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Other religious and non-religious groups

Religious groups in France

This heading provides information on the main religious minorities that can be found in France. For information concerning the social impact of religion in France, see the Religion and society (...)

This heading provides information on the main religious minorities that can be found in France. For information concerning the social impact of religion in France, see the Religion and society heading.

Religious belonging is nowadays in France difficult to determine precisely, the relationship of individuals to the religious institutions being increaslingly vague.
According to a survey of TNS-SOFRES 2007, les Français et la religion, more than 2 French out of 3 (69%) claim to have a religious belonging. Surveys, however, do not give very precise information concerning the belonging to minority religions, because of the small numbers involved. One should rely on these surveys for a general impression, not for precise statistics. For instance, according to an IFOP survey 2011 les Français et la croyance religieuse, 7% of interviewees were declaring themselves as Muslims, 4% Protestants, 1% Jews, 2% from other religions, and 25% "no religion". The two latter categories, on the rise, deserve to be analysed more precisely.
A survey of CSA, from 2004, provided a more detailed information, unfortunately now a bit old: 8,7 % of French declared to have another religion than Catholic. Among these, 49,4% are Muslims, 21,8 % Protestants, 7 % Jews, and 21,8% "other" (Buddhists, Orthodox Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or groups of the "new religious movement" type).
The more recent numbers come from a Sociovision survey of 2014 and are as follows: 48% of French declare themselves to be Catholic, 6% Muslim, 2% Protestant, 1% Jew, 1% Buddhist, 1% of another religion.

4 March 2015

Buddhism

In France, the number of Buddhists can be estimated only, to 600,000. A large majority of them are foreigners coming from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China and Sri Lanka. 80% of (...)

In France, the number of Buddhists can be estimated only, to 600,000. A large majority of them are foreigners coming from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China and Sri Lanka. 80% of religious centres, pagodas and institutions belong to the Union Bouddhiste of France French Buddhist Union. About 6 000 to 7 000 people may be members of the Soka Gakkai.

For more information : GIRA Denis, "Le Bouddhisme,", in MESSNER Francis, PRELOT Pierre-Henri et WOEHRLING Jean-Marie (dir.), Traité de droit français des religions, Paris : Litec, 2003, p. 271-276.
MATHE Thierry,Le Bouddhisme des Français. Le bouddhisme tibétain et la Soka Gakkaï en France: contribution à une sociologie de la conversion (Religion et sciences humaines), Paris, L’Harmattan, 2005.

8 August 2012

Islam

In December 2000, the High Council for integration published a report entitled "Islam in the French Republic" in which it evaluates the number of Muslims in France. Out of 4 million Muslims, 2.9 (...)

In December 2000, the High Council for integration published a report entitled "Islam in the French Republic" in which it evaluates the number of Muslims in France. Out of 4 million Muslims, 2.9 million originate from North Africa (1.55 million Algerians, 1 million Moroccans and 350,000 Tunisians), 315,000 are Turks, 250,000 are Africans, 100,000 come from the Middle East, 100,000 are Asians and 100,000 others not counting 40 000 converts and 350 000 asylum seekers and illegal immigrants (download the report).
According to the report of the Machelon Commission, "Islam, in all its diversity, has become the second religion in France".
The French Council of the Muslim Religion (CFCM, Conseil Français du Culte musulman) was founded in 2002 with the aim of representing the Muslims before the government. It participates in issues related to the construction of mosques and Muslim squares in cemeteries, organisation of religious feasts (especially issues related to ritual animal slaughter), nomination of chaplains and the training of imams. However, it has neither real prerogatives nor coercive powers. In 2015, the French government has set up the instance de dialogue avec l’islam (body of dialogue with Islam). Its aim is to "set in motion and build French Islam by reflecting, amongst others, on the training of imams and the financing of mosques".
The ministry of Interior has registered about 2,400 places of worship for Muslims in France. There are 24 minareted mosques, and about 120 chapels while others are regular premises used for worship. Even though, normally, with the exception of Alsace, separating places of prayer in cemeteries is considered illegal, Muslim squares were opened in many big cities such as Montpellier and Marseille for example. The oldest square is that of Bobigny which was opened in 1937.
In 2012, an Islamic cemetary was opened in Strasbourg, where the local law allows the establishment of confessional burial spaces.

