Ecrivez-nous : 117, rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris
ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
SPIRITUAL AND THERAPEUTICAL MINORITIES IN FRANCE
Paris, March 3, 2000
a Celtic priest, and his parishioners have seen their lives ruined and cannot
obtain justice in French courts.
"Arc-en-Ciel" centers have existed in Brittany for 25 years. In these centers, one can practice yoga, sophrology [a therapy based on relaxation and hypnosis techniques,] and meditation. We are therapists, energy practitioners, and phytotherapists [herbal medicine.] We also sell nutritional products. Like myself, some who attend are religious. I am a Celtic orthodox priest.
Our centers had no problems prior to the October 1994 publication of an article in Paris-Match magazine that misrepresented "Arc-en-Ciel" as the Brittany branch of the Order of the Solar Temple (OTS). Because the article cited documents supposedly from the Renseignements Généraux, I visited this government agency's offices in Rennes. I asked if there was anything we could be accused of even though I had no idea what such a thing could be. Everyone I spoke to in Renseignements Généraux explicitly assured me there was nothing against us.
We lodged a complaint against Paris-Match and a court case followed. Paris-Match's so-called "Renseignements Généraux" documents were exposed as fabrications. We learned the Rennes anti-cult group ADFI was behind it all. At the magistrate's court, Paris-Match was sentenced to pay one million francs damages to the "Arc-en-Ciel" association.
Paris-Match appealed this verdict and soon introduced false testimony of someone who had frequented our center. That person's perjury-given in writing to ADFI and by ADFI to Paris-Match-accused me of being a personal friend of Luc Jouret, leader of the Order of the Solar Temple. The allegations said I had studied naturopathy with Jouret in Switzerland. I am not a naturopath, and have never once been in Switzerland.
The perjurer also gave Jeanine Tavernier (president of UNADFI, the headquarters of ADFI) other documents that were obviously fake and were declared inadmissible during the appeal. Even so, the appeal reduced the judgment against Paris-Match down to 120,000 francs.
I lodged a complaint for false testimony and the Rennes SRPJ (judicial police) investigated for a year and a half. They concluded that "Arc-en-Ciel" has never had any contact with Solar Temple.
As the Paris-Match/ADFI appeal occurred just before the infamous parliamentary report, "Arc-en-Ciel" is not listed as a cult. But the small religious association of which I am the head clergyman is listed as a cult. Though our prayer services have only 20 attendees, we are misrepresented as a sprawling and dangerous association with 500 members. I have visited the Rennes Archdiocese and they do not understand at all what happened.
My purpose is to ensure that certain truths be re-established. Because the perjury proceedings were stalled, last year I lodged a complaint for slanderous denunciation against X [action against person unknown] and against ADFI's Jeanine Tavernier, with the dean of the investigation magistrate of Paris. My complaint has been accepted and the investigation is ongoing with Judge Stephan in Paris.
Since 1994, "Arc-en-Ciel" has been afflicted with this huge, slanderous ball and chain of erroneous accusations that falsely associate us with OTS. Practically all the centers are financially ruined and no longer operate. Some have nothing left.
Nothing can be done at the associative level in Rennes. I have visited the Prefecture; they regret the situation, but can do nothing. We have written letter after letter. But all official French doors remain closed.
Paris, March 3, 2000
artistic and creative work by members of the Iso-Zen movement has been stifled.
Here is Thierry's testimony:
I am a musician and graphic artist. My religious movement embraces many other artists, musicians, dancers, and designers. As occurred to a number of other groups, media attacks on us began after the alleged "collective suicide" in Guyana. Spiritual communities or research groups that were in any way original or unusual were suddenly under suspicion.
As a group, we have always been cognizant of the huge difference between our ideal, our aspirations, our personal life experiences versus the media's hallucinations based on rumors, idiotic interpretations, and people whose only motives are to hurt others.
We have been accused of the craziest rumors: arms and drug trafficking, prostitution, on and on-acts totally contrary to our beliefs and to what we daily portray in our artistic works. Those outside France cannot imagine the horrific fantasies that are projected onto anyone who tries to have a slightly original and different life here.
Because of France's suffocating intellectual and artistic climate, and because we had always dreamed about a safe desert island, we relocated to Polynesia. For most of us this experience was extraordinary. As we began to grow and build an international following, managing it from the Pacific became difficult. But as soon as we returned to France in 1989, we ran into the anti-spiritual inquisition climate that has become an integral part of French life.
In April 1996, a few months after the slaughter of the Order of the Solar Temple and the French parliamentary report on cults, a woman who had embezzled money from our group published an anti-cult book. Though many publishers refused her manuscript, one of them sought to capitalize on the media frenzy against minority religions.
