Susan J. Palmer

in The New Heretics of France

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735211
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918577 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


The About-Picard law was passed in the National Assembly in May 2001 and ratified on June 12, 2001. The law facilitated the repression of those groups labeled as sectes that “violate the rights of man and fundamental liberties”. It was designed to allow the prosecution of cult leaders who “seriously threaten the integrity of the State and its citizens” by creating a new category of délit (misdemeanor) called abus de faiblesse (“abuse of weakness”). According to its legal definition, this form of abuse had led to various forms of social deviance: escroquerie (fraud), physical and psychological abuse, mass suicide, pedophilia, and the illegal practice of medicine. In October 2004, Arnaud Mussy, a young prophet from Nantes, stood on trial. A fellow member of his group had just committed suicide, and under the About-Picard law he faced charges of “abuse of weakness.” This trial was an important moment in French legal history and received extensive media coverage, for it possessed a valeur juridique. Mussy, the prophet-founder of Néo-Phare found himself at the center of the first experimental application of a new law specifically designed to prosecute sect leaders (gourous) who caused harm to their followers through the mysterious power of manipulation mentale.

Keywords: antisecte movement; About-Picard law; anticult movement; religious movements; Arnaud Mussy

Chapter.  12791 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.