2000 BYU L. Rev. 1099 (2000)
Liberte, Egalite, et Fraternite at Risk for New Religious Movements in France

handle is hein.journals/byulr2000 and id is 1109 raw text is: Liberte, Egaliti, et Fraternite at Risk for
New Religious Movements in France*
I. INTRODUCTION
During the past several years, the French government has sys-
tematically targeted the freedoms of new religious movements
(NRMs)' with legislative initiatives On June 22, 2000, the
4  My interest in this topic stems from my experience as a volunteer missionary for the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France beginning in the fall of 1995. While the
LDS Church has not been officially listed as a secte, I encountered first-hand as a missionary the
effects of anti-sect sentiment, specifically those arising out of the tragic Ordre du Temple Solaire
deaths in southeastern France in the fall of 1995. Notwithstanding my affection for the French
people and French culture, this Comment attempts to objectively critique French legislative
initiatives from a legal standpoint. I thank my husband and classmate John M. Smith for his
many insightful suggestions at various stages of this work. I also thank Professor W. Cole Dur-
ham, Jr., without whose interest and advocacy this Comment may never have been written.
The author takes sole responsibility for any errors in this Comment.
1. Scholars prefer to use the term new religious movement rather than cult be-
cause of the latter's pejorative cast. See, eg., ELISABETH ARWECK & PETER B. CLARKE, NEW
RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN WESTERN EUROPE (1997); W. Cole Durham, Jr., The United
States' Experience with New Religious Movements in NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS IN THE
USA 213, 213 n.1 (1998); Pierre-Henri Prelot, Les nouveaux mouvements religieux et le droit;
la situation franfaise, in NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS AND THE LAW IN THE EUROPEAN
UNION 159 (European Consortium for Church-State Research ed., 1999); JOHN A. SALIBA,
UNDERSTANDING NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS (1995); James T. Richardson & Barend van
Driel, New Religious Movements in Europe: Developments and Reactions, in ANTI-CuLT
MOVE~MENTS IN CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE (Anson Shupe & David G. Bromley eds.,
1994). The term, new religious movement, is itself difficult to define because of the broad ar-
my of religious groups that find themselves lumped into this category. The tendency has been
to regard religious movements that emerged in the West after the 1960s as new. See JAMES
A. BECKFORD, CULT CONTROVERSIES: THE SOCIETAL RESPONSE TO NEv RELIGIOUS
MOVEMENTS 13-14 (1985). Technically, of course, many groups, including the Church of
Scientology and the Unification Church, were founded before the 1960s, and thus would
claim that they are anything but new. See id. Practically speaking, within a culture where one
or two churches have historically and traditionally dominated the religious landscape, a new
religious movement generally includes religious groups that enjoy a minority status both his-
torically and, most certainly, politically. For a discussion of the definition of new religious
movements, see id. at 12-17.
2. See, e.g., Sdnat, Proposed Law No. 131, Dec. 14, 1999, Proposition de loi tendant
a renforcer le dispositif penal a l'encontre des associations ou groupements constituant, par
leurs agissements ddlictueux, un trouble h l'ordre public ou un p&il majeur pour la personne
humaine [A Law Proposal Aimed at Reinforcing the Criminal System Against Associations
or Groups which Constitute, by their Criminal Schemes, a Threat to the Public Order or a Ma-
jor Danger to Human Dignity] [hereinafter Senate Proposed Law] (visited Sept. 20, 2000)

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