    France worldwide
    Universal Alliance 1.000 2.000
    Antoinistes 2.500 200.000
    Community of Christians 300 80.000
    Church of Christ of Paris 700
    Church of Christ Scientist 800 480.000
    Evangelical Pentacostal Church of Besanon 500
    Neo-apostolic Church 17.700 7.187.000
    Universal Church of God 300 100.000
    The Family (formerly Children of God) 250 12.000
    Universal White Fraternity 20.000
    Krishna 1.000 80.000
    IVI 7.000
    Longo mai 200 + 70 enfants
    Mahikari-Sukyo Mahikari 15 to 20.000 500.000
    Mandarom or Knights of the Gold Lotus 2.000
    TM Transcendental Meditation 3.500.000
    Moon or Association of the Holy Spirit for World Unification 500 180.000
    Mormons or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 25.000 8.406.985
    Mouvement du Graal 950 9.000
    Humanist Party Movement 200
    New Acropolis 10.000
    Raja Yoga or Spiritual Organization of Brahma Kumaris 200
    Ram Chandra mission 60 tutors
    for 600
    " Abhiasys "
    Raeliens 1.000 20.000
    Sahaja Yoga Matapi 200
    Saint Erme 350
    Scientology 1.000 + 6.000 clients 11.000.000
    Sokka Gakkai + Nichiren Soshu 6.000 17.000.000

    An indirect measurement of cult activity can be provided by the analysis of the phone calls received by the Parisian center of the ADFI which, in 1994, was seen questioning on the activities of 1,150 associations or movements. If this measurement is connected more with one survey than with a precise analysis, it makes it possible however to appreciate the proselytism of the various movements, like, probably, their relative audience in Paris area.

    Consultations received by telephone
    in the buildings of the ADFI (Parisian center) and relating to certain groups

    1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
    Scientology 389 829 976 862 563 414
    Jehovah's Witnesses 104 215 345 101 231 236
    G.E.P.M. NR 10 130 300 496 946
    New Acropolis 20 59 118 125 118 82
    Sahaja Yoga (Sri Mataji) 27 38 111 127 36 21
    T.F.P. (Avenir de la culture) 32 89 101 45 26 27
    Mandarom (Aumisme) NR NR 97 <10 48 42
    I.V.I. 73 50 96 88 113 105
    Sokka Gakai 66 27 82 90 122 90
    Church of Christ 9 25 71 94 95 217
    Moon 57 102 65 40 79 41
    Krishna 84 16 57 25 24 31
    Ecoovie 79 23 55 34 57 34
    Rosicrucians 17 15 49 70 65 68
    Rael 24 40 44 70 48 110
    The Patriarch 9 10 40 30 27 70
    Mormons NR 12 38 17 31 33
    Transcendental Meditation 17 34 26 25 46 36
    Graal NR 24 <15 23 16
    Pentecostals NR 24
    Hommes d'affaires du plein Evangile NR NR 24 <10 <10 31

    NR : non répertorié. Source : ADFI Paris

    In addition, the various experts heard by the Commission, in general, confirmed that during recent years, the cult movement has, in terms of structures as well as in number of followers, developed considerably, even if they do not have precise statistical data on this tendency.

    Beyond the difficulties of measurement, it does not appear contestable that the cult phenomenon is in France quite real today, and that it seems in progression.

    In addition, the characteristics of its evolution allows us to predict potentialities of expansion which worry your commission.

    [TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: From this point in the report forward, I am translating "secte" as "sect" rather than "cult." I began by using "cult" because of the negative connotations the word "secte" seems to have in French and also because they used the word to describe groups Americans would call cults: the Branch Davidians, Solar Temple, Jonestown, etc. In this part of the report, they discuss sects from a historical perspective. The term "secte" is very broad, and can also refer to the beginnings of Christianity itself, which while considered a sect by American standards, would not be considered a cult. It seemed better to use the English word most similar to the French term.]


    The sectarian phenomenon has been known for a few decades of significant evolutions which influence the currently noted tendencies; a consideration in perspective appreciation additionally shows the tendency to a potential expansion.

    1.- Main current tendencies

    It is obviously not possible to proceed within the framework of this report, of which it is moreover not the object, to a historical study of the sectarian phenomenon, in which the specialists underline permanence in time and the universality.

    Tite Live in his work "The Sects [Nuns?] in Greece and in Rome" was devoted already to a detailed account of the business of the Orgies, followers of the worship of Bacchus.

    Under the Roman empire, the first Christian communities were persecuted as well because of their refusal of the oath to the Emperor as because of the charges of sorcery (night meetings) or anthropophagy (rite of the communion) whose they were the object. The lawsuits in sorcery of which were victims in the Middle Ages until the beginning of the Reform, nearly 100,000 people in Europe testify to persistence to the sectarian phenomenon. The Christian religions are not the only source of examples: thus the Islam whose current esoteric is represented by the Sufism it gave rise to the sect of Hashishins, which fought Holy Land Templiers.

    The recent evolution of the sectarian phenomenon makes it possible however respectively to release a certain number of main tendencies relating to the nature of the sects, their organization, the topics developed by them, the way in which they are perceived finally.

    a) The nature of the sects

    A study of the sects currently established in France shows that those settled in two vague but quite distinct groups.

    The first emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, which saw religious movements born for the majority in Anglo-Saxon countries [enraciner? coming from the same race? descendents?] from the French society. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Pentecostals, Adventists, Baptists: all these movements resulting from the protesting world joined their dispute of the official doctrines of the Church to that already expressed by groups resulting from catholic mobility (Antoinistes, followers of the Christ of Montfavet).

    The second wave breaks at the end of the years 1960, always coming from the United States, but marked by a greater oriental print on the one hand, esoteric or gnostic on the other hand. It is relevant to note inn particular the International Association of Krishna Consciousness (founded in 1966), Association for the Unification of World Christianity (AUCM, or Moon sect) and Soka Gakka•.

    In accordance with the second current, one will cite the groups related to Rosicrucian brotherhood, the Church of Scientology or the anthroposophie [humanism?]. Other sects proposing of the total alternatives founded on ecology (Ecoovie), the belief in extraterrestrial (Movement ra‘lien), the techniques of meditation (Meditation transcendantale), even fraternity (New Acropolis) also make fast great strides.

    These oriental and esoteric movements should not however make us forget the permanence, even the rise to power, of movements resulting from the Judeo-Christian trunk, which they are millenarists (Jehovah's Witnesses, nebula of the movements of the New Age) or [guŽrisseurs?] (Invitation with the Intense Life, IVI).

    This evolution, traced rapidly, makes it possible to release a certain number of characteristics:

    - increasing proliferation of these movements, relatively recent origin. No classification nor description can be regarded as final or satisfactory, so much of multiple movements mix the kinds or the influences previously definite: if the general information counts with a relative precision the movements being able to be qualified "sects", any enumeration on the matter incurs the reproach to be incomplete, because of its restrictive nature;

    - the increasing part which plays in this movement the entirely new organizations of denominational origin proposing a total explanation of the world, to the detriment of the organizations being presented in the form of a secession, a schism of a Church previously established;

    - evolution in the nature of the touched public. The Protestant movements of the first wave recruited their followers in relatively underpriviledged mediums, at the adult people, generally of the female sex. The organizations being developed after 1968 were characterized by the youth and the co-education of their public, resulting in general from the middle class.

    Beyond these elements relating to the nature of the sects, one in general notes other common points which, without applying to the whole of the sects quoted above, are nevertheless characteristic of an evolution of their structures and topics developed by them: it is thus the way in which are perceived the sects which is deeply modified.

    B) The structure of the sects

    The majority of the sects, continuing in an evolution started long ago, are organized on a pyramidal model guaranteeing the exercise of the capacity to the profit of a person (the guru) and/or of a restricted elite.

    Like all the pyramidal structures, they rest on a cut between the basic followers and the leaders, moderated by the existence of intermediate levels, of which the number is reduced as one progresses towards the node.

    It is established between these various levels of the complex links of dependence, organizing the distribution of the roles, the knowledge, the capacity. Such a system guarantees the existence of effective filters restricting the access paths to the guru or the elite, protected from the base by their insulation and the symbolic system to be able to them.

    Reciprocally, the followers are rewarded for their fidelity by a progression within the sect, materialized by obtaining ranks and diplomas, even by more material benefit. The passage at a higher level is often the occasion of an initiatory ceremony.

    Still it is advisable to stress that, in many movements, there coexist several types of pyramidal structures relating to the [cultuelle?] organization of teaching, of the administrative and financial services: this proliferation of the structures still rigidifies the described organization.

    c) Topics Developed by the Sects

    With the difference of the topics developed by the schismatic organizations of established Churches, which concentrate on a certain number of criticisms and alternative proposals of a religious nature, the speech held by new the sects makes a broad place with the individual improvement, preferred with the collective action or layman.

    It is in this spirit that are generally promoted the topics of the personal example, of proselytism. For this reason is often preached, in various forms, a certain asceticism being characterized by the abstention from a certain number of practices (consumption of tobacco and alcohol), the promotion of new food or sexual practices, even the reduction of the time of the sleep.

    To the extreme, such an asceticism can lead to the rupture with the former relations, with work for the partial or exclusive benefit of the sect, even with the conjugal life. Such an attitude of return on oneself or a restricted group is in contradiction with any external engagement with the sect.

    It is conceived that the considerable evolution of nature, the structures, the topics developed by the sects modifies considerably the way in which they are perceived.

    d) The Perception of the Sectarian Phenomenon

    Whereas until the beginning of the years 1970, the warnings against the sects were before all the fact of the Churches, which were located in a resolutely theological and pastoral logic, overflows of certain organizations, the real or supposed confrontations with law and order or the personal freedoms contributed to a brutal modification in the way in which they are perceived.

    This phenomenon resulted in the constitution of associations of defense (Center Roger Ikor, UNADFI in France) and the development of a relatively significant legal dispute. The gravity of the criminal intrigues of certain sects (attacks, collective suicides, assassinations) has rightly moved the media and the public opinion.

    Date Place Sect Number of deaths and circumstances
    18/11/1978 Jonestown Guyana People's Temple 923 suicide
    03/06/1983 Smithville (Arkansas) Group Comitatus 2 confrontation
    15/05/1985 Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Move 11 confrontation
    19/09/1985 Mindanao (Philippines) Datu Mangayanon 60 suicide
    01/11/1986 Wokayama (Japan) Church of the Friends of Truth 7 suicide
    28/08/1987 Seoul (South Korea) Park Soon ja 32 suicide
    21/08/1992 Naples (Idaho) Christian Identity Movement 3 confrontation
    19/04/1993 Waco (Texas) Branch Davidians 88 suicide confrontation
    04/10/1994 Switzerland and Canada Solar Temple 48 5 assassinations and suicide
    5/03/1995 Tokyo (Japan) Aoum 11 dead 5000 injured attack

    Source: J.P. MORIN - Futuribles - November 1994 - Table supplemented for events after 1994.

    If it is advisable not to over-estimate the risks that occur in France of such overflows, an increased vigilance is essential.

    And if the media's focus on extremely alarming trends should not result in covering all sects with the same reproach, it does not have either, while putting in "value" of the extreme minority groups, to result in underestimating the risks which the broader movements pose to their followers, a danger much more considerable although - and at the same time, because - it is much less obvious.

    This remark is all the more significant since one can today count a certain number of indices which makes one think - and fear - that the sectarian phenomenon has considerable potentialities of development.

    2.- Factors of Potential Expansion

    Two principal factors make it possible to advance the idea of a potential expansion of the sectarian phenomenon: the sects have indeed today powerful financial means powerful, put at the service of their active proselytism; especially, they meet significant needs, although expressed in a diffuse way.

    a) The response to significant needs

    It would be false to present the development of the sectarian phenomenon as being reduced exclusively to handling fragile personalities by coercive groups by the application of tested psychological techniques.

    Such an explanation would be singularly reducing of an extremely complex phenomenon. The Commission could note that the sectarian phenomenon was on the contrary [indissociablement?] related to the existence of a request, needs which do not find an other means of being satisfied.

    A doctor heard by the Commission, not very suspect of kindness with regard to the sectarian phenomenon, thus insisted on the complexity of dialectical between supply and demand in this field: "you meet the best and the worst in the sects (...). Sometimes, by means of the sects, of some people find a sense of belonging to a warm and friendly group, others find again a direction for their lives, others still are structured. Among my patients, some entered sects. I would not want for them to come out of there for anything in the world, because the sect is used by them temporarily as a tutor. Of course, that does not legitimize the whole of the phenomenon, but that is to say that there are very positive aspects. If that is not understood, the success of the sects will not be better understood. Our contemporaries are not imbeciles. If they are drawn by hundreds of thousands to these movements, it is because they have reasons and especially that they find answers there (...)"

    The emergence of new spiritual needs results from the conjunction of a certain number of known factors, which will be recalled here only for memory.

    It is certain that the dispute of the productivism, the collapse of the political ideologies, the questionings of science, the materialism, the continuous decline of the "traditional" religions strongly called into question the model on which the Western societies had developed since the 19th century.

    This shock of the traditional beliefs and the great principles of social organization caused a number of disappointments, frustrations, attempts at redefinition. The uncertainty of the future consequently contributed to the multiplication of the groups proposing a total explanation of the Man, new religiosities.

    This return of the religious or, more precisely, of the spiritual, paradoxically did not profit with the traditional Churches - and more particularly in France with the Catholic Church, always confronted with a continuous fall of the religious practice and vocations.

    It was obviously not the role of the Commission to stick to a thorough study of this phenomenon. No one however, even within the Catholic Church, seeks to deny the shift between waitings of faithful or old faithful and the speech held by the Church sometimes, even if this one tries to release its responsibility by showing the contemporary mentality, which aims to "immediate satisfaction and material comfort, sets up 'absolute freedom' libertŽ in absolu', without reference to the Truth and different values than those 'of the individual, medium and group.' The new forms of religiosity, the development of the sects reveal the gaps of 'practical atheism' which develops everywhere in Europe." (conclusions of the East-West Synod, 1991)

    From the whole of these evolutions there has resulted a certain spiritual spontaneousness: the belief is lived today in a relatively libertarian way, in any case out of the traditional institutions.

    It is on this compost favorable to the blossoming of new religious movements that the economic crisis and the upheaval of the family structures intervened.

    The Vivien Report already noted "aspirations to more family happiness or to more emotional abundance and completeness than preexistent at the entry into a sect and that in spite of the appearance of harmonious family relations." The entry into a sect often represents a sedentary response to the expression of emotional or user-friendly needs which are not satisfied within the family or work framework.

    Lastly, the individualism of the years 1980 caused a current preaching of personal transformation, the improvement of the capacities of each one. It is rare that this topic is not exploited by sectarian associations. One of the persons heard thus told the Commission, "it is true that if one mobilizes oneself, one increases one's capacities. The light functional disorders - small evils of belly, of head or rheumatisms - disappear for little that one has a strong motivation. The sects thus obtain results. It is true that one increases his capacities, it is true that if one mobilizes oneself around anything, even the worship of beet, one can become better, more extremely, more effective and more dynamic (...). We all are tempted to develop our potential. Who among us would not be? (...). the people are drawn to the sects because they do not find any more in the world that we built the reference marks to them, the means of mobilization, he credibility of the apparatuses. Of course, we are heavily responsible. One does not catch flies with vinegar. People need ideals. One enters a sect above all by ideal. One should not be mistaken. The sects handle a set language which one does not dare even any more to practise elsewhere!."

    One will deliver finally the testimony of a former follower of a sect, particularly revealing of the reasons which can push individuals to be approved by such structures: "First of all, I believe that there is this evil of the century, this evil of living which is increasingly present. The family unit is often burst, the father in particular is often missing or, on the contrary, too present, by his violence for example. Through a sect, one seeks a family, a father on loan, an authority, a model which was missing to us. Day at the following day, one finds oneself with two hundreds, three hundred friends, who will receive you, who will accomodate you. You are covered. You will be heard. You feel in confidence.

    The people who enter the sects are often idealists, people whoseek perfection, not always, but partly.

    Personally, the family bursting, the idealistic desire pushed me.

    The guru said to us: "The world goes bad." It is enough to watch television for an hour of information to be convinced some. There are wars, diseases, problems everywhere. The world goes bad. What can one do on a purely individual basis to test which it is better? This is what the guru proposed to us.

    Did we want to improve the situation of the ground, planet, others? 'Start with yourself, start with you to transform and you will transform the world.' I believed in it. I changed to transform the world."

    It is thus conceived that the vision of the world proposed by the sects allures a growing number of individuals in all the layers of the French population.

    The assumption of a preexistent given profile at the entry into a sect and thus predisposing there, today is largely beaten in breach. Many studies showed that the psychological profile of the followers of the new religious groups is in a normal zone, even if the existence of a depressive episode seems a factor favorable to attraction to a sectarian group. As raised it the Vivien report, "even if one cannot conclude on the existence or not from a sectarian profile of customers, it seems that acute difficulties or sufferings, however, constitute a favorable compost."

    It should in addition be announced that the topic of the individual improvement attracted towards the sects customers which were until recently inaccessible for them: that of the students (seeking to increase their performances for the success with an examination...), intellectual elites, and in particular scientists.

    Many interlocutors of the Commission tried to explain this phenomenon by the difficulty for certain scientists of supporting the idea of doubt, and, consequently, by their attraction to movements proposing total explanations. In addition, the intellectuals for the majority are convinced of their capacity to resist the suggestive techniques of the sects: "Who more than an intellectual is certain not to be manipulated? The man in the street will be wary, but the intellectual will say: "I am not manipulable." The vulnerability of the elites precisely lies in their certainty that they will not be easy to manipulate."

    It results from the preceding developments that it is particularly difficult - not to say impossible - to define a profile of the followers of the sects which is different from that of the general population.

    Some tendencies can nevertheless be released:

    - the followers come mainly from the middle class and easy of the society, much more rarely of the modest classes, which is partly explained by the wish of the sects to meet a "solvent" public;

    - if the age of the followers is extremely variable, two groups seem to dominate: that of the young adults (25 - 35 years), in the Oriental, gnostic, or New Age sects, that of the people of 50 - 60 years in the groups of prayer or cure;

    - adhesion with the sect often represents a response to social conflicts or family with which the future follower is confronted.

    In the same spirit, it should be noted that the Church of Scientology specified to the Commission that "its followers belong to all the social categories. They are mainly socially integrated and mature people since their average age is 35 years."

    B) Increasingly Sophisticated Recruitment Techniques

    The recruitment techniques of of sects are largely known today. They are not based in any manner on a coercive process, unlike certain methods that are employed when the follower is better integrated within the sectarian structure, and which lead to practices of "collecting of express consent," as it hereafter will be seen. The characteristics of the methods of recruitment used by the sects explains the paradoxical situation of the new member of a sect who is a willing victim.

    The recruitment techniques of the sects are pressed on a very great diversity of topics and instruments; the psychological steps of the future followers is better known today.

    The topics of propaganda used by the sects are extremely varied. One will mention, in addition to the religious topics:

  • Ethical Topics: a great number of sects arise, themselves or of the institutions which are bound to them, as defenders of "ethics." Particularly significant in this respect is the newspaper of the Church of Scientology called "Ethics and Freedom." A certain number of associations related to the Church of Scientology act officially for the respect of human rights, that of freedom or the promotion of tolerance: one will mention in particular the French Committee of the Scientologists against Discrimination, the Commission of the Citizens for Human Rights, the Movement for Peace in Europe. The Association of Women for World Peace, the Interreligious Federation for World Peace, the Association of International Families, and Families and Dependent Life, these, of the Moon sect.
  • Ecological Topics: the sect " Ecoovie " which thus preaches the exclusion of the contemporary assets of social and economic life and the return to the way of life of the primitive Indian tribes, was a long time made known by the actions of the association "S.O.S Deserts," which had as its goal to stop the progression of the desert in the Sahel.
  • Medical Topics: the curing sects, such as the Association "Invitation to the Intense Life" (IVI), affirm the allegedly curable character of diseases for which the medical diagnosis is extremely reserved, or well complete with the medical departments of palliative care. Without pointing out the polemic related to the actions of the Lucien J Engelmajer Association (administrative of the reception centres "the Patriarch"), it should be noted that many sects developed centers of care for drug addicts (Narconon, for the Church of Scientology).
  • cultural topics: although the majority of sects developed associations for cultural matters, one will more particularly mention the New Acropolis, from which the various ANAF (Association New Acropolis France) propose a number of conferences, meetings and cycles of formation.
  • Educational Topics: many private schools are related to sects, and propose by the publicities displayed on the walls of the large cities a teaching of support or correction.
  • Topics Related to Personal Transformation: one already saw all their importance for the sects having appeared after 1968. It will be announced here that they are primarily exploited by the Faculty of Paraspychology of Paris, Scientology, Transcendantal Meditation, and the Family of Nazareth.
  • Topics Related to the Blooming of Sexuality: they are particularly exploited by the sects Analyse Actionnelle Organisation, the Family, and Ra‘liens.
  • The instruments of propaganda used by sects are extremely varied: canvassing in the street or in residence, diffusion of newspapers, publicity by way of display or press, conferences, cycles of formation.

