By Deborah Bunting
April 16, 2021
Freedom of religion is under new attack from a bill passed this week by the French Senate. The bill’s framers hope the proposed law will protect French society from further violence by Islamic radicals. But it targets all religious groups, not just Islamic extremists who have perpetrated numerous attacks on Christians and others in recent months and years.
“The wind has changed in France,” Clément Diedrichs, general director of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF) which represents half of the French protestants, told Christianity Today (CT). The government has “clearly indicated that we’re no longer in a Christian society.”
“Religion has become expendable,” he noted, saying that the country’s leadership no longer has any desire to protect space for any faith.
The Senate bill does curtail religious liberty. It reinstates the right to homeschool children, which the National Assembly version had eliminated, but increases state oversight of teaching children at home.
The proposed law also targets the financing of missionary outreaches from abroad by limiting overseas funding of church planting and building in France, a move that apparently conflates such foreign donations with Islamic funding of terrorism. According to CT, the law would also “increase government surveillance of pastors’ teaching and increase religious leaders’ legal liability, proposing steep sanctions for speech deemed to encourage disrespect of laws.”
As of this writing, there have been no reports of violent attacks by Christians or their pastors against non-Christians in France. But the proposed law paints all religious believers – whether they embrace a violent ideology or not – with a very broad brush.
“We’re shifting from a separation of church and state based on liberty to a separation based on control,” said François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France (FPF), which includes both evangelicals and Lutheran Reformed groups. More Information Here!!