Some 12 years earlier, this woman had joined our group and made off with a large sum of money from our members. She had come to Polynesia where we had formed up teams and crews to buy ships. Each crew was to finance its own ship. She and her companion volunteered to buy and bring back a boat from South America for her crew. She disappeared with their hard-earned money. The court sentenced her companion but we have never seen her again.
Even so, ADFI welcomed her with open arms and, from all evidence, helped her write "her" book. In it, her experiences with our group are entirely misinterpreted through the dark glasses of ADFI. She and ADFI completely ignore the many and highly positive testimonials published in interviews or books by creators and authors participating in our activities.
ADFI's larger campaign has been a textbook model of a media lynching: dozens of articles, radio and TV shows with no effort at all to find the truth, and to which we have no way to respond or correct for the public. We participated in two stories which, by some strange coincidence, have been constantly delayed and never broadcast.
One day I was at my parents' home during the afternoon news. The woman who had stolen our money was on the air with a caption describing us as "the most dangerous cult in France," even though we were not well known and had no problems with the law. Without basis in fact or documentation, her every word was designed to instill fear and incite mistrust of our group. It was clear she hoped to be sued and gain more publicity. We refused to play that game. Given the media and political context of the times, what chance was there to have the truth heard?
Most recently, the embezzler has organized her own anti-cult organization and is seeking government grants.
This repeated history of malicious media persecution clearly demonstrates that it is impossible, in today's France, to lead a creative life in a spiritual field.
Paris, March 3, 2000
and the members of her group were raided without a search warrant and were
subjected to mental and physical abuse, including the children. She was jailed
for months on unproven charges.
I founded Horus, an agrarian community in Ardèche. Our specialty is a particular form of organic farming. We grow giant vegetables without fertilizers. It is an ancient method, which has been used and proven over 6,000 years. The trouble started as soon as we, naively, spoke out publicly about this method of farming, saying, "In the end, if one applies our method, all French agriculture can forego the use of fertilizers and pesticides."
One morning, in September 1991, at 10 a.m., the police entered my private property, with no search warrant. They were accompanied by some representatives of the anti-cult group ADFI from Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Etienne, Lyons and Grenoble, with people they said were our "grandparents" - but whom none of us knew. The media also was present, cameras in their hands, to "just come and talk with us," or so they said. During this encounter, I was assaulted both verbally and physically while the police just turned their faces away and pretended not to see.
A TV report in the show Envoyé Spécial had ignited this whole situation. The journalist who was responsible for this, a married man, had been seeing a woman from our community for years. He also took part in the children's theatrical plays. One day he told us that in order to change any negative opinions people might have about us, he would make a film to show exactly what we were doing. Then on January 4, 1996, we saw the show: The film was completely manipulated and falsified to make us look bad - all the scenes had been set up and filmed to give the image of a dangerous cult. We were surprised and shocked. We had been welcoming this man in our community for many years. He knew many of us. Just to give one example of his lies, he asked the children to play in a field and then filmed them behind a fence of barbed wire to make it look like they were being restrained.
We went through a nightmare, especially where the children were concerned. The police came to question us and to see whether the children were in good health, implying that they may have been victims of sexual abuse. There was a mother with us who was a midwife. Even though she was breast-feeding her baby, they forcibly took it away from her, without telling her where they were taking it. She searched desperately for her child for a week. The police also seized and took away records and files from many scientists who were doing research on new agricultural techniques.
I myself was kept in jail for eight months. I was accused of non-assistance to a person in danger and of practice of illegal medicine, when in fact I had never practiced medicine in any way. I was also sentenced for opening a school that never existed. The parents in our group had simply taken their children out of the regular schools and were home-schooling them, which is in no way against the law.
One of our members was an engineer and a teacher with a doctorate. He was forced to leave his job due to his belonging to a so-called "cult." He was given no opportunity to reply to the charges or defend himself. The sentence has now been canceled, but he has lost his job for good. He no longer has any money nor a source of income, and yet he has four children to take care of.
Marseilles, March 29, 2000
Juliette B. is a medical doctor. She has been debarred for life from the French
I am trained in acupuncture, homeopathy, sophrology, tropical medicine, hygiene and preventive medicine. Our association was a group of friends, scientists, researchers and physicians, whose goal was to research solutions to pollution and hunger in the world.
One day a little boy from our group developed a respiratory problem. The doctor who examined him diagnosed Lyme's disease, which is transmitted by ticks, and had him sent to the hospital. A week later I was accused of failure to vaccinate the child, but I had in fact vaccinated him myself and he had a valid Diphtheria / Tetanus / Poliomyelitis vaccination certificate. The newspaper ran an article about me, and claimed that the child had died of tetanus-but the child is in very good health now and he obviously never had tetanus.