    Whatever the topics and instruments used by the sects, the psychological steps of the future follower seems better known today.

    As Dr. Jean-Marie Abgrall (author of The Captive Brain) indicates, "the recruitment of a follower passes by three phases, from which adhesion will be obtained gradually, at the same time as appears a form of intellectual and emotional dependence. In turn, the new follower will be allured, persuaded then fascinated by the sect and his member recruiters."

    The first phase of recruitment is obviously that of seduction. It aims at proposing a tempting alternative to the difficulties of everyday life. It is rare that the future followers present themselves spontaneously to a sectarian structure: the first contacts generally take place on the initiative of the sect recruiting agents, themselves measured by the effectiveness of their proselytism.

    The principle of seduction wants that the first contact is intended to support the process of identification between the recruiter and recruited. This identification rests on a certain number of criteria making it possible for the potential follower to perceive a similarity between himself and its interlocutor. This feeling can be obtained by resemblances of attitude, the systematic approval of the cogency of the questions expressed by the future follower. The success of this phase of seduction is of course largely conditional on the type of audience in which the recruiting will take place, and thus that of place of meeting, which is in general given according to their density of frequentation. Dr. Abgrall specifies thus that "door-to-door sales" (typical of Jehovah's Witnesses) will use canvassers in family (father, mother, child, or supposed such), the family recruiting being often illusory and made up without real family links. The "young framework dynamic" of the Scientologists will be more appropriate for canvassing in university cities, health clubs, or outdoor cafes (...). Who cannot recognize the young Mormon evangelists, with the close-cropped cut hair, the eternal navy blue blazer and the discrete club tie? How not to note the character good smart good but a little obsolete kind of the Jehovah's Witnesses?

    All this has been the subject of deliberated choices, proceeding from a precise study of the image to transmit to others."

    The feeling of identification is also obtained by the choice of the tools used for the initial contact: if the famous "personality test" of Church of Scientology can suggest that every passer-by appears somewhat [dŽsoeuvrŽ?], the organization of a cycle of conference on ancient civilization will lend itself more to the concerns of some students and history faculty than to that of a pupil of economics, while others will be more drawn by an initiation with technique of communication or of improvement of effectiveness... One will recall finally that the principle of seduction had been thoroughly used in its ultimate logic by David Mo•se, founder of the sect Children of God, who had clearly preached "pche par le flirt" [literally "fishing by the flirt"] or "missionary solicicitation" to recruit new followers, and whose movement was dissolved in 1978 for prostitution.

    In any event, the recruiter must have a good capacity to perceive the framework of reference of his listener, his emotional components.

    The second phase of recruitment, once the supposed links of sympathy are established, consists in persuading the future follower of the credibility of the speech. Lionel Bellanger (Persuasion, PUF, 1985) defines the "4 C's" of healthy persuasive communication: for a message to be persuasive while recognizing the supposed free will of the possible future convert, it is appropriate that this message is credible (it is necessary that it can be based on evidence), coherent (intrinsic absence of contradiction), consistent (continuity of the matter) and congruent (suitability between the delivered message and the expectations of the listener). The objective of the recruiter, in the field of proselytism, consists in making its listener gradually pass from the real world to that of beliefs, without triggering the phenomenon of final rejection. This progressive passage is obtained by fabrication (dressing-up of reality), simulation (credibilization of an erroneous message), dissimulation, calumny, ambiguity, all are techniques which make it possible to adapt to the expectations of the listener, to pass from persuasion to mystification. These techniques are not in themselves reprehensible; in any case, they form the basis for the actions of marketing of any kind and are not punishable by law. One of the personalities heard by the Commission thus presented the defense which could be called upon by the sects: "Everything is manipulation, one can't make anything of that. Business, politics, the process of love, democratic discussion, publicity, television, all aim at manipulatining the people. In any event, one should not panic: everyone in the world manipulates everyone in the world."

    It will be seen that the danger of the speech of persuasion used by the sects does not hold as well with the techniques used, as with the consequences of the adhesion to which they lead.

    The last component of the step leading to adhesion is the fascination, generally obtained at the time of the meeting with the centerpiece of the sectarian dynamics (positive results with a test, assistance to a rite, meets guru, etc...), which will introduce the magic character into the relation between the future follower and the sect, will cause the irruption [bursting violently into] the symbolic universe of the sect and will lead to the will of engagement.

    This quick overview of the dominant features of the techniques of recruitment used by sects shows the very particular character of the steps, which aim at obtaining the express assent of the future follower, and shows that the techniques implemented are not techniques of coercion but of persuasion: the follower is formally agreeing.

    Several interlocutors of the Commission highlighted this paradox: the originality of the sectarian groups lies in the fact that, in particular during the process leading to adhesion, the victim is an actor [actor in the literal sense of one who acts, one who does, is not a passive victim]. A certain parallelism can be established with the stages of drug addicts: "We have controversies with the parents of drug addicts. Those think - in a certain way rightly - that without the horrible dealer their child would be an angel. They forget the nine tenths of the way which the unhappy child traversed, person in charge or not, but of his own will, to go into the arms of the aforesaid dealer. One should not exclude the voluntary share from the follower, who is not an imbecile that one would manipulate - it is you and me --, but (...) who went deliberately." Accordingly, the recruiters of the sects could be introduced as "dealers of transcendence." In this respect, an image used by a person heard by the Commission appears particularly ready to render the conscious character of the step of the future follower comprehensible: "the sects are not a net which falls down on people, but a bow net in which they go."

    c) A Financial Power

    It is undeniable that a certain number of sects have particularly significant financial means.

    Lafayette Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, had proclaimed besides, not without cynicism, in his speech at Newark: "If one wants to really become a millionaire, the best means consists in founding one's own religion."

    This fact is obviously recognized by the majority of the leaders of the sects heard by the Commission, even if they were very evasive concerning the exact budgets of their associations. An appreciation of those thus remains largely the concern of those which are opposed to the sects, and thus incurs the risk of being considerably overestimated. That being, if the sect estimates that the information which circulates is not in conformity with reality, the burden of proof is on them to make a clearer presentation of their financial means, which is very far from being the case. They have little reason to complain - which they however do not fail to do - about the lack of objectivity in the judgements related to their financial base.

    The collective work of the Roger Ikor Center "The Sects, State Emergency" comprises much information making it possible to become aware of the true financial empire of which certain associations consist.

    The cases of the Moon sect or Scientology are too known to be pointed out here.

    CCMM notes, concerning Transcendental Meditation, that the right to initiation is attached to the quarter of the monthly wages, that the price of a course of Sidhi amounts to 40,000 F [$6,564.00].

    The same source advances, for the Ra‘lien Movement, a contribution of 3% of the annual net income for admission to the French movement, of 7% for adhesion with the international movement, and of 10% for membership to the world government [geniocrat?].

    The financial power of Soka Gakka• results, according to the same source, from the recent real estate investments of the sect (domaine des Forges ˆ Trets, ch‰teau des Roches ˆ Bivres) [(field of the Forging Mills at Trets, castle of the Rocks with Beavers)].

    The importance of the sums concerned explains the strategy of many associations, which choose to be established in countries equipped with a "tolerant" tax legislation: thus it goes from there to the United States (where the first amendment with the Constitution is interpreted in an extremely liberal direction), many States of South America or former communist European countries.

    The leaders of the sects heard by the Commission in general did not deny this financial power, going so far as, not without humor or cynicism, to affirm that their associations do not represent religions preaching poverty as a virtue.

    They in general put forward:

    - that their resources come from voluntary contributions versed by the faithful ones to compensate for certain services (religious or not), from the sale of publications, and financial gifts emanating from private individuals;

    - that their accounts are approved by certified public accountant firms whose reputation is solid;

    - that they are in compliance with the tax authorities, having generally accepted the rectifications imposed by the administration.

    Certain leaders even go so far as to recognize the particular links linking them with companies. In the written contribution deposited before the Commission by the Church of Scientology of Paris, one can thus read: "Moreover, like any citizen, certain scientologists work in the business world and for this reason direct private companies. It sometimes happens that they support the Church by financial gifts but this is not in any way an obligation. It is with the discretion of the person.

    Lastly, there is a structure called WISE, the purpose of which is to gather companies having decided to employ the management technology of Mr. Hubbard and to create a business world where greater ethics reign."

    As for the former followers, of which the Commission heard a certain number, it arises in their testimonies:

    - that the amount of the contributions largely exceeds the rendered services... and the means of the followers, who are often brought to pour a great part of their incomes into the sects, to be even involved in debt in proportions that are difficult to imagine;

    - that the voluntary character of these contributions can often be prone to guarantee, so great is the state of dependence of the givers with regard to the sect that it leads them to question themselves about the permanence of their free will;

    - that the way of life of the leaders allows one to presume sometimes that the well understood interests of these seems to come before the officially declared religious goals of their association.

    Such a situation does not leave by worrying: indeed, associations assign significant means to proselytism and in addition set up legal structures enabling them to increase the means of which they could profit.

    Indeed, it was based upon a strict interpretation of the religious character of the associations which constitute the diverse religious movements and philosophies that the Council of State until now refused from some of them the benefit of the possibility of receiving gifts and legacy.

    The decree Association Fraternity of the Servants of the New World (EC, 21/01/1983) thus confirms the legality of a decree of the Prime Minister, rejecting the administrative recourse of the association against a prefectoral decree which refused the authorization to accept a legacy because "to admit even that the association (...) has also as an aim the exercise of a worship, is to condone its creation of editions and its diffusion of doctrinal publications: since (...) it does not have such an object exclusively, that consequently it is unfounded to sustain that the attacked decree wrongly confirmed the prefectoral decision refusing the authorization to receive a legacy."

    In a case of the same kind (Cultuelle [? worship in French = culte. My guess is that cultuelle means worshipful or religious. I will use this, but it is just a guess.] Association of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Paris, EC, 29/10/1990), the Council of State, without proposing the existence of a commercial activity as in the former case, confirms the rejection of the request of association: "Considering that under article 2 of its statutes... the purpose of the Religious Association of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Paris is in particular to "to promote the spiritual, educational, social, and cultural life of the Armenian community," that the applicant association cannot, consequently, be viewed as having for an exclusive goal the exercise of worship..."

    It is for all of these reasons that a certain number of associations chose to distinguish several poles within their activities, while separating in particular from their exclusively religious activities, carried on within religious associations, their commercial activities (publishing, bookshop) carried out within limited liability companies.

    Such a change, moreover perfectly legal, cannot however miss worrying, the majority of associations clearly displaying (and one cannot, from only a legal point of view, reproach their viewpoint) their will to assign to the expansion of their movement a big part of their financial means: all the leaders of the sects heard by the Commission affirmed the vocation of their association to develop and spread their beliefs by proselytism.

    The importance from the means available to a certain number of sectarian associations, to which the documents given to the Members of the Commission testify in particular of the luxury of their activities, incontestably comes to reinforce the capacity of attraction of the sects and to augment the effectiveness of the recruitment techniques used.



    It is particularly difficult to draw a complete picture of the sectarian phenomenon in France, because of the extreme diversity of the movements which make it up.

    The report of Mr. Alain Vivien divided, in 1982, the 116 sects listed into three categories: Eastern [or Oriental], syncretic and esoteric, racist and fascist.

    General Information recently adopted a step which makes it possible to refine the analysis considerably. We will explain the method adopted by the DCRG and the principal results of its study, such as they were communicated at the request of your commission.

    1.- Method adopted by General Information

    The step followed by General Information consists in attaching each movement studied to a "family" of thought or practice. Thirteen qualifiers were retained to carry out the classification, that it is appropriate, for the clarity of the analysis, to briefly specify.

    - Analysis of the criteria of doctrinal qualification of the sects

  • "New Age" Groups.
  • Gathered under this qualifier were the organizations claiming nŽo-spiritualistic current referring to the absolute as "energy-consciousness" and implementing various techniques to connect the follower with this absolute.

    The New Age doctrines, popularized by a great number of authors, rest on the idea that the world is about to enter a new era, that of Aquarius, corresponding to a new spiritual awakening and marked by profound changes. They are thus based on a millenarism for the year 2000 (the millenium is the thousand years reign awaited before the day of the Last Judgement)./P>

    The holders of these doctrines often aim to define the destined new world religion, according to them, to replace the Christian religions of the Era of the Fish which supplanted the mosaic religions (Era of the Ram) and Babylonian religions (that of the Bull).

    As the dictionary of religions indicates, these doctrines are based on a certain number of convictions, among which are "reincarnation and the law of karma. The spiritual achievement as the objective of individual existence, and awakening with a planetary consciousness as the objective of collective existence, the divine nature of the interior consciousness, and the role of the body as a place of cosmic integration, an anthropology making place with the subtle, etheric, astral body; and a cosmology making place with the angels and the spirits, belief in a cosmic Christ animating the universe as a subtle energy, and in the existence of Christic embodiments, such as Jesus, coming periodically to guide humanity towards its spiritual destiny."

  • The "alternative" groups
  • They in general propose an organization different from the economic circuits, mode of production, world trade, human reports.

    The Humana France movement (schools TVIND) thus has as doctrines humanitarian aid (primarily devoted to the victims of famine, war, disease, catastrophes), assistance with promotion of projects in the Third World and studies aiming at contributing to research on the causes of poverty and suffering.

    The Humanistic Movement, founded in 1969 by Argentinian Mario Rodriguez Cobos, known as Silo, is based on the ideology of silo•sm, having for itself the goal of eradicating violence and personal suffering by means of personal development and social transformation. This movement is centered on solidarity, non-violence activity, non-discrimination, fight against the monopolies, co-operatives, and self-management.

  • "Evangelic" and "pseudo-Catholic" groups .
  • Gathered under these two qualifiers are movements which, while referring to the Christian tradition (Protestant in a case, Catholic in the other) are joined together around people (pastors, former priests) who develop a guru attitude. In the case of the "pseudo-catholic" groups, their doctrines are generally so far away from the theology of the Church that they are excluded from its communion.

    Among the most active evangelic groups , one can in particular list the Universal Alliance, the Evangelic Church of Pentecost of Besancon, the Family (ex Children of God) and, of course, the Moon sect.

    The Moon sect (Association for the Unification of World Christianity) professes the failure of Jesus, his poor death and without having been able to create a perfect family. It is allocated to the reverend Moon to create this family, in accordance with the wish even of Jesus Christ, who appeared to him in 1936. For the achievement of this objective, the reverend must in particular acquire an economic power which enables him to overcome Satan. This organization is very representative of the pure evangelic movements.

    Among the most active pseudo-Catholic movements, one will mention Invitation to the Intense Life (cf will infra), and Family Propriety Traditions [TFP], related to the association "Future of the Culture."

    The objective of TFP is to restore Christian civilization (campaigns of Future of the Culture against the Blue message service, distribution of condoms, campaigns of TFP against [les fils? the threads? possibly movies?] I greet you Marie, or the Temptation of Christ) but also to fight against land reform in Brazil (the founder of TFP is Brazilian Plinio Correa de Oliveira), against socialism and to restore monarchy.

  • The "apocalyptic" movements
  • They all predict a forthcoming world cataclysm (such as those already announced by the Jehovah's Witnesses with four repetitions for 1874, 1914, 1925 and 1975), while referring either to the Apocalypse of Saint John [Revelation], or with Hinduist doctrines of cycles.

  • The "neo-pagan" movements
  • Whereas from the Christian point of view, the pagan ones are the members of the people who have not been reached by Christian preaching or who have refused it, the concept of nŽo-paganism returns, with that of men referring to other gods than that of the Bible.

    The "neo-pagan" movements generally refer to Celtic or Scandinavian mythologies, even to animism.

    One will quote, for France, three movements professing such doctrines: the Monastic Order of Avallon, the Suicide of Banks [as in river banks] and Key of the Universe.

  • The "Satanic" movements
  • These movements have as a common point the return to a worship of the "Adversary" of Biblical tradition, Satan, in a plentiful demonology.

    Arising from this current are the following movements: Azazel Institute, the Initiatory Circle of the Western Unicorn, the Luciferian Philosophical Church, and the Crosses of the New Babylon.

  • The Curing (or Healing) Movements
  • One can define "curing" theories as those professing a mode of cure not recognized by current medical science.

    The degree of danger of these theories varies according to how much they supplement or replace more scientific techniques and the degree to which they involve or do not involve interactions with active substances prescribed by doctors.

    The curing movements are extremely varied.

    One of oldest is the Antoinist religion, founded by Louis Antoine at the end of the last century. The concept of disease is denied, just as is that of death (belief in the reincarnation): it is intelligence which creates suffering, it is only faith in and of itself which removes it, and not the intervention of health professionals.

    The movement HUE France (French branch of the Institute for Human and Universal Energy Reseach, Inc. - IHUERI) is connected with the more New Age or Eastern trends. The therapy suggested consists of "injecting universal energy into the organism of the patient (...) by freeing the channels of energy," thanks to an action consisting of keeping chakras open. All pathologies are covered by the techniques of the IHUERI.

    More recent and of Catholic appearance, the group Invitation to Intense Life (IVI) was founded in 1977 by Yvonne Trubert. The doctrines, founded on the assertion of the beneficial character of certain "harmonizations" and "vibrations", borrow from multiple theories, including medical ones.

    It should be noted that the curing movements recruit, in considerable proportions, from among health, medical or paramedical professionals, which one of the interlocutors of the Commission explained in the following way: "Today, many [m- (I assume "m" is an abbreviation for a doctor or nurse or some sort of health professional)] it is not me which will give an opinion - it is traditional. They thus seek new ways in the [ms (another abbreviation for a medical title? or perhaps an abbreviation for medical science?)] that one sees flowering: [mn (abbreviation for medical title?)] particular [m (abbreviation for medical title?)] yes [‚æ (abbreviation for medical title?)] I have found are in the train of newcomers thus has the guarantee of his [confrante?], I was going to say on a scientific level. It enters so the sect, it [y dle?]. All the gurus of which I have knowledge!"

  • The "Eastern [or Oriental]" Movements
  • One gathers under this referring qualifier an extreme diversity of movements, while canting them, with the religions and doctrines of Eastern metaphysics, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism.

    One can include in this trend the Association Sri Chinmoy of Paris, the Center of Mahatayma Meditation, the French Federation for Krishna Consciousness, Maha Shakti Maudir, the Snimi Atmananda Afma Bodha Satsanga Mission , Shi RAM Chandra Mission, and, of course, Soka Gakka•.

    Soka Gakka• claims to teach (in spite of the schism of 1990 with Nichiren Sh™shž) the doctrines of Nichiren, a Buddhist monk of the 13th century who professed a nationalist and intolerant version of Buddhism. The access to peace and happiness is guaranteed to the faithful one who respects a certain number of practices, among which are the gonkyo recitation of certain chapters of Sžtra of the Lotus, the da•moku recitation of the crowned formula of worship, the devotion with the mandala, roller where was registered this invocation. Soka Gakka• poses as a universal religion, which will unify Buddhism and society.

  • The "Occult" Movements
  • By occultism one indicates the belief in the existence and the effectiveness of practices (the Robert dictionary evokes in particular alchemy, astrology, cartomancy, chiromancy, divination, magic, necromancy, dowsing, telepathy) which are recognized neither by religions, nor by science, and require a particular initiation.

    Whereas esotericism postulates the existence of a paramount tradition of Man which would not have been revealed to him and which can be known only by teaching, occultism is the search for initiatory magic capacities. There are nevertheless innumerable links between the two trends which authorize some discussion of the esotero-occultism trend.

    For those, Man is formed of three principles (the physical one, the astral one, and the divine one) whose balance was broken, and that it is advisable to restore by initiation, which makes it possible to restore a link between the visible one and the invisible one, what one perceives and what escapes the senses.

