There have been 25 terrorist attacks causing 263 deaths on French soil since 2015. The government is reacting with a "Law to reinforce republican values." Although their aim is very specific, combatting radical Islam, this law will strongly affect freedom of all religions in France. A specialist in French religious law says we're going from minimal state intervention to maximum in religious affairs. The government can't target one religion, so the law addresses all religious rights. So what does this mean for protestant Christians? How are we viewed? In a recent television interview the Interior Minister called evangelicals "a very important problem"!
The new law, which is currently under revision to synthesize differences between the House and Senate, will force churches to re-register every 5 years with their local Prefect. Those Prefects will have the right to close a church if they deem they provoke hate or violence. Pastors can be personally fined for any infractions. All foreign funds must be declared, and the government could order churches to return anything over 10,000€ per year (approximately $12,000). The church we attend in Paris is fairly new and receives a large percentage of support from the US and England. Where would they be if that amount were capped at 10k? Maybe closed. Interestingly, not only foreign funds but also foreign workers (like us) would need to be declared. This law will affect Christian associations too, not just churches. Imagine being a local official trying to evaluate a Christian association whose activity is completely decentralized?
Since 1905 France has guaranteed freedom of religion. This new law in the pipeline is a giant leap backward toward government surveillance, distrust and control. It could be a strong discouragement for all religious institutions. Please pray for wisdom for the committee making final revisions to the law, as well as the courts that will review it afterward. Pray that freedom will be upheld and not fall victim to radical terrorism. Fear can lead to terrible decisions.
Some of you might have heard that Efrem hopes to attend an MK2MK project this summer in Orlando. He is looking forward to growing in his faith, serving alongside Cru's local church partners, and meeting other "missionary kids." The project is from July 12 to August 8. A big thank you to all of you who have responded to his invitation to partner with him and support this ministry adventure. Isn't it encouraging to see the next generation motivated to grow in faith and serve the Lord?!