I was summoned before the Council of the Medical Association for non-vaccination and they debarred me from the Association. Then I was charged with failure to render assistance to a person in danger, forgery and use of forged documents. All this when the child had been normally vaccinated, the certificate was genuine, and there was no failure to render assistance to a person in danger since the child was rushed to the hospital immediately, as soon as his breathing problem occurred.
After this incident, a force of about 200 policemen raided our center at 6am. They carried out simultaneous raids on other locations where we had friends. We were afraid because they were all holding submachine guns. They forcibly separated the children from their parents and took them to the DDASS (Social Services department) for mandatory examinations. The children were thoroughly examined from head to foot, and the girls were subject to anal and vaginal examinations in front of the policemen. You can imagine the psychological trauma.
The harassment did not stop. Every pretext was used against us. The many positive testimonies we had from people who worked with our group were never taken into account. Charges were made and never withdrawn. In the tribunal some important letters disappeared, especially a letter from the child's file written by the physician who sent the child to the hospital. It clearly established the diagnosis of Lyme's disease. As soon as we asked for this letter it disappeared. When we complained we were treated as if we were crazy. They said, and wrote, that the letter never existed! By chance, our lawyer, our family and other persons had seen that letter. The parents of the child, disgusted, decided to leave French territory until that letter reappears as they no longer trust the French justice system. They are accused of being irresponsible parents who did not take good care of their children and who put them in a cult. They face six years in prison if they come back. We were all threatened with death!
One night, at 5 PM, we found journalists freezing in their car. One of them told us his boss had asked him to be there because, with the shock we had experienced, we were at risk, we might commit mass suicide. They wanted to be there for the scoop... We breed chicken on our farm and we use a small infrared lamp that turns on automatically at about 3 AM when the temperature gets too cold. When the journalists saw this light they thought we were setting fires to kill ourselves! They were so scared they did not dare get out of their car! That was actually funny.
I have already spent seven-and-a-half months in prison, first as a defendant and then as a convict. Since my case is still in the Supreme Court I may have to spend another year in prison although I have done nothing wrong professionally or as a citizen. No official complaint has been lodged-all this is based on rumors. I believe this has been done intentionally by certain anti-cult groups bent on destroying us. We were a small group, not international, the perfect target.
I asked for an appeal before the State Council, But the Medical Association refused, saying there were no grounds for an appeal. I am therefore debarred for life. Anyway, as my colleague Dr. Scohy said, I am not so unhappy to be excluded from that cult!
Paris, March 3, 2000
is a member of an organization with two million members worldwide. In France,
many of its 4,000 French members have been harassed, defamed, and prevented
Sukyo Mahikari has existed in Japan for 40 years, in France for 28 years.
A 1996 French parliamentary report labeled us an "oriental healing cult." Information in the report was false and self-contradictory. At one point it said we are a sectarian movement with 50 to 500 members, then a few pages later it stated we had 15,000 members.
After the report was published, false articles about us started to appear in the press. We were always denied the right to respond.
The police raided one of our centers in Normandy. They seized the accounts books and took sacred objects from the home of the local leader. The leaders were placed under close watch for 24 hours and then released as the police could find no wrongdoing.
In 1998 we were subjected to a tax audit. The auditor could not tax us as a profitable enterprise so he tried to apply a 60% tax to our donations, which would have crippled us.
Many of our members are excluded from work. Two nurses had their licenses revoked because they belong to a "cult." One member was fired when social workers noticed a Japanese altar in her bedroom. A member who was director of programming for a radio station in Martinique was fired for belonging to our movement.
In 1999 we were named in press articles as part of an "apocalyptic cults" campaign. The police watched our centers in Guadeloupe and around Paris. They made confusing statements that we had a "complicated survival apparatus" while at the same time implying we were intent on suicide.
Paris, March 3, 2000
and his wife were headmasters of a private school which they were forced to
A journalist from VSD (a national magazine) came to do an article on our school. His article was full of praise but he denounced the fact that my companion and I were former members of the Raël movement.
This prompted a tax audit and a visit from an inspector known as the "Mr. Cult" of the National Education Ministry. He carried out a raid-like search of the classrooms, going through the children's and teachers' bags, but found nothing out of the ordinary. Then he noticed a big painting the children had done on a classroom wall. The painting stopped at the Revolution simply because they did not have time to go further. The inspector started fantasizing that "a school from the Raël movement" was an elitist school based on "geniocracy." According to him the drawing stopped at the Revolution because we refused to accept democracy. The TV stations had been informed of the inspector's visit and the cameras were waiting outside. Many articles appeared in the newspapers. The parents got scared and our student numbers dwindled from around 100 down to 50.