    Relevant to this trend of most varied practices are: the methodical ontology movement Culture and Tradition, Association New Acropolis France (ANAF), the Rosicrucian brotherhood [la Rose-Croix d'Or, literally the Rose-Cross of Gold], and the Order of Scientific Scribes and of Initiatory Mysteries.

    Also relevant is the Solar Temple Command, founded in 1984 by Luc Jouret and whose activities tragically ended on October 5, 1994 (massacres of Morin Heights and Freiburg, in Canada and in Switzerland).

    The "Psychoanalytical" Movements

    Difficult to define, the "psychoanalytical" movement develops various parapsychologic techniques applied to cure various unconscious traumas.

    The Faculty of Parapsychology, the Family of Nazareth (founded on the teaching of existential psychology, confusing the roles of psychotherapist and spiritual Master) are representatives of this movement, of which the Church of Scientology is, however, the dominant element.

    A publication of the association, published at the time of the fortieth anniversary of the movement, presents the doctrines of Scientology thusly:

    " Scientology includes a whole of knowledge which comes from certain fundamental truths. Among the first of these truths are the following ones:

    Man is a spiritual and immortal being.

    His experience goes well beyond the duration of one life.

    His capacities are unlimited even if they are not carried out in the present.

    Moreover, Scientology considers that man is basically good and that his spiritual safety depends on himself and of its similar as well as achievement of his brotherhood with the universe. Thus, Scientology is a religious philosophy in the profoundest sense of the term, because it is concerned with complete rehabilitation of the innate spiritual identity of man - his aptitudes, his state of consciousness and the certainty of his own immortality. Moreover, since the religion is interested in the spirit compared to itself, with the universe and the other forms of life, and is primarily the belief in spiritual beings, Scientology follows a religious tradition which goes as least as far back in time as humanity. And yet, what Scientology represents is altogether new. Its religious technology is new, its ecclesiastical organization is new, and its significance for the man of 20th century is entirely new (...).

    The first means of applying the fundamental truths of Scientology to the rehabilitation of the human spirit is called hearing. It is the central practice of Scientology and it is managed by an auditor, of Latin audire, "that which listens". (...).

    The auditors of Scientology are aided individually to achieve this goal by their being made to examine their existence by means of a series of stages carefully conceived by Ron Hubbard. While following this gradual process, these people can improve their capacity to face things so that they are and with their environment - while withdrawing one by one the layers of experience which oppress them so heavily.

    Audition is thus not a thing to which a person submits. One can benefit only by means of active participation and good communication.

    The use of the electropsychometer, or electrometer, by auditors is specific to the religion of Scientology and a one of a kind revolution in the field of spiritual development. The auditors use the electrometer to help locate the zones of distress or spiritual suffering which exist below the current level of consciousness of the person. When these painful zones are highlighted, the person can then examine them without the subjective influences which accompany the practices of spiritual consultants of the other religions.

    Ron Hubbard developed the electrometer by knowing that the spirit retains mental images, true recordings of last experiences. These images contain energy and mass. When a person looks at one of these mental images or thinks of something, the electrometer records with precision the changes which this mental mass and this energy undergo (...)

    Dianetics has announced the discovery of a part hitherto unknown and harmful to the mind, a part which contains many recordings of experiences of pain and unconsciousness, in the form of mental images. Those are below a person's level of consciousness and their unit composes what is called the reactive mind - the source of all fears, emotions, pain and undesirable psychosomatic diseases . Step by step, audition acts on the reactive mind until its contents are revealed and its harmful effects on the individual are removed. When that has occurred one reaches a new state of being which is called in Scientology a state of Clear. The fundamental personality of a person, his artistic aptitudes, his personal force and iss individual character, kindness, honesty which are inherent for him are restored.

    Clear is a new state for the man, but the Bridge leads him to summits of even higher spiritual freedom . Beyond the state of Clear appear the levels of Operating Thetan (OT). The thetan is to be spiritually immortal, the individual himself, not his body neither his mind, nor anything of other. It is not a question of what he has, but of what he is, a state of things which appears clearly on these higher levels.

    The state of Clear aims to eliminate that which does not belong inherently to the spiritual being himself. The goal of Operating Thetan is to overcome the sufferings of existence and to find the certainty and aptitudes of his first spiritual state of being. At this level, he knows that he is well separated from material things such as the physical form and physical universe (...)

    Another fundamental practice of the religion of Scientology is the formation or drive [there may be technical Scientology terms for these two words; I could not find them] - the study of the principles of Scientology. The religion of Scientology offers many courses of drive because a person can, as has been said, can put the truths discovered in Scientology to use himself of the to improve the conditions of each field of life. That said, the most significant courses of drive are those which make it possible to become an auditor. This is because the first principle for all the courses is that Scientology is an applied religious philosophy, and all drive depends on application.

    The path used by the scientologist who receives audition and studies the writings of Scientology is called the Bridge. This gives body to an old concept - a way imagined for a long time which connects the existing abyss between the current state of man and the much higher levels of consciousness. The Bridge is composed of gradual stages so that the acquired benefits are progressive, foreseeable and apparent (...)

    Here is thus the essence of Scientology: The Bridge, audition and drive; and those take place each day of the year in all the churches of Scientology in the whole world. The mission of Scientology is neither more nor less than the rehabilitation of the human spirit. And four decades after the founding of the Church, it is this aptitude to achieve this goal which goes back to the night of times which makes that more and more men and women of all environments and cultures turn to Scientology."

    The UFO [Outerspace, Extraterrestrial] Movements

    UFO-ology is a belief in a plurality of inhabited worlds and in the reality of visitors from space; in other words, it postulates the existence of extraterrestrials.

    The best known association of this trend is without question the Ra‘lien movement.

    The Ra‘lien movement was founded in 1975 by Claude Vorilhon. He would have been contacted in 1973 by the president of the council of Eternal ones so that he spreads, as a prophet, the new atheistic religion. This religion is based on the belief of the existence of Elohim, inhabitants of a planet located nine billion kilometers away and scientific creators of all forms of life on earth. Those would have revealed to him the true significance of the events reported in the Bible (the whale of Jonah was an atomic submarine, the tower of Babel a space rocket) and inspired its message, based on the questioning of the democratic system to the profit of the "geniocraty," the hierarchy of human races and the promotion of eugenic values . "Sensual meditation," which makes it possible to reach a cosmic orgasm, constitutes one of the practices preached by Ra‘liens, always in search of a place - and resources - favourable for the construction of an embassy where Elohim will come to make official contact with man.

    Syncretic movements

    Gathered under the term "syncretic" is a heterogeneous whole of movements presenting a synthesis between various religions, including primitives, even between the Eastern and Western traditions.

    This trend includes extremely varied movements, such as the domain of Ephse, Seimeikyo Europe, and the Association of Meditation in France.

    The two associations which gather the greatest number of followers are undoubtedly the Knights of the Gold Lotus and the Universal White Fraternity.

    Founded by Omraam Mikha‘l A•vanhov in 1947, the latter is presented in the form of an initiatory school proposing a syncretic esotericism, based on the worship of the Sun, the laws of karma, and "spiritual galvanoplasty."

    The Association of the Knights of the Gold Lotus was founded by Gilbert Bourdin in 1967. Its principal doctrine is aumism, which professes that the first word of God at the beginning of the creation of the universe was "Aum." As a result, the Knights devote themselves to a practice consisting in transmitting the sound "om" a million times or to recite the mantra "Om Ah Hum" supposed to neutralize the vibrations of occult forces. The purpose of this new universal and syncretic mystique able to link East and West is to save the earth and the cosmos from self-destruction so that the Golden age and its new society will be installed.

    Gilbert Bourdin, alias the Christ-king of the New Alliance, alias Hamsah Manarah, alias Melchizedek, in 1990 proclaimed himself "multi-planetary Messiah," after a long succession of engagements against a multitude of enemies. The holy city of Mandarom is installed in Castellane.

    For a still finer analysis, General Information, if necessary, supplemented the "dominant type" with an "associated type," retained along with the criteria already explained.

    - The concept of "dominant" and "associated" types

    This analysis led, for example, to distinguishing within the New Age "movement," the sects which can only be included as part of this movement only some this from those whose doctrines borrow some elements from the "curing," "syncretic," and "Eastern" trends.

    In the same way, one can, within the apocalyptic movements, distinguish the "evangelic" movements from the more "Eastern" movements.

    While the doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses are too well known for it to be necessary to point out them out here, the Universal Church of the Good is another sect of the "apocalyptiic/evangelic" type. Founded by the American Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1896), it developed in Europe in 1950's. Its doctrines are based on "Anglo- Israelism," according to which the true Israelites, descendants of the ten tribes of Israel, are the Anglo- Saxons and Europeans of the West. The restoration of the Anglo-Israeli Church forces to recognize in the Queen of England the legitimate heiress of King David. The Queen will nevertheless have to yield her throne to Christ at the time of his earthly return.

    The International Spiritual University of Brahma Kumaris is more representative of the Eastern trend within apocalyptic sects. Founded by Brahma Baba Lekk Raj, the University announces the imminence of nuclear holocaust and the supervening of the future world. While waiting for this event, man's inner peace results from a certain number of practices, the highest of which is Rajah-Yoga.

    It is specified that on the assumption - very frequent - where a sect cannot be attached to a single running of thought, General Information tended to regard as the dominant type the one to which the strongest degreee of danger is attached, empirically and implicitly. Thus, the "apocalyptic," "curing," "psychoanalytical," and "Satanic" criteria are generally placed before the nine other possible types which could be detected for the sect considered; a sect whose name spontaneously evokes Eastern movement (Sri Sathya Sai for example) will be thus classified as concerning the "curing" trend insofar as certain elements of its discourse are obviously miracle-workers.

    2.- Results of the investigation

    The analysis carried out on these bases by General Information and communicated to your commission makes it possible on the one hand to carry out a distribution of sects between the trends of thought, and on the other hand to release the broad outline of the evolution of the sectarian movement.

  • Distribution of the sects between the trends of thought
  • The distribution of the sects by dominant type revealed the dominating weight of the "New Age" trend. Among the sects retained in the General Information study (173 total), 49 are listed as "New Age," 19 as "Eastern," 18 as "Curing," 16 as "Occult," 15 as "Apocalyptic," and 13 as "Evangelical." The categories of "Pseudo-Catholic," "Psychoanalytical" and "Syncretic" each include 9 movements. Lastly, the "UFO" (5 movements), "Alternative" (4 movements), "Satanic" (4 movements) and "Neo-pagan" (3 movements) trends are definitely a minority.

    Of the 173 movements studied , 69 are attached to a single trend of thought. A study of the distribution of the "associated types" of the 104 other sects shows the prevalence of the "curing" criterion (quoted 46 times) and of the "New Age" criterion (20 cases). The other associated types are only evoked less than 10 times.

    One always notes, if one reasons in terms of a number of structures, a very great diversity within the sectarian movement: the application of the two criteria "dominant type" and "associated type" led to count 56 categories of sects... None of these categories includes more than five movements, with six notable exceptions:

    - the "New Age/Curing" movement includes twenty movements, of which the number of followers is however weak (except for Hue-France).

    - the pure "New Age" movement includes seventeen movements with a relatively small audience (less than 500 followers);

    - the pure "Eastern" movement includes nine structures, of which some gather a high number of followers (Sri Chinmoy, Shri RAM Chandra, Soka Gakkai);

    - the pure "Evangelical" movement joins together eight movements of limited audience;

    - the "Curing/New Age" movement gathers six structures of limited audience;

    - the "Evangelical/Curing" movement, although not numerous in terms of numbers of groups (5 groups) has a strong audience since it includes Universal Alliance, the Evangelical Church of Pentecost of Besancon, the Neo- apostolic Church, the Word of Faith and Christian Life in France.

    A study restricted to only the sects for which the number of followers is relatively significant (greater than 500) is led however to relativize the impression of the strong prevalence of sects of the "New Age" or "Curing" type.

    Typology of the sects for which the number of followers is higher than 500.

    Name of Sect Dominant Type Associated Type
    Universal Alliance Evangelical Curing
    ANTHROPOS - Association for Research into Holistic Development of Man New Age Curing
    Association of Jehovah's Witnesses Apocalyptic Evangelical
    Lucien J. Engelmajer Association Curing Pychoanalytical
    Association SRI Chinmoy de Paris Eastern
    Association Subud de France - Susila Dharma France Eastern Syncretic
    CEDIPAC SA (ex-GEPM) Evangelical
    Knights of the Gold Lotus Syncretic
    Community of Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Sacred Heart Pseudo-Catholic
    Antoinist Worship Curing Syncretic
    Domaine d'Ephèse Syncretic New Age
    Church of Scientology of Paris Psychoanalytic Curing
    Evangelical Church of Pentacost of Besanon Evangelical Curing
    Neo-apostolic Church of France Evangelical Curing
    Universal Church of God Apocalyptic Evangelical
    Universal Church of the Kingdom of God Curing Evangelical
    International Churches of Christ in France Apocalyptic Evangelical
    Human and Universal Energy France - HUE France New Age Curing
    Universal White Brotherhood Syncretic Curing
    Notre Dame Brotherhood Pseudo-Catholic
    Institute of Vedic Science Maharishi Paris - C.P.M. - Club for Meditating Eastern Curing
    Invitation to Intense Life Pseudo-catholic Curing
    The Eye Opens Apocalyptic Curing
    The House of John New Age Syncretic
    Word of Faith - World Evangelization Evangelical Curing
    Graal Movement in France Curing Occult
    French Ra‘lien Movement UFO Curing
    Methodical Ontology Culture and Tradition Occult UFO
    Paris Dharma Sah - Lotus Sangha of European Social Buddhism Eastern Curing
    Shri Ram Chandra Mission France Eastern
    International Society of Analytic Trilogy Psychoanalytic Curing
    Soka Gakkai International France Eastern
    Union of Associations, Centers and Groups of Sri Sathya Sai Guérisseur Eastern
    International Spiritual University of Brahma Kumaris Apocalyptic Eastern
    Christian Life in France - Center of Christian Life Evangelical Curing
    Viswa Nirmala Dharma - Sahaja Yoga Eastern Apocalyptic

    It is noted that the "Eastern," "Evangelical," and "Apocalyptic" trends include 7, 6 and 5 movements respectively, whereas the "New Age" trend includes only 3 of them.

    In addition, if the "Curing" trend joins together only five sects, this criterion is quoted 15 times in accordance with the associated type.

    The work carried out by General Information provides, in addition to this picture of the sectarian phenomenon, elements making it possible to follow its evolution over an average period.

  • Typological evolution of the sectarian phenomenon
  • It is possible to release the following few main tendencies in the evolution of the sectarian phenomenon.

    - perhaps the "New Age" seems responsible for the retreat of "Alternate" and prepares the development of "Apocalyptic".

    "New Age," a "hold-all" spiritual and philosophical trend imported from the United States in the mid-1980's, is number one in the sectarian competition at the approach of the third millenium. Actually, new groups or networks devoted to the "Age of Aquarius" are created almost each day whereas, at the same time, the significant and already old sects (FBU, New Acropolis...) try "to refresh" their doctrines by incorporation of "New Age" topics.

    True nebula, made up as much by simple organizers of training courses in the search of customers as by true gurus controlling a structure, "New Age" is dangerous because it can predispose its followers to take more perilous routes of "apocalyptic" type, for example.

    The approach of the year 2000 could, indeed, correspond to a considerable multiplication of the "apocalyptic" groups or millenarists in part from the badly understood message (because it is basically optimistic) of the "New-Agers." Moreover, large battalions of disappointed followers from the ranks of evangelical (Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists...) or syncretic movements could nourish this movement.

    The "New Age" movement in any case made the dominant exclusive "alternative" movement regress in notable proportions, which movement had been strongly anchored in the sectarian landscape since the 1970's (communities of "return to the land," with a tribal character such as Ecoovie...).

    - the "Eastern" sects are renewed.

    The current "Eastern" sects are the hard core and the heirs of religious sects dominant in the 1970's and 1980's. These, such as Krishna, the Transcendantal Meditation, and Soka Gakka•, were generally only maintained, whereas new co-religionists of importance appeared (HUE, Japanese sects...).

    Eastern spirituality has always fascinated, even if today it is in competition with "New Age" groups and if it incorporates more and more particularly dangerous "curing" precepts.

    - the dominant "curing" component invades the majority of sectarian trends, following the "New Age" example.

    With the "New Age" component, the pseudo-therapies of divine or "natural" origin now work the sectarian landscape to a large extent . Confined until recent years to the Eastern religious sphere (Mahikari, HUE...) or Christian (IVI, evangelical groups...), today the dominant "curing" component is also grafted onto the majority of other large sectarian trends (occultist, syncretic, psychoanalytical).... when it is not sufficient of itself as a single object for a sect (International Federation for the Development of Instinctive Feeding).

    Imposing itself to diverse degrees, from a simple prayer to complete "therapeutic" processes, this dominant component also presents dangers varying according to whether or not it claims to bring a solution to the most serious diseases, and whether it imposes the abandonment of official medicine.

    - The vast "occult" seems little threatened by its stable "neo-pagan" and "Satanic" neighbors. .

    Besides the many esoteric movements esoteric not taken into account (Rosicrucians AMORC, Martinists...), multiple structures of a neo-temple, initiatory etc. kind perpetuate an "occultist" trend which is today often crossbred with contributions from "New Age" or "curing" trends.

    The margin of these brotherhoods, which are often interested principally in the financial assistance of their members, from time immemorial revolved around the neo- pagan ("Druids"..) or Satanic groups (WICCA...) whose folk aspect should not make one forget the elitist, aggressive, and frequently racist ideology of these groups.

    All of these "magic" trends appear to have moved little on the sectarian chess-board. But the extreme secrecy of some of these groups does not make it possible to detect them systematically, and the Satanic groups inspire by fears which should not be taken lightly, because, following the example of their "co-religionists" in the United States and Scandinavian countries, the French LucifŽriens are likely to forsake their current folk activities for criminal actions: profanation of cemeteries, drug traffic, crimes of blood...

    - The "evangelical," "pseudo-Catholic," and "syncretic" trends resist more or less well.

    As with the case of the Eastern trend, which has exotic assets to keep its rank on the sectarian scene, these dominant religious movements test more and more the need to develop, on a purely additional and remunerative basis, a teaching (and services) centered on divine cure.

    The "little churches." led by false bishops, are also maintained by means of a caricatural use of Roman or Eastern catholic ritual. On their side, the dominant evangelical movements, often animated by authentic pastors having rocked [I'm not sure if "rocking" is good or bad in French. My guess is that it means "failed," as when a boat hits the rocks.] in the role of guru, always benefit from the freedoms offered by the official Protestant structures to thrive with their edge. The syncretic groups, as for them, resist with difficulty the "New Age" vagueness. .

    - A passion for "modern" sects claiming to have psychoanalytical basis is undeniable.

    Without question, in the sectarian dynamics of recent years, the "psychoanalytical" trend occupies third place on a podium already occupied by the "New Age" and "curing" movements. The difficulty in precisely describing encircling this trend explains why the quantitative information relating to it only extremely imperfectly translates its influence.

    With spearheads like Scientology, this trend today seems to be one of the privileged substitutes for traditional religious doctrines. One has only to observe the proliferation of dispensaries proposing training courses and seminars of "personal development"... financed sometimes within the framework of vocational training.

    There are certainly more "customers" than faithful "followers," but the cases of sectarian drift multiply. The damage caused to the victims is particularly serious (ruin, insanity, suicide...) because, in this type of sect, the techniques of mental manipulation are extremely sophisticated.

    - the "UFO" trend remains restrained but thrives.

    Taken along by the Ra‘lien Movement and Siderella, the "soucoupists[?]" make little school [literal translation. idiomatic expression?]. Their manpower progresses less than the charges for services suggested by the persons in charge. Here still, the picturesque discourse often hides more disquieting concepts such as the "geniocraty" (or "government of the elites") at Ra‘liens.


    The dangers which the sects present, otherwise called sectarian "drifts," deserve our utmost attention. Indeed, it is these dangers which justify the detailed attention that must carry them to the pubic capacities and, we point out, the creation of our board of inquiry.

    It is thus advisable to analyze them in detail.

