Ecrivez-nous : 117, rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris
ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
SPIRITUAL AND THERAPEUTICAL MINORITIES IN FRANCE
Lyons, April 28, 2000
and others like him have been harassed for educating their children at home.
One mother had her three-year-old child taken away from her because she home-schooled
her other two children.
Some time ago, people in my village asked their children to avoid communication with mine because my children did not attend the village academy. My children home-schooled. Consequently, those villagers believed my children were members of a "cult." In the autumn of 1998, I received a visit from two policemen. Without even introducing themselves, they inquired about the mode of instruction in my family. I expressed surprise since my children were lawfully registered at the village academy. The police said they were collecting their own information.
One of my friends educated her children at home for a long time. In the middle of a divorce, the judge removed her three-year-old child from the home. The judge denied the mother custody using a legal procedure inspired by fear of "cults." The judge said roughly this: "The youngest child is in danger because the mother has taken charge of her children's education."
What kind of a country is this where you lose the custody of your child because you exercise the freedom to educate him as you see fit?
The Ministry of Education has maliciously distorted the reality of home education. Specifically, the General Education Inspector has associated home education with "cults." He is also "Mr. Cult" in that Ministry and a member of the Interministerial Commission Against Cults. In 1997, he sensationalized the death of a child and told the newspaper Le Monde that "...even though the matter at Tabitha's Place, which took place on April 4, concerned a 19-month old baby--whose death was caused by lack of care--and not a child of school age, the problem raised here is that of the health and education of children living in 'cults'." This is a lie because it has been established that the child did not die for lack of care, but due to a congenital malformation.
Mrs. Ségolène Royal made these insulting remarks while the Minister of Education: "Very often, in the name of education within the family, children are kept in a state of ignorance, or even worse, indoctrinated, alienated, ill-treated. Some deprive them of their autonomy to better enslave them or to dominate them, others finally do not hesitate to drive them to the point of sacrificing their lives." These words are totally inadmissible in a State that claims to be democratic. They attack the honor and honesty of thousands of citizens. They generate incalculable abuse and discrimination.
In 1998, using information from the police, the Renseignements Généraux and the National Education Board, the Senate claimed that 1,034 children are educated within a sectarian family, 3,600 pupils are in establishments suspected of maintaining links with a cult, and 950 pupils follow correspondence courses for religious reasons that in reality hide sectarian behavior. This "official" information was used to pass a law making new crimes related to home education.
When you decide to educate your children at home, you receive a letter stating that home-schooling is reserved for exceptional cases, such as sick or handicapped children. You also receive a leaflet listing all the penalties should you break the law. If you do not declare yourself to be a teacher at home, you may be fined ten thousand francs. If you keep a child who is considered to be below grade level out of school, you face a six-month prison sentence and a fifty thousand franc fine. You may also serve a two-year prison sentence and pay a two hundred thousand franc fine for not educating your child.
When home-schooled children are tested, they are not given the time to finish their exams. This allows the inspectors to say the children are not performing at the required level. If an inspector decides your child must return to school, no appeal is possible. These are threats to make sure the home-schooling movement does not grow, all contrary to a law that protects freedom of education.
The National Education Board itself does not obtain the results that it demands from home-schooled children. Estimates show that 10% to 20% of children in state schools do not know how to read, write or count when they reach the first grade. A recent report by the OECD estimates that 40% are illiterate. A parent getting these results at home would go to jail.
If you educate your children at home, you are automatically suspected of mistreating them. People consider home-schooling an indication of sectarian behavior, like vegetarianism, meditation or some martial arts. They associate it with cults.
We are witnessing broad measures of enforced conformity which are both intolerant and anti-democratic. They seek to limit the dimensions of a child's spiritual and effective education.
Lyons, April 28, 2000
organized an education group. After the group was targeted, including the
children of parents in that group, many members left. One child was taken
away from his mother in a divorce case.
"I had became involved in an association for educational freedom. The board of directors, of which I was a member, had decided to give each of us complete freedom, as kept within the guidelines set by the association. I was told by many people that my personal goals, my dynamism and my commitment were an inspiration. I stood up for my point of view and believe that I was able to contribute many new ideas to the association.