For more information:
- Bertelman Stiftung, Intégration islam en Europe, 2017.
- GODARD Bernard, La question musulmane en France, Paris, Fayard, 2015.
- SIMON Patrick, “Le nombre de musulmans en France et en Europe : la fabrique des chiffres”, Dossier “La société française et la construction du ’problème musulman’”, De facto [En ligne], 6 avril 2019, mis en ligne le 16 avril 2019.
- ZWILLING Anne-Laure, "France", in O. Scharbrodt et al. (dir.), Yearbook of Muslims in Europe volume 9, Leiden, Brill, 2017, p 248-271.

4 September 2017

Judaism

The Jewish presence in France is a very ancient reality. It was felt, maybe before, but at least at the beginning of, the Christian era. It was increased by the Jewish immigrants from Central (...)

The Jewish presence in France is a very ancient reality. It was felt, maybe before, but at least at the beginning of, the Christian era. It was increased by the Jewish immigrants from Central Europe and Eastern Europe before World War I, and the Jews coming from North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the Jewish community is diverse. Their population is estimated between 500,000 and 600,000 and the majority of them are of Sephardic origins (coming from North Africa).
This religious group is nowadays very diverse: from the "Yom kippur Jews" who go to the synagogue once a year, for the celebration of this solemn holiday, to the members of the liberal movement trying to put together respect of tradition and liberal practice. The ultra orthodox Lubavich movement, born from hassidism in the 17th century Eastern Europe, which puts together mysticism, strict observance and social activism, counts several dozens of centers around Paris. It remains a minority among judaism, as the conservative; their number is nevertheless on the increase.
The Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) is the spokesman of the Jewish community before the French government. The Consistory of Paris, which was founded thanks to the Napoleonic decree of the 11 December 1808, is one of the oldest Jewish institutions in France. Finally, the Unified Jewish Social Fund (FSJU), a voluntary association federates a large number of Jewish associations.
A study Enquête auprès des juifs de France (Ifop, Septembre 2015), reveals some characteristics of Judaism in France. 41% of French Jews claim to be Sephardim, 26% Ashkenazim (26%), 14% both, and 19% do want to answer or do not think that this distincition is significant.
Altogether, the group is not very practicing: 42% claim to have no religious practice, 22% little practice, 26% good level of practice, and 10% a high level of religious practice. As for other religious groups, the level of practice is higher among youth: people with no religious practice are 82% among people aged more than 65. The number of those claiming a good or high level of practice is of 36%, and 53% for people under 35. 24% of men wear the kippa on a regular or systematic basis (and 41% of people aged less than 35). 41% of Jewish men, and 68% of Jewish men over 65, never wear a kippa, Yom kippour is the most attended feast, especially for Sephardim, Pourim and Soukkot the less attended.

For more information : AZRIA Régine, Le judaïsme, Paris, La Découverte, 1996; BENBASSA Esther, Histoire des Juifs de France (Histoires), Paris, Seuil, 2000; COHEN Erik H., The Jews of France at the Turn of the Third Millenium. A Sociological and Cultural Analysis, The Rappaport Center for Assimilation Research and Strengthening Jewish Vitality Bar Ilan University - Faculty of Jewish Studies, 2009; MALKA Salomon et Victor, Le grand désarroi. Enquête sur les juifs de France. Paris: Albin Michel, 2016.

13 January 2016

Orthodoxy

In France, the orthodox communities depend on three bodies for their spirituality animation: the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Moscow Patriarchate and Russian Archbishop in (...)

In France, the orthodox communities depend on three bodies for their spirituality animation: the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Moscow Patriarchate and Russian Archbishop in Europe. The number of orthodox Christians is estimated between 300,000 and 400,000. Their number has noticeably increased due to the immigration from former communist countries, in particular, Romania.
The Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France (Assemblée des Évêques Orthodoxes de France) is composed of all the canonical Orthodox Bishops in France. Its mission is to coordinate activities of common interest and give impetus to areas relating to theological and pastoral training, catechesis, liturgical life, publication of religious books, communications and information dissemination. The Orthodoxy website provides information on the orthodox community in Europe, especially in France.

