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An article in 'English Churchman' (13/7/01) draws attention to the prospect

of all religious organisations in the EU having to be registered. A

conference in The Hague on 24-5th June discussed registration and regulation

of religious and 'faith groups' throughout the EU. An insider told the

'English Churchman': 'One of the papers read at the conference put forward a

detailed registration plan. Every religious organisation, independent church

or faith group would have to register with a new 'Faith Commission.' Cults

and sects considered to be using 'mind-altering' techniques would not

receive registration and would be subject to as yet undefined penalties and

restrictions.'

 

Registration opens the way for state control of religion. It was practised

in the Soviet Union and many evangelical churches ended up being

unregistered and therefore subject to persecution and arrest of leaders,

because registration meant having to compromise on essential doctrines of

the faith. Already in France an 'anti-sect' law has been passed that

proposes restrictions on religious institutions which the government deems

'dangerous'. The law is vague in how it defines cults and can be used

against legitimate evangelical groups as well as against extremist

organisations like the Solar Temple group whose mass suicide prompted

widespread concern about the issue in France.

 

Friends working in evangelism in France give examples of how attitudes are

changing as a result of the law. 'A Pentecostal Church in Grenoble had to

reimburse a woman's tithes as she brought the church to court after

resigning as a member. People are saying publicly on the evening news that

one of the first signs of a cult is use of the Bible. 'Baptists' are

specifically mentioned as dangerous, because of the emphasis on tithing,

conversion, believer baptism and promises of 'abundant life' in Christ.

Anything concerning young people and children is under severe scrutiny.'

 

A report to the French Assembly by the anti-sect commission (22/12/1995)

presided over by M Alain Gest served as one of the reference points for the

framing of the law. In comparing 'legitimate' churches with cults the report

states: 'In order to extend its audience a Church is ready to compromise

with the State. The Cult group on the other hand is on the fringes of

society in general and tends to refuse all dialogue with it. The cult has

the same attitude concerning other religions, which means ecumenism could be

the criteria for distinguishing Churches from cult groups.'

 

According to the French statement above the 'legitimate' church will be

willing to compromise with the state (i.e. it will accept the overriding

authority of the EU) and will be ecumenical in its nature. In this context

ecumenical clearly means more than accepting union with Roman Catholicism.

It means accepting that all religions are valid ways of salvation. Therefore

those who challenge the EU (especially those who believe its emergence has

something to do with the rise of Antichrist as prophesied in Revelation 13

and 17) will be deemed cults, as will those who want to share their message

with people of all faiths and none.

 

This is amazingly similar to the system of religion in the Roman Empire in

which all religions were permitted to operate as 'religio licita' (legal

religion) provided they accepted the overall authority of the Emperor as

divine and kept the 'Pax Romana' (Roman peace) by taking an ecumenical view

of other faiths. The faith, which was outside of this system, was true

Christianity, which refused to bow the knee to the Empire and Caesar,

believing that Jesus Christ is Lord. As the early Christians set out on the

programme to bring the glorious message of the Gospel to all people whatever

their beliefs, they came into collision with the Roman Empire. The EU is

emerging as the revived Roman Empire so it should not surprise us that we

see similar patterns emerging for religious control. It is significant that

France is leading the way in this. Since the time of the French humanist

philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau and the French Revolution of 1789, France

has played a leading role in promoting the anti-Christian humanist philosophy,

which now dominates Europe.

EU to register churches?

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