Alain Vivien's report [on "cults"] in 1985 did not concern us. I think we might have heard about it, as general news, but I am sure that none of us ever thought that what we were doing had any connection with cults. But as time went on, and more information was made available to us, it was becoming clear that, even though we were not recorded on any list, we were being targeted. The objective of oppression became very clear. Anything even vaguely connected with new spirituality, parental instruction, alternative medicine and self-help was being attacked. In January 1995, I organized a meeting on the theme, "Know your childhood and you will know your child." Some people thought it was too much.
Little by little, everyone was informed of the criteria used by the Renseignements Généraux and those things which ADFI denounced. The fear of being denounced created an unhealthy climate. Any therapy or method which was even slightly innovative was being labeled a "cult."
A family that none of us had even met had the nerve to write, "We have been members since September 1996, but in view of the current situation and the way things are going, the risks, the quarrels, and the influence of therapeutic groups perhaps even communities on their way to becoming cults, broken lives and the absence of dialog on educational freedom, we have decided to leave the association rapidly and wish to do so legally by registered mail."
We were demonized in the eyes of people we had never met. We were becoming the target of fanatics. Even my children were selected as targets. I experienced the loss of this associative framework, which had been a meeting place and center of personal growth for myself and my children, as an attack on my honor, my dignity and educational freedom. One person even took advantage of this discriminatory climate to achieve his ends in a divorce court. A person who had belonged to our group of friends and who knew our philosophy and how important we considered the mother-child relationship in the first years of life, testified against one of my friends, so that her child, who was three-years-old at the time, could be taken away from her through an emergency procedure and placed with his father.
When a power feels threatened by a popular conscience which organizes and refines itself, it uses a destabilizing process which arouses the repressed unconscious in people. Those who fear change, organize forms of repression, which affect, on a personal level, each representative of this developing conscience. The destabilization is thus deep and painful because we are affected in the intimacy of our love.
Paris, March 3, 2000
Brigitte is a highly trained scientist. She lost her job and her daughter was taken away from her.
As a scientist I have completed two doctorates: one in Europe and one in the United States. Today I teach at a university in the State of New York.
I worked in France for 15 years. Three years ago I was employed in the research and development department of Air Liquide, a leader in the field of liquid gases. At the time I was the assistant manager of research and I received a letter offering me the position of manager of one of the areas at Air Liquide, which I accepted.
When I took a stance as the head of communication at the Raël Church, an article about this appeared in Le Monde. Two weeks after my byline was seen in Le Monde, I was officially summoned by the management of Air Liquide for a pre-dismissal discussion. I requested to be accompanied to this interview by a representative of the trade unions, as is allowed by law. The representatives refused to assist me, indicating that they could not "ethically" support a "cult'" member. During this interview I was asked if I belonged to the Raël Church. When I confirmed this I was told that if I wanted to stay in the company, I would have to make a public denial to Le Monde about my membership. My religion is very important to me and I refused to make this false denial.
My dismissal letter said that I was dismissed for misconduct. The misconduct described as having an image that was not compatible with the Air Liquide company. I went to court over this and I lost the case during the first trial, but I won the appeal in December 1999. The court ruled my dismissal was abusive, that the company had not respected my right to express myself. Though the ruling was that my dismissal was unjustified, even the court referred to my membership in a "cult."
My ex-husband also read the Le Monde article and found out I belong to this Church. He has been to the judge six times in 18 months to take my children away from me, on the sole justification that I am a member of the Raël church. He had files from anti-cult associations containing only some press-clippings. In fact, the entire legal case was focused on the malevolence of the "cult" without ever providing any evidence of malevolent actions or intentions.
After the sixth time, my daughter was taken away from me under the pretext that I did not have time to take care of her. At that time, I was no longer working since I had been fired and could prove I had a lot of time to take care of her and take her to and from school.
After being dismissed from such a prestigious company as Air Liquide, I could no longer get a job in France. I finally had to leave France. I work in the United States and live in Montreal, just across the border. I had to make this decision even though my daughter lives in France because I need to make a living and pay for the education of my two older children who chose to come and live with me.
