Antivax, personal development scammers… Record year for reports of sectarian aberrations

Since its creation in 2002, never has the Interministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Abuses (Miviludes) had received so many referrals. According to the state agency’s latest annual report, thatwas able to consult Franceinfothe year 2021 reached a new record with 4,020 appeals, an increase of 33.6% compared to 2020.

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This “upsurge in activity” seems to be linked in particular to the health crisis: 1,011 referrals were made to the Miviludes health division and concern alternative medicine (naturopathy, reiki, cupping therapy, etc.), promises of well-being (mindfulness meditation, fasting, raw food, etc.) and spirituality.

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He is ” undeniable “ that the Covid-19 has “destabilized many people losing their bearings”believes Miviludes, for whom the reports it has received are the “reflection of a real social crisis tinged with isolation, questions, anger and fears”.

“Isolated and perfectly autonomous manipulators were able to easily exploit this context to spread their doctrine on social networks”also observes the body attached to the Ministry of the Interior since 2020. These “gurus 2.0” lead groups “Mobile, changing and impalpable”characteristics of a sectarian phenomenon “in gaseous state”.

Alert on the excesses of personal development

Among the most targeted people, we find Thierry Casasnovas, the raw food and conspiratorial youtuber with more than 80 million views. It alone was the subject of 54 referrals! The report underlines that he is suspected, like the Belgian antivax Jean-Jacques Crèvecœur, of having a mental hold on his followers, of recruiting their children, of pushing them to break with their environment and of having financial demands. “exorbitant”.

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And if the number of pseudo-healers is increasing, Miviludes also warns about the excesses of personal development. “Sectarian groups have been able to fuel fears and exploit promises of a better world, eternal, or at least happy, life and self-transformation”, says the report. Behind the promise of “best version of yourself”it is indeed a mental influence.

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In detail, 744 referrals concern health in general, 148 conspiracies and antivax, 173 personal development, including coaching, 159 spiritualities, shamanism and psycho-spiritualities, 116 meditation and yoga and 35 pseudosciences .

20 reports to justice

Because the “context of loss of social landmarks caused by the health crisis” Not only has the number of health quacks increased tenfold, but it has also intensified religious or spiritual proselytizing. The “multinationals of sectarian aberrations”such as the Church of Scientology, Anthroposophy or Jehovah’s Witnesses, continued to generate numerous referrals, in the same way as “the Christian movement in the broad sense” (293 referrals including 106 on Catholicism and 168 on Protestantism).

At the margin, the inspection body has also received referrals denouncing multi-level sales networks (promising for example to make easy money), professional training and anti-feminist movements (masculinism, virilism, etc.). Of the 4,020 referrals, 20 were reported to the courts and 391 were forwarded to the competent services, such as the regional health agencies or the Directorate General for Competition. And out of 396 files concerning minors, five were sent to departmental councils.

In this context, “Assises of sectarian aberrations and conspiracy” will be organized “early 2023” to bring together the players in the fight against these phenomena and come up with a roadmap for the years to come, said the Secretary of State for Citizenship, Sonia Backès, to AFP.

Antivax, personal development scammers… Record year for reports of sectarian aberrations