Thank you Mr. Chairman. Let me just ask the Ambassador a general question.

And I know we're concentrating today on focusing on the treatment of religious minorities in Western Europe. But I was just curious in terms of your knowledge with regard to any debate or concerns over the treatment of ethnic minorities in Western Europe. I lived in Great Britain for a couple of years in the s, and being an ethnic minority during that period was quite a challenge, to say the least. And I haven't been following very closely this issue. And since you're here and we're dealing with a very important issue in terms of religious minorities, I was just wondering, as you do your work and as you travel, how things are going or is there a concern or debate, at this point, in Western Europe with regard to ethnic minorities?


I've been in many of the capitals on this issue and talked with the NGO and the human rights faith based communities. I have not heard; this is not to say it doesn't exist, but I have not heard a concern in this regard. Whether that's good news or simply people are talking about other things, I don't' know. We'd be happy to look into it and get back to you on it. I think it's an appropriate question, but we have not run into that in Western Europe as it relates to my portfolio and my position.


I'd like to get some information on that if you have it.


We can do that.


Thank you very much.


The gentleman from Colorado, Mr.Tancredo, has a question.


Thank you Mr. Chairman. Just briefly Ambassador Seiple, I'm wondering as I sit here and listen to your discussion and your analysis how we should go about trying to identify those behaviors on the part of governments that we deem to be inappropriate, as they relate to the particular religious entities within their countries. And is it quite difficult because we are continually addressing them on an individual basis, and we seem to not have a way of establishing some overall framework in order to analyze the actions of each government. Therefore, we can't really do anything except go to each one and say we don't like it when you do this to them.

But I'm wondering if it would not be in our best interest, if it would not satisfy our mutual goal here, to establish as the prime criteria for our intervention, something like this -- an established definition for us to use -- that governments should react only to actions and not thoughts. And if that is unacceptable, certainly, we would elaborate upon that. But if that basic understanding is the mutual understanding here, what do you think the administration should do to implement that worldwide?


Well, I think if we reacted to actions not to thought and we demanded certain actions not thought, we would certainly eliminate a lot of paranoia around these issues. We would get into a much more real discussion. We do have frameworks in which to look at this. We have the framework of the legislation; we have the framework of our office; we have the framework of the embassy system where there is ongoing, daily discussion of these issues, even as we connect, maybe, in a less frequent basis.

We've got the report, which is the high court of public opinion because you folks have agreed to print it. It's not only on the web site, but it's in hard copy. These are countries that are portrayed in here by region. And so, you can read the problems --


-- and I have. And I don't mean to interrupt you, except to say that I certainly understand the efforts that are ongoing to deal with the specific problems that are identified in each country. But it just seems to me that that is a very laborious process that could be, to some extent, alleviated by a general definition that we could get everybody to sign onto that isn't there in the legislation. In the legislation at least, I've seen and that you referenced, talks about this issue in a way that I still believe is open to some degree of subjectivity. And I'm just wondering whether or not we can't come up with some language to implement through the legislation and through EU agreements that would eliminate the subjectivity. And that's actions not thoughts.


I think the quick answer, to eliminate subjectivity may not happen in my lifetime. We do have lots of words written. There are a series of articles, article 18s, in the universal declaration of the ICCPR, and things that essentially came out of Europe over the last 50 years. They still have to be interpreted. The issue of national sovereignty, as it relates to human rights, always has to get interpreted, especially in some of those that can be most prickly on these issues.

I'm not sure how you short cut that without an ongoing process which exists at many, many levels. I'm glad that our legislation was cast in the framework of the international covenants. This is not a heavy-handed American approach. It's an American feeling, a strong feeling, that we need to put our considerable shoulder to the wheel of international instruments that are already out there. But the OSCE does a really fine job. There are formats, and forums, and conferences, and seminars to advance this discussion. At the same time, we have to use the embassy system. I mean it's just too good an infrastructure to bypass when we have people who know these issues and know the host country and can speak on a daily basis about them.

And then in terms of the finitude of resources, I think we have to use all of them that are at our disposal. Having said that, I don't see us creating dramatic changes, whole scale changes. I mean we wrote a good law. If we sit back and think that the rest of the 194 countries are waiting for this law to pass so they can jump in line, it ain't going to happen. We're going to be taking baby steps, incremental steps, with lots of countries. And it's going to take a long time, it's going to take a lot of perseverance. These issues are not going to go away fast whether it's our ally or our worst enemy.

Our commitment is to continue to pursue upon all of these levels, simultaneously, in as much as we have resources to do, and people will begin to see this is a good thing, this is in their best interest. I can't believe for a second that these four democracies of Western Europe enjoy being on the short end of a discussion where we have a better philosophical rationale. It must be hard for them to make this case.

