MIVILUDES and the Ministry of National Education take new initiatives against “sectarian drifts”

HRWF (23.04.2012) – France has taken new initiatives to prevent “sectarian drifts” in the health and school education sectors.

New MIVILUDES manual on “Health and Sectarian Drifts”

MIVILUDES has just published a new manual entitled “Health and sectarian drifts”.

It is designed for health professionals to warn them against so-called sectarian drifts. The Preface explains that promises and recipes of healing, well-being and personal development are at the heart of sectarian drifts.

It includes a list of the most widespread “pseudo therapies” as Annex 1. It contains such names as Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine), biomagnetism, energetic medicine, nature cures, relaxation therapy…

However, the criteria given in the chapter “How does one fall under the undue influence of a therapeutic guru?” show that the concept of “sectarian drifts” is applied much more broadly and could concern religious minorities since it mentions as approaches by “pseudo” therapists “a seducing approach through an offer of personal enhancement, of spirituality or therapy”.

Pursuant to another chapter “How to recognize a charlatan or a sectarian pseudo therapist?”, a person should be suspected of sectarian drifts when he/she:  criticizes conventional medicine or the treatments that your qualified health team has proposed, incites you to stop your treatment,  promises you miraculous healing where conventional medicine failed,  puts forward beneficial effects impossible to be assessed, such as “improvement of your karma” or “circulation of internal energies”, asks you to commit yourself by paying in advance a number of sessions,  offers free sessions for you to try such or such method, recommends you to buy devices supposed to detect negative energies or products presented as miraculous, often at exorbitant prices, not reimbursed by Social Security,  promises you a global care which is supposed to act through the same technique on your mind, your body and even all sorts of disorders, presents you a new vision of the world using terms such as: cosmic waves, lunar cycles, vibratory dimension, purification, energies, cosmos, conscience…,  uses a very complex pseudo-scientific language or on the contrary pretends having discovered an extremely simple means of action, incites you to break up with your family, your doctor, your relations, to help your healing.

Health professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) are asked to use the above list to interrogate their patients in case of doubt on the existence of a sectarian therapeutic drift.

If they suspect such drift, they have to report it to MIVILUDES and to their national health professional associations, the details of which are given in the manual: associations of medical doctors, pharmacists, midwifes, dentists, masseuses, physical therapists, nurses, podiatrists, chiropodists.

They should also refer their patients to MIVILUDES and to anti-sect groups such as UNADFI, CCMM and the Association Alert to Induced False Memories, and they should advise them that they can file criminal suits.

New Circular of the Ministry of National Education

A new Circular has been published on 5 April 2012 by the Ministry and addressed to education authorities of primary and high schools entitled “Prevention and Fight against Sectarian Risks”.

It states that the national education agents in charge of this subject are coordinated at national level by a Mission, the National Mission of Prevention of Sectarian Phenomena in Education (MPPS), which is under the legal affairs direction at the Ministry of Education and which coordinates with other Ministries through MIVILUDES.

For the full efficiency of this Mission, the concept of sectarian drift has to be clarified to the national education agents.

Then the Circular provides the following explanation:

“A situation of sectarian risk, for a child, is therefore the one in which some views and practices are imposed on him with the exception of any other views or practice. This situation is likely to harm his intellectual development, his social integration and finally his attainment of autonomy. The risk concerns not only the content of the knowledge passed on, the possibility of access to the values and pluralism of democratic societies, but also the possibility for the child to develop and exert a critical mind, an independent judgment. The context can be family, or even community: the child is then likely to be under the undue influence of views and practices threatening his education; or extra-family: the child is then likely to be subjected to views and practices which can be harmful to him either: – at school (through the teacher, his friends, an association delivering services at school or distributed literature), or at tutoring associations or during a stay with a family abroad”.

Pursuant to such a definition, catechism given to children by Catholic parents should be prohibited. This constitutes a direct violation of the right of parents to raise their children according to their own beliefs protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Circular also mentions that “units for the collection, processing and assessment of worrying situations” (“cellules de recueil, de traitement et d’évaluation des informations préoccupantes” (CRIP)) have been created in each of the French Departments (regions). Pursuant to a law of 5 March 2007, the Presidents of the General Councils (at the head of the Departments) are now in charge of “the collect, processing and assessment, at any time and from whatever source, of worrying information on minors who are in danger or liable to be” instead of previously being in charge of the collection of information on mistreated minors. (Article L226-3 of the Code of Social Action and Families)

This has been done at MIVILUDES’ instigation.

In the 2009 MIVILUDES annual report, its President explained that a law of 5 March 2007 modified Article 375 of the Civil Code, making it possible for the judicial authorities to order a special educational assistance not only when a child’s health, security, morality or conditions of education are in danger like the Article used to provide, but also when the conditions of a child’s “physical, affective, intellectual and social development are seriously endangered”. These new criteria are designed to cover “situations of sectarian subjection” where the child “has blossomed, works well at school and does not complain about anything” but has a “univocal vision of the world” referred to by Mr. Fenech.

Pursuant to the same law of 5 March 2007 (Article L226-4 of the Code of Social Action and Families), the President of a General Council who gets information from the units above mentioned should report without delay to the Public Prosecutor if a minor is in danger pursuant to Article 375 of the Civil Code when the family refuses the intervention of the services of social aid to minors or when it appears impossible to assess the danger situation.

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