Lyons, April 28, 2000
François G., a Catholic priest, has been harrassed because he believes
in healing through prayer and as a result is losing many parishioners. He
was asked to stop is prayer meetings.
I was 30 years old when I was ordained as a Catholic priest. God gave me the mission of watching over people, of healing the spirit with faith and love, of driving out the influences of evil. He bestows such gifts upon those whom he calls so that people may be at peace in spirit and in their heart, so that they may feel healthy in their soul and body. These things are always done through faith, through hope and through love, by the power of God and the strength of Christ. This has nothing to do with "cults." In the Church, it is called "the charismatic revival." This movement may not be completely accepted by all bishops in France, yet it does not represent a schism in the Church.
What we are doing is nothing new, we are merely continuing along the same path trodden by our predecessors. This is nothing more or less than our Lord Christ told us in the Gospel, "That it be done to you according to your faith," " Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," "Everything you ask on my behalf will be granted. I want it, be cured, arise and walk."
Anything is possible for those who believe. It is a matter of faith and love. Jesus said to his apostles: "The sick will have to be cured. Strengthen them, encourage them, return to them their health, awaken them up with faith, life, and love" Later on he says, "You will have the ability to drive out bad spirits, to expel demons, to remove the influence of evil."
Some bishops fought against Father Tardif, who was a healer. When he came to "Paray-le-Monial," a crowd of 25,000 people gathered. At this time, no less than 52 people were cured by faith and love. This wonderful man died when he was 65 from a heart attack. He was persecuted and accused of illegal medical practices.
I have been the priest of a parish for the last 35 years. For 25 years we would meet every second Sunday of the month. There was an average of 300 people. Some asked not to have these meetings any more on Sundays under the pretext that the neighbors were not happy. So we deferred these meetings to Saturdays but there were only 200 of us left because the farmers and the shop owners were working. Then I was asked to stop it all since otherwise I would be on file at the police headquarters and at the Renseignements Généraux, and I would be accused of the illegal practice of medicine. I know that these accusations come from, amongst others, two fundamentalist Catholics who said lots of nonsense. Other spiritual movements are sprouting. There are signs of revival. The return of the sacred and the mystic. The Pope has named young bishops to bring it all back under control because they are afraid that it will all happen in a popular religious movement, outside the Church.
The Church hierarchy is probably afraid of being prosecuted for the illegal practice of medicine because there are stories about healing through faith, prayer and love. But on my side, I keep telling everyone, "This doesn't mean that you need to stop going to the doctors, having examinations, taking medicine." We do not oppose this, we just complete it, that's all. In fact, it is not the illegal practice of medicine which I am being accused of, but the illegal practice of prayer.
Lyons, April 28, 2000
is a librarian and was reproached about her choice of books she ordered.
I am here to give my testimony for a case of censorship in a library. I am a librarian by profession and I manage a network of "media libraries" where one can find, not only books, but also videotapes, CDs, audio tapes etc. This network includes a central library and three branches. We have a budget of FF 800,000 a year (over US $100,000) for the purchase of books, i.e. we buy 6,000 books a year. We have a base of 250,000 books. According to our status it is the director of this type of establishment who decides the policy of acquisition, obviously in accordance with the directives of the municipality.
Last November I ordered books, including the following four books: "The Black Novel of White Sugar" by William Dufti, a testimony on the harmfulness of sugar. "The Pharmaceutical and Food Industry's Mafia" and "The Black File of Synthesized Drugs" by author Louis de Brower as well as "The Inquisitor State" by Joël Labruyère. Obviously, the contents of my orders were checked. The covers of these publications were photocopied and sent to the Inspection of Libraries, a State organization, and to a trade association, the association of the French librarians. The inspector of the libraries for the region where I worked made a special trip. After his inspection, the inspector had the nerve to reproach me, face to face, about the acquisition of these four books.
I am a Scientologist but I have never spoken about my religion while I was on duty. A local newspaper spoke about "disturbing occurrences about orders of suspicious books made by the administration [of the library]. It is not known if it is Scientology that planned the order [for these books], but it represents a trend of new books which attack the medical field and the State. The municipal employees have evidence to substantiate what they are saying: they mention books such as "The Inquisitor State" by Joël Labruyère."
