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ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
SPIRITUAL AND THERAPEUTICAL MINORITIES IN FRANCE
Lille, April 19, 2000
was denied visiting rights to his children, his career stalled, he was forced
to resign as a union representative. His group has lost many members and those
who stayed are not allowed to rent halls or speak publicly.
On January 22, 1996, one of my friends told me: "Look, you're mentioned in La Voix du Nord. The Psychanimie Institute is included in the parliamentary list of cults."
Psychanimie is a neologism, which means psychology of the soul. This institute operated on French soil and also worked in French-speaking countries such as Belgium, Zaire etc. I have always been an elected board member of the group. If there had been any problem with the association, I would have been the first to know about it. I've never had any complaints, investigations or accusations of wrongdoing. No student of ours has ever complained about our activities.
First, I thought there must have been a mistake. I immediately picked up the phone to call Mr. Gest, the president of the parliamentary commission. It took six months to get an appointment at the Interior Ministry where I met General Morin [who wrote a book on mental manipulation] and Mr. Romain de Dumas who was in charge of the "Observatoire des sectes" (a cult watchdog) the ancestor of the MILS (Mr. Vivien's "Interministerial Mission Against Cults"). I told them: "Gentlemen, why I am on this list! There is nothing I can be accused of." They said: "Maybe there is a mistake. If so we are going to correct it."
When I got back home I wrote to tell them I was confident they would clear up the mistake. Both of them wrote back to me claiming they never said they would do that, but that they had only been there to listen to me.
Then I felt that I should address the situation much more aggressively. I also suspected that I was not the only president of an association who had been unjustly put on this list. A while ago I asked the CNIL (a national body of protection against the abusive use of computer files) if I was in the police files. The CNIL replied that I was not mentioned, and that I could sue the president of the parliamentary report for libel. In July last year that's exactly what did.
I wrote a letter to the Administrative Tribunal. The following extracts may help understand what I have endured.
1. As regards my family: the use of this injustice by my wife, in the case of our divorce which is in process, for the purpose of denying me the rights to visit my three children. Being a teacher, I always have been there as a father for their daily education, vacations etc. I have not seen my children for two years, after 20 years of marriage.
2. As regards my job: many disturbances and humiliations. I nearly lost my job as a teacher. Since I threatened to call in a lawyer from Lille who is a specialist in human rights, they've left me alone. I had never had any problems in my school. Now, I have no career prospects, in the Ministry of National Education or in the private school where I teach, because I am "labeled" and this closes all doors.
3. As regards the Unions: I was a Union representative, a member of the judicial commission of the North and a defender at the Prud'hommes (tribunal in charge of defending employees). I was forced to resign as a defender and representative, because of rumors that I was mentioned in this report. When I asked my Trade Union colleagues to defend me, they lifted their arms and said: "Well you know this stuff about cults, it's touchy. It will turn against us. The Union cannot risk that"
4. As regards my morale: Humiliation. I have to justify myself all the time. One is constantly under suspicion from the moment one is labeled a cult member and listed in the parliamentary report.
5. As regards finances: Financial hardship and expenses amounting to tens of thousands of francs for phone calls, traveling, legal actions, various appeals etc.
6. As regards the association: There has been a great loss of new members and we are not permitted to speak publicly. The association has met with refusals when seeking to rent a hall, municipal authorization has been taken away, and subsidies have been withdrawn. There have also been threats regarding our premises, which have been visited by some unknown person without my being told about it. And of course there has been considerable financial prejudice to the association.
Several times I've been to see ADFI, which accuses me of a very particular thing: not thinking like everybody else. One day on the phone, the president of ADFI in Lille asked me: "Tell me, where do you stand regarding God or Jesus?" I said "Madam, that is none of your business." She insisted: "Come on, just between us. Tell me!" Finally I said: "I think Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna etc. are superior beings. They came on earth to bring wisdom to mankind. For me it's the same thing, it's a continuity." Shocked, she answered: "Oh, I am not going to let you talk this way about Jesus. You can't talk about Jesus or the Catholic religion like that."
*Being trained as a sophrologist, I gave sophrology courses to pupils 11 and 12 years old, to teachers and assistant librarian colleagues. The principal had said, "Careful! Here we take no risks, since sophrology is used by cults. So you better stop doing sophrology on the premises." This was after I had had everyone's favor and agreement for ten years and had been treated as a pilot school because of it. I also wrote to Mrs. Tavernier, president of the Paris ADFI, asking her why I was listed in the parliamentary report. In the letter I demonstrated that I had been subject to prejudices from within my organization. She replied: "Really I don't know why you are listed. Maybe there is a mistake. However, I believe you were practicing sophrology and it is dangerous. Sophrology should be practiced by doctors, you see, not at all by teachers. That must be the reason why you are listed as a cult."
