The New Heretics of France: Minority Religions, la Republique, and the Government-Sponsored ''War on Sects''

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OUP USA, Dec 8, 2011 - Social Science - 304 pages
Since the Age of Enlightenment, France has upheld clear constitutional guidelines that protect human rights and religious freedom. Today, however, intolerant attitudes and discriminatory practices towards unconventional faiths have become acceptable and even institutionalized in public life. Susan Palmer offers an insightful examination of France's most stigmatized new religions, or ''sectes,'' and the public management of religious and philosophical minorities by the state. The New Heretics of France tracks the mounting government-sponsored anticult movement in the wake of the shocking mass suicides of the Solar Temple in 1994, and the negative impact of this movement on France's most visible religious minorities, whose names appeared on a ''blacklist'' of 172 sectes commissioned by the National Assembly. Drawing on extensive interviews and field research, Palmer describes the controversial histories of well-known international NRMs (the Church of Scientology, Raelian Movement, and Unificationism) in France, as well as esoteric local groups. Palmer also reveals the partisanship of Catholic priests, journalists, village mayors, and the passive public who support La République's efforts to control minority faiths - all in the name of ''Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.'' Drawing on historical and sociological theory, Palmer analyzes France's war on sects as a strategical response to social pressures arising from globalization and immigration. Her study addresses important issues of religious freedom, public tolerance, and the impact of globalization and immigration on traditional cultures and national character.

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About the author (2011)

Susan J. Palmer is a researcher, sociologist, and writer in the area of New Religious Movements (NRMs). She is the author or co-editor of eleven books on NRMs including: Moon Sisters, Rajneesh Lovers, Krishna Mothers: Women's Roles in New Religions; Aliens Adored: Rael's New Religion, and The Nuwaubian Nation: Black Spirituality and State Control. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her family and teaches in the Religious Studies departments of Dawson College and Concordia University.

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