(International Herald Tribune, édition américaine seule, 23/3/2000)

Publicité passée par les scientologues bien qu'ils n'apparaissent pas!

Voir aussi en français: Lettre ouverte dans "France Soir" du 20 avril 2000, adressée au Président Chirac


To The Prime Minister of France

M. Lionel Jospin

Dear M. Jospin,

No doubt you read Le
Monde. And thus, perhaps you saw an article about "an investigatory public hearing"recently held into human rights abuses committed by, among others, Alain Vivien, chairman of the "Interministerial Mission To Fight Against Sects (MILS)", part of your office.

Some of us were on the expert panel at that hearing. Held at the Forum of Grenelle in Paris, it was attended by more than 300 people from 38 religious movements. Twenty-nine victims from throughout France testified about abuses suffered in their private and professional lives, all due to their religious beliefs.

The French press described the atmosphere as "electric", but that description is, if anything, understated. What truly appalled us was that the outrageous human rights abuses we heard could actually be taking place in a democratic nation. It seemed that the ghost of U.S Senator Joseph McCarthy had come to haunt France.

There are also other compelling historical parallels to what is happening today.

We think of the shameful Revocation Edict of 1685, by which Louis XIV ended a period of relative tolerance for French Protestants and revived widespread religious persecution. Yet equally shameful, on December 16, 1999, a new "Revocation Edict" was maneuvered through the French Senate when a mere handful of its 321 members were present.

Ironically, perhaps tellingly, it rejuvenates and expands a 1936 law authored by the infamous Pierre Laval, who became the Vichy government's leader under the Nazis and was executed as a collaborator in 1945. The new bill would give the authorities the
power, provided only that certain ill-defined conditions are met, to simply dissolve any religious, cultural or political organisation the government disagrees with.

The Catholic Church, or any of France's political parties, having seen many from their ranks convicted and jailed,
could be dissolved. As a member of the Senate observed, "A movement may be dissolved because a leader has twice been found guilty of writing bad checks for 10 francs."

But make no mistake, the real target of the bill is religions whose beliefs and practices the government disagrees wirh -- the religions whose members so movingly told their stories of discrimination and abuse at the Forum of Grenelle. It is the latest escalation of religious intolerance begun with a 1996 Parliamentary Commission report which blacklisted 172 religious minorities, including Protestant and Catholic denominations, as "sects."

The Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights have both held that governments have no right to make arbitrary distinctions between "sect" and "religion." Whereas the Swedish, Dutch and British governments have engaged in dialogue with minority faiths, your government has chosen to persecute them.

France has a vital part to play in the nurturing of democratic principles throughout the world. We urge you to disband MILS, and instead adopt a policy of dialogue with minority faiths and not one of destruction. By so doing, you can restore France's reputation for freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom of speech.
[short text in the middle of the two colums above]

"One by one, the movements...came to the bar to complain of 'sectarian harassment', of the 'new Inquisition'."

--Le Monde, March 7. 2000

Nancy Lee Atkins
Executive director
Toledo Metropolitan Mission
Toledo, Ohio, USA
Ed Bloch
Director, The Interfaith Alliance of New York State
Latham, New York, USA

Lee Boothby
International Commission for Freedom of conscience
Washington, D.C., USA

James S. Burton
Executive, Greater Dayton
Christians Connections
Dayton, Ohio, USA
The Rev. Machrina L. Blasdell
Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Walnut Creek, California, USA

Mary Lu Bowen
Executive Director, New York State
Council of Churches
Albany, New York, USA

The Rev. Mamie Bryant
Presiding Pastor, Hollis Avenue
United Church of Christ
Hollis, New York, USA

The Rev. Dr. Calvin OButts
President, Council of Churches of the City of New York
Pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church
New York, USA
Dr. Derek Davis
Director, J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Relations
Baylor University
Waco, Texas, USA
Prof. Francis Dessart
Council for Human Rights and Religious Freedom

James V. Dougans
Ministry Coordinator
Indiana Partners for Christian Unity and Mission
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Willy Fautre
Human Rights Without Frontier

Dan Fefferman
Executive Director
International Coalition for Religious Freedom
Washington, D.C., USA