I can only imagine that they're looking for ways that they can change over time without the sense that the Americans jammed it down their throats.


Thank you Ambassador, I appreciate those comments.


Before I introduce this next panel, I looked at your resume, you have a very impressive resume, and I see that you are a warrior and a fighter pilot, and our careers overlapped at the same time. Yours is a lot more illustrious than mine, I was in the Airforce. I personally feel that warriors make the best peacemakers, and you've been a leader in theology and the seminary, and I think that makes you a great witness. I appreciate your comments; I appreciate you being here; the committee appreciates your being here, and you will be excused and we will have the next panel.


Thank you very much.


I will call the witnesses in the following order: Dr. Gunn, the Reverend L'Heureux, Mr. Brumley, Dr. Hunt, Mr. Jensen, and Ms. Bell.


Mr. Chairman, I think Ms. Bell is unaware that there's a seat for her at the table.


On our next panel, the first witness is Mr. Jeremy Gunn. Mr. Gunn has looked at issues of religious liberty from the perspective of the U.S. Institute of Peace and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has published widely on this subject. We're happy that he was recommended to us by the committee of the minority. Dr. Gunn.


Thank you to the members of the committee; it's an honor to be here to provide testimony today. During World War II, Philipe Shepier (ph) arrived in a small French town of Cherbonne for the purpose of renovating an abandoned chateau to house and school Jewish refugee children from Eastern Europe.

While Monsieur Shepier and the good people of Cherborne risked their lives to save the refugee children, the French Vichy government sent police into the villages of France to arrest Jews.

By October of 1940, the Vichy government issued a law defining Jews and prohibiting them from holding certain types of employment, including positions in government, law, police, the army, the press, and teaching. The law subsequently expanded to prohibit Jews from engaging in most forms of commerce. Jews were condemned as a group simply because they belonged to the group. Such is the peculiar logic of prejudice; it does not require individual culpability, it requires only the accusation that a person is a member of the condemned class.

The Vichy government ultimately was responsible for arresting, transporting, and delivering to the Nazis tens of thousands of European Jews. In stark contrast, all but four of Monsieur Shebrier's 400 Jewish children survived the war. One of Monsieur Shebrier's colleagues, Dr. Michaelis (ph), had previously treated children who were housed in French concentration camps before he came to Cherbonne. In 1942, while the war raged, he wrote, "to examine the children of Cherbonne after having examined the children in the concentration camps and to know in our sad times the two faces of France. The true one is here in Cherbonne where Monsieur Shebrier is working with such beautiful success to cure the misdeeds of the other."

Unfortunately France, like all countries of the world, and I include the United States, has two faces: the face of courage and toleration, and the face of discrimination. There are several obstacles to the internationally recognized freedom of religion and belief in France and other Western European countries. Before criticizing them, it is also important to recognize that these governments and people in Western Europe generally believe in the rule of law in human rights. Much to their credit, virtually all-European states have ratified the European convention on Human rights, and the people of these countries have the option of taking complaints to the European Court of Human Rights.

Although I will devote the bulk of my testimony to the problem of new religious movements, this committee should not be under the impression that this is the only or necessarily the most important of the obstacles to freedom of religion and belief in Western Europe. Without attempting to rank the problems in order, three other salient and interrelated problems of freedom of religion and belief in Western Europe are; first, the incorporation of Muslims into society; second, laws that discriminate among religions; and third, the attitude of intolerance, including anti-Semitism.

But the one issue that has received increasing notice during the past few years in Europe is what may be called the anti-sect movement. The most serious problem regarding the anti-sect movement in Western Europe is in France. In 1998, the French government established an agency entitled the Inter-Ministerial Mission to Battle Against Sects. The mission is now headed by the former French Foreign Minister Monsieur Alain Vivian (ph). During the past few years, the French National Assembly has also issued prejudicial reports on so-called sects that are shockingly unscientific.

Widely supported bills currently pending in the French legislature, including one that was mentioned a few moments ago, call for increasingly severe measures against sects. I will describe two interrelated problems of the official anti-sect movement in France to illustrate how a legitimate concern for human welfare can be diverted towards the taking of illogical and discriminatory actions.

First, the language of prejudice uses pejorative terms as an appeal to the listener's bias. The most commonly employed term by the anti-sect movement is, of course, the term sect, which plays a role similar to that of racial epithets. One common tactic by some in the anti-sect movement is then to accuse they're ideological opponent of being members or fellow travelers of the foreign group. I personally witnessed one telling example of this tactic by the president of the inter-ministerial himself against a member of an official U.S. delegation in France.

