Institute Celebrates Vivien Resignation, Calls on Prime Minister to Dismantle French "Anti-Cult" Ministry

Washington, D.C. – The Institute on Religion and Public Policy heartily celebrates and welcomes the resignation of French "anti-cult" minister Alain Vivien. Vivien, 63, presided over the Interministerial Commission to Battle Sects and Cults (MILS) since its creation in 1998. His resignation was made public two days after the victory of the right at the legislative elections.

"Alain Vivien has used his position to export a vicious anti-religiosity throughout Europe and the rest of the world," announced Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski "We have long worked to eradicate the disinformation and negative attitudes promulgated by Vivien. His resignation is a great vindication for us. However, this is only the beginning. I have sent a letter to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin asking him to serve on the right side of history by not appointing a successor to Vivien and dismantling the MILS organization, thus demonstrating France’s commitment to liberty, equality, and fraternity by standing for freedom of conscience."

The MILS was created by a decree signed by Lionel Jospin and Jacques Chirac, following an observatory that had been created in 1996 after a parliamentary report warned of "cult" activities in France. Although there is no definition of the word "cult" or "sect" in French law, over 170 groups were added to a discriminatory list – including several mainline churches and religious groups in the United States.

In an Agence France Presse article, Vivien congratulates himself on the role played by MILS in the adoption of two laws – voted almost unanimously by Members of Parliament – one permitting greater oversight of private schools, and the other aimed at more effective suppression of the illegal activities of cults. "The laws Vivien pushed have been used by totalitarian dictatorships globally to persecute religious minorities," Mr. Grieboski continued. "Vivien should be very proud of himself that the Chinese have used the laws as a basis to persecute Christians and Falun Gong. That is a true badge of honor."