For more information : ROBERTI Jean-Claude, Etre orthodoxe en France aujourd’hui (Littératures), Paris, Hachette, 1998.

3 August 2012

Protestantism

According to the Ipsos poll conducted in October 2017 for Réforme and the Fédération Protestante de France, Protestants represent 3.1% of the French population, i.e. 2 million people out of the 65 (...)

According to the Ipsos poll conducted in October 2017 for Réforme and the Fédération Protestante de France, Protestants represent 3.1% of the French population, i.e. 2 million people out of the 65 million French in mainland France. Many of the Protestant churches belong to the Fédération Protestante de France, which runs 26 churches and church unions, 7 associated churches and 86 communities, charitable organisations, institutions and movements.

There are especially:
- the Eglise Protestante Unie de France : created in 2013, this new body brings together most of the Reformed and Lutheran Protestants of France, previously organised in two different churches, Eglise réformée de France and Eglise évangélique luthérienne de France.
This church counted in 2014, 1000 leaders (pastors and presidents of local councils). Its members are (according to the degree of commitment) 110,000 active members (supporting financially on a regular basis) ; 250,000 taking part to the life of the church ; some 400,000 to 500,000 ask for religious ceremonies (baptisms, marriages, funeral services).
- The Union of the Protestant Churches of Alsace-Lorraine (Union des Eglises Protestantes d’Alsace-Lorraine, UEPAL), created in 2006 which had 260,000 members in 2016: 200,000 members in the Protestant Church of the Augsbourg Confession (Eglise Protestante de la Confession d’Augsbourg d’Alsace-Lorraine, EPCAAL, Lutheran), 35,000 in the Reformed Protestant Church (Eglise Protestante Réformée d’Alsace-Lorraine, EPRAL) and between 20,000 and 30,000 members of free churches. In 2014, these two churches have 235 and 55 parishes respectively, 280 and 51 pastors of which about a quarter are women. In Alsace, the proportion of Protestants would reach 17%.
- The National Union of Independent Reformed Evangelical Churches (Union Nationale des Eglises Réformées Evangéliques Indépendantes de France, UNEPREF). It has 13,000 members and 37 parishes which are mostly found in the southern part of France.
- The Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Union des Eglises Evangéliques Libres, UEEL) gathering 2,500 active members and 56 parishes.

Evangelical Protestantism is growing in France. In 2016, Sébastien Fath estimates the number of evangelicals in metropolitan France at 720,000 (395,000 in 2005), including 500,000 regular followers. Among these evangelicals, 200,000 are in Pentecostal movements. In overseas France (DROM and CROM), there are at least 250,000 Evangelical Protestants, including about 150,000 regular practitioners. They represent about 25% of the French Protestant Federation. A good number of Evangelical churches belong to the Conseil National des Evangéliques de France, created in 2003. The CNEF edits every year a cartography of the Evangelical protestants; in 2017, it claimed 650,000 regular practitioners, including 500,000 in metropolitan France, which is about a third of the Fédération protestante de France altogether. Specific surveys on Protestants in France have been realised by IFOP in 2012 and 2013.

For more information :
- BAUBEROT Jean, Histoire des protestants : une minorité en France (XVIe-XXIe siècle). Ellipses, 2018.
- DARGENT Claude, Les protestants en France aujourd’hui. Paris, Payot, 2005.
- FATH Sébastien, Du ghetto au réseau: le protestantisme évangélique en France 1800-2005. Labor et Fides, 2005.
- FATH Sébastien et Jean-Paul Willaime (dir.), La nouvelle France protestante (Religions et modernités 9). Genève: Labor et Fides, 2011.

12 April 2018

Further information

Other information concerning the social impact of religious minorities in France can be found under the Religious minorities heading.
The geographical repartition of the religious denominations (...)

- Other information concerning the social impact of religious minorities in France can be found under the Religious minorities heading.
- The geographical repartition of the religious denominations is explained under the Religious geography heading.
- Further information on religious minorities in France can be found on the Mineurel website.

24 September 2012