I ask the following of legislators: Is it possible that there are instances when one can act outside the law in France, when a citizen is denied his rights by a Parliamentary Commission which proved nothing? Is it possible for a citizen, as well as his organization, to be struck off a list on which he was placed by mistake, where no information or proof whatsoever has been brought since the publication of this report?
This abuse of power gravely threatens democracy. I ask everybody here to appeal for justice.
Lille, 19 April, 2000
and the members of his religion have been subjected to all kinds of harassment.
They were denied the right to rent halls and to speak publicly, and a bomb
was planted in their headquarters.
I became a member of the Unification Church about 25 years ago and I've had to deal with ADFI ever since the anti-cult association was founded.
We have been subjected to forceful police searches and many other kinds of harassment. It is a shocking thing to say, but we have become used to and in some ways immune to it.
One particular problem in the North is the hall renting issue. Whenever we want to organize a meeting in a hotel or a public place, invariably the owner of the hall refuses to rent the rooms. Very often, as soon as we send out the invitations, the unfortunate owner of the room is contacted. I don't know exactly what they are told, but they're in terror. In any case, even if the contract is properly signed, it is impossible to hold a meeting.
I organized a meeting in Paris which was to be attended by 1,000 people from all over Europe. Suddenly, without warning, the hall owner cancelled the booking at the last minute. One of my friends said: "I don't know how you stand it." Every time there is a meeting, I feel like I'm on the verge of having a heart attack, until the meeting is through.
On November 20, we wanted to organize a little meeting in a restaurant on the theme of the couple. The title of the meeting was, "Loving each other forever." We sent out a few invitations and immediately ADFI Nord Pas de Calais put out a press release which stated: "Danger, warning! On Saturday November 20 The so-called, "Federation of Families for Peace" is organizing a lecture and debate called "Loving each other forever." ADFI wishes to inform you that hiding behind a seemingly honorable topic of discussion is a group which is in fact an organization with the purpose of proselytizing for the totalitarian Moon cult."
(This is where the poor restaurant owner started shaking.)
"This cult has been investigated and is listed in consecutive reports pertaining to coercive cults, including the 1999 report, "Cults and Money."
Even if the press release had not been enough to put the restaurant owner off, the article which appeared in the Nord Eclair newspaper must have terrified him. All this was too much for the poor restaurant owner and he broke down. This is in spite of the fact that we had been holding conferences there once a month for the last year with no problems or complaints whatsoever.
The result of this was the following fax which he sent to us: "I have been approached by various persons, including the press in regard to the seminar and regret to inform you that I have had to cancel it." It's too bad for him; he lost a good customer. Putting pressure on people so that they refuse to rent a room is typical of the activities of ADFI.
(*suggest delete this para) Our toughest time was when Mrs. Moon visited the North in 1992. I had rented a room for her, but, as I was driving home, I heard on the radio that the contract was canceled. People were completely terrified.
Twice we have been the targets of bomb attacks. Once in 1976, when a girl lost her hand, and again in 1996, just as the parliamentary report was released. Several articles were published in the press, including one in Le Point, which carried the headline: "Cults: The Hunt is on." A few days later a bomb was planted in our headquarters in the 14th district. It went off at four a.m. Fortunately no one was hurt. Some eye witnesses said that they had seen a car stop, some people get out and leave a suitcase. There was a police investigation started but, strangely, it didn't continue and get anywhere.
Another example of harassment happened when I was in Roubaix. Two journalists from Antenne 2 (French TV) had requested an interview with us. They seemed friendly enough on the phone and so we consented. But when I opened the door to welcome them, I saw three people, Mrs. Ovigneur from the Lille ADFI and two journalists behind her, one who already had a camera running. I asked, "What's happening?" Mrs. Ovigneur screamed at me, "You always have something to hide." I asked her to leave. Of course, the second journalist filmed the whole scene. A few days later this was on TV, suitably edited, with the headline, "Granny against Gurus." I was shown throwing Mrs. Ovigneur off the premises apparently for no reason whatsoever, as the part where she had screamed at me had been edited out.
I know of people who have suffered at work too. Especially after the parliamentary report was issued, because now people say, "You are listed in the parliamentary report."
Lille, 19 April 2000
has been subjected to harrassment and this led his wife to divorce him.
In 1968, I started teaching yoga in St. Quentin. Very early on, I had many pupils.