    But before we proceed, it is necessary to clear up a possible misunderstanding: not all spiritual movements other than the traditional religions, movements which are commonly called sects, are dangerous, such as, for example, Baptists, Quakers, and Mormons. Their role can, sometimes, even be regarded as very positive: "You meet the best and the worst in sects (...). Sometimes, by means of the sects, some people find a sense of belonging to a warm friendly group, others find again a direction for their lives, others still are structured. Among my patients, some entered sects. I would not want for them to come out of there for anything in the world, because the sect is used by them temporarily as a tutor."

    Thus the commission carefully guarded against making an amalgam between all the existing spiritual groups. It considered that it was to be confined to examine the harmful effects caused by only the dangerous sects. And this, for better trying to release the means of combatting them.

    These negative effects were denounced many times, both by the press or by the public authorities themselves. The report of Alain Vivien of 1983, the opinion of the advisory national Commission of Human Rights of December 10, 1993 and the answers of the Government to parliamentary questions testify some, such as, on the international scene, the reports of Mr. Richard Cottrell, the European Parliament, in 1984, or of Sir John Hunt of the Council of Europe, in 1991. Moreover, the Commission noted, during its work, that nobody contradicted the existence of it.

    To analyze the danger that run in a certain number of sects, the Commission itself is based mainly on two sources of information, which guarantee greater objectivity, namely judicial court orders and data collected by General Information. It also used, to a lesser extent and with required prudence, direct testimony of former followers.

    The followed step reveals that if the court orders testify to many illegalities made by the sects or some their members, they only give a very incomplete account of their multiple dangers.

    1.- Many and varied illegalities

    From all of the court decisions to which the Commission had access, in particular those provided by the Management of Criminal Affairs and the graces of the Ministry for Justice, it arises that many sects are, during the ten last years, guilty of illegalities. These concern six principal fields:

    ( It acts, initially, of offences relating to physical attacks on the human person: ill treatments, aggravated assault, sequestration, not assistancing someone in danger, and illegal practice of medicine.

    Thus, the County Court of Versailles established, in a decision of February the 8, and 9, 1995 (No 234) that Mr. and Mrs. Mihaes, the leaders of the sect "the Citadel." made themselves guilty, inter alia, of violence on a fifteen year old minor, removal and sequestration. The report of the facts by the court is eloquent:

    [This quotation includes legal language which I'm not sure how to translate. I want to be especially careful not to tamper with legal language, so I have used literal translations, even though it may not be a "smooth" translation in English. - translator]
    "Waited that Mr. Solomon, who had belonged to this group {Citadel] as from 1974, had left it in 1990, joined a few times later with his wife, whereas their two major children Karen and Pascal as their minor daughter Dana Solomon had remained in the movement;

    "That Mr. Solomon and his wife had managed to take again with difficulties their daughter Dana on August 25, 1991, who was then at the ch‰teau of Courcillon (72), in custody of the Mihaes couple;

    "That Dana Solomon was to explain that in this community the children were usually separated from their parents and that they underwent various ill treatments which were inflicted upon them, in particular by Mrs. Mihaes, Mrs. Esther Antoine and Mr. Axel Schmidt;

    "That she had herself on several occasions been struck, sequestered, forced to fast, and had usually been deprived of sufficient food;

    "Await that it be established that, under cover of application of Biblical precepts, the child had been constrained with fasting, with public confession, had been subject to some punishment which, in addition to the blow, can itself exert that Dana Soloman had been in insulation [insulated in the sense of being separated from the outside] as well as having been a victim, retained against her will in the house of the property guard of VŽsinet, without heating during the winter months and given only one extremely frugal meal, but which can also itself exert that Claire Solomon was a victim in the form of a displacement of residence, "in punishment," in the residence of the Bahjejian couple and separated from her brothers and sister.

    "Awaited that with regard to more precisely the defendants, it is established that Mrs. Delia Mihaes, who always disputed the charges carried against her, made the facts which are reproached to her in the case, by delivering, very often, with acts of violence with regard to the StŽphane children, Jonathan, CŽline and Claire Antoine, Dana Solomon as well as with regard to her twin sons Octavius and Flavius;

    "That it seriously compromised the health and the education of these children in their being made to undergo the deprivations and the [brimades?] previously exposed;

    "That it is in addition established that she was made an accomplice to the sequestration exerted on the person of Dana Solomon (..

    The County Court of Dijon, in addition, was brought, in a judgement of January 9, 1987 (No 118-87), to condemn the director-assistant of the Narconon center of Grangey- on-Ource for nonassistance to someone in danger. This center, created by the Church of Scientology, proposes detoxification by applying the methods of Ron Hubbard, namely the procedure of "purification," based mainly on several hours of sauna per day, "auditions," and a significant absorption of vitamins. In this case, the victim had been in long-term treatment for epilepsy and had addressed this organization because she wished "to be released from drugs." The center A, without preliminary medical examination, placed her in a "weaning" room. However, the medical experts showed that her death was due to "an epileptic seizure due to the absence of sufficient treatment at its beginning and of emergency treatment during the seizure." The judgement does not leave any doubt about the responsibility of the center:

    "That if Jocelyne Dorfmann had made the decision to reduce her consumption of medication, then to stop it with the risk of compromising her health, the defendants had not at any time prevented it of the need for a medical examination of admission, which would have probably made it possible to contra-indicate the cure of weaning; that it is inconceivable that the victim could be accepted without this examination and serious treatment in spite of her declarations as to her health and her epilepsy, whereas the defendants admitted knowing that in the event of serious illness, medical treatment was not to suffer from interruption;

    "That if at the time the first crisis occurred, the defendants could mistake its exact nature, the repetition of the crises and their increasing intensity were to evoke to them an origin distinct from a state of lack which, according to medical experts, cannot be confused with an epileptic state;

    "That they did not consider it useful to directly ask the victim, while she was still conscious, if these demonstrations could correspond to the epileptic fits to which she had referred or to call upon the nearest doctor (...)"

    Several cases of the illegal exercise of medicine, moreover, were observed these last years. One will evoke, for example, the rather significant case of Mr. Main, head of a religious community called "The Good Pasteur[? Pastor?]," who, claiming the title of bishop (he had been ordained as such by ecclesiastics who no longer obeyed Rome after the Council of Vatican II), claimed to cure or relieve his "faithful" by words, prayers, laying on of hands, the use of a pendulum, and practices of exorcism and dŽsenvožtement[?]. The conclusions of the County Court of PŽrigueux, in its decision of June 22, 1994 (No 894), are made without comments: Mr. Main was recognized guilty of illegal exercise of medicine by the County Court of PŽrigueux in a judgement of June 22, 1994.

  • Many judgments were also pronounced in regard to the violation of certain family obligations, in particular of parents, followers of sects, with regard to their children.
  • Thus, for example, the Court of Appeal of Rennes had it, in a decision of 13 February 1993 (Epoux Durand), judged that Mr. and Mrs. Durand, member of the Sahaja Yoga sect, have "seriously compromised by lack of necessary direction the health and security of the child Yoann" and tomb have, so under the blow of article 357.1 of the penal code, by sending the six and a half year old child to India in a school of Dharamsala directed by the followers of this sect. The reasons for the decision deserve to be quoted:

    " (...) considering (...) that on the faith of a simple prospectus given at a simple general orientation (...), Domenica and Josette Durand (...) in April 1990 made the decision to send (...) their child Yoann, without accompanying the child on the voyage, to a school of which the content of teaching, in English and Hindi, was not really known to them (...), that they did not offer to the child some guarantee on the exit of this teaching, on conditions and life awaiting the child, of which the file reveals that they were notably in a very hard climatic plan (...) without assuring themselves before the child's departure of whether a medical infrastructure and sanitary arrangements await the child, without even informing themselves as to the nearest doctors specializing in the risks that the child would incur in an area of the world in which serious epidemic diseases essentially unknown in Europe strike, without measuring the risk for a child six and and a half years old of a feeling of abandonment, even of rejection whereas the child knew the birth close relation of another child in the hearth and that this other child maintained particularly privileged relations with its maternal grandparent, the spouse HŽline;

    " (...) that the report drawn up by three experts who examined the child on July 5, 1991 noted significant psychic degradations related to brutal and prolonged separation described exactly by the court, while later examinations revealed a clear improvement in a child returned within his family framework and continuing a normal schooling;"

    Sometimes, the facts are not also obviously reprehensible. The judge then abstains from condemning the parents/followers directly, but refuses to them the exercise of parental authority or custody. It is in this direction, for example, that ruled the County Court of Avignon on May 25, 1992 (decision No 673/92):

    "It certainly does not rest with the Court to come to a conclusion about the benefits or misdeeds of the sect (...) of Jehovah's Witnesses but only, according to "the interest of the minors," (...) to indicate the relative with whom the children have their usual residence and to rule on the exercise of the parental authority.

    "After having enumerated part of the impressive list of the interdicts that the followers of this sect - to which Madam does not dispute to have adhered - must respect, Mrs Audoyer notices rightly in the report of social investigation which it deposited that they are likely to block a future for children such as Debora and Flora.

    "The education of the children should not indeed consist of one endoctrination based on a particularly cataclysmic vision of the world in which only followers of the sect would be preserved, but on the contrary in an awakening of the spirit, an opening to all the fields of knowledge and all the disciplines, as well as with the relations with others without discrimination of race, religion or ideas.

    "In the current state, in order to preserve the present as well as the future of these two children (...), it appears necessary to fix their usual residence with their father who will exert the parental authority (...) "

    The sects are, moreover, made guilty many times of slandering, libellous denunciation and violation of the deprived life in the course of recent years.

    The Particular Case of the Church of Scientology.

    Thus, the County Court of Paris has it, in a judgement of 13 October 1993 (Mr. Abgrall C / Mrs. Lefvre), condemned for slandering Mrs. Lefvre, director of the publication "Ethics and Freedom," one of the reviews of the Church of Scientology.

    Indeed, a article in this publication, titled "A Militia of Thought" and dedicated to the Association of Family and Individual Defense [AFDI], made statements concerning the removal and sequestration by members of this association, and in particular of an internment in a psychiatric hospital in 1991 of a Scientologue from Marseilles, carried out with the complicity of J.M. Abgrall, psychiatrist, whereas these allegations have by no means been proved.

    In the same way, the Court of Appeal of Douai has, in its decision of 18 March 1982 (No 302), recognized the Hubbard Center of Dianetics guilty of "public slandering, comparable with an insult," to have written the following in reference to the ADFI:

    "... It appears vital to me for the freedom of religion and the freedom of thought to denounce and stop the intrigues of this fascist group which draws on all that moves which is new or different..."

    One can also evoke the case of a libellous denunciation confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in a [arrt stop?] of April 28, 1987 (A.J.), similar to that of a violation of deprived life by the association "Ethics and Freedom," in a decision returned last 15 March by the County Court of Paris (No 9)

    Several jurisdictional decisions also testify to a rather frequent practice of tax evasion by certain associations.

    The Supreme Court of Appeal, for example, confirmed in a stop of June 25, 1990 (Blanchard Henri and others) the stop of the Court of Appeal of Paris of January 26, 1988, condemning the President of the Association for the Unification of World Christianity (AUCM), which is the French branch of the Moon sect, for tax evasion. This stop shows in particular that this organization has, under cover of an association with religious goals, carried out significant undeclared benefits:

    " (...) Wait that Henri Blanchard has been returned in front of the correctional court for having fraudulently withdrawn the AUCM, of which he is the president, to the establishment and to the payment of corporation tax, and to have knowingly omitted to pass or to make pass in the in the documents holding place of day book [I assume this the French term for an accounting journal, probably what is called a "general ledger" in English] and book of inventory whole or part of writing;

    "Wait until (...) the judge stated that the AUCM has only the appearance of an association and that it exerts, by the setting on sale of a newspaper, an activity from which it gets some benefit of which a significant part, not carried in receipt, has been used, via figureheads, for some movable acquisitions or immovable acquisitions ["immovable" is similar to the English "real estate"] occult [this word does not make sense to me in this context, but it is there], of which, for some, the assignment cannot be specified; (...)."

    Also convicted of tax evasion, among others, were the International Association for Krishna Consciousness (AICK) (cf in particular the stop of October 19, 1989 of the Court of Appeal of Bourges, No 461/89) and the Church of Scientology (cf in particular the stop of February 3, 1995 of the Court of Appeal of Paris, No 7). There too, these organizations had carried out substantial commercial profits by means of associations which were supposedly not involved with this goal.

    In addition, the stop of February 3, 1995 of the Court of Appeals of Paris established that the Church of Scientology presented a liability of about 41 million francs [6,842,900 US Dollars] and put in legal rectification. Moreover, the Commercial Court of Paris pronounced, November 30, 1995, the setting in bankruptcy of the Church of Scientology of Paris, for the unpaid amounts with the tax authorities and the URSSAF of an amount of 48 million francs [8,011,200 US Dollars].

    One also notes several cases of swindle, fraud, and breach of trust.

    The County Court of Draguignan has thus, in a decision of 20 March 1995 (No 882/95), condemned two people (Mr. Galiano and Mrs. Pison) for swindle, being respectively presented in the form of reincarnation of Christ and the Virgin. And this, for the following reasons:

    "As a result thus of all of these element put to examination, by some setting in scene in some public meeting places, have persuaded credulous people of the existence of a supernatural capacity which will allow them to hope for a good live or a cure, very in use the alibi of science, namely the profession of psychoanalist for one and of dentist for the other. While trying to be made give or by perceiving sums, they made the offence of swindle."

    The Supreme Court of Appeal of Cassation[?] has, in addition, judged, in a stop of 15 November 1995 (A. Pouteau), that the Wide limited liability company, of which Alain Pouteau was the manager and of which investigation showed that it was "under the obedience of the Church of Scientology," "exploited a center of formation with trade of sale and spread some advertisements in the press and circulars about the maires[majors?mayors] in which the center engaged itself to procure candidates, at the end of their formation, a place with a serious company," was made guilty of fraud, because it "was not able to guarantee employment for its trainees."

    The famous affair of the sect of FrŽchou illustrates, in addition, perfectly the case of breach of trust made by the leaders of sects to the detriment of their followers. In fact, they were prevailed unduly of the title of priest, which had enabled them to extort a significant amount of gifts from their faithful followers (cf in particular the stop of May 10, 1991 of the Court of Appeal of Agen, No 215/91).

    Lastly, jurisprudence gives a report of multiple violations of the labor law or that of social security.

    "The denunciation of merciless exploitation of follower by the leaders, contempt for social laws, duration of work, lack of remuneration, nor of Social Security (...) find their confirmation in the fact that Ecoovie does not pour with the debate without employment contract, without payroll salary, without declaration of Social Security or with tax department concerning the follower that it employs, itself limiting to plead that those be voluntary." It is thus, for example, which the County Court of Paris described, in its stop of July 10, 1985 (No 263), the way in which the Ecoovie sect conceived the application of the rules of the labor and social security laws.

    Many judgments were thus marked on very diverse points against the sects during recent years, on the basis of undeniable material fact.

    However, the Commission was brought to note that this approach only incompletely accounts for the dangers of certain sectarian movements.

    2.- A harmfulness which largely exceeds the field of illegalities noted by the courts

    Obviously not all of the reprehensible acts performed by sects are the subject of a judgment. Far from it. Such a judgment requires, indeed, the meeting of several conditions which it is often difficult to obtain:

    - it is necessary, first of all, that the person having suffered an injury is conscious of it. However, for the followers, the rule which is imposed upon them by their guru is inevitably good. It is necessary thus that the follower gets sufficient distance with respect to the sect, generally while about having left it, to reach this awakening;

    it is appropriate then that the interested party decides to file a complaint. However, this step is far from being systematic: many prefer "definitively to turn the page" on a traumatic period of their history; others readily entrust to associations of defense but do not dare to institute proceedings for lack of confidence or fear of reprisals;

    - the proof of the offense as well as the responsibility for its instigation is, of the opinion of the majority of the people heard by the Commission, difficult to bring, this would be because of "the originality" of the sectarian offences, where the victims are sometimes, by their momentary assent, proper actors;

    - it is also necessary that the facts correspond to an incrimination envisaged and sanctioned by the law, which is not obvious in the cases of mental manipulation for example;

    - remains finally, if a judgment intervened, to make it apply, which encounters great difficulties sometimes, because of the multiplicity of the means that certain movements can deploy: dilatory procedures, pressures of all kinds, auto-dissolution or, quite simply, escape abroad.

    The information provided to the Commission by General Information as well as testimony which it received led it to think that the dangers which certain sectarian movements present to individuals and society are, actually, at the same time more numerous, more widespread and more grave than only a reading of court orders would suggest.

    The enumeration below gathers, in ten categories, the dangers which the sectarian phenomenon presents for individuals on the one hand, for society on the other hand, such as the Commission could apprehend them through the whole of its work.

    a) The dangers to the individual

    Mental destabilization is the first of them.

    One understands this expression to mean, to destabilize someone in order to subject him to one's influence by persuasion, manipulation, and all other material means.

    According to General Information, the 172 coercive sectarian movements that they listed would resort to practices being able to be thus qualified.

    The mental destabilization can take very diverse forms, and, in particular, very insidious forms, as the personality test and "auditions" proposed by the Church of Scientology illustrate. Here is how a former follower of this association described to the Commission the experience of the test:

    " This test, which is comprised of approximately 200 questions about traits with money, the family, with work, etc, has, in my view, a true psychological base but then gives way to an analysis - on the computer, today, which gives it a serious aspect which is very imposing - which tends to emphasize defects more than anything - which is altogether simple --.

    " Defects are thus amplified while good qualities are rather underestimated, which makes it possible to decide that there are things to do and that the Dianetic Center has proposed those things to you.

    " (...) And from there, people are tempted to go further. " .

    Consequently, the process of mental destabilization is already started. It reaches an additional stage when the interested party indeed goes "further" and agrees to devote himself to Dianetic "auditions":

    " I did five or six hours of audition. In these auditions known as Dianetics (...), one makes you close your eyes - a little like a psychiatrist - and one revives to you the difficult moments. Personally, I spoke about my first love as a teenager - I did the same thing as one would do in front of a psychiatrist --, which involved an emotional increase at home which disturbed me a little.

    " There, the evil was indeed done because I wanted to go further (...). " .

    The interested party "indeed went further," which led him to a state of alienation and extreme dependence.

    This practice, one sees, is very insidious, because it is void of a scientific base and is exerted with the agreement of the victim, in a progressive way and within a perfectly legal framework.

    Certain processes are, on the other hand, definitely more brutal. It acts, for example, to weaken the individual by imposing a very rigorous discipline on him, or to reduce his critical spirit by demanding repetitive acts or prayers in order to obtain his complete obedience. The testimony collected regarding a typical day for a follower of the International Association of Krishna Consciousness, with, in particular, its eleven working hours and its six hours of devotion per day, attest to this.

    These processes can sometimes even lead the followers to an advanced state of pathological weakness.

    One also notes, although more rarely, the recourse to sophrologic[?inducing mental sleepiness?] techniques, going as far as deep hypnosis or prescribing drugs, permitting a sect to attain, to use again the expression of Colonel Morin, a true "psychic rape" of the follower.

    These forms of mental destabilization can have serious consequences on the psyche of those to which they were applied, such as depression, [envožtement?], schizophrenic behavior or a deep state of dependence.

    Certain sects, moreover, have exorbitant financial requirements.with regard to their followers.

    According to General Information, this would today be the case for 76 sects.

    It is in particular thus for the Church of Scientology. This one would, indeed, charge more than 70,000 francs [$11,725 US Dollars] for certain courses. Several testimonies collected by the Commission show that this would have led many followers to a serious debt position.

    One can also quote Association for the Unification of World Christianity which would have required between 7,000 [$1,173 US Dollars] and 14,000 francs [$2345 US Dollars] of each of the 72,000 people married collectively by the Reverend Moon of Seoul last August.

    Financial exploitation would also be the case with, in particular, the Alliance of the Rose Cross, the New Acropolis, the Knights of the Gold Lotus, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, the Grand Logis, and the French Ra‘lien Movement.

    The rupture of the follower with his environment of origin is frequently noted. This is obvious with sects which practice the community life, but those are not most numerous. It is more insidious but quite as real within the framework of sects whose followers continue, seemingly, to carry out a normal family and social life, but whose engagement gradually leads them to cease any true relation between the external world and the movement of which they are members. And it is precisely that goal that the leaders of sects want to attain, in giving the follower incentive to devote his time as much as possible to the sect, with its rites and its beliefs: to put an end to any contact with the people who would be likely to insinuate doubt into the spirit of the follower, to awake his critical direction and, finally, to divert him from the sect.