The First Church of Christ Scientist
Boston, Massachussets, USA
Rabbi Kenneth Fradkin
New Jersey
Mr. John Patrick Gilroy
Chair, Peace with Justice
Broome County Council of Churches
Binghamton, New York, USA

Arthur I. Golden
Clerk of Session, First Presbytarian
Church in Jamaica
Jamaica, New York, USA
Imam Baqui Hamed
Host, "Al-Islam in America"
New York, NY, USA
The Rev. Robert E. Hanson
Executive Director
Interreligious Council of Central
New York
Syracuse, New York, USA
The Rev. Gary L. Harke
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
The Rev. Dr. John E. Hiemstra
Executive Director
Council of Churches of the City of New York
New York, NY, USA
Pastor Robert Hostetter
First Pastor of Protestant
Liberal Church in Brussels
and head of the Protestant
Federal Radio/TV Emissions

The Rev. Dr. Arleon L. Kelley
Retired Executive Steward
New York Fellowship of Churches
Past President National Association of Ecumenical and Interfaith Staff
Albany, New York, USA

Mr. Stan Koehler
Managing Director
Meditation Awareness Network
New York, NY, USA

Joël La Bruyère
President of Omnium des Libertés
Paris, France

The Rev. Charles R. Landon, Jr.
Executive Director, Churches
United of the Quad City Area
Rock Island, Illinois, USA

Mikhaïl Levdansky
Rabbinical Scholar
New York, NY, USA

Dr. James Lewis
Department of Religious Studies
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

The Rev. N.J. L'Heureux, Jr.
Executive Director, Queens
Federation of Churches
Richmond Hill, New York, USA
Secretary/Moderator Committee on religious Liberty National Council of Churches of Christ in USA
Dr. Franklin H. Littell
Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Pomona, New Jersey, USA

Dr. David Little
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
The Rev. Allen D. MacLean
President, Queens Federation of Churches
Richmond Hill, New York, USA
The Rev. James C. Miller
Executive Minister
Rhode Island State Council of Churches Providence,
Rhode Island, USA The Rev. James Murphy
Coordinator Capital Region
Ecumenical Organization
Scotia, New York, USA
The Rev. Jim Nicholls
"Voice of Freedom"
The Rev. Jon Norton
Executive Minister
Synod of New York
Reformed Church in America
Tarryton, New York, USA

The Venerable Piyatasse
Buddhist Council of New York
New York, NY, USA
The Rev. Dr. John L. Pratt
President, Brooklin Council of churches
Brooklin, New york, USA
Abdelkader Rhamani
President Berbere Academy of Exchange and Cultural Research
The Rev. George Robertson
Professor of Religion
Maryland Bible College, USA
Melissa Rogers
General Counsel Baptist Joint
Committee on Public Affairs
Washington, D.C., USA

Daoud Rosser-Owen
President Association for British Muslims
London, England
Kheled Saffuir
Islamic Institute
Washington, D.C., USA
Irving Sarnoff
Friends of the United Nations
Los Angeles, California, USA
The Rev. Dr. Lars J. Silverness
Chaplain Emeritus
JFK Protestant Chapel
JFK International Airport
New York, USA
The Right Reverend
Francis C. Spataro, D.D.
Bishop Visitor, St Peter & St Paul
Independant Evangelical Lutheran Church
Astoria, New York, USA
John M. Swomley, Ph.D
Americans for Religious Liberty
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
The Rev. Msgr. Hilarios
Ungerer, D.D.
Archbishop, Free Catholic
Church in Germany
Munich, Germany
The Rev. K.Gordon White
Associate General Secretary Consultation on church Union
Lowell, Massachussetts, USA

The Rev. DR. G.S. Wilson
Professor of humanities
Strayer University
Virginia, USA
The Rev. Wesley H. Wakefield
The Bible Holiness Movement
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
The Rev. Hugh Wire
Presbytarian Church (USA)
Berkeley, California, USA
(affiliations are for identifications purpose only)

For further information contact
The Reverend N.J. L'Heureux, Jr, Executive Director- Queens Federation of Churches- 8617 105th street - Richmond Hill, New York, USA - Phone 718 847 6764 - Fax 718 847 7392 skip@ecunet.org

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