Then I was approached by some Freemasons who wanted me to participate in their activities. Personally I wanted to stay absolutely neutral so I declined. Shortly after that, rooms where I used to teach were not available anymore. I had an audit from the tax office and was told to pay a totally disproportionate amount of tax.
At about the same time, I found out about the apparitions of Dozulé. If you've heard about it, it's because I've distributed material on it: Between 1972 and 1978, a mother with five kids saw a huge cross outside when she opened the shutters. It happened six times. She thought it was crazy and couldn't believe it. About 50 times, she heard words in Latin. Bit by bit, these made up a message. Complete ecumenical practices, belonging to many different religions on Earth, were transmitted to this woman who had no more than a basic education. The nuns of the religious school where she used to work recorded all the communications received in notebooks.
The Catholic Church wanted to keep it all secret until a man called Gérard Cordonnier heard about it. He conducted a detailed investigation. He was convinced that the message was fundamental to mankind. Some specialists say that it is as important or even more important than the Fatima vision. Unfortunately he died in a car accident. The Church took all the documentation he had put together from his widow's house and the thing was never heard of again. Until I myself came across information pertaining to this story.
Every weekend for six months, I traveled to Dozulé. I got the nuns' records of the revelation and with a few friends we decoded the text in the notebooks. We now have the whole message.
I made a point of sending the text to Archbishop Lustigier as well as to all the bishops. Since then it is as if the Church has declared war on me. A priest "cult-hunter" gave 14 pages of testimony against me to the tribunal. Among other things, he claimed I caused the death of a woman. He used all the outrageous slander he could dream of. There was a whole page in the Courier Picard with picture montages and headlines such as "The crazy guru of Dozulé."
He's been quoted in articles about the "The sect of Dozulé", " The Glorious Cross of Dozulé", and so on, that have been published every year, in many newspapers. The irony is that even the communist newspaper "L'Humanité" denounced these visions as unorthodox.
This also destroyed my marriage. My poor wife said: "It is you or them. I can't stand it any more, they're all after me."
Lille, 19 April 2000
was a teacher. Her relationship with her family was destroyed and as a consequence,
her father became gravely ill.
I found out about the apparitions of Dozulé in 1982. I was enthusiastic about it and I joined the organization that was founded as a result.
In 1983, I asked for a year's leave in order to go deeper into the Dozulé matter. I am a teacher in the National Education system. An "anti-cult" priest got in touch with my boss. I was summoned to the school board of Amiens by the chairman himself. He wanted to know what I thought and if I was part of this group of people from Picardie who was interested in the Dozulé matter and who had traveled to the region of the Mont St. Michel.
He tried to dissuade me from taking this leave of absence. He said that if I took this leave, he'd consider it to be a resignation. So I resigned for a year, then I was reinstated. The priest exerted pressure on me, through the Ministry of National Education, so that I wouldn't take this leave and I wouldn't be involved in these activities. There had already been collusion between the authorities and the priest since "that group of people from Picardie interested in the Dozulé matter" had already been singled out, censored and labeled a cult.
I had been practicing yoga for 15 years and I knew the founder of the organization, Albert. In his effort to destroy Albert, the "cult-hunter " priest needed testimonies against him. At the end of 1984, he went to see my parents to try to get a testimony from them. He introduced himself, saying that he had come to save my soul. My mother said that she'd rather have this meeting in my presence, but he refused. He stayed at my parents for seven hours, and told them horrible stories. He presented Albert as a sexual pervert and a paranoiac. It triggered a terrible quarrel that spoiled Christmas with my family. My parents had a hard time recovering from it. They felt they had been sullied. My father was ill for months. The relationship between my parents and myself has never been the same since. There was an irremediable break; I wasn't able to clear up the slanders.
During that Christmas holiday, that priest ordered the priest of my village to make me come and meet him. I knew the old priest and I respected him, so I went to see him at the presbytery. He questioned me about my activities and about how involved I was with Albert and the Dozulé affair.
At the same period in 1985, the anti-cult priest called one of my best friends, who is a teacher in Lens, telling her that she had to intervene, that it was necessary to isolate Albert. Everyone had abandoned him, he said, and I was the only one left. If I was out of the way, there was a good chance of getting him to stop his activities. My friend wasn't even a Christian.
Lille, April 19, 2000
was harrassed because of his beliefs and as a result, his wife divorced him
and asked for sole custody of their children.
I've belonged to two spiritual movements, one of which is the organization of Sai Baba, an Indian sage, since 1998.
In 1988, I had an accidental "out of body" experience. From then on I started working silently, saying nothing to my family. I read, took notes, prayed for seven or eight years. In 1995 I was briefly in contact with teachers of the 'AMORC' (Rosicrucians).
