This is a report on the latest developments in the "cult wars" in France. The anticult panic caused by the Solar Temple group suicides and murders has, after thirteen years, died down, and a more moderate government has replaced the Socialist Party. The old government-sponsored Ministry to Fight Sects (MILS) has been replaced by MIVILUDES (Mission interministrielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les drives sectaires), which adopts a more circumspect approach towards the secte problem. On the basis of my findings from field research conducted in the spring of 2006, I argue that the social control efforts that targeted NRMs in the 1990s have not abated, but merely shifted tactics. Interviews with distinguished French academics clearly illustrate that their expertise in the relevant fields of sociology and history of religions is deliberately ignored by officials, and they are even punished for voicing their scholarly opinions regarding public policies towards les sectes. The new, covert threat to religious freedom posed by the About-Picard Law (2001), which was designed to target secte leaders who brainwash, is analyzed after investigating its first application to a tiny group called Nééo-Phare.

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