European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom
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Speech of the Chairman of EIFRF at Side Event at the United Nations, Geneva, March 1, 2018 – Religious Freedom and Anti-Cult Persecution in China: The Case of The Church of Almighty God.

EIFRF Chairman at UN on the Persecution of the Church of Almighty God

The Case of the Refugees of The Church of Almighty God in France

The difficulties that the members of The Church of Almighty God face with respect to their asylum requests in France are not very different from those they encounter in other European countries. Nevertheless, I am going to list the main, and in my opinion wrong, reasons for which an overwhelming percentage of requests have been denied in France. I will explain briefly why, and how France could improve its vision of the members of The Church of Almighty God as well as its knowledge of this Church, review its decisions, and grant asylum to the genuine refugees.

Several cases show a confusion between the movements called House Churches and the ones which are included in China in the official list of “Xie Jiao” (“evil cults”, or more exactly “unorthodox teachings.”) While the former ones are not systematically persecuted, the latter are without doubt a constant target of persecution by the Chinese authorities, and this is inscribed in the very provisions of the Chinese Criminal Code. Because of this confusion, French courts have argued several times that there is no “systematic persecution”, based on the incorrect presupposition that The Church of Almighty God is one of the House Churches, and ignoring its presence on the list of “Xie Jiao.” However, a few recent decisions in France have finally recognized that a systematic persecution exists in China against The Church of Almighty God.

Most of the conclusions of French Courts are based on a document published by the DIDR (Division of Information, Documentation, and Research), the division of the OFPRA (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless) that is in charge of gathering information to support OPFRA agents in their decision-making process. This document has been compiled on the basis of sources available on the Internet until a few years ago, and these were mostly documents emanating from, or influenced by, the propaganda of Chinese anti-cultists. It contains numerous errors that give a wrong picture of the Church, its doctrine, its social positions, etc. Recently, four well-known religious scholars have written to the DIDR, in order to offer correct data on the movement, and tackling one by one the errors contained in the DIDR document. The DIDR has not answered yet, but it is clear that this independent expert opinion should completely change the way French authorities take their decisions concerning the asylum seekers from The Church of Almighty God.

The same happens with three documents on The Church of Almighty God published by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in 2013 and 2014, on the basis of the information available in these years, i.e. before serious scholarly studies of the Church started being published. These documents are regarded as authoritative in France. Again, recently, the same four religious scholars have written an expert opinion that has been sent to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, giving updated and more accurate data on the Church and asking that the old documents be corrected. Paradoxically, while often quoted in France, the Canadian documents are almost never quoted in decisions rendered in Canada about the asylum seekers of The Church of Almighty God, whose applications have been accepted in a large majority of cases.

Based on these different documents, several French negative decisions concluded incorrectly that some asylum seekers were not really members of The Church of Almighty God, because their answers about the Church during the interviews did not fit exactly with the content of the DIDR and Canadian documents. Having reviewed the answers that led to these wrong conclusions, it appears to me, as it appears to the experts who have studied in depth the doctrine of the Church, that the asylum seekers presented their Church correctly, while the French authorities’ information was wrong. To give you an example, one Court considered that the fact that a member “didn’t know anything about the apocalyptic prediction of the 21 December 2012” was astonishing (and proved that the pretended member of the Church was not a genuine one), whilst in fact, The Church of Almighty God as such never promoted such a prediction and never considered it a part of its doctrine. Even scholars who have no sympathy for The Church of Almighty God recognize this fact, and mention that those members of the Church of Almighty God that shared the enthusiasm prevailing in China for the so called maya prophecies about the end of the world in 2012 were disciplined by their leaders, and some were expelled.

French authorities considered in several decisions that the fact that the members were able to escape from China, sometimes with the help of officers who granted them valid passports, was a proof that there was no persecution. This stems from a real lack of knowledge of the Chinese society. A recent expert opinion by an Italian Professor of Sociology, PierLuigi Zoccatelli, who has studied both Chinese religious movements and Chinese immigration into Europe, explains very well how Chinese emigrants can easily take advantage of the flaws of the Chinese system, and sometimes of the corruption prevailing in China, to get proper passports, even when theoretically they should not be able to get them.

