As French Senate Tightens Church Controls, Christian Advocates Avoid Fear

French Protestants strongly disagree with new separatism law’s anti-terrorism approach, but eschew a victim mentality in defending religious freedom as they live in “Babylon not Jerusalem.”

On Monday night, the French Senate passed an anti-terrorism law that has greatly concerned church leaders.

Now called the “Law to Uphold Republican Principles and the Fight Against Separatism,” the bill—approved by a 208–109 vote, with 27 abstentions—intends to combat the Islamist radicalism that has incited numerous attacks on French soil in recent years.

However, the Macron administration’s desire to make France safer has put the nation’s deeply rooted freedom of religion in the crosshairs.

“The wind has changed in France,” said Clément Diedrichs, general director of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF). The government has “clearly indicated that we’re no longer in a Christian society.”

“Religion has become expendable,” he observed, saying that the country’s leadership no longer has any desire to protect space for any faith.

In February, as reported by Christianity Today, the National Assembly, the French parliament’s lower house, passed a first version of the bill. The net result of the Senate’s debates is a version with even tighter oversight measures, despite the inclusion of a few modifications seen by Christians leaders as positive.

The Protestant Federation of France (FPF) highlighted the Senate bill’s guarantee of the rights of chaplaincies, in particular in educational establishments, though the bill forbids any type of religious service in these establishments. The bill also provides for churches’ ownership of buildings given to them for free as well as access to public subsidies for making buildings accessible for people with reduced mobility.

CNEF appreciates the Senate’s reinstatement …

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