In April of 1999, a three-person delegation sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Office of International Religious Freedom went to France and other European countries. Shortly before the meeting, we were advised that the president of this new inter-ministerial mission had declined our request to meet with him. He did so on the grounds that one of the members of our delegation was affiliated with the Church of Scientology. Now, I am not a Scientologist and I knew that the other two participants, Dr. David Little, and Karen Lord, council for religious freedom at the Congressional Helsinki Commission, were not Scientologists.

The president later decided that he would in fact meet with us. But as we were introduce to him, he remarked that he, "already knew" who Ms. Ward was, and that he did not need to be introduced to her. Later in a meeting, following a question by Ms. Lord, the president said that he would not respond to her but would give a response to the head of the U.S. delegation. Subsequently, Monsieur Vivian has repeated publicly, on several occasions, that a member of this three- person delegation was affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

Monsieur Vivian's assertion is, in a word, false. I am certain that he cannot prove his assertion. I challenge him to provide evidence to support it or to issue an apology to Ms. Lord and the United States. But the most important issue, however, is not that Monsieur Vivian made a false statement that was designed to discredit Ms. Lord or the U.S. efforts to promote religious freedom. The important issue is that his manner of responding to questions about religious discrimination exemplifies the tactic of much of the anti- sect campaign: the use of uninformed, provocative, and false allegations for the purpose of discrediting people and groups.

His attack was not an aberration; it had unfortunately become a standard rhetorical device to discredit those who believe that the anti-sect movement is going too far. I give some additional examples in my prepared testimony.

The language of prejudice also reveals itself in such terms as "infiltration" to described the real or imagined employment of a "sect" member in a business or government office. When Catholics are members of the reformed church or teach in school they are called employees, but if they are members of the groups under attack they are called infiltrators. This is a use of simply pejorative language.

Second, there are illogical methods of prejudice that come to play, and I'd like to identify four now. One, the methods of prejudice do not consult scholars familiar with issues related to new religious movements, but relay instead on anti-sect activists. By failing to consult scholars, the reports, particularly in France and Belgium, present an a-historical and caricatured view of new religious movements.

Two, the reports of the anti-sect movements relay on statements made by accusers and disgruntled former members. But they refuse to accept the considerable evidence that most, although not all, adherents of the new religious movement generally report positive and beneficial experiences with the group. This was in fact the conclusion of both the Swedish and the German governments' investigation into new religious movements.

In a telling repudiation of this methodology employed by the anti-sect movement, a French court recently found Jacque Gayal (ph), president of the 1999 parliamentary investigations, liable himself for defamation against Anthropostasy (ph). As reported by the newspaper Le Monde, the courts held back his parliamentary report and his statement, which was not "a serious investigation." Monsieur Gayal, for making the statement about Anthroposifists, was fined 20,000 francs and ordered to pay 90,000 francs in damages.

The French anti-sect movement typically refuses to engage in dialogue with the group that they are attacking. This refusal to engage in a discussion with the groups that are under attack is an approach very different from that recommended by the Swedish government, for example, which strongly recommends dialogue with groups rather than polarization of the issues. That is also the recommendation made by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Three, the principle documentary evidence in the French reports are secret allegations contained in files at the security division of the French police. Four, the reports use examples of alleged misdeeds of some people in some group and then broadly condemn the entire groups or even sects generally. The fallacy of this type of analysis can be easily illustrated by reference to the recent criminal conviction of Jacque Gayal himself. The springs have not been kind to Mr. Gayal since being sentenced for committing a criminal offense and defamation against religious minorities.

The same year Monsieur Gayal was condemned, in 1999, the fraud committed by a sect was, ironically, convicted by a French court in May of this year for influence peddling and was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 100,000 francs. If we were to apply the same analysis to Monsieur Gayal that he applies to the new religious movements, we would then need to hold --


-- Dr. Gunn, I dislike interrupting you. You are exceeding your time and I would hope you could summarize your statement.


Yes, thank you. It would be the same as holding the French inter-ministerial mission responsible for the actions of Monsieur Gayal. I'd like to make 4 short recommendations. First, the Department of State should monitor much more closely and vigorously anti-sect movements on both a bilateral and multilateral basis. Second, based upon my experience working in the State Department, I must also suggest that Congress take seriously its responsibility for fully funding the State Department. From my own observations, personnel in the State Department are overworked and under supported. There is a need for more time and resources in the State Department.

Third, Congress could assist the department by promoting genuinely international approaches to human rights. Fourth, I believe that the religious community in the United States can be much more helpful in supporting religious freedom abroad. While all faiths in the United States can help, those that are widely practiced and respected in Europe, particularly Catholicism, Lutheranism, Orthodoxy, and the Reform Church can play a very helpful role in promoting tolerance.

I don't know how long the anti-sect movement is going to continue in France. The Vichy government continued in France for 4 years, and I hope the life of the anti-sect movement does not have much longer. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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