Some parents continued to support us as they believed in what we were doing, but eventually we were forced to file bankruptcy. All the investors in the school lost their money, and my companion and myself are in debt as we cosigned for the loans.
Our school was doing really well with good results on the children, but we were destroyed because we belonged long ago to the Raël movement.
Paris, March 3, 2000
organization was raided, he was subjected to media attacks and fired from
I was employed as a manager at a spiritual research establishment named La Maison de Jean (Jean's House). I was also the manager of another company. These were both volunteer activities and I received no salary from either. I supported myself by working as a management executive in a training organization.I had a difference of opinion with a friend. She had never been a member of the establishment. The details of our disagreement are too lengthy to go into here, but suffice it to say that the situation became worse and she wanted to do something which would cause trouble for us. As our establishment pertained to spiritual matters, and there is so much bad press in France right now about this kind of thing, she thought it would be smart to accuse us of being a cult and went to see ADFI and the police department as well as some of our associates with the intention of destroying our organization.
Several complaints were made at the magistrates' court and civil proceedings were started against the president of our organization, but we had done nothing illegal and so there was no result. We even tried to make contact with ADFI so that we might know what we had been accused of, but each time they refused to have communication with us.
Our enemies even denounced us to the police about completely invented operations. Though false, this was enough to start an investigation. One morning, the police came to our offices, and also searched our private homes. I was taken from my workplace and held for 48 hours. Again, as I mentioned previously, I am a management executive. Yet, I was taken with some colleagues to the Court of Justice in Paris where we spent a night underground, with cockroaches and other creatures!
In the meantime, there had been a raid of our premises and systematic interrogation of other members of our organization and the people connected to us. At first, the police approached these people as if they were the "victims" of our organization and when they refused to state this or to recognize things which did not exist, the police said that they must be our "accomplices." The technique is simple: the people connected are either victims, or they are accomplices.
The organization's and the company's accounts have been suspended leading to the dismissal of our employees. During the raid, the police seized invoices addressed to our clients. They communicated these details to our detractors who then contacted our clients and told them that we are a cult. If the police had not given out these details, we would not have had to endure what we did. Following this, tax audits were conducted on every one of the individuals involved and the legal entities.
When the police saw that there was no reaction in the company where I was working, they sent four inspectors - the big show - to question my boss and to ask if by any chance I had proselytized in the company. My boss held on for one month and when the police found out that I still had not left, they threatened to kick up a scandal for the director. The police did everything they could to have me fired. As a result, I found myself with no job and actually with no career as I am self-educated and had worked my way up in the company to a middle management position.
I was no longer able to pay the mortgage on my flat and had to sell it. I have been looking for a job, but no one will employ me as the police have taken the necessary steps to make it known that I had been reproached by them.
In 1995, a fire broke out in our premises. The insurance regarded it as a natural disaster and agreed to pay compensation without any problem. Then in 1996, a parliamentary report was published in which we were listed. After this, the insurance company refused to pay for the fire and lodged a civil complaint. There was another raid, this time in our new premises, with more arrests under surveillance, for a fire which we had no responsibility for. The final result was that the case was dismissed, but the other case which we have against the insurance company for the payment of the insurance for the 1995 fire is still unresolved and the only reason given is: "They are a cult, they set their own premises on fire."
From the media, we have received all the usual cliches and defamation typically used against spiritual minorities. The TV channel Canal + dragged us in the mud and there was nothing we could do about it. We currently have a court case going on against FR 3 (TV channel) for slander and false testimony.
Paris, 3 March 2000
is a psycho-sociologist and manager of a training company. He has lost many
As a psycho-sociologist, I've been manager of a training organization for about 15 years. My first "mistake" was to teach various psychological disciplines, in particular PNL - neuro-linguistic programming- which is sometimes labeled a cult. In my seminars for large companies and government departments, I often speak about spirituality. However I've never belonged to any spiritual, religious, or mystical organization.
In 1994, I started a political movement which presented a list of candidates for the European elections to defend freedom of thought and freedom of choice over healing methods. This must have upset some government officials: The June 1999 Parliamentary report called "Cults and Money" listed my company as a branch of Scientology although I've never had any relationship whatsoever with Scientology.
In 1996, my company was prosperous with a turnover of a little more than 6 million francs. Today we have trouble making half this figure as I have to spend time and effort handling suspicions and questions. As a result I've lost several contracts over the last few months.
One of my associates went to ask Mrs. Jeanine Tavernier [from ADFI] for a 'good cult' certificate to have the right to work. She said : "Ah, don't ask me for any documents ...!" That is where we stand today.
Today as an educator, if you want to work for big European or French companies which have read the parliamentary report "Cults and Money", you have to ask ADFI for a certificate of good behavior.