Some decisions, while recognizing the existing persecution targeting The Church of Almighty God in China, considered that the individual asylum seeker could not prove that she or he was a prominent member with a “specific position inside the Church,” and as a consequence was not at risk to be persecuted if sent back to China. Of course, this argument is narrow-minded. The Chinese Criminal Code, as commonly interpreted by courts in China, is quite clear that the mere fact of being “active” in a Xie Jiao group is a crime punished with a jail penalty, without distinguishing whether the member occupies a “specific position” or is just a common devotee. So, the risk of persecution, as well as the fear of being persecuted, as requested by UN standards to obtain the status of refugee, exist even for members who do not occupy a “specific position” in the Church.

As mentioned earlier, a few decisions from the French National Court of Asylum Seekers (CNDA) have recognized the systematic persecution of the members of The Church of Almighty God. This is a good evolution that, if confirmed by subsequent case-law, will open the door to many more fair decisions regarding the asylum seekers of The Church of Almighty God. In the last year, the production of academic literature on The Church of Almighty God has considerably increased. Many reliable documents have been produced, and for the first time ever it is possible to really understand the doctrine of this peculiar Christian Church, as well as the challenges it faces regarding its persecution in China. It is therefore of utmost importance that the French authorities dealing with asylum seekers become acquainted with this academic literature, in order to correct the data they were relying upon due to the lack of reliable sources.

There is today no doubt that The Church of Almighty God is suffering persecution in China. There is no doubt that its members face a real and immediate risk of being sent to jail based on their religious affiliation if sent back to China where thousands of them have been tortured and at least 30 members lost their life in jail. Whilst it is very understandable that the French authorities want to ensure that asylum seekers are genuine refugees, rather than economic immigrants simply pretending to be persecuted, the decisions regarding those who claim to be members of The Church of Almighty God should be taken with a real knowledge of this Church based on in-depth studies, not on Chinese anti-cult propaganda or journalists who merely repeat it.

What is at stake is not a minor issue. What is at stake is the safety of persecuted human beings, and for the members of the Church, it is a matter of life or death. Sending back to China members of The Church of Almighty God is tantamount to being accomplice of the persecution they will have to suffer. While it is understandable that errors occur when there is a lack of data available to take proper decisions, this excuse does not exist anymore today. Reliable data exist, they are available, and they must be studied carefully and taken into account by the French Authorities.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, March 8th 2018 | Comments (0)

EIFRF co-organized this international Convention with the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (EIFRF is a member of it). EIFRF President Eric Roux has been also invited to speak at this convention, about the effectiveness of the fight for religious freedom, when it is done by everyone for the freedom of everyone. He advocated for alliances in order to achieve results in that field, not for vested or one's faith interest, but for the greatest good for all.

Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, a difficult journey
Here is the summary of the Convention: 

In the prestigious setting of Sant'Apollonia Auditorium at the homonymous XIV century convent complex located in Via San Gallo, in the historic center of Florence, the international convention of the European Federation for the Freedom of the Belief (FOB) took place on 18th and 19th January, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (Dr. Thorbjørn Jagland), of the patronage of the Tuscany Regional Council, of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and of the University of Florence. The Medal of the President of the Italian Republic was conferred to the convention. Prof. Silvio Calzolari (Secretary of FOB), presenting it together with attorney Alessandro Amicarelli (President of FOB), publicly thanked the President of the Republic “for having expressed his appreciation for FOB’s initiative, as an event of particular cultural and social value, through the attribution of a representation prize, a medal, which honors us".


Rédigé par EIFRF le Sunday, February 4th 2018 | Comments (0)

An event organised in Brussels by The European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom (EIFRF) and The All Faiths Network (AFN) - 19 December 2017

Event Summary: Russia - Exploring Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion

Jan Figel, EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU

Leonid Sevastianov, Executive Director of the Orthodox St. Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation, Moscow

Massimo Introvigne, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Former Representative of the OSCE for Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians

Panel moderator, Eric Roux, Chairman EIFRF

Mr. Roux opened the event by introducing the panellists and making the point that the conference was not political, was not about ‘finding fault’ with any of the parties involved and was directed to building bridges between all parties and religions, increasing friendship and understanding.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Thursday, December 21st 2017 | Comments (0)

International Convention: Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an arduous journey
On 18/19 January 2018, EIFRF will participate to the International convention "Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an arduous journey", organised by the Federation for Freedom of Belief (FoB). EIFRF is an active member of this Federation. Here is the very interesting program and we encourage you to attend this convention.

Under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, 
Mr Thorbjørn Jagland

Logo Council of Europe

Under the patronage of
logo OSCE PA

18 - 19 January 2018
Auditorium Sant'Apollonia
Firenze - Via San Gallo, 25/a

Partecipation is free till the reaching of the maximum capacity of the hall.
Please, confirm your attendance by writing at:
For info:  

How to reach the auditorium



Within globalization, within pluralism, in a multi-ethnic society, with the many exoduses and with the diversities bursting into our society, protection of civil rights and especially the right to believe and the right for freedom, have become a crucial need for the European Community and the national governments that comprise it. In an uncertain and volatile reality, that protection is our duty and the duty of each country, and the only way to make it valid and effective all over Europe and in each and every country of the Union, is to have European laws as well as European justice enforcement bodies.

With the differences of laws and rulings of each national government, with the pressures of anti-liberal forces and sometimes of nonsense politics, it is not an easy task, the one we are entitled to. Within the protection (with no shyness) of freedom to believe and freedom of religion, dwells a hope for peace, for pacific cohabitation and reciprocal acknowledgment which alone turns the different, the ‘other’, the unknown, into a comrade, a friend and a fellow citizen.

In such often puzzling protection stands the creation, as well, of the most truthful identity for Europe and its role amongst the nations and continents.


Thursday, 18 January, 8:30am

Registration of partecipants

Welcome address

Professor Silvio Calzolari, Secretary of FOB

Dr. Eugenio Giani, President of the Regional Council of Tuscany

Hon. Riccardo Migliori, Past-president OSCE

Hon. Marietta Tidei, Vice-president OSCE-PA

Hon. Luciano Ciocchetti, Former vice-president of the Lazio Region

Dr. Alessandro Amicarelli, President of FOB


I session (moderator Pietro Nocita)

Philosophy and Theory of Law

Professor Pietro Nocita, Lawyer, he taught Criminal Procedure at La Sapienza University in Rome, which awarded him the Diploma of Benevolence

Dr. Fabrizio D’Agostini, Lawyer in Turin

Professor Roberto Celada Ballanti, Universiy of Genoa

Professor Marco Vannini, Philosopher, Florence

Professor Marco Ventura, Universy of Siena

Thursday, 18 January, 2:30pm

Music with Vincenzo Zitello
(Bardic harp and Celtic harp)

II session - Part 1 (moderator Paolo Naso)

Sociology of Religions

Professor Luigi Berzano, University of Turin

Professor Massimo Introvigne, Sociologist of Religions, Turin

Professor Enzo Pace, University of Padua

Professor Stefano Allievi, University of Padua

Professor Aldo Natale Terrin, University of Padua

II session - Part 2 (moderator Alessandro Amicarelli)

Ideological and Legal Obstacles 
to the Right of Freedom of Belief in Europe

Professor Susan J. Palmer, University of Concordia, Montreal

Dr. Patricia Duval, Lawyer in Paris, France

Mr Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int., Austria

Mr Thierry Valle, Director of NGO CAP Liberté de Conscience, France

Friday, 19 January, 8:00am

III session (moderator Fabrizio d’Agostini)

Ecclesiastical Law

Professor Germana Carobene, University of Naples

Professor Nicola Colaianni, University of Bari, former Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Cassation