    According to information collected by your commission, 57 spiritual movements would present this danger, in particular the Universal Alliance, the Church of Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses, IVI, the Family, and the Humanistic Movement.

    One will limit oneself, to illustrate this, to point out testimony communicated by an ex-follower of Jehovah's Witnesses:

    " (...) If I decide today to write, it is to break the twenty years of silence maintained with lasting mental anguish because of a sect, which is (...) the sect of Jehovah's Witnesses. I lived the hell.

    "People live in an autarchy, do not take part of anything in the economic, cultural or other life of a country. They are a danger because quite simply they destroy you; you draw aside from your family, your friends, from society even. You are isolated from all, there is one common indoctrination for all the disciples and [gare? parks? congregations?] if you try to be yourself. It is prohibited."

    The practices of certain sects undermine the physical integrity of the followers. According to information obtained by your commission, 82 sects would pose such a danger to their members.

    It can be a question of ill treatment, aggravated assault, sequestrations, non-assistance to someone in danger, or illegal practice of medicine, but also of sexual aggression.

    Several complaints were thus filed against the guru of Mandarom, Gilbert Bourdin, for rapes, attempts at rapes and sexual aggression. The interested party besides was put in examination and was placed under legal control last June.

    It is well-known that within the sect the Children of God (today dissolved) prostitution and incest were usually practised. Here is, for example, how the daughter of David Berg, the founder of the movement, describes her father's attitude toward her in "Shukan Bushun" of July 30, 1992:

    " My father pressed me for the first time to have a sexual relation with him, when I was eight years old, in Texas. I resisted, nevertheless, I was violated. This was so abrupt that I was completely upset by it and unable to speak about it with anyone.

    " (...) Unfortunately, when my father was seized by sexual desire, it could not be controlled, even if the object of his desire was his own daughter.

    " (...) One day, my father gathered the members of the royal family together and announced: "Incest is a good thing. Thus Adam and Eve had many descendants " (...)"

    Another follower shares information regarding the practice of "flirty fishing" consisting of prostituting children "with the given intention of gaining more followers and to acquire support."

    Auto-dissolved in 1978, this sect would have been recreated under another name ("the Family"), under which indeed today exists a sectarian association.

    Each one finally keeps in memory the large scale dramas among which were the collective suicides of Guyana in 1979, which made 923 victims, or of Waco in 1993, which killed 88 people.

  • Lastly, embrigadement [bringing into the troops, enlisting] of the children would be the fact of 28 movements.
  • In addition to "the Citadel" of which the actions have already been evoked, come sects practice embrigadement of children in a more or less insidious form, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Association for the Unification of World Christianity, the Community of ThŽba•de, the Church of Scientology of Paris, the Kristique Church of New Jerusalem, the French Federation for Krishna Consciousness, the Family, and the Grand Logis.

    Beyond these negative effects on selected individuals, the sects can also appear particularly harmful to the community as a whole.

    B) Dangers to the community

    To begin with, certain sects have a clearly antisocial message.

    This is not astonishing besides: the movements which recommend practices contrary to the law and common morals must justify them well; they thus explain often to their followers why these laws and these morals are bad and that only the principles of the sect deserve to be followed.

    46 organizations have an antisocial message according to General Information, among which are the Knights of the Gold Lotus, the French Federation for Krishna Consciousness, the Family, the Suicide of Banks [as in river banks], the Ra‘lien Movement, and the Order of Immaculate Heart of Marie and of Saint Louis of Montfort.

    Several organizations provoke, in addition, disturbances to the law and order.

    According to indications provided to your commission by the Ministry for the Interior, this would be the case of 26 sects, among whom are Jehovah's Witnesses, the New Acropolis, the Church of Scientology, the French Federation for Krishna Consciousness, the Suicide of Banks, and the French Ra‘lien Movement.

    Testimony collected concerning the New Acropolis, comparing the sect to a neofascist movement, is rather eloquent. Here is an extract:

    " (..) But, unfortunately, with the New Acropolis, as the years pass, the ideas [trŽpassent?]. that is to say that re- enter a school of philosophy with an honest facade, you find yourself very quickly in a sect with political aims, with extreme right wing character and of neofascist type, and if you don't react quickly, you risk finding yourself in a paramilitary style uniform (blue-marine for women, black for men, and chestnut for officers), the arm-band on your arm, the standard in hand, singing war songs in military rhythm, then lowering your head, knee to the ground, saluting the arms surveying a raptor on a sun!!!

    " (...) It is moreover one of the declared enemies of democracy, good only for cowards and the weak, so say the leaders of the New Acropolis. Moreover, they are hostile to any form of opposition, and are likely to become very dangerous. For them, the end justifies the means (...) " .

    Certain sects are usually in legal contentions, as the affairs mentioned above testify.

    However, it is advisable to specify that the difficult reports with justice that certain sects maintain can take two faces: the proceedings of which they are the object because of the punishable or prejudicial character of their acts; the actions which they bring themselves with regard to the people who have, according to them, tarnished their image.

    L'Eglise de Scientologie est, par exemple, très coutumière du fait. En général, les tribunaux déboutent les mouvements. In this respect, the Commission had the occasion to note that the majority of the people heard who publicly expressed themselves regarding the negative effects of certain sectarian movements were sued by those [sects] for slandering. The Church of Scientology is, for example, very much accustomed to doing this. In general, the courts dismiss the actions.

  • One also notes many cases of economic disruption, such practices being the fact of 51 organizations, according to General Information's analyses.
  • This is the case for the Association for Research on the Holistic Development of Man, Association New Acropolis France, Athanor, the Resource Center for Information and Contact for the Prevention of Cancer, the Key to the Universe, the Church of Scientology, the French Ra‘lien Movement, and Soka Gakkai International France.

    One saw, in fact, how certain sects could have recourse to clandestine work or various forms of fraud or swindling.

  • In addition, several people evoked before the Commission the infiltrations or attempts at infiltration which the sects would have attempted with the center of public authorities. In the same direction, certain journalists have endeavoured for a few years to show the influence which certain sects could exert - with the first head of the Church of Scientology - in the apparatus of State.
  • As for your commission, it does not consider itself authorized to make statements in this report of allegations brought to its attention during its work but of which it did not have any means of checking the cogency. Some considered this naive and to judge it moved vis-a-vis with the subtle enterprises of groups which can very skilfully implement the means enabling them to arrive at their ends. It of it is not nothing. Simply, the Commission judges its duty to be careful and to refuse to bring back allegations whose consequences could be of a certain gravity, without being able to bring the least proof of it. Even so, it did not fail to be alarmed by certain elements which were communicated to it. So it draws the attention of the administrative persons in charge to the need, without falling into paranoia, to be proof of greatest vigilance, in order to avoid, at least, as subsidies or contracts are allotted to sects and organizations within their sphere, by ignorance of their exact nature.

    Multiple, various, complex, the sectarian phenomenon presents undeniable dangers to the individual as well as to society. And this, the more so as they can take the most insidious forms. No social or professional category escapes from it and if the young people appear more touched, one finds people of all ages in the sects.

    An essential question arises then today: have these dangers tended to increase for ten years?

    One can hardly give a precise answer to this question, because it is, in the current state of affairs, impossible to measure with exactitude their evolution in the ensemble of movements. However, the opinions collected by the Commission on behalf of several observers leads us to believe that if the practices of sects are not more dangerous today than yesterday, many more people are victims.

    Under these conditions, it appears particularly significant to know, on the one hand, if the existing legal devices are sufficient to face there and, on the other hand, what the public authorities can do to better fight against these drifts.

    [NOTE: The language in these sections is legalistic and technical, difficult for me to translate. I have left much of it as literal as possible, even though the reading isn't as smooth. I'd rather the English syntax be a little awkward rather than making the French document say something that was not intended. -translator]


    If one seeks to analyze the causes of difficulty which the public authorities test to stop sectarian drifts, it appears that this situation can hold with three causes: that is to say the existing means of right would not make it possible to thwart them; that is to say the current legal device is adapted overall but incomplete and thus allows only partially to face there; maybe, finally, it is sufficient, but is not applied in a completely satisfactory way.

    The study of legal devices leads your commission to so think that it is overall adapted to the problems arising from the sects and does not require an overall reform.

    One notes nevertheless, as one saw above, that it was often difficult to prosecute organizations which had criminal behavior.

    The response to these problems thus passes with a very pragmatic attitude, based above all on strong prevention, a better application of the law, and improvement of some points in the existing legal device.


    Any spiritual movement, insofar as it expresses religious convictions or, at the very least, beliefs, is protected by the principle of freedom of conscience.

    This freedom, which is defined as the capacity to act in accordance with the indications of one's conscience, in particular in religious matters, is, one will recall, guaranteed by Article 10 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens of 1789, the 5th subparagraph of the preamble of the Constitution of 1946, as well as by Article 2 of the Constitution of 1958.

    This freedom is equally consecrated, in an even more precise way, by several International Conventions of which France is part. This is so in Article 9 of the European Convention to Protect Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ratified by France in 1973, and in Article 18 of the international pact relating to civil and political laws of 1966, which went into effect in France in 1981.

    Any spiritual movement enjoys, in addition, the right to meet, guaranteed by the law of June 30, 1881, as well as the right of association, envisaged by Article 2 of the law of July 1, 1901 relating to the contract of association.

    These three freedoms can however be exerted only within certain limits.

    Respect for law and order comes first, i.e., in the broad sense, peace, security, health and public morality. Thus, Article 3 of the law of July 1, 1901 mentioned above lays out that "any association founded for a cause or for a sight to an illicit purpose, contrary to the laws and contrary to good morals, or for which the purpose would be to attack the integrity of the national territory and the republican form of Government, is null and not an avenue [avenue in this context could also mean 'not seen,' as in not recognized]. Thus, in a stop of 14 May 1982 (International Association for Krishna Consciousness), the Council of State has estimated that the only restrictions likely to be made as to the exercise of the Krishna's worship could be drawn with respect to public peace and with respect to the need to guarantee regulations in matters of hygiene and safety in establishments which receive the public.

    Respect for the freedom and rights of others comes second, because, as Article 4 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 affirms: "freedom consists in doing all that does not harm others." Thus, for example, it arises of answer brought by the Minister of the Interior to two questions written of Mr. Alain Vivien, that pursues an action of criminal character, an infraction of the law No 78-17 of 6 January 1978 relative to data processing, to files, and to freedoms, the sect which, by the means of inquiries or surveys regarding the use of tranquilizers, sent questionnaires to its adherents and non-adherents containing requests for information concerning identity, residence, profession, and the telephone number of the person questioned and of personalities known in the following spheres: world politics, media, arts, law, and finance (Rep. quest. Žcrites min. int. n. 8465 et 8467 : JOAN ] 10 avril 1989, p. 1691)

    Lastly comes respect for the principle of [la•citŽ? secularity?], on which rests the separation of Church and State decided by the law of December 9, 1905, as on the neutrality of the State with respect to worship. Article 9 of this law lays out, indeed, points out, that "the Republic does not recognize, does not pay, and does not subsidize any worship."

    Based on a balance between, on the one hand, freedom of conscience, of meeting, and of association and, on the other hand, respect for law and order, the rights and freedoms of others and the secularity of the Republic, the regimen of worship thus allows, while ensuring the expression of all the beliefs, to face the sectarian dangers.

    1.- Regulations which, while guaranteeing freedom of religion, make it possible to repress the abuses of sectarian movements

    If the spiritual movements have the legal means to exist and develop, the law envisages a significant arsenal making it possible to sanction the abuses which could be made under the cover of exercise of religious freedom.

    a) The spiritual movements have several legal frameworks for expressing themselves

  • These movements can, in the first place, organize themselves as a non-declared association.
  • Non-declared associations can, according to article 4 of the law of July 1, 1901, collect contributions. They can also create funds intended for expenditures of the association, open a postal checking account, and sign contracts of employment.

    They are not made the object of any specific administrative control.

    The fact of not being declared prevents them, on the other hand, from enjoying the legal capacity. It follows that they can acquire neither to have a real inheritance, nor be party to legal proceedings.

    It is very difficult to know how many sectarian movements choose this statute, which does not suppose any form of publicity, but they are probably very few.

  • The legal framework which seems to be used more often by sects is that of declared associations envisaged by the law of July 1, 1901.
  • To benefit from this statute, it is enough, pursuant to article 5 of this law, to:

    - make a statement with the prefecture of the department or with the sub-prefecture of the district where the association has its registered social office, mention "the title and the object of the association, the seat of its establishment, and the name, profession, residence, and nationality of the person who, with an unspecified title, is charged with its administration or its direction";

    - to join two examples of the statutes;

    - to make the association public within one month by an insertion to the "Official Journal" of an extract containing the date of the declaration, the title and the object of association, as well as the indication of its registered office.

    Equipped with legal capacity, these associations can, in addition to exerting the rights recognized to non-declared associations, in particular:

    - to acquire, have and manage the contributions of their members, the room intended for their administration, and the meeting of their members and the buildings strictly necessary to the achievement of the goal which they propose;

    - to possess corporate and incorporate [meubles - literally, pieces of furniture or movables. I suspect this is a legal term for movable furniture and equipment as opposed to real estate and fixtures. -translator], as well as being titular of a right to the lease relating to a residential building;

    - to receive manual gifts, liberalities of the public utility companies, as well as public subsidies of the State, areas, departments, parishes and publicly-owned establishments;

    - to withdraw remuneration of rendered services;

    - be party to legal proceedings.

    On the other hand, they can be subjected to tax control (article 1999 of the general code of the taxes) and to that of the factory inspectorate (article 143.5 of the fair labor standards act), possibilities which one can consider it regrettable that they are not more used.

    In addition, they cannot - except for those which are recognized of public utility [or public service] and for those for which the purposes are exclusively assistance, benevolence, scientific or medical search - receive donations or legacies.

    Very easy to obtain, the statute of declared association offers many rights while imposing few constraints. Also, the majority of the sects adopt it.

  • Much fewer of the religious movements enjoy the statute of "cultuelle" [worshipful or religious - I will just let the French word itself stand in translation -translator] association.
  • This mode is defined by the law of 9 December 1905 relating to the separation of Church and State.

    The creation of "cultuelle associations" is subjected, in addition to the conditions planned for declared associations, to some other particular obligations. Thus must they have as their sole purpose the exercise of a worship to be made up of at least seven people in the parishes of less than 1,000 inhabitants, of fifteen people in the parishes from 1,000 to 20,000 inhabitants and 25 major people in the parishes of more than 20,000 inhabitants.

    They benefit from all the rights granted to declared associations, except that of receiving grants from the State, from departments, and from parishes, because of the principle of separation between Churches and the State.

    Moreover, they can receive, in addition to the product of the searches and collections for the expenses of the worship and the remunerations for the ceremonies and religious services, testamentary liberalities and [entre vifs? - between sharp?] (article 19, subparagraph 4 of the law of December 9, 1905). However, this possibility is subjected to an authorization granted by prefectoral decree when the value of liberality is lower or equal to 5 million francs [$835,000 US Dollars] and decree in Council of State when it exceeds this amount.

    In addition, pursuant to articles 200 and 238 (a) of the general code of the taxes, their benefactors can deduct from income tax or corporation tax, within a certain limit, a percentage of liberalities which are granted.

    It is advisable finally to observe that, in accordance with article 24 of law of 9 December 1905, the building assigned to exercise of worship is exempt from land tax pertaining to State, to department, and to commune, and that the minister of religion can be affiliated, pursuant to article L.721.1 of error correcting the Social Security code, with a special mode of social security.

    Lastly, these associations are the objects of financial control by the Administration of Recording and by the General Inspection of Finances.

    Few sects were seen recognizing this statute until now.

    Some declare themselves "cultuelle associations," by including this expression in their name. This is the case, for example, of the "Cultuelle Association of the Witnesses of JŽhovah" and the sect of Mandarom, which in 1991 took on the name "cultuelle association of the temple pyramid of the unit of the religions." But that does not mean, however, that they were granted recognition as such by the administration. Moreover, in kind, they do not profit from this statute.

    It is the administrative jurisprudence which has specified the contours of the concept of cultuelle association, by giving a restrictive definition.

    Its conception of the "cultuelle" object thus resulted in refusing this statute to the Union of Atheists (EC, Union of Atheists, 17/06/1988), whereas the European Commission of Human Rights considers that this association could, by an analogy of opposites, be regarded as "cultuelle." In addition, the Council of State judged that the publishing and sale of religious books (EC, Association Brotherhood of the Servants of the New World, 21/01/1983) or an educational, social, and cultural activity, was the prolongation of a cultuelle activity (EC, 20/10/1990, cultuelle Association of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Paris), could not be regarded as "cultuelle" activities.

    In addition, the Council of State refused to recognize the statute of cultuelle association to Jehovah's Witnesses in a stop of the Assembly of February 1, 1985 (EC, 1/02/1985, Christian Association of the Witnesses of JŽhovah), considering that this association did not have an activity in conformity with law and order and the national interest.

    The absence of a precise motivation for this last decision has besides caused some criticism on the one hand of doctrine, in particular by Professor Jacques Robert, who has estimated that it must lead the administration to seize the Public Prosecutor to make note of the nullity of the aforementioned association by the Court de Grande Instance [not knowing the court structure in France, I'm guessing this might be similar to the Supreme Court in the U.S.], in accordance with provisions of articles 3 and 7 of law of 1st July 1901, and that such a restriction to freedom of worship leads to the reconstitution of recognized worship, situation at which the law of December 9, 1905 precisely intended to put a term.

    Always is it that it is according to these jurisprudential criteria that the statute of cultuelle association is granted by the administration. Still is not also that in an indirect way by the Office of the Worship or the prefectures at the time of a request aiming at profiting from the advantages envisaged by article 19, subparagraph 4 of the law of December 9, 1905 (liberalities) or of articles 200 and 238 (a) of the general code of the taxes (deductions of taxes). Taking into account the multiplication of associations which are presented in the form of an expression of new religious movements and likely to require to profit from the statute of "cultuelle association," it is not certain that these administrations alone have the means of ruling in all knowledge of cause on such requests.

  • Certain religious movements carry on their activities within the framework of congregations.
  • Approximately 500 congregations currently exist in France, of which half were recognized since 1970. Almost all of them concern the Catholic religion, but one counts among them four Orthodox, six Buddhist, and one Protestant.

    Their legal status is organized by title III of the law of July 1, 1901. This text provides that they are recognized by decree taken on assent of the Council of State and grants the same advantages to them as those conferred on "cultuelle associations."

    But the law does not give a definition of a congregation and jurisprudence is extremely rare on this point.

    In any event, according to the Bureau of Worship of the Ministry for the Interior, few sects asked to benefit from this statute. A request was formulated in this direction by Mandarom de Castellane (Knights of the Gold Lotus) recently, but it was rejected.

  • Other sects resort also, directly or indirectly, to the statute of sociŽtŽs [societies, companies].
  • It is thus, for example, with the Church of Scientology which diffuses its doctrines through multiple companies of formation and of services.

    Then the common de jure system for the legal form of the company created would apply.

  • It is appropriate, finally, to mention the existence of various special modes.
  • These are, in fact, legal particularities specific to certain departments and whose existence is due to historical reasons.

    This is the case notably of the system for the worships [or religions] of the Alsace-Moselle, founded on a statute of concordat. It is characterized mainly by the maintenance of the distinction between recognized worships and non- recognized worships, the management of the worships recognized by publicly-owned establishments, the remuneration of the priests, certain financial obligations, particular tax advantages, and a narrower control by the administration.

    This is the case also of the system of religious missions in overseas territories and with Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, as well as of the departmental denominational system departmental denominational in Guyana.

    If the spiritual movements thus benefit from several legal frameworks by which to express themselves, the law however makes it possible to repress the abuses to which some can be delivered.

    B) A significant legal arsenal makes it possible to penalize cultic "drifts"

    To convince oneself, it is enough to examine, for each type of sectarian danger identified by the General Information study, the legal means at the disposal of the victims and the public authorities to opposed the danger.

  • For obvious reasons, repression of the practices of mental destabilization is particularly delicate. That being the case, a certain number of provisions can be used to reach that point. One can in particular quote:
  • - article 31 of the law of December 9, 1905 concerning the separation of Church and State, punishing "with the penalty of envisaged fines for infringements of the 5th class and an imprisonment of ten days to one month, or one of these penalties only, those which, are by ways in fact, violence or threats against an individual, maybe while making him fear to lose his employment or to expose to damage his person, his family, or his fortune, [any person who] will have determined to exert or to abstain from exerting a worship, to form part or to cease forming part of a cultuelle association, to contribute or to abstain from contributing to he expenses of a worship.

