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Living Together in Peace and the Tai Ji Men Case

from Bitter Winter - A magazine on religious liberty and human rights

On U.N. International Day of Living Together in Peace, scholars and human rights activists called for acknowledging injustice and restoring justice for Tai Ji Men.

by Daniela Bovolenta

The poster of the webinar.The poster of the webinar.

On May 16, 2023, United Nations International Day of Living Together in Peace, CESNUR and the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized one of their bi-monthly webinars about the Tai Ji Men case, under the title “Will Tai Ji Men Finally Be Allowed to Live Together in Peace?”

Karolina Maria Hess, a researcher at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, introduced the webinar and a video on the history of the International Day of Living Together in Peace. It was included among the U.N. international days of observance in 2017, the video explained, but the original initiative came from Sheikh Khaled Bentounès, the head of the Algerian branch of the Muslim Sufi brotherhood Alawiya.


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16 May - International Day of Living Together in Peace

Webinar - Will Tai Ji Men Finally Be Allowed to Live in Peace?

On 16 May 2023, CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized a webinar about the Tai Ji Men case, under the title “Will Tai Ji Men Finally Be Allowed to Live Together in Peace?”

Soteria International, represented by Camelia Marin, contributed by expressing the concern about the Tai Ji Men case and the endless bureaucracy that is affecting the spiritual community:

United Nations Declaration refferes to International Day of Living Together in Peace as "Working together with religious leaders to promote tolerance and understanding among human beings"

For a spiritual community to live in peace means that all its environment, social and political.

The community is created by individuals. Many factors are influential in the formation of the individual personality. Families and media, as well as cultural and religious communities themselves, should support the development of open-minded individuals, capable of critical thinking and of constructive dialogue with others.

Education is combating ignorance, breaking down stereotypes, building trust and mutual respect and promoting sincere support for the shared values of living together.

For this, institutions of the states develop projects in collaboration with religious communities to promote shared values and “living together”.

In Taiwan, we can see among others, the example of Tai Ji Men spiritual community and their participation to national and international events, calling for Love, Peace, Conscience, helping people unite in the hearts and encouraging the search for their inner peace and harmony.

Still, we can notice situations when national or international institutions obscure the responsibilities of government for upholding human rights, and create obstacles to calling human rights-violating states to account.

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UN - Zero Discrimination Day

On Zero Discrimination Day, scholars, human rights activists, and Tai Ji Men dizi discussed discrimination problems in Taiwan and internationally.


On March 1, 2023, United Nations Zero Discrimination Day, CESNUR and the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers organized one of their bi-monthly webinars, with the title “Zero Discrimination for Tai Ji Men.”

Willy Fautré, co-founder and director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, mentioned the international treaties calling for the elimination of all discriminations. These treaties, he said, unfortunately did not prevent discriminations to continue, even in democratic countries, particularly in the field of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). In several European countries, minority groups and the more so those stigmatized as “cults,” are discriminated from the legal and tax points of view. The same, Fautré noted, has happened in Taiwan with Tai Ji Men.

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The Universality of Human Rights and the Tai Ji Men Case


Those who claim that human rights are not universal usually are those who do not respect them.

by Massimo Introvigne

*Conclusions of the webinar “Tai Ji Men: Fighting for Human Rights,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on December 10, 2022, Human Rights Day.

Human rights: police confront protesters in Iran. Photo by Ebrahim Noroozi, Farsnews. Credits.Photo - Police confront protesters in Iran. Photo by Ebrahim Noroozi, Farsnews. Credits.

This year, Human Rights Day is celebrated right in the middle of some of the most heated discussions on human rights in recent years. On August 31, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report accusing China of gross human right violations and what it called “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang.

Several European countries have asked for an international tribunal that would judge the Russian war crimes in Ukraine, similar to the Nuremberg tribunal that judged Nazi leaders after World War II. The World Cup of soccer is now taking place in Qatar, and several Western teams have tried to use the tournament as an opportunity to publicly protest the violations of human rights in Qatar and other countries with an Islamic majority, including Iran.

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New paradigm of solving conflicts - raising from the mind, in the heart. Love, Peace, Conscience.

By Camelia Marin

See whole webinar here

On the Human Rights Day, in order to fulfil our purpose which is to see the human rights respected all over the world and the human kind being genuinely humane, I would like to start with the necessity of unifying minds and hearts – which is the key element to be taken into consideration both for the individual spiritual evolution and for the social evolution seen from a holistic perspective.

As we can see, Tai Ji Men practice encourages all of us to experience states like love, peace and conscience, which, in their view, should be there in order to become a harmonious society and to raise our level of consciousness.

In one way or another, we need to shift from the old paradigm of solving conflicts – which didn’t take into consideration the already existing state of unity, created by both sides of the conflict being on the same level, of the mind, and which, thus, was in itself a seed of conflict – to a new paradigm, of surpassing the level where conflicts appear, by engaging the hearts in this process.

Validated nowadays by the newest discoveries of science, this new paradigm of conflict management is based on the concept of Concordia or coherence of the hearts.

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Human Rights Day - 10 December 2022

Tai Ji Men Case - Fighting for Human Rights

In 1950, the United Nations declared 10th December a day to celebrate human dignity, equality and respect, a day to remind governments and politicians that the paramount emphasis of all their actions should be the human dimension.

On the Human Rights Day this year, Soteria International will participate to the webinar organized by CESNUR and HRWF to further the scope of the human rights’ discussions and to bring perspectives from various spiritual traditions.

Tai Ji Men case shows us that violations of human rights or better said spiritual human rights are still happening.

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Teachers Are Necessary, Spiritual Teachers Are Essential

by Marco Respinti

Several modern ideologies have tried to undermine the role of the teachers. The Tai Ji Men case is one of their poisonous fruits.

by Marco Respinti*

*Introduction to the hybrid webinar “Persecuting Spiritual Teachers: The Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on October 8, 2022, after the World Teachers’ Day (October 5).

Photo: Teachers of the famous medical school of Salerno in a medieval illuminated manuscript. Credits.

Teachers of the famous medