Open letter to France

Dear French citizens, Commission and Senate,

Only today (04.02.2024) I was able to read the bill being tabled, supposedly aimed to strengthen the fight against "sectarian drifts", and as a European citizen I feel to be in a position of remarking the following.

Passing that law would be a mistake for France.

Recurring cycles in the history of intollerance

In the 17th century Neapolitan philosopher Giambattista Vico illustrated how we have witnessed a turn over of moments of civilisation and moments of barbarism. France, evidently in the grip of a moment of barbarism, is once again proposing a law to strike down the so-called "sectarian drifts", to stifle any thought not aligned with the single thought so much in vogue today.

Celebrating the birth of AFRSL and 75 years of UDHR and beyond

Alessandro Amicarelli, chairman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) and trustee of All Faiths Network UK, together with Massimo Introvigne, director in charge of Bitter Winter (online paper on Human Rights in China and the world), Rosita Soryte, director of the Observatory on the Religious Freedom of Refugees (ORLIR) and a member of the Scientific Committee of FOB, Eric Roux, president of the Union of the Churches of Scientology in France and Peter Zoherer, executive director of the Forum for Religious Freedom, Europe (FOREF Europe) ...

The Proposed Freezing of Assets of Religious Corporations the Government Seeks to Dissolve: A Danger for All Faiths in Japan

by Bitter Winter — The proposed law immediately targets the Unification Church, based on controversial data about “victims” and “damages,” but establishes an unfair general principle with ominous implications for the future.

Why dozens of NGOs and individuals ask that FECRIS' Consultative Status with the United Nations ECOSOC be revoked

The following is an appeal promoted by Bitter Winter, an online magazine on religious liberty and human rights published by CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions. OB, signatory of the appeal, over the years has published a number of articles on FECRIS and its role in spreading anti-cult ideology.


On January 28 an online seminar entitled "Religious Freedom, Laws of 1929 and Treaties: an impossible reform?" was held. It was organized by the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) in order to address an issue of great interest in the debate of Italian scholars who are interested in religious freedom, hoping for an important reform at national level that could ensure greater equality of religious and spiritual groups.

UNADFI reported to the French National Court of Audit

Our French associated CAP LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, NGO with ECOSOC consultative status) has reported the UNAFDI to the French National Court of Audit. CAP LC has repeatedly denounced the conduct of anti-cult movements aimed at limiting the activity of religious minorities they dislike, if not eliminating them as required by the controversial French law About-Picard (Law 2001-504 of June 12, 2001), or the Russian Yarovaya Law on Extremism.

World Day Against Death Penalty

Our French associated CAP LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, NGO with ECOSOC consultative status) has signed a letter addressed to to the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call on OIC member states to uphold their human rights standards by repealing the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy.

Recent Studies on Scientology and “Labeling”, Part 2

by Alessandro Amicarelli — In a previous article, I examined Germana Carobene’s recent article on how Scientology is labeled as a “cult” (setta in Italian, secte in French) to deny it the status of a religion. Carobene is a professor of law, and she examines “legal narratives.” Rosita Šorytė has a different background, in politics, having served as a diplomat for 25 years. In an article on the labeling of Scientology published in the July-August 2021 issue of The Journal of CESNUR, she admits that she knew Scientology only from the media until she started working on religious liberty some years ago. She served as a diplomat in France and in the United States, where several media, although with differences between one country and the other, called Scientology a “cult.” They rarely defined what a “cult” was, but conveyed the impression it was something “bad.”

Recent Studies on Scientology and “Labeling”

by Alessandro Amicarelli — Why are some religions and religious movements labeled as “cults” or “extremist”? And what are the legal and political consequences of using such labels? Two recently published studies about how these labels have been applied to the Church of Scientology offer new insights on the matter. One, by a law professor, examines the legal side of labelling; the second, by a former diplomat, its political side. In this first article, I offer some comments on the study by law professor Germana Carobene, published in the Italian journal Stato, Chiese e pluralismo confessionale. In a second article, I will examine a somewhat parallel study by Rosita Šorytė published in The Journal of CESNUR.

The Church of Scientology. Religious narrative and legal configuration

Sociological and philosophical investigations, which are prodromal to a juridical reflection, show a difficulty in the conceptual framing of the term 'religion', both by those who claim a knowledge, a behavior - secular, agnostic or atheist - and by those who, questioning the beliefs, symbols, systems of representation of reality, produced by a certain society, want to safeguard the objects of investigation, leading them back to a claim of unquestionable scientificity. This term can, however, be used in its polyvalence, provided that it is not used to discriminate in a positive/negative sense the values and forms in which it is variously presented, since at its basis there must be the need to understand and protect the inmost area of individual freedom.

Dialogue and Respect to Solve the Tai Ji Men Case

by Alessandro Amicarelli — The webinar “Dialogue, Diversity, and Freedom: Reacting to the Tai Ji Men Case” was organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on May 24, 2021. This webinar was part of the events organized by NGOs for the 2021 United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which was commemorated on May 21. It was part of the monthly webinars on the Tai Ji Men case that Bitter Winter supports.

Stop the state funding of anti-religious activities of FECRIS groups

CAP Liberté de Conscience, FOB partner, has submitted a report to the Human Rights Committee in preparation for the review of France by the Human Rights Committee (132nd session in June-July 2021) recommending to stop State funding of anti-cult associations. The report may be consulted below or on the website. The main beneficiary of this funding is the French association FECRIS. Or rather the French associations federated to it which, in turn, pass on these funds to their leading association: in fact, FECRIS has federated associations in 34 European and non-European countries.

The World's Youngest Political Prisoner: Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

April 25th is a historical date, but it could also be considered a "historical oxymoron": the Italian people celebrate the anniversary of the liberation, while the Tibetan people celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the youngest political prisoner in the world, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, 11th Panchem Lama of Tibet. Recognized as the reincarnation of Tibet's second highest religious authority, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was officially instated by the Dalai Lama on May 14, 1995. A few days later he "disappeared" along with his entire family and has not been heard from since. This deplorable disappearance swells the number of "desaparecidos" at the hands of the intolerant Chinese Communist regime. FOB joins the general outrage that this event arouses in those who firmly believe in human rights and in the value of freedom in all its forms, and strongly calls for the release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and all the Tibetan people.

NGO Open Letter to the Holy See on the Visit of Pope Francis to Iraq

As members of Iraqi civil society and international NGOs, we welcome the apostolic visit by His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq in March 2021. At this critical moment in the country’s history, the visit represents an important opportunity to promote peace and tolerance by bringing together ethno-religious communities and inspiring collective action to prevent further atrocities of the kind that has caused so much suffering for generations.

Alabama Sued for Excluding Imams from Execution Chambers

by Alessandro Amicarelli — Those sentenced to death may be assisted in their last moments by a Christian chaplain only, even if they belong to another religion. Muslims protest. Last week, Imam Yusef Maisonet sued five members of the State of Alabama’s Department of Correction, including a Christian chaplain, over a policy that excludes Muslim religious figures from being present in the execution chamber when Islamic prisoners are executed.

Associations of “Victims” of Spiritual Groups: Some May Be False

by Alessandro Amicarelli — In these days, there are associations for “victims” of everything, from bullying in school to defective electronic products. As an attorney, I am sensitive to the fact that in the U.S. there are even associations of “victims” of lawyers. Several of these associations exist in the field of spirituality and religion. For example, groups such as Catholics Anonymous or Recovering Catholics gather “victims” of Catholicism—not of sexual abuse or with other specific grievances, just ex-members claiming that being part of the Roman Catholic Church was a victimizing experience.