There’s an article today in an Australian newspaper about the growing presence of born-again Christians in France. Seems the evangelical population is having a resurgence, and that sends some pundits into spasms. Secularists fear these Christians might have views on moral issues, which would translate at some point into political opinions. Here are some excerpts from “Rise of French Evangelicals Puts Secularism in a Spin.”
From a postwar population of about 50,000, French evangelicals are now estimated to number 450,000 to 500,000. According to the Evangelical Federation of France, the number of churches has risen from 800 in 1970 to more than 2200 today.
Last week, the boom made headlines when thousands of evangelicals descended on Strasbourg to turn the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth into a huge media-covered event.
On paper, France would seem one of the least likely places for this branch of Christianity to gain a foothold. For centuries, Protestantism was the embattled minority in a country Catholics liked to call the ”eldest daughter of the church” because of its strong ties to Rome. That minority still makes up just 3 per cent of the population.
More importantly, ever since France wrote a separation of church and state into the constitution, the country has worshipped at the altar of laicite – the concept of a secular state.
So the emergence of evangelicals as a force has raised eyebrows, with some critics questioning whether their beliefs are compatible with the values of a secular republic.