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REPORT ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SPIRITUAL AND THERAPEUTICAL MINORITIES IN FRANCE
recent months, various groups have been arbitrarily labeled "cults"
and systematically attacked in the media. The result: People of goodwill have
been ostracized in their communities and have suffered severe financial loss,
such as loss of livelihood, and other hardships. These groups include not
only new religious groups, but also those which promote a healthy life or
the use of natural or alternative medicine. The testimonial sessions organized
throughout France by the Alliance of Associations and Individuals for Freedom
of Thought have made it possible to assess the damage caused by this witch
hunt. Altogether, the Alliance has collected some one hundred testimonies,
several of which have been included in this report.
Recognizing that the term "cult" has become a new weapon used to destroy innocent groups, the Alliance has put forth five proposals aimed at the eradication of discrimination in France:
1. The establishment of international investigatory committees sponsored by public organizations such as the United Nations or the OSCE, as well as private organizations, such as the International Helsinki Commission, so as to diligently conduct independent studies on members of spiritual groups or groups using alternative medicine.
2. The repeal of any discriminatory law containing the word "cult," "sect," "cultic," or "sectarian." Indeed, the Alliance wishes it to be recognized that the law should not specify groups as "sectarian" or "cultic" as, in a democracy, all individuals and groups should be treated equally and in the same manner. Existing criminal law is perfectly adequate to punish any and all abusive behavior, whether committed by religious or non-religious individuals and groups and the labeling of certain groups as "cults" and "sects" is unnecessary.
3. The withdrawal of public subsidies granted to groups and associations which attack spiritual or religious movements.
4. The dissolution of the MILS [Interministerial Commission against Sects] as its very purpose, "to fight against sects," is an affront to the French Constitution which guarantees the religious neutrality of the State and the principle of separation of Church and State.
5. The creation of an "Observatory" of new forms of spirituality and religion, composed of learned and unbiased experts such as university professors, sociologists of religion, attorneys and lawyers, historians and religious leaders. The aim of this organization would be to inform the public and authorities, as objectively as possible, in a spirit of tolerance and in a way that respects the principle of debate.
This observatory would set up a center to provide information and documentation to the public on all new forms of spirituality and religion. It could also act as a mediator in cases of conflict between a member of a group and his or her family. Such organizations exist in Great Britain (INFORM) and in Canada (Information Center on New Religions.
Translation of an article from the French regional newspaper l'Yonne Républicaine
Tuesday June 20, 2000
SOCIETY: Dr. Yves Jullien committed suicide on March 6 at "L'Isle-sur-Serein."
The Story of a Rumor that Kills
Accused of being the guru of a cult, a doctor was the victim of destructive harassment.
"The thing I find the most difficult is the way others look at me," wrote Dr. Yves Jullien shortly before he died. A meeting some days ago in the "château" of L'Isle-sur-Serein (in the Avallon region), where Yves Jullien founded a therapy center in 1993, brought to light the reasons that pushed him to commit suicide.
An irrational act by definition, suicide "always has multiple causes," said Maya Blache, his wife. This one, so it seems, was triggered by a persistent rumor. The rumor spread for several years in the county of Yonne until this irreproachable doctor became viewed as the guru of a cult. Members of the so-called Epinoia cult lived in the Castle of L'Isle-sur-Serein and had, according to their detractors, strange and suspicious activities.
Yves Jullien's former colleagues, friends and patients with their parents, came to testify at Epinoia, where Dr. Jullien once helped drug addicts and psychotics among others. Their purpose was to restore the good name, dragged through the mud, of a decent, respectable man.
"A man who had nothing to do with imprisoning others inside a cult."
Often we heard that Epinoia was a cult, including from official sources. They made a mistake. Evidently, they too were victims of the rumor, spreading it, in all good faith, without knowing...
Patients, nurses and doctors were unanimous. Accusations against Yves Jullien and his association were completely baseless, even ridiculous: "This center was totally the opposite of a cult. Such allegations are just unthinkable." "The association was original and human at the same time." "Patients were pretty much free. The atmosphere was warm and friendly." "Yves Jullien was an honest, independent man who had nothing to do with imprisoning others in a cult."
It's a strange cult indeed that receives patients sent for treatment by the Auxerre psychiatric hospital and even by the courts. You can't be more official than that. Moreover, the center managed by Yves Jullien was successful and well known. So, why these rumors? Why pretend that this doctor was no longer a doctor, that he was barred from the Medical Association? This rumor went on for months, though it was obviously unfounded.
The members of Epinoia lived in a community inside the castle of L'lsle-sur-Serein: Their sixties look was obviously out of place there and it didn't take much for the locals to conclude that Epinoia was a cult.
A matter of norms
Last summer a city regulatory agency closed down Yves Jullien's center. The reason given was that the premises didn't meet city requirements. Was that a pretext? Hard to say. In any case, that is what Yves Jullien's close friends claim.
Who had a vested interest in seeing the center closed down? Local notables?
"For a year my husband was persecuted by the administration and the police," said Maya Blache. "He was slandered. I am here today to prevent a similar occurrence."
The closing of the premises devastated Yves Jullien. It shattered his soul, his work denied and despised. But this terrible disillusion cannot, all by itself, explain his suicide.
Yves Jullien was stamped down because he used his own therapeutic techniques, he worked outside the beaten paths, with a close-knit group of people who didn't conform. People found this disturbing, even though he didn't openly oppose the system. He simply asked for the right to be different. This right was denied him.
A generous and efficient man
Yves Jullien, originally from Paris, started his career as a medical doctor in 1975. A family practitioner up to 1983 in Montmorency near Paris, then a toxicologist in Paris, he founded a health center in Corbigny in 1985. This center, where patients and nurses lived in community, welcomed drug addicts amongst others.
An advocate of the anti-psychiatry movement, he attended seminars of the famous psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan for several years.
Yves Jullien and his wife, Maya Blache, left Corbigny... in 1993 after the DDASS (the agency that enforces sanitation regulations) told them that their premises weren't meeting all the requirements. They settled at the "château de l'Isle-sur-Serein" near Avallon in Burgundy. There, they founded the Epinoia association with Yves Jullien as its director and president. The association employed a State qualified nurse, a qualified educator and six counselors. This center treated drug addicts and persons suffering from serious psychological disorders.
Yves Jullien also worked in Auxerre. He collaborated with the psychiatric hospital's methadone center and nutrition center as a toxicologist. He also operated an office of psychoanalysis with Maya Blache.
A father of four, this unusual doctor was extremely interested in philosophy. His intellectual sharpness and quick ability to solve problems were apparently envied. "People were jealous of my husband," says his wife. "He loved everything spiritual. He was a generous and bright man. Some people didn't like that."