Dr. Alessandro Amicarelli, Lawyer in London, Human Rights specialist

Professor Muamar Salameh, University Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, Dhahran

IV session (moderator Silvio Calzolari)

History of Religions and Legal Aspects
of Religious Confessions

Professor Silvio Calzolari, High  Institute of Religious Studies, Florence

Professor Paolo Naso, University La Sapienza, Rome

Professor David Monti, Magistrate at the Milan Court

Dr. Nelly Ippolito Macrina, Deputy Prefect, former director of the Division for the Affairs of Religious Groups other than the Roman Catholic of the Ministry of the Interior

Friday, 19 January, 2:30pm

Music with Flavio Cucchi
(classic guitar)

Round Table (moderator Luigi Berzano)

Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe

Ms Camelia Marin, project coordinator SOTERIA International, Denmark

Mr Eric Roux, director of EIFRF, France

Imam Izzeddin Elzir, Minister of Islam in Florence, president UCOII

Professor Mohamed Bamoshmoosh, Islamic Community of Florence and Tuscany

Dr. Fabio Fanfani, Consul - Vice Dean of the Consular Body of Florence

Professor dr. Stefano Grossi, Teacher of ethics and anthropology at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy

Mr Martin Weightman, director of All Faiths Network, England

Dr. Faisal Yousif Al Anezi, Director Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz center for peace and tolerance, Saudi Arabia

Professor Thierry Vissol, Director of LIBREXPRESSION Center, Rome

Dr. Andrea Bottai, Soka Gakkai Regional In-charge for Tuscany

Ms Rosita Šorytė, President ORLIR, International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees

For press accreditation write to .


Rédigé par EIFRF le Sunday, December 17th 2017 | Comments (0)

Hungarian governmental party leader crackdown on Islam
While interviewed on a pro-government television channel in Hungary on November 3, 2017, Fidesz parliamentary delegation leader Gergely Gulyás declared that “there will be no mosques in Hungary”, and added that “from the perspective of our own security, mosques would have a negative impact”. 

Gulyás was speaking to government propagandist Zsolt Bayer, a founding member of governing Fidesz party known for making offensive and racist statements and comments. During the TV show, Bayer said that “the problem is that now you almost have to say with boring grayness that, of course, Islamist, Jihadist, Islamic State, when did he get there, where was he radicalized…We know that next week, in two weeks, in a month, it’s going to happen again somewhere. We know this, but still nothing is happening.”
Then Gulyas answered "“Western Europe has not done anything against this danger…Wherever radical Islam raises its head and is allowed to take root, these kinds of acts can occur at any moment.” This is the moment where Bayer said “Wherever there’s a mosque, there’s a problem”, and Gulyas added: “That’s right. There will be no mosques in Hungary…There is such an initiative. We can’t change our position on this.”


Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, November 28th 2017 | Comments (0)

NGOs Condemn Persecution in China and Propaganda in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan against the Church of Almighty God

Thousands of members of the Church of Almighty God (CAG) have been incarcerated in China, following a further crackdown on unauthorized religious organizations. According to the rough statistics, more than 300,000 members of CAG were incarcerated and detained in China from the beginning of the persecutions in the 1990s to 2017. Many have been tortured and at least 30 died in custody in suspicious circumstances, according to a report just released by CAG and published by several human rights organizations internationally (see e.g, In the last few days, we have seen unprecedented media attacks against CAG published simultaneously in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, which seem to be an answer to the publication of this report.

The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is a new religious movement founded in China in 1991. It teaches that Jesus has returned to the Earth and incarnated as the Almighty God in a living person and is with us today. It also claims that prophecies in the Bible predict the fall of the Chinese Communist regime in China, although it does not advocate any form of armed rebellion. For this reason, CAG, credited by Chinese official sources with a membership of at least three million, has been persecuted massively since at least 1995.

