164 referrals for the single year 2020. The scale of alerts concerning evangelical or charismatic churches remains at a high level, according to the latest data from Miviludes unveiled exclusively by L’Express. Already, in its last annual report, which covered the period 1970 – 2020, the body responsible for monitoring sectarian aberrations at the Ministry of the Interior, noted that 200 churches claiming to be part of this movement had been reported over the past ten years, that 190 reports had been recorded in 2018 and four cases referred to justice . Legal consequences which, obviously, do not discourage those who are tempted to abuse the credulity of their faithful.
The vast majority of evangelical churches is obviously not in question, but “sectarian aberrations can appear in dissident communities and claiming to be part of the evangelical current”, notes Miviludes . At work, isolated and self-proclaimed pastors, but also more organized structures . Among the “churches” particularly monitored by the authorities, is the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (EURD) of Brazilian origin, established in France for years 1365. Expanding in France, it is the subject of reports for the virulent proselytism of some of its followers, the significant financial sacrifices requested from its followers, but also for its remarks demonizing abortion or homosexuality and its practice of “conversion therapies”. “Among the other movements that have been the subject of referrals, we find the Charisma Church, the Alliance of Nations for Jesus Christ (ANJC), Christ Embassy, Christian Fondacci Ministry or even David Storm (Editor’s note: died in early December 2021) “, adds Miviludes .
Two risks are repeatedly identified by the authorities, when pastors abuse their charisma and proselytizing. The first concerns the financial dimension. Sale of objects of worship, books, audiovisual recordings, tithes, donations, “house taxes”, offerings of all kinds for reasons as diverse as the purification of sins, the fight against infertility or the healing of illness are all ways of involving the faithful. However, when there is abuse, these sums are not used to finance the actions of the church but the lifestyle of the pastor or the leader of the community.
Limited offer. 2 months for € 1 without commitment
The second concern relates to the ” healings “, a particularly sensitive subject in recent months . In the context of the health crisis, the offers of divine protection and the theology of healing attract more than before and fuel the drifts. A section of the population that has lost its family or is in a situation of isolation is particularly vulnerable to these speeches. La Miviludes is particularly on alert for “healing evenings” organized by certain communities. Sometimes broadcast live on the networks, they promise miraculous cures by faith and prayer in a discourse opposed to that of conventional medicine. The neocharismatic churches, in particular, emphasize the particular gifts of the Holy Spirit of which the gift of healing would be a part.
Another closely watched phenomenon, therapeutic offers based on fasting and prayer in support of psychiatric pathologies (bipolarity, depression, etc.), oncology, or even addictions, offered by certain so-called evangelical churches such as Dare Jesus or the Church of Mont Sion. Other currents defend the idea that one should not act against the laws of nature. And advocate letting the body react, defend itself against external attacks, such as infections like Covid. In any case, the consequences can turn out to be dramatic, warns Miviludes: “Some believers go so far as to abandon conventional medicine, including for serious ailments. By following the doctrine according to which” faith heals everything “, they turn away. of the course of treatment prescribed to them, which leads to a loss of opportunity. ”
Opinions Analysis of the Express think tank
By Denys de Béchillon
6334692 By Christophe Donner