Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Les Sectes

Mon Dieu! A French government official recently stated in an interview that cults are a "non-problem" in France and the merde has hit the ventilateur! The outcry has been very loud, particularly from the government, which considers cults to be very much a problem in France. They have issued several statements sharply criticizing groups like the Church of Scientology, but have stopped short of actually banning them.

The fellow was criticizing the government's stance from the position of religious freedom. Interestingly enough, the US government has also complained to the French government about its anti-cult statements, also from the position that they go against religious freedom. One also suspects that they're a bit less afraid of Tom Cruise than the neighborhood imam!

Maybe the answer would be to oppose certain cultish activities instead of opposing specific groups. For instance, religious organizations could be forbidden to require payment as a condition of membership or "enlightenment", to pressure members to break ties with their friends or family, or to harass non-members or "apostates". And perhaps they could lose their protected status for repeated violations, or be fined. Because it seems to me that the problem with these groups isn't their goofy sci-fi beliefs, as much as the way those beliefs seem to crowd out all other ideas in their members' heads.

What say you?


Holly said...

As far as I know, all religions are cults, not just the ones that have an a la carte rate sheet. And, y'know, if people want to pay into some bullshit like that, they should go on ahead and do it. How exactly does it interfere with the objectives of government?

Rufus said...

It's a good question. I'm not really sure that the French govt. has done anything other than declaring that certain groups are cults so watch out. And you're right that they probably shouldn't do anything- I mean, they can't really handle drug dealers or any other social menace.

Anyway, yes, hmmm... I guess they're free to do as they wish with their consciousness.

Rufus said...

Yeah, I think you're right. Hopefully I did not offend with my brief descent into state fascism. :)

Holly said...

I suspect this just falls under the heading of "Wishing we could legislate against stupidity" which of course we can't. As Vonnegut says.... "So it goes."

Anonymous said...

More on this at