Author Louis de Brower told me that today in France he has difficulties finding a conference room for his lectures in France, whereas he gives them regularly in Spain, in Italy, in Germany, and in Switzerland. He even received a prize in Barcelona. This really demonstrates the level of pressure our country has reached.
As librarians we are supposed to have books of all opinions, but today we are not allowed to have certain books on our shelves. We hesitate to buy certain books: alternative medicine, esotericism... I am fully aware that totalitarian states start this way.
Lyons, April 28, 2000
a teacher, lost both his job and his post as an assistant mayor.
I had been employed as a certified teacher in electrical engineering, but was removed from my teaching post for belonging to a cult. What was termed a "cult" was in reality Horus, an organic farming community. I had been participating in a project with this community.
The first attack dates back to 1991. At the time, I was deputy mayor of my village and on August 3, 1991, a letter from ADFI (an "anti-cult" group) arrived at the Town hall. I was called in by the mayor to attend a closed door meeting, for which the mayor refused to make a report. During this session, I was accused of intending to set up a "cult" in my home. This was in spite of the fact that there is no way the Horus center could be described as a "cult" and in any case, it had nothing to do with my house and was situated 20 miles away. This greatly destabilized me at a local level and banished me in a way from my post as deputy mayor. Before this, I had often been consulted in village and local affairs, but after August 3, important information was no longer given to me, so in effect I was unable to hold the post any longer.
Then, ADFI made things worse by organizing a meeting in the Town Hall. This meeting was held in secret, and all the inhabitants of the village were invited on a personal basis. I heard about the meeting and tried to attend with some friends in order to defend the Horus center. Anyone connected with the Horus center was forcibly kicked out of the meeting. This meeting organized by ADFI did not present information at all about what was happening at the Horus center. Instead, they showed videos of Mandarom [an association also accused of being a cult] and on the multiple marriages of the Unification Church. This had absolutely nothing to do with what we were doing in the agricultural community. During this meeting, the inhabitants of the village were urged to denounce any "suspicious activities."
After this, the Director of the school where I was teaching called me into his office, saying he had been informed of my so-called "cult practices" by the local authorities. He warned me that if there was any mistake on my part or any kind of complaint against me, I would be laid off. I reassured him on the subject and told him that there was a separation between my private and professional life and that I did not proselytize.
On January 4, 1996, there was a TV show produced by "Envoyé Spécial" which was aired on Antenne 2 [Channel 2]. My name was never mentioned and I was not interviewed on the program. But the procedure for my dismissal was started on February 9 because apparently some parents at the school said they had seen me in the TV program. I was thus called in for a disciplinary commission. I was allowed to see my file, and realized that all it contained was a letter of denunciation from a former member of the community, a testimony letter from another former member and a third letter declaring that I belonged to the community of Horus, written by a person whom I'd never met. All these documents were sent to the Director of the Board of Catholic Education for the Diocese.
The Ministry of National Education dismissed me on June 13, 1996. The charge was, "(this person is) well known as belonging to a cult and exhibits behavior inappropriate for a member of the faculty." They accused me of having been shown on the TV show. I replied I did not appear on that show. In September 1998, they managed to produce a photo which apparently showed me in the background in the hedges. They told me: "You participated in the report, we can see you." I went to the Administrative Court in Grenoble to appeal this decision, and their decision was to cancel my dismissal in December 1998.
The Minister of National Education appealed to counter this decision at the Court of Appeals in Lyons in March 1999. They said, "Mr. Tribut may not have publicly adhered to the theories propounded by the cult, however we know that he is a cult member and so he cannot therefore be employed as a teacher." This is a crime of prejudice against someone for a difference of opinion. I investigated the laws which were being violated by these attacks, and found several statutes relating to the right to hold one's own opinion, the right to work, and respect for the beliefs of an individual in the European Convention, the Penal Code, the Work Code and the statutes of Public Functions. After pointing this out, they reconciled and offered to give me back my post on September 4, 1998. However, they started a new disciplinary procedure. To make a long story short, I was suspended from teaching anyway, for a crime which I had nothing to do with and about which I knew nothing. I was accused of having committed this crime while I was teaching. However, this alleged "crime" took place during a period when I had been suspended from my post as professor.