Three years later, I found the Sai Baba organization. This organization has three main activities. The most important activity is serving others. For example, we give food to the homeless on Saturdays at noon on the forecourt of Saint Maurice church. We also sing sacred chants for an hour a week, and every fortnight we hold a study group for an hour. So that took up to six hours of my time every month. My then-wife came once to the study-group to discuss spirituality. We had three children then and my family was doing fine.
In June 1988, as I was preparing for a trip in July to India, my wife began divorce proceedings. I know that she had contacted ADFI, as I came across registration papers for the sum of 250 francs. ADFI considers that Sai Baba is a dangerous cult that recruits kids. I went to India anyway, and when I came back a month later I was summoned for divorce negotiations. The file said I belonged to a cult and that I spent no time with my family because I had been away a month and spent six hours a month on activities with the association and helping the homeless.
At the time I'd had a lot of attention on the people around me and on my interaction with them, but I didn't get the feeling this was causing anyone any trouble. I didn't think that my meditation could harm anyone either, or that there was any external change in my normal life or any particular sign of my belonging to a spiritual group.
But my wife asked for a divorce and sole custody of the children. The judge asked me what I did wrong. I said, "Nothing that I know of. I belong to a spiritual group. I work on improving myself, and I try to understand life." He asked if I wanted a divorce, I said I did not, but since my wife wanted a divorce, we carried on with the procedure.
Lille, April 19, 2000
D. was a teacher. False accusations cost him his job.
In 1991, some fellow teachers and I tried to initiate a program to stop delinquent activities called "Clé pour l'adolescence" (Key for teenagers) into a secondary school in Lille. This program had a lot of success in many Belgium schools.
ADFI got in touch with the parent's association of the school, warning them to watch out because "Scientology was getting into the school." We tried to explain to the parents that we had no link to Scientology whatsoever, but they didn't want to know. We had to cancel the whole program and we were replaced by two other teachers. Personally, I was forced to leave my job. A letter from the "Conseil Général " (administrative body that manages a county) was sent to my employer, saying that I was a problem and that I should work elsewhere. The local daily La Voix du Nord published an article but they never published our letter to the editor. The Renseignements Généraux did an investigation for a month on our work to check if we were actually Scientologists or not. All this put my family life at risk too. Three of us were involved, and we are all still very upset about this experience.
Lyons, April 28, 2000
group has been persecuted, stones were thrown at them and they have received
threats. Other children were forbidden to play with theirs. They cannot rent
halls or hold public lectures.
The community of Thébaïde was founded 19 years ago. Until recently there were nine adults and two children. In 1998, five of the adults and one child left, so now we're a small community of only four adults and one child.
Over the last twenty years, many texts have explained in detail our revolutionary approach that embraces all fields of activity. We have defined seven revolutionary areas, beginning with a fundamental spiritual revolution that leads to a personal revolution, an emotional revolution, which itself leads to a peaceful social and political revolution.
We represent a nearly unique case in France, in that we've managed to obtain, by way of justice, knowledge of the contents of our file at the Renseignements Généraux. We obtained it from the prefecture of Isère, after a trial, and by threatening it with second trial if the court's decision wasn't carried out. Of course, the content of this file is a bunch of nonsense.
The persecution of our group started with the arrival of the last member of the community in September of 1990. His relatives, who did not approve of his choice, did everything possible to destroy us in the hope of getting their son to abandon us. We were subjected to defamatory newspaper articles, such as the one on January 16, 1992 which was literally an incitement to murder. After this article was published, people in the area were extremely upset and excited. We live near a road and cars drove by unceasingly. Everybody came to see the "cult's house ." We were totally exposed to public condemnation. People insulted us. They threw stones at us and into our windows. For months we lived in total insecurity. In such a climate, anything was possible. There were anonymous threats and phone calls.
Authorities attempted to take our children away. Fortunately the social worker in our sector knew us well and knew that the children were perfectly alright, but we lived for weeks and months under that threat. For a mother, it's a terrible ordeal! We choose to home-school our children and scrupulously adhere to the regulations for this. Now we can no longer leave the house without being attacked from all sides. An official warned other parents to prevent their children from playing with ours.
All these actions were carried out because one father couldn't bear the fact that his child, who was actually an adult, had come to join us. We wanted to give a lecture to protest against this injustice. But the Culture and Youth Centre in Grenoble, who knew us as we had previously held lectures there, refused to rent us a hall. Now we know we won't be able to rent a hall, for any purpose whatsoever.