The Chinese regime later started accusing CAG of various crimes, including causing riots based on a prediction that the world would end in 2012 and murdering a woman in a McDonald’s diner in Zhaoyuan in 2014. The recent media campaign repeats these accusations, although scholarly studies have debunked them as egregious examples of fake news spread to discredit CAG. In fact, the group responsible for the 2014 murder used the name “Almighty God,” but was not part of CAG and had different religious beliefs. Even studies hostile to CAG have concluded that, although some CAG believers expected the end of the world for 2012, this was not sanctioned by the leaders, was not part of CAG’s teachings, and did not lead to any riots.

The campaign also argues that CAG is regarded as a “heresy” by some Christian churches. Trading accusations of heresy is part and parcel of a century-old pattern of religious controversy, but has nothing to do with the religious liberty democratic countries recognize to all religions, irrespective of their “orthodoxy.” It is also repeated that CAG is a “cult,” a discredited word no longer used by mainline Western scholars and used by the Chinese regime to justify gross violations of religious freedom.

The fact that several articles against CAG appeared at the same time in different countries cannot be a coincidence. It is part of an effort by the Chinese regime to hide the fact that it violates the provisions of international conventions on religious liberty it has subscribed, something for which it keeps being condemned by international organizations.

The members of CAG who live abroad deserve the sympathy of their host countries. Their refugee status should be recognized, since merely being a CAG member or being found in possession of CAG literature is regarded in China as reason enough to be arrested or worse.

We also urge responsible media to consult the available scholarly literature on CAG, rather than merely repeating the fake news spread by the Chinese regime.

November 28, 2017

CAP Freedom of Conscience – Coordination of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions
CHNK – Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees 
EIFRF – European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom
FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief
FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe
HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers
ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees
Soteria International – Spiritual Human Rights

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, November 28th 2017 | Comments (0)

The conference, organized by EIFRF and the All Faiths Network (member of the Inter Faith Network for UK - ) will be held Tuesday December 19, 2017 at 14h30, Renaissance Hotel (Mariott) - Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels, at 2mn walk from the European Parliament. (Last Update: Kishan Manocha, originally planned to speak at this conference, will unfortunately not be able to attend for Professional engagements which were not planned at the time of the invitation.)

Russia:  Exploring Interfaith Dialogue  and Freedom of Religion - A conference and debate
Jan Figel
EU Special Envoy for the promotion of the freedom of religion or belief outside the EU
Senior Advisor on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Human Rights Department, OSCE/ODIHR
Leonid Sevastianov
Executive Director of the Orthodox St. Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation - Moscow
Massimo Introvigne
Professor of Sociology of Religion
Former Representative of the OSCE for combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance and discrimination against Christians
Tuesday December 19, 2017 from 14h30 to 17h30
Renaissance Hotel - Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels

The conference, organized by
EIFRF and the All Faiths Network (member of the Inter Faith Network for UK - ) will be held Tuesday December 19, 2017 at 14h30, Renaissance Hotel (Mariott) - Rue du Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels, at 2mn walk from the European Parliament. To reserve your place please contact .
Russia is a vast country with a rich religious and cultural history along with a wide range of faiths. It has been subject to many changes, both turbulent and invigorating, over the last century which have coalesced to bring about today’s modern state.
Religion should be able to stand above all this. It is, after all, about the spiritual in Man – about greater aspirations than just worldly gain and religion has a moral role to play in enhancing the culture for the greatest good of all.
There is, understandably, a certain concern when small, new or old versions of different religions enter the cultural landscape that were not present before. However, what we have also advanced over the last century are human rights standards which have developed considerably in order to protect the rights of individuals and to respect their choices.
Whilst there has also been some international criticism of certain decisions made within Russia concerning religious status it is clear that the vast majority of Russian people simply wish to live in peace and comfort whilst being able to follow their own religious choices.
This conference has the purpose of developing dialogue between all religions great and small, to develop, educate about and respect human rights standards and to drive forward a responsible approach to interfaith and religion-government relations. The conference will be followed by live debate.

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, November 22nd 2017 | Comments (0)

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