    - sanctions envisaged against the malevolent phone calls or to sound aggressions reiterated in order to disturb the peace of others (Article 222.16 of the new penal code);

    - penalties repressing insults to good morals, offences against public decency and sexual harassment (Article 283 and following and Article 330 and following of the penal code; art. 227.23 and following, 222.32, 222.33 and 227.25 and following of the new penal code);

    - penal provisions concerning drug traffic (Article 222.34 and following of the new penal code), on the assumption that a sect would incite its followers to consumption of drugs;

    - penalties relating to the illegal exercise of medicine (Article L-372 and following of the code of the public health);

    But your Commission notes - with regret - that recourse has hardly been made to these provisions within the framework of the fight against sectarian drifts.

    Moreover, besides these traditional provisions, the new penal code in application since March 1994 comprises a new incrimination likely to constitute an additional legal means to fight against the practices of certain sectarian movements. This is article 313-4, the terms of which say "fraudulent abuse of a state of ignorance or of a situation of weakness, either of a minor, either of a person who is particularly vulnerable due to his age, with a disease, with a physical or psychic deficiency or with a state of pregnancy, be this apparent or known of its author, to oblige this minor or this vulnerable person with an act or with an abstention which to him would be seriously prejudicial, is punishable with three years of imprisonment and with a fine of 2,5000,000 F [I think the extra zero was a typo; I'm guessing 2,500,000 was intended. $416,250 US Dollars]". Entirely new, - just as articles 225-13 and 225-14 which will be evoked further at the time of the examination of the means of fighting against swindles and breach of trust - this article, without being specific to the sects, seems to be of a particular interest to repress cases of mental destabilization perpetrated by destructive sects which previously passed between the mesh of the net of criminal law. Your Commission can thus only emit the wish that the judges make use of article 313-4 each time that it is possible to sanction reprehensible acts done by sects.

    Lastly, but it is not any more repression, the civil code comprises provisions relating to protection of the people of legal age, which can be applied in certain cases of deep destabilization. Thus, the law protects "the person of legal age whose deterioration of his personal faculties makes it impossible for him only to provide for his interests" or that person who, "by his prodigality, his intemperance or his idleness, is exposed to fall into need or compromises the execution of his family obligations " (Article 489 of the civil code). It is also thus "when mental faculties are deteriorated by a disease, an infirmity or an attenuation due to age" (Article 490 of the civil code). A mode to safeguard justice (Article 491 and following), of supervision (Article 492 and following), or of trusteeship (Article 508 and following) can then be applied.

  • To beat in breach the exorbitant financial requirements of questionable sects, one lays out:
  • - articles of the penal code and new penal code punishing theft (Article 379 and following of the penal code and 311.1 and following of the new penal code), swindle (Article 405 of the penal code and 313.1 of the new penal code) and breach of trust (Article 406 and following of the penal code and 314.1 and following of the new penal code);

    - sanctions existing as regards false or misleading advertising (law No 73.1193 of December 27, 1973, Article 44; law No 78.23 of January 10, 1978, Article 30);

    - regulation of begging on public streets (circular of July 21, 1987 relating to the call to public generosity);

    - articles 225.13 ("the fact of obtaining from a person, while misusing his vulnerability or his situation of dependence, a supply of non-remunerated services or in exchange for a remuneration obviously without relationship to the importance of accomplished work is punishable with two years of imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 F [$83,250 US Dollars]") and 225.14 ("the fact of subjecting a person, while misusing his vulnerability or his situation of dependence, to lodging or working conditions incompatible with human dignity is punishable with two years of imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 F [$83,250 US Dollars]") of the new penal code, which makes it possible to sanction direct or indirect forms of manifest financial exploitation. One can only wish that these new provisions receive a frequent application in order to fight effectively against the financial exploitation of followers by the sects.

  • Several means make it possible to confront social isolation:
  • - obligations imposed by the civil code to spouses (Article 212 and following of the civil code). One quotes in particular article 215, which specifies that "spouses are mutually obligated to a community of life" and that "the residence of family is in a place that they choose by mutual agreement," as in article 220.1, which envisages that "if one of the spouses seriously neglects his/her duty and thus places the interests of the family in danger, the judge for family affairs can prescribe all the urgent measures that these interests require";

    - parental obligations fixed by this same code and sanctions envisaged by this code whenever the obligations are not respected: forfeiture (Article 378 and following), loss or provisional deprivation of parental authority (Article 373 and following);

    - article 371.4 of the civil code, lays out that "the father and mother cannot, except for serious reason, obstruct the personal relationship of a child with its grandparents" and that in consideration of an exceptional situation, the "judge for family affairs" can grant a right of correspondence or of visitation with some other person, parent or not;

    - the penalties as regards renunciation of a minor, abandonment of family, attacks to the exercise of the parental authority or filiation or of endangering minors (articles 227.1 and following of the new penal code).

  • Many provisions make it possible to sanction attacks on physical integrity, which are:
  • - removals and sequestrations (Article 341 and following and 354 and following of the penal code; art. 224.1 and following of the new penal code);

    - aggravated assault (Article 309 and following of the penal code; art. 222.7 and following of the new penal code);

    - torture (Article 303 of the penal code; art. 222.1 and following of the new penal code);

    - nonassistance to someone in danger (Article 63 of the penal code; art. 223.6 and following of the new penal code);

    - homicide (Article 296 and following of the penal code; art. 221.1 and following of the new penal code);

    - rape (Article 332 and following of the penal code; art. 222.23 and following of the new penal code) and sexual aggression (Article 222.22 and following of the new penal code);

    - prostitution and procuring (Article 334 and following of the penal code; art. 225.5 and following and R.625.8 of the new penal code);

    - contributing to the delinquency and corruption of minors (Article 334.2 of the penal code; art. 227.22 of the new penal code);

    - dangers threatening the health, security or morality of an unemancipated minor or the conditions of his education (Article 375 and following of the civil code, allowing justice to order measures of educational welfare).

    - The question itself of enlistment of a child, in addition to the provisions mentioned above making it possible to oppose social isolation, rules can be applied relating to compulsory education (law of 28 March 1882, ordinance No 59.45 of 6 January 1959 and decree No 66.104 of 18 February 1966 on compulsory education and decree No 59.39 of 2 January 1959 on scholarships and of sanctions for diversion of minors (Article 354 and following of penal code; art. 227.7 and following of the new penal code).

  • The principles of freedom of thought and expression obviously prevent sects that develop antisocial discourse from being worried for this reason, since they would only be sanctioned for acts of slander or insult with regard to public institutions or their representatives (Article 30 and following of the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press; 1st article of the law of June 11, 1887 concerning slander and insult made by postal or telegraphic correspondence [circulant ˆ dŽcouvert? - circulating with discovered? -translator]);
  • In regard to disorders of law and order, the device is at the same time preventive and repressive.
  • Concerning the preventive measures, almost all of the provisions make it possible to guarantee public security, tranquility, health and morals. One can quote, for example, the safety requirements for establishments receiving the public (Article R 123-1 and following of code of construction and of dwelling), in the private establishment of teaching (law of 15 March 1850 on teaching, law of 30 October 1886 on the organization of primary teaching, law No 59-1557 of 31 December 1959 on the report between the State and the private educational establishment, decree No 60-389 of 22 April 1960, relative to the contract of association with state public education passed by the private educational establishment), or the regulation of advertising in favor of therapeutic materials and procedures (Article L 551 and following and R 5055 and following of the code of the public health). One can note in this respect that the appreciation of disorder with public law and order does not always appear very severe with regard to sects, in comparison with the way in which it is handled abroad, to which testifies the fact that the reverend Moon was recently able to hold a conference in our country whereas this authorization was refused to him in several European countries.

    Concerning repressive measures, one can evoke, among others, in addition to the general principle of article 3 of the law of 1st July 1901 above mentioned, article 7 of this same law, fixing the method of dissolution of an association founded for an illicit cause or goal, contrary to the law, to good morals, or whose goal conflicts with the integrity of national territory and with the republican form of Government, its title V governing the forms of worship or the provisions allowing the dissolution of groups of combat and private militia (law of 10 January 1936 relative to groups of combat and private militia, 1st Article.)

  • Concerning the legal battles, it is appropriate, as one saw, to distinguish two cases:
  • - the proceedings of which certain sects are the object because of the punishable or prejudicial character of their acts, which, while revealing a danger, are themselves a sanction;

    - the actions which they bring with regard to the people who have, according to them, tarnished their image, against which those can put forward, according to cases, the offence of slandering or insult (Article 30 and following of the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press), attacks to the personality {attacks to the private life (Article 226-1 and following of the new penal code); attacks to confidentiality (Article 226-13 and following of this code); libellous denunciation (Article 226-10 and following of this code); infringements of the rights of the person resulting from data-processing files (Article 226- 16 and following of this code), or those relating to the confidentiality of correspondence (Article 226.15 of this code) or to the inviolability of the residence (Article 2 (Article 226-4 and following of this code)}, as well as article 700 of the new code of civil procedure (judgment of expenses or of expenditures incurred not included/understood in the costs).

  • Economic disruption can be controlled in particular by the General Direction of Taxes and the General Direction of Customs, for violations of the rules of revenue duty, the factory inspectorate, for infringements of the fair labor standards act, the various services of social security, for nonrespect of the social security code. As was already mentioned, your Commission regrets however the very low number of operated controls, for lack of means and/or because of an insufficient sensitizing of the services concerned with the problems arising from sects.
  • French law thus offers, as one sees, much means - the more so as the list above is not exhaustive - to avoid the various dangers presented by certain sectarian movements. One is forced to note however that the provisions evoked above only - are too seldom used to repress the reprehensible acts done by certain sects. The problem is not thus so much to reform a device which your Commission considers overall adapted to the fight against the sectarian drifts, as it is to apply it to the necessary determination.

    2.- A radical reform does not appear desirable

    A certain number of people engaged in various ways against the dangers which the sectarian phenomenon presents consider that the current legal device should be deeply reformed. The reflections carried out in this field take two different directions, the ones considering it necessary to work out a legal status specific to sects, the others being favorable to the recognition of sects as religions with a whole share. Without ignoring the interest of these steps, your commission arrived at the conclusion that it would be neither useful nor convenient to upset our legal structure.

    a) Inappropriateness of a legal statute specific to cults

    To create a specific legal statute for cults to answer the specific dangers that they present can appear to be a tempting idea at first.

    Indeed, several arguments militate in this direction

    First, it is true that the cult phenomenon has intrinsic characteristics: separation from the traditional religions, the frequent presence of a guru or of strong constraints often imposed on the followers, some testify. Whence came the idea that a clean legal framework should correspond to this singular phenomenon.

    In addition, it is, as one saw, a phenomenon which tends to develop and whose forms change. It could thus, there still, justify an adaptation of law.

    Thirdly, it presents significant and multiple dangers justifying an action of greater extent by the public authorities, which generally passes by the installation of new legal devices.

    Certain specialists consider, moreover, that our legal arsenal is not perfectly well adapted to the problems arising from sects. Thus, for example, Colonel Morin develops the thesis, exposed in particular in Sectarus, according to which French law does not make it possible to repress psychic rape, a gap the thesis deplores.

    Here, in addition, is how UNADFI, in number 36 (4th quarter of 1992) in its review "Bulles," devoted to sects and rights, considers the question:

    "Consequently, without ignoring the difficulty and even the apparent impossibility of it, is it really excluded to legislate on the matter? In the same way that a defendant can be cleared of a charge of slander if he brings back proof of the truth of the defamatory facts, in the same way can one recognize that a charge of 'manipulation' could be made up on the condition of bringing back proof of the truth of manipulatory facts?

    "With this intention, it would not be inevitably necessary to resort to psychiatric expertise (some psychiatrists today are still unaware of the process of mental manipulation practiced by the sects). It seems that it is possible to bring proof of manipulation lived in a sect, starting from criteria checked in precise facts, perfectly demonstrable, all the more convincing since they are not individual or isolated cases but collective and repetitive. These facts would make it possible to prove that the followers lost, with regard to the perverse practices of the sect, their critical spirit and their free will and sometimes became unconditionally fanaticized, ready to believe, say and do all, no matter what (...) "

    And to quote the existence in Italy of the offence of "piaggio," i.e. of envožtement[?], intended to condemn any pressure exerted on a person by means of personal fascination concerned with social or cultural superiority.

    Other specialists insist finally on the fact that, not only does the current mode not allow one to fight effectively against the dangers of sects, but that, moreover, it treats the various spiritual movements in an unequal way. Professor Joel Beno”t d' Onorio notes besides on this last point in "La Semaine juridique" [Legal Week] (No 20, 1988):

    "The assembly of scattered texts can reveal a certain precedent for Catholic institutions in the national community: The law and the decree of 1901, then the law of 1921 on religious congregation, the memorandum with Saint-Sige on preliminary governmental consultation in regard to appointment of bishops, the exchange of diplomatic letters of 1923 on the substitute docŽsaines[?] associations, for Catholics, with cultuelle [worshipful, religious] associations of 1905 refused by Rome, the legal settlement of 1801 for the three departments of Alsace-Moselle, as well as taking into account the jurisprudence of certain elements of canonical rights composing a whole special legal type. In truth, one cannot stripe a feature of a feather [proverbial expression, I think], was this by means of a law even of a Constitution, a historical experiment of several centuries: France is a laic [or secular] country of Catholic tradition. It became, to some extent, 'Catho-laic.'

    " In the same way to a lesser degree, considering their sociological representativeness, the other worships [or religions] recognized in the past (Protestant and Israelite) also benefitted from a particular treatment on behalf of the public authorities which have learned how to know them for nearly two centuries, which is not the case for new religious movements, even inoffensive ones (...) "

    Whence came the idea that it would be advisable to work out a legal status specific to new spiritual movements, likely at the same time to guarantee that they conform to the laws of the Republic and to better recognize them. It could, according to some, take the form of a legal settlement or conventions passed with these movements. Thus for example, Philippe Gast writes in "Les Petites affiches" [The Small Posters] (No 90, 28/07/1995): "At an hour when the topicality brings regularly them be delirious of such and such sect, or the abuses of such and such religion, it is appropriate to consider the necessary development of criteria making it possible to distinguish between the religious movements and the 'bad' sects from the 'good.' For that, it is initially necessary to consider some conceptual reflections on this topic before trying to work out positive solutions which will be able to give place to a charter of the authentic spiritual movements."

    At the end of its work, it does not appear however desirable for your Commission to recommend the development of a legal status specific to cults.

    Such an enterprise would initially encounter a problem of definition. One saw, indeed, how difficult it was to define the concept of cults and the limits which the various possible approaches presented. However, the development of a legal status specific to sects would necessarily require choosing in favor of some of them, which would not fail to lend a side to all of the disputes.

    Let us suppose, for example, that one retains the broadest meaning, and that one regards as sects all of the new spiritual movements, by difference with the traditional religions: how then to justify that these movements, which can sometimes show the same characteristics as [the traditional religions], are subjected to a different mode? How also to explain that one applies the same specific law to phenomena as dissimilar as peaceful spiritual trends and dangerous sects? If one chose, on the contrary, for a restrictive definition, according to which the sects correspond to all spiritual movements presenting dangers to the individual or to the community, the problem arises of knowing which criteria of danger to choose. However, the multiform, subtle, and changing character of the phenomenon renders evidence that this is, at the very least, a perilous enterprise.

    In second place, this mode does not appear to be very compatible with several of our republican principles.

    Indeed, it would result in not treating all the spiritual movements in an identical way, which would be likely to carry an attack, not only to the principle of equality, but also to that of the neutrality of the State with respect to worship.

    In addition, insofar as the purpose of it would be in particular to prevent the sectarian "drifts," it would probably result in a narrower framing of the activities of the sects to which it would be very difficult to arrive without touching freedoms of religion, meeting, or association.

    Thirdly, the arguments called upon in support of this proposal do not seem relevant.

    One saw, indeed, that French law does not lack resources to combat the dangers presented by sects, in short, that to improve the current situation requires less an adaptation of the existing devices than their effective application.

    With regard to the argument according to which the substantive positive law does not make it possible to fight certain forms of mental manipulation, such as some would describe as psychic rape, it is appropriate to observe that the sanctions envisaged by the new penal code against swindling, illegal exercise of medicine, abuse of weakness or abuse of vulnerability, constitute some good means of defense against this kind of practice. In addition, it seems, in fact, difficult to go further in the repression of methods of persuasion, under penalty of attacking the principle of freedom of expression.

    Lastly, if all of the spiritual and religious beliefs are not subjected to the same mode, they are not either in the same situation, this would be only because some present dangers and others not. It is true however that certain differences are explained only for historical reasons: it is in particular the case for the special mode of the Alsace- Moselle.

    The idea of creating a legal status specific to the sects has, moreover, as a whole, been rejected by public authorities and specialists.

    Thus, the National Advisory Commission of Human Rights declared, in its opinion of 10 December 1993, that it "estimates that the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the European Convention of Human Rights (article 9) renders inopportune the adoption of a specific legislation with regard to the phenomenon known as cults, which legislation would risk carrying an attack on fundamental freedom."

    In the same way, Alain Vivien declared in an interview granted to "Figaro" on April 29, 1992: "One should not create particular legislation because of the risk of making the cults appear as martyrs. The arsenal at our disposal is completely sufficient, it is enough to apply it!"

    Lastly, during its work, your commission hardly intended to support the idea of a legislation specific to the sects, the rare people who would be favorable there in the absolute agreeing that in fact any initiative in this direction would be at the very least inappropriate.

    B) Risks of recognizing the cults as religions with a whole share

    Some consider that it would be appropriate, without creating a specific mode, to recognize the new religious movements as religions with a whole share.

    This idea was defended, in particular during a conference on Jehovah's Witnesses, organized on November 26, 1993 with the National Assembly by the Center of Formation and Legal Studies.

    The principal reason called upon in support of this thesis, is that, although being religions, these movements do not benefit from the same statute as the traditional religions.

    It is true, as one saw, that the statute of cultuelle association and congregation is in general refused to movements commonly called sects. Moreover, one can assert that to grant the benefit of this statute to them would permit the public authorities to better control them.

    However, this idea does not seem to have been retained.

    Indeed, one does not see how it would be possible to recognize as religions with a whole share some of the movements which, like a certain number of sects, either do not work towards an exclusively religious end, or have practices contrary to law and order and to the rights and freedoms of others.

    From this point of view, the balance on which rests the law of December 9, 1905 between the freedom of conscience and association, on the one hand, and respect for law and order, on the other hand, does not take place to be called into question.

    That being known, it is perfectly normal that the movements whose object is exclusively cultuelle [worshipful, religious] and who conform to the laws of the Republic are recognized, at their request, with the statute of cultuelle association or congregation. But, pursuant to the law, it rests with the administration, even with the administrative judge in the event of dispute, to examine whether these conditions are actually met.

    It is thus not necessary to proceed to a radical reform of the existing legal statutes to solve the problems arising from the sects; it acts, in fact, rather, while resting on these [statutes], to imagine the practical means to face [or to battle] there.


    Your Commission is thus firmly convinced, on the one hand, of the impossibility, so much legal that in fact, to go in the direction of a specific legislation intended to fight against the intrigues of the sects insomuch as they can be considered as dangerous, in addition to the risks that comprise the inaction found in a conception in which freedom of conscience is pushed to the extreme. It appears to the Commission consequently that the only response adapted to the sectarian phenomenon cannot be, for reasons at the same time of principle and feasibility, that pragmatic and diversified, in order to take into account as best possible a complex reality.

    Several interlocutors of the Commission explained that they carry out, some for many years, on the ready means to fight against the dangers which certain sects pose to individuals and society. All, including those who absolutely would be in favour of a specific anti-sect legislation but are appropriate that such cannot be the solution, adopt a comparable step, based on realism and pragmatism, even if they do not necessarily give priority to the same measures, which only reflects the diversity of the horizons from which they come.

    Such an approach leads your Commission today to consider that the device likely to fight with effectiveness against the dangers which the sects pose to individuals and society must be articulated around three principal axes [plural of "axis," not the chopping kind]: improvement of knowledge of sects and the diffusion of this knowledge; a more strict application of existing laws; reinforcement on some points of the existing legislation. In addition, it is advisable to help the former followers in a more effective way, who are sometimes completely stripped materially and psychologically and to whom is currently offered no form of assistance corresponding to their needs.

    1.- Better to know and make known

    To fight the sectarian "drifts" in an effective and equitable way, one must, above all, have a good knowledge of the phenomenon. Without encompassing it well, one is likely, indeed, to poorly appreciate the dangers which it can present and, thus, to implement an inadequate cure.

    Still it is also necessary that information thus collected is the subject of an appropriate diffusion, based on a policy of prevention which remains, your Commission is convinced by it, the best means to fight against the development of the sectarian phenomenon. This action of dissemination of information regarding the sectarian movements and their practices must be taken to nearly all of the administrative services concerned and to the general public, in particular to the young people.

    a) To better know

    One is forced to recognize that one does not today have a sufficiently precise knowledge of the sectarian phenomenon.

    Thus it was seen, for example, at which point it was difficult to measure his quantitative importance - that it is in a number of followers or groupings - or to appreciate in a precise way its progression.

    It appears to your Commission that it would be convenient to fill this gap by creating an observatory of study of the sects, which will be fully able to play its role only if at the same time the device of information and analysis existing within each ministry is improved.

    1. To create an interdepartmental observatory attached to the Prime Minister

    There exists today in France no structure equipped with sufficient means to follow with precision the whole of the cult phenomenon.

    Admittedly, the Ministry of the Interior, thanks to forty agents of General Information distributed in all the territory, collects rich information on the establishment of sects, their manpower and their intrigues. But there can be no question that the information is only partial [incomplete]. The services of the police do not indeed have the means nor is it part of their missions to be devoted to an analysis of the sociological, psychological, medical, and legal aspects of the phenomenon.

    The Institute of the High Interior Safety Studies (IHESI), in addition, created in 1992, a working group on the sects. However, this group does not have an official existence. Moreover, it does not have sufficient means to ensure a total follow-up of cult activities.

    A mission of study was also installed within the Ministry for the Social Affairs. Since 1992, an agent of the Management of Social Action is charged to follow, among other questions, that of the sects. In addition, the ministry passed in 1993 with Association for Interdisciplinary Research on Existence and Health (ARIES) a convention of research. This one provides that in 1996 ARIES will submit to the ministry a report of study on the sects. That being, this device also very limited in terms of means.

    One could not, finally, neglect the significant role played by associations for defense of victims of cults - National Union of Associations for Defense of Families and Individual (UNADFI) and the Center of Resources, Education, and Action Against Mental Manipulation (CCMM) - in the collection and publication of information on cultic movements.

    In relation to the progression of the sectarian phenomenon and the dangers which certain movements present, an organization of study equipped with a separate administrative and legal existence as well as of specific means thus appears necessary.

    Moreover, such a structure is claimed for a long time.

    Already, in 1982, the Ravail report had suggested the creation of an interdepartmental commission. In 1983, in his report to the Prime Minister, Mr. Alain Vivien suggested "that a high-ranking civil servant be appointed near the Prime Minister to follow the whole of the problem of the sects, to coordinate the reflection and, if necessary, mobilizing the interested government departments...With the initiative of this high-ranking civil servant, the interdepartmental commission suggested by the Ravail report could meet each time that one would need it without necessarily secreting an excessive administration whose rigidity would undoubtedly present many disadvantages."

    The advisory national Commission of Human Rights, in its opinion of December 10, 1993 concerning the phenomenon known as sects, proposed "that is installation of a structure of interdepartmental coordination intended periodically to give a progress report on the evolution of the phenomenon known as sects and to coordinate the application of relevant legislative and lawful measures; and that is created a public information center on these groups, collecting and disseminating all information and ensuring legal assistance to the victims."

    This idea, moreover, was defended within the framework of the Commission for Legal Questions and Human Rights of the Council of Europe. Thus, Sir John Hunt, in his report of 1991 on sects and new religious movements, affirmed that "independent organizations should be created to collect and disseminate concrete and objective information on the nature and the activities of cults."

    PIn addition, many people heard by the board of inquiry suggested the creation of an interdepartmental observatory.

    This organization should ensure three principal missions:

    - to study and follow the phenomenon, in connection in particular with the administrative services concerned (Ministries for the Interior, Social Affairs, Justice, Finances, National Education, Foreign Affairs...), in a multi-field approach, sociological, economic, administrative as well as legal and medical.

    - to inform the Prime Minister and, with his authorization, the administrative services concerned, of the resultsof its observations and its studies, the current problems in particular.

    - to make proposals to the Prime Minister aiming at improving the means of fighting against the dangers of sects, which could be the subject of an annual report which would be made public.

    This organization should be equipped with a statute which enables it to fulfill its missions as well as possible. Without entering in detail, it appears desirable that it shows the principal following characteristics:

    to be an interdepartmental service directly attached to the Prime Minister, as are, for example, the Commission on the Simplification of Formalities (COSIFORM), the College for the Prevention of Technological Risks, and the Central Committee of Investigation on the Cost and Output of Public Services. Joining with a particular ministry would indeed not have a justification, [sects] being a phenomenon which touches with attributions of several.

    to be an observatory, because it would act, neither to take up a duty of management or execution as a traditional administrative service, nor to have a proper capacity of decision.

    to be composed of people likely, by their diversified competencies, to ensure the necessary multi-field approach to the phenomenon. The members of this authority, named by the Prime Minister, should thus include, in addition to representatives of all the administrative services concerned, specialists in various disciplines, sociologists, lawyers, and doctors in particular. It would perhaps be preferable, in order to guarantee to these members a perfect independence and to protect them from any risk from pressure, that their name is not made public.

    to have proper means. To achieve its missions, the observatory should have specific financial resources, even if there would undoubtedly be an interest to retain, initially, the idea of a light structure equipped with the legal means adapted to the achievement of its mission. It would thus be necessary to give it the capacity to obtain from any person communication of a document, subject to professional secrecy, secrecy concerning national defense, the safety of the State or the foreign policy, and of the respect of the private life.

    Taking into account the importance of the work already completed within the group made up at the Institute of the High Interior Safety Studies, it would be undoubtedly a good method to use, within the framework of the new observatory such as defined above, competence which now proved reliable on the subject.

    2. To improve in each ministry concerned the device of study of the cults

    The knowledge of the cultic movements by the ministries concerned incontestably progressed much in recent years.

    The installation by the Central Management of General Information of a grid of agents - the "cult correspondents" - charged with locally following the phenomenon, the realization of a guide to sectarian movements in 1994 and its current project of a bank of data interns attest to this. The mission of study created at the Management of Social Action in 1992 also equally testifies to this.

    However, the devices could still be improved. Thus, the minutes of the interdepartmental meeting on April 9, 1991 specify that "the services are sometimes ignorant of the cultic nature of certain associations." Thus, there is apparently no one particularly charged to follow the problem of sects in the ministries for National Education, of Justice, nor of Foreign Affairs.

    Under these conditions, it would be useful if each ministry concerned engages in a reflection on the means of improving its knowledge of sects and how to better face the problems which they raise.

    It would also be opportune if, in each one of them, a designated person is charged to follow these questions, with the requirement that he work in liaison with the interdepartmental observatory whose creation was recommended above, in order to prevent, as is sometimes the case today, two services duplicating the same work.

    Lastly, it would be desirable if the interested ministers, by way of a circular or an instruction, draw the attention of their services to the problems arising from sects and indicate to them the principles which must guide their actions in answering [these problems].

    B) To better make known

    The majority of the people heard by the Commission agreed on at least one point. Prevention is certainly the mode of action which must be favored in the fight against the development of sects. Information, in particular to the young people, thus seems to be an essential link of the devices to be implemented.

    Admittedly, the media and associations for defense of victims already take certain actions in this direction.

    Thus, in addition to the publications which they issue, UNADFI and CCMM regularly organize conferences or briefings in various establishments such as schools, colleges, clubs, and hospitals. CCMM in 1993 even produced, with the assistance of the association "I, You, Him/Her," a half-hour long film entitled "The Sects... Traps!" presenting four scenes from everyday life in which a recruitment could take place. UNADFI plans soon to release a short film on the subject, intended to be used as support for the meetings which it organizes.

    However, the interventions of these associations are, by nature, specific and localized. In addition, their message can always be suspected of being biased. A member of one of these associations declared besides to the Commission: "associations do not always have the means of investigation. I do not say that they are suspect and sectarian, but they lack the means, sometimes of distance. It is not the ideal. One cannot replace the prosecutors, to play the inquisitors. We receive descriptions; it takes us sometimes six months or a year to [recouper? gather? edit? literally: recut] information. It is extremely complicated."

    The media, for their part, were much interested in the question of cults during recent years, in particular following the drama of Waco in Texas in April 1993, the death of 58 members of the Solar Temple in Switzerland in October 1994, and the attack perpetrated by the Aum sect in Tokyo last March. The problem is that this information is intermittent and is focused mainly on the folkloric or sensational aspects. As a specialist recognized in the question by the Commission declared: "[journalists ] love the sensational. We maintain with them the best rapport in the world, but I am extremely disappointed. Each time thirty people are killed, I pass to television and then that falls down until the next time. When I am informed of a measure, I say to myself: "I will have five TV [shows] to make, plus three radio [shows], more..." Then, that falls down for six months or a year (...)."

    It is thus appropriate that the State itself largely takes charge of the diffusion of information on the dangers which the sects can present, to the largest possible audience by a media campaign, and in a way "targeted" to children and teenagers within National Education. This action of information should be supplemented by improvements in education of professionals, and in particular of civil servants, concerned with the problem.

    1. To inform the young people by National Education

    No general device of information for pupils has at the moment been set up within the framework of National Education.

    All sources confirm that recruitments are particularly numerous among young people, because they can have a certain fragility, because their judgement is not definitively formed, and because they are inclined to seek ideals that certain sects claim to offer. The need for making an effort of information in their direction was underlined by many interlocutors of the Commission. However, nothing is currently done in this direction within National Education.

    It would thus be desirable that the study of the cult phenomenonon be registered in the civics [or social studies] program.

    In addition, it would be necessary to organize a briefing each year in all of the school establishments, from primary schools through high schools, to sensitize the young people to this question. However, it is essential that this information be perfectly objective. The difficulty of such an enterprise is due to the need for dispensing information which cannot be suspected of partiality, whereas objectivity is a particularly delicate concept to define and implement in this field. To tend there to the maximum, these sessions of information should be organized under the authority of several teachers who would have received instructions for this purpose. The creation of a video support carried out under the control of National Education would constitute an appreciable teaching aid.

    2. To organize an information campaign for the general public, in particular by the channel of public television stations.

    In addition to the young people, it is advisable to inform the entire public opinion of the dangers which certain sects can present.

    Indeed, it is useful that the parents are informed, because sensitizing them to these problems also affects the education which they give to their children. In addition, adults also can, and in great number, allow themselves to be trapped. This general information to the public proves also necessary to prevent that the public or private persons in charge are not brought, in all good faith, to give their support to harmful associations because of not knowing their true activities. One saw, indeed, that many sects tried "to infiltrate" in the higher realms of the State, to allure local communities or to negotiate conventions [or contracts?] with national or private companies.

    Only information on a large scale will be able to reduce these influences.

    Your Commission thus proposes that the Government organize a vast information campaign, in particular televised - while resting primarily on the public stations - but also resorting to other media.

    This campaign could be organized by the French Committee of Education for Health, since this institution organizes campaigns against AIDS and drug-addiction as well.

    3. To extend and improve the training of the people who, within the framework of their professional activities, in particular the civil servants, are confronted with problems arising from cults

    It appeared necessary to the Board of Inquiry during its work that the persons with one title or another who are confronted with sectarian problems in their professional activity, civil servants in particular, receive an ad hoc training in this field.

    One should not, indeed, forget how much the phenomenon is at the same time vast, complex, and clandestine. Because, as several specialists in the question affirm, "the cults often advance masked."

    The people concerned are mainly police officers and the gendarmes, magistrates, teachers, social personnel, but also doctors and lawyers.

    It thus seems opportune to envisage, in the initial training as well as in the continuing training for public agents, but also for people of the private sector concerned, programs or, at the very least, publicity campaigns - in the form of conferences for example - on the problems arising from sects and the means to which they can resort to produce remedy there.

    The Central Management of General Information (DCRG) showed the way in this field during the recent period. Thus, for three years, police chiefs-in-training, inspectors-in-training, and inspectors lately assigned to the RG have received training relating to the sects. In addition, the DCRG organizes once per year one or two days of training for the agents charged to follow the sects.

    It appears essential, in this respect, that specific training also be lavished on those studying at the National School of the Magistrature, on those of the schools of police chiefs and police inspectors, policemen, as well as gendarmerie. It is also important that those studying to be professors and those preparing for legal or medical professions benefit from it.

    2.- To better apply existing laws

    It is not necessary to describe in detail the legal arsenal allowing us to fight against the dangers of sects, which we saw was diversified and sufficient to cover all of the intrigues of the sectarian movements that present a harmful character to individuals and/or society. But the work undertook by the Commission very quickly led it to have the impression - which become a certainty by the end of its reflection - that the possibilities offered by the existing provisions are not always - far from what is necessary - fully used.

    Several interlocutors of the Commission thus affirmed that there was a significant disproportion between the number of illegalities commited by the sects, and the number of complaints and judgments. Others were astonished by the small number of administrative or legal dissolutions pronounced in regard to the number of existing coercive associations.

    Your Commission is thus convinced that the development of sects could effectively be slowed down by a better application of the law. This supposes an increased sensitizing of the professionals concerned with the dangers of the sectarian phenomenon and the need for mobilizing all existing means to battle them. While being quite conscious that such an evolution of mentalities will not be immediate, your Commission is persuaded that it is one of the elements - not to say the essential element - in the device to fight against the sectarian phenomenon. This awakening of course will be supported by general actions of information which were discussed above. But these must be supplemented in certain fields very directly concerned with the intrigues of the sectarian movements, by precise instructions from the State to its agents on the detailed attention of which they must make proof. Such a step should, according to your Commission, be followed with regard to the Magistrates of Parquet [I was unfamiliar with "Parquet." I did a search and found that in the structure of French goverment, there is a Judicial Authority (AutoritŽ Judiciaire) whose independence is guaranteed by the President of the Republic, assisted by the Senior Magistrature Council (Conseil SupŽrieur de la Magistrature). The Senior Magistrature Council is presided over by the President of the Republic. It is composed of two branches, the Magistrates of the Bench (Magistrats du Sige), the other is Public Prosecutors (Magistrats du Parquet).], the services of the police and gendarmerie, of the administrations exerting functions of control on certain activities of sectarian associations, as well as as regards dissolution of associations and of payment of a certain number of allowances, in particular the RMI [RMI is a French unemployment benefit -translator].

    1. A general instruction of the Minister of Justice to the Magistrates of Parquet asking them to examine the complaints emanating from the victims of sects with more attention and to seize opportunities, each time necessary, to handle cases which come to their attention.

    In many cases, it was indicated to the Commission that a public Ministry would have refused to open an instruction or to continue an open information on a file [or take a legal challenge to court] whereas, according to those which gave a report on this inaction, the case would have completely justified it.

    It is advisable to specify, in this respect, that, according to the Ministry of Justice, of the 60 complaints relating to cults addressed to the general parquets of the courts of appeal between 1990 and 1995, in 27 proceedings the cases were closed. They relate in particular to cases of swindling, threats under conditions, flights and desecrations of graves, manslaughters, diversions of minors, sequestration of people, non-representation of children, violence, insults, illegal practice of medicine, violence and ways in fact. Of this total, 16 gave place to a classification without continuation, 7 with a withdrawal of case and 3 with a judgment [literally, condemnation].

    The Commission does not intend to give an opinion on the operation of Justice in this respect, the more so as it does not have the elements to appreciate in a precise way the situations in question. However, it cannot completely neglect these complaints, of which some appeared above all admittedly relevant to the [Ministry of Justice]. Even going beyond their more or less exact nature, the fact that such an opinion is usually conveyed is in itself very regrettable because it is likely to discourage victims of sects from turning to the courts.

    It would be desirable, under these conditions, that the Minister of Justice address a general instruction to the Magistrates of Parquet in order to draw their attention to the extent of the sectarian phenomenon, its forms, its dangers, the need for fighting these more effectively, and the existing legal means for this intention. It would be asked of them to examine with more vigilance the complaints emanating from victims of sects and, if need be, to seize opportunities to handle cases which come to their attention.

    2. A general instruction by the Minister of Interior to the police departments and by the Minister of Defense to the services of gendarmerie enjoining them to express more vigilance with respect to the sectarian "drifts."

    So that the actions committed by the cults can give place to proceedings and can be, if necessary, controlled, it is still necessary that these can be noted by the police department and gendarmerie and that the public Ministry seizes these.

    This is why it would be appropriate that the Ministers of Defense and of the Interior draw the attention of their services concerned to the sectarian phenomenon, the vigilance which they must show about it, as well as measures which they must take in the event of infringements, in particular being the protection of the victims and the [saisine?] of the public Ministry.

    3. To ask the administration to be more rigorous in its missions of supervision and control with regard to sects which present dangers or do not respect the law.

    It is not acceptable that public administrations and enterprises can, as has already occurred, sign service or supply agreements with organizations related to dangerous sects or grant authorizations to them. Neither is it tolerable that certain associations can in all impunity transgress the rules of revenue duty, of labor law, or of Social Security.

    It is thus necessary that the ministers, each one in his field of competence, ask their services to express more rigour in contracting with external organizations, the granting of authorizations and the missions of control. In this step, the administrations should have recourse to information which could be delivered to them on their request from the interdepartmental observatory whose creation was recommended above.

    4. To incite public officials to be more prudent in the granting of subsidies to certain associations.

    Certain dangerous cults, it was seen, profited from public subsidies.

    Admittedly, that apparently relates to only a number of limited cases. It would be convenient all the same if the public officials examine in a more rigorous way the destination of the subsidies that they grant to associations. And this, if need be, in connection with the interdepartmental observatory on sects.

    The Prime Minister could draw the attention of the Government to this point and the Minister of the Interior, to all of the local authorities.

    5. To pronounce the dissolution of the organizations blamed when that is essential.

    Many cultic associations, it was seen, violate the law and constitute true dangers to individuals and society. One can, consequently, only be astonished by the small number of those which are dissolved. Thus, of about sixty coercive cultic associations declared in Paris, none was the subject of an administrative or legal dissolution.

    It would thus be desirable if the existing procedures of dissolution are systematically applied when the conditions envisaged by the law are met. It is particularly the case for the legal procedure.

    Admittedly, this would not constitute a radical answer. It is noted, indeed, that the sects prosecuted or threatened with dissolution express an astonishing capacity to auto- dissolve themselves and to reconstitute themselves in the form of another organization. Thus, the Association of the New Age Pioneers was dissolved in January 1981, but its persons in charge find themselves today in the Church of the Unification, the Association for the Unification of World Christianity, and the International Crusade for a One World. In the same way, the persons in charge of the Dianetic Association, dissolved in 1982, continue their activities within the Association for Defense of French Scientologists, and those of Transcendental Meditation Paris East, in the French Federation of Meditation.

    The fact remains that systematic and fast dissolutions could have a strong dissuasive effect. One can think that if, in parallel, the persons in charge are continued [or challenged legally], even condemned, the re-creation of these associations will be much more difficult.

    It is, in any event, significant that the police departments try to identify associations which are in fact identical to those which would have been dissolved, and to check with detailed attention that they conform to the law.

    6. To make sure that the recipients of certain allowances who are members of a sect do not transfer all or a part of the amount of these services to the sect of which they are a part.

    According to the information provided to the Commission, it would seem that the members of certain sects, recipients of the minimum income of insertion [in French, "revenu minimum d'insertion" or RMI, a special allowance started in 1988, given to any person looking for a job and without resources], transfer completely or partly the amount of this allowance to the sect of which they form part. Such a practice obviously constitutes a diversion of the object of the RMI. Your Commission is quite conscious of the difficulty for the qualified services of locating the existence of such facts. [NŽanmois?], this type of diverting can only be extremely negligible with regard to the very large majority of the people who profit from this service in accordance with the law. Also, it would be appropriate, when it can be noted that a member of a sect transfers all or part of the RMI which he receives to the sect, to remind the person concerned of his obligations and, if need be, to suspend the payment of the allowance as long as those are not respected.

    The same vigilance must be exerted for the attribution of other allowances having a precise assignment, for example scholarships.

    7. To increase international cooperation, community [European community?] in particular.

    A reinforcement of international cooperation appears essential today.

    Indeed, many of the dangerous cults have, as one saw, an international dimension. They could thus all the more easily be dismantled if countries are able to set up a common action.

    Moreover, the cults prosecuted in France often decide to transfer their activities abroad. As a group of specialists writes in a confidential report submitted to the Commission: "... the illegal practice of medicine [and] the non-compliance with the elementary rules contained in the French fair labor standards act oblige them to flee towards more favorable skies guaranteeing them a tax exemption or enabling them to escape the payment of their obligatory social security contributions." And to conclude: "a national approach not allowing this, only a correct comprehension and an effective action, an international coordination is essential."

    This cooperation is, as it will be seen, also necessary to better help the French expatriates who are prey to difficulties with sects.

    If this cooperation is not easy to implement on an international scale, it should at least exist within the European Union. However, no particular action seems to exist in this field.

    It is advisable to evoke, in this respect, the creation in Paris in 1994 of the European Federation of Information and Research Centers on Sectarianism (FECRIS) whose object is, according to its statutes, "to seek and inform as to the practices and the effects of destructive sectarianism on individuals, families and democratic enterprises; to help the victims; to represent them in these matters to the authorities civilly and morally responsible, to draw their attention and to assist their action." However, this association is too recent to be able to draw conclusions as to its action. In any case, it is a purely private initiative and not a joint action of the Member States of the European Union.

    It would thus be desirable to found an intergovernmental cooperation. This could start at least between the Fifteen initially. It would be based initially on an exchange of information and the development of proposals.

    This process could lead then to international agreements on a certain number of key points.

    It is besides as Mr. De Puig conceived things in his opinion on sects and new religious movements, written within the framework of the Council of Europe: "One can do much in the field of international cooperation to increase the effectiveness of the control of sects and to obtain information and to divulge it. It would thus be desirable to conclude the international agreements necessary to this effect."

    To be effective, these agreements should concern: the study of the phenomenon and the exchange of free information, in particular, at a data bank; the coordination of devices for control, taking into account the disparity of the legal systems; the search of people continued [or with a legal case pending against them] in justice or by the administration; the search for missing people.

    3.- To improve the legal device

    If the legal arsenal which makes it possible to fight against the dangers the sects pose to individuals and society appears overall adapted, it could nevertheless be supplemented or modified on some points in order to make the response against the sectarian drifts more effective.

    1. To undertake a study on the dissuasive effect of the sanctions incurred by the sects and on the advisability of making these sanctions more harsh.

    According to several opinions collected by the Commission, the penalties and allowances for damages which the sects incur would not be sufficiently dissuasive.

    Thus, for example, a person who expressed herself before the Commission, who had several lawsuits against sects, said that all told, she calculated that the amount of damage she had undergone directly because of the sects and which was not recouped rose to approximately 120,000 francs [$20,148 US Dollars].

    It is difficult to come to a conclusion a priori on the dissuasive effect of the sanctions incurred by the sects and about the advisability of making them harsher.

    In spite of work which it undertook, your Commission does not estimate itself able to come to a conclusion about whether the sanctions incurred by sects are sufficiently dissuasive or not, and, less still, on the advisability of making these sanctions more harsh. It is not less inclined to think that the question seriously deserves to be raised.

    So, the Commission thinks it would be interesting if the observatory whose creation is recommended would make a thorough study of this question, which would be followed, if necessary, by proposals.

    2. To re-examine the mode of slandering

    Certain sects are, as one knows, usually slandering. But they cannot always be prosecuted, much less convicted.

    Indeed, as the Commission noted, certain sects found a means of circumventing the law concerning the rules relating to the regulation of this infringement. Article 65 of the law of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press lays out, as one will recall, that "public action and civil action resulting from crimes, offences, and infringments envisaged by the present law, itself prescribing after three months completed counting from from the day when they were committed or from the day of the last act of instruction [legal term?] or of continuation [legal suit] if it has been made." But, these sects sometimes publish reviews containing defamatory items, for which they satisfy the obligation of registration of legal copyright, but do not distribute them, except possibly to a restricted public; then they wait three months to carry out their diffusion, by which delay they avoid being sued.

    It appears desirable to your Commission to cure this state of things.

    A first possibility would be to lengthen the above mentioned time from three to six months. However, this solution would present several disadvantages. Initially, it would not solve the problem definitively; the organizations in question would then wait six months before carrying out the diffusion. However, to distribute a review six months after the date of publication which it mentions would undoubtedly constitute an embarrassment. The most serious obstacle is rather the political and practical difficulties which the modification of the law of 1881 on the press on this point would raise at the same time. Would it be convenient, indeed, to touch with a significant legislation, which represents a certain balance, and to which the press is very attached? It does not seem so.

    A second solution would consist in providing that the date on which was the slandering was made slandering is defined as that of the first setting in distribution with the public - within the meaning of general public, in opposition to a restricted circle, except if this one has vocation only to be diffused within such a circle - the publication which contains it.

    Besides, it is in this sense that jurisprudence seems to evolving. Indeed, it was judged that the achievement of the formalities of registration of copyright does not establish any presumption that publication took place on this date and must be held as only one element of appreciation (Cass. Crim. July 1, 1953, Bull crim. No 228); that, in addition, the starting point of the term of three months' limitation is not the date related to the cover of the issues of the number of a weekly magazine, but that of its effective publication resulting from its being put on sale, independent of the fictitious date related to the cover for purely commercial purposes (Paris, January 28, 1977, D. 1978.IR80).

    Still, however, it remains to specify that this effective distribution is indeed intended for the public. Your Commission is inclined to think that the best solution is undoubtedly to let jurisprudence bring this precision.

    3. To reinforce the protection of expert witnesses before the courts

    The expert witnesses before the courts undoubtedly today are not sufficiently protected.

    Admittedly, article 434.8 of the new penal code provides that "any threat or any act of intimidation made towards a magistrate, one sworn [a witness] or any other person sitting in a jurisdictional formation, an arbitrator, an interpreter, an expert, or lawyer of a party, in order to influence his behavior in the performance of his duties is punished with three years of imprisonment and a fine of 300, 000 francs [$50,370 US Dollars]." In addition, article 222.12 of the same code lays out that violence against, among others, a magistrate, one sworn, a lawyer, a public or ministerial officer, or any other person acting as an agent of public authority or charged with a mission of public service, in the exercise or at the time of the exercise of his function or of his mission, involving a total disablement of work for more than eight days is punishable with three years of imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 francs [$50,370 US Dollars]."

    However, it is not obvious, initially, that article 222.12 applies to legal experts. Even if this were the case, this article presents two principal limits: it is necessary that there was violence which involved a disability lasting more than eight days; this violence must occur in the exercise or at the time of the functions. Which means, in the case of serious violence which does not cause this incapacity and of those - whatever their gravity -- made when the functions are definitively finished, with the purpose, for example, of revenge, that the expert does not benefit from any particular protection.

    Neither does Article 434.8 cover possible retaliatory measures against the expert after the opinion or the lawsuit.

    According to information collected by the Commission, the absence of sufficient protection for experts would have at least three detrimental consequences:

    - the experts in question simply give up coming to a conclusion about businesses likely to attract this kind of trouble to them;

    - they continue to fulfill these functions, but they risk suffering an injury from it, of which it is not certain that they will be able to obtain repair because it is not always easy in this kind of situation to identify the culprit and to prove his culpability;

    - finally, one cannot exclude the possibility that they may water down their reports or censor themselves, which would be a serious obstacle to the good course of justice.

    Your Commission thus considers it desirable to reinforce the legal protection which benefits the experts in order to, as much as possible, make them safe from any pressure or any retaliatory measures.

    One could, with this intention, use as a starting point the the various provisions currently protecting magistrates. They are in particular articles 222 and 223 (contempt of court), 227 (attempt at pressures), 228 (violence and ways in fact), 306 (threats), 310 and 311 (aggravated assault) and 434 (destruction, degradations and damage) of the penal code.

    4. To permit associations for defense of victims to go 'partie civile' [In searching for the meaning of this legal term, I found the following: ". . . the French system of the 'partie civile' with its procedural rights and guarantees for victims . . . The victim can actively pursue his interests during the trial and ask for compensation. I will use the French term rather than translate.].

    No provision currently allows associations for defense of victims of sects to go 'partie civile' in affairs concerning these people.

    Admittedly, these associations sometimes succeeded in going 'partie civile' while being based, when the object of the business allowed them, on certain existing provisions. Thus, for example, Article 2.2 of the code of penal procedure states that "any association regularly declared for at least five years [ ] of which the statutory object comprises the fight against the sexual violence [ ] can exert the rights recognized by the [pa?]. It is not thus only in the measure or where the concrete cases authorize associations for defense of victims of sects "to slip" into devices whose principal purpose does not correspond to their specific object that they can go 'partie civile'. Moreover, two associations let the Commission know that several times it had been refused to them to constitute 'partie civile' in affairs concerning victims of sects.

    It would however be useful to systematically grant this right to them. And this for three principal reasons:

    - these associations could better join the victims and help them in their steps toward justice, in particular those who are most fragile;

    - they could compensate them when, for various reasons, in particular the fear that the persons in charge of the sect inspire in them, they do not dare to act themselves;

    - they could enrich the information of the magistrates and the legal debates by their interventions.

    Granting to these associations the possibility of carrying themselves as 'partie civile' in affairs concerning the victims of sects can itself be accomplished maybe by adding a specific provision to the list of associations mentioned in articles 2.1 to 2.1 of the code of penal procedure, or perhaps by envisaging in article 3 of the code of family that the associations in defense of family benefit, as well as the National Union and the Departmental Union of Family Associations, from this right.

    5. To envisage the transmission to the prefecture of an annual budget and reports of general meeting of associations whose annual budget is higher than 500,000F [$83,550 US Dollars].

    As one saw, certain sects not only exploit their followers financially, but resort to fraudulent means such as, for example, the dissimulation of certain resources, the use of companies or associations as screens, and the continuation of lucrative activities within the framework of declared associations.

    It would thus be advisable to subject these sects to obligations of transparency [or openness] in financial matters. But since it would be difficult, for reasons already mentioned, to single out sects for this action, these obligations should be imposed on all associations starting from a certain level of budget.

    It appears reasonable to your Commission to provide that all associations whose annual budget is equal to or higher than 500,000 francs [$83,550 US Dollars] will have to transmit each year to the prefecture of their department a copy of this budget as well as the minutes of their general meeting. The choice of a threshold of 500,000 francs apparently constitutes a good balance between the concern for financial transparency and a wish not to overwhelm the prefectures. This measure would, in fact, relate to only approximately 16,900 associations of a total estimated at 187,600, that is to say 9% of them.

    The tax services could then exert a control on these documents of their own initiative or at the request of the prefect.

    6. To create a High Council of Religions made up of representatives of the religious, scientific, and administrative authorities, charged to decide on requests relating to recognition as a cultuelle association, even those concerning obtaining the statute of congregation.

    Several organizations commonly considered today as cults demand the right to benefit from the statute of cultuelle association envisaged by the law of December 9, 1905.

    The question now arises of knowing if the existing legal device is satisfactory to face this type of request.

    It is well understood that it would be dangerous to recognize with this statute pseudo-religious movements, movements which are presented in the form of a religion only to better lure people, but which, actually, pursue other goals such as making themselves richer, power, or an unspecified personal interest. The commission had been alerted on this point several times. Thus, one of the specialists whom it heard, moreover one of the most [mesurŽs? measured?], declared: "On what do the sects proliferate? On silence, on their dissimulated [hidden, pretended] side; by the language, which is that of religious language. It is necessary to start by refusing them what they demand, namely a religious statute, which would be the trap of the traps. The alleged argument would be a better control. But for the little bit of control that that would allow and that one can obtain by other means! [Rendez-vous? Appointment? Meeting? or literally Return-you? perhaps meaning Remember?] counts as prestige, which would be offered to them if a denominational statute were granted to them. That would be a true catastrophe."

    On the other hand, nothing is more normal than that the authentic religious movements which wish tobe recognized as cultuelle associations and are ready to conform to their system can benefit from it.

    It is thus appropriate that the Office of Religion [or Worships] of the Ministry for the Interior can, at the request of the interested organization and after examining its file, deliver this statute directly. Actually, the quality of cultuelle association is not, in effect, recognized that indirectly today by the Office of Religion of the Ministry of Interior or the prefecture at the time of a request aimed to make an association benefit from liberalities envisaged in article 19 subparagraph 4 of law of 9 December 1905, or articles 200 and 238 (a) of the general tax code, which allows their benefactors to claim income tax deductions. It would seem definitely preferable to your Commission that the recognition of this quality be made the object of a specific procedure, on the request of the interested organizations. It is, of course, to the Office of Religion that the care to grant the statute of cultuelle association should fall . But, taking into account the difficulty that there is often today to appraise the cultuelle [religous, worshipful] nature of an association, in particular when this one works towards multiple ends, your Commission estimates that it would be necessary that the Office of Religion decides with the advice of a council of persons qualified to judge.

    It thus proposes to create a High Council of Religion, which would be composed of about thirty people named by the Prime Minister. One third of the council would be representatives from various recognized religions, one third would be persons attesting to an undeniable competence in the field of religions, and one third would be representatives from the various interested administrations (Office of Religion and Office of Public Freedoms of the Ministry for the Interior, Central Direction of General Information, Direction of Social Action, Ministry for National Education, etc...). Its opinion would be essential to the Office of Religion.

    It would be advisable, consequently, to slightly amend the law of December 9, 1905 by indicating that the quality of cultuelle association is recognized by the Ministry for the Interior on assent of the High Council of Religion according to methods defined above.

    Since the same problem can pose itself for requests relative to obtaining of statute of congregation, it is proposed, in order to ensure a parallelism of procedure, that the legal recognition of this statute be granted, not by decree on assent of the Council of State, as it is today envisaged by article 13 of law of 1st July 1901 relative to contract of association, but by decree on assent from the High Council of Religion.

    5.- To help the former followers

    Certainly it is important to prevent the dangers which the sects pose and to combat them better. But it is also necessary to help the former followers, some of which have lived, sometimes for several years, almost completely cut off from society, be this isolation physical or only mental. Also, after their exiting the sect, they generally encounter great difficulties reintegrating into society. At the same time, they are generally unaware of whom to ask for help with this undertaking. Your Commission thinks that it would thus be necessary that they can have a privileged interlocutor within the administration. In addition, detailed attention must be paid to the situation of former followers abroad.

    1. To institute in each department a person in charge of assistance to former followers.

    So that people who have just left a sect can easily get information about public services, information that they generally do not know, your Commission proposes that a person in charge of assistance to former followers be named in each department, either by the Prefect, or by the President of the General Council - the choice of the authority of nomination does not fundamentally change the answer brought to the problem. It is appropriate that this person, that this function would not necessarily be full-time, would have a good knowledge of the sectarian phenomenon and of public administration. It [the position] would have as its mission the study of the evolution of the sectarian movements in its department as well as the problems arising for the victims, of accomodating those and of directing them towards the administrative services and associations likely to solve their difficulties. It would give an account of its studies and its activities to its authority of nomination as well as to the observatory of the sects whose creation is proposed in addition. It could turn besides to this organization to obtain information, even consultations.

    2. To more effectively help the expatriate followers who wish it.

    According to various sources, the number of French belonging to a sect and living abroad is rather significant, without having the means to quantify it with even approximate precision. But, it is an established fact that several sects have an international dimension and do not hesitate, as, for example, Moon or the Church of Scientology, to send abroad followers recruited in France. Moreover, one cannot forget that certain organizations prosecuted by justice or the administration left the national territory.

    However, these people are often in a situation even more precarious than that of the the followers residing in French territory, being in an unfamiliar environment and isolated from their family and their old friends.

    The diplomatic and consular services today give substantial help today to find missing people and to repatriate them.

    The Management of French Abroad of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs tries each year to answer several hundreds of requests for information from families about missing people. However, the diplomatic and consular services often rely heavily on the goodwill and the effectiveness of the local authorities to obtain an answer. Moreover, even when the missing person can be found, if this one does not wish that his address be revealed, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is obliged to conform to this wish pursuant to the principle of respect for private life. Moreover, half of the people found express this wish.

    In addition, the ministry has a line of credit of about 5 million francs [$841,500 US Dollars] to ensure medical and emergency repatriations for poor people. The ministry requires families to finance other forms of repatriation.

    Two measures would be likely to improve the action of the public authorities in this field.

    First, it would be appropriate, within the framework of reinforcement of international cooperation mentioned above, that France obtains from a number of countries, as significant as possible, the guarantee of sustained collaboration for these kinds of problems. Admittedly, no country would find it beneficial to see an illegal and dangerous organization developing in its territory .

    Secondly, our diplomatic and consular services could, within this framework, increase their contacts and connections with local authorities likely to help them in the search for missing people.


    Difficult to define, not very easy to measure, impossible to grasp as a whole, the cult phenomenon does not constitute an any less tangible reality in the contemporary world: the expression of multiple spiritual movements distinct from the traditional religions and characterized by specific beliefs and practices.

    In fact, it is closely related to the major problems which arise for current societies, in that it causes the decline of traditional religions, the mutation of family structures, questioning of moral values, the place of policy [or politics], and the economic and social crisis. It is even, in a certain way, the reflection.

    If its diversity and its complexity prevent rendering a precise account of its quantitative and qualitative evolution, the research carried out shows that it developed during the last decade in France and abroad. And this, as well as in number of organizations, of followers, and of sympathizers. At the same time, it presents more varied forms, it implements more sophisticated techniques, and has increased financial means.

    The followers, growing in numbers, often engage completely, until they lose part of their identity. And it is there that the risk of deviation becomes serious, when engagement and the resulting absolute confidence are not being looked after [or treated, tended], to cut the ties with family, to give all the money one has. The intervention of the public authorities is essential when engagement leads to a psychological dependence which the leaders exploit to their own profit.

    The judicial decisions rendered during recent years show well that a number of them are guilty of offences, ranging from deception or fraud to ill treatments, to aggravated assault and sequestration. In addition, information provided to the Commission and testimony that it received leave no doubt about the fact that the businesses exposed by justice give only a partial account of the dangers which the sects pose, which are in fact at the same time more numerous, wider and more serious.

    The State cannot, obviously, allow to develop in its womb [the word "sein" which I translated "womb" can also refer to "breast," so this phrase is similar to the English "nursing a viper at one's breast."] that which, with much consideration, is part of a veritable scourge. To remain passive would be, indeed, not only irresponsible with regard to the people affected or likely to be affected, but dangerous for the democratic principles on which our Republic is founded.

    Your Commission thus considers it essential to react. That being, it appeared that the best way of counteracting the development of dangerous sects is surely not most spectacular, in the form of anti-sect legislation that the extent of our legal arsenal does not make necessary and which would likely be be used one day in a spirit of restriction of freedom of thought. The essential thing, accordingly, is to fully make good use of the existing provisions, their systematic and rigorous application having made it possible to effectively fight against the sectarian drifts. For that purpose, it is initially necessary to better know - it that would permit the creation of an ad hoc observatory - and, especially, to better make known the phenomenon and the dangers that it can [recŽler?]. In addition, it is necessary to become attached to it [becoming attached to this cause as one would become attached to a person in an affectionate way] so that the institutions charged to apply the law in this field are sensitized there. Moreover, certain adjustments to the existing legislation appear desirable for better taking account of the evolution of sectarian associations. Lastly, it is significant that the former followers can be helped to reintegrate themselves into society. All measures which, according to your Commission, should be taken as soon as possible. In France we do not feel threatened by a tragedy of the Waco type, even an attack like that perpetrated by the Aoum sect in the subway of Tokyo last spring. But the germs of such dramas exist in our territory, and prevention is essential.

    That known as, it is necessary to be lucid: the measures suggested here will probably not be enough alone to make these dangers disappear . Reflection of the difficulties of the current world, symptom of a profound social malaise, image of a moral crisis as much as a civic one, the sectarian phenomenon also calls for, indeed, a global response to the whole of the major problems of the contemporary epoch.

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    The Commission examined this report during its meeting of December 20, 1995 and adopted it unanimously.

    It then decided that it would be given to Mr. President of the National Assembly in order to be printed and distributed, in accordance with the provisions of article 143 of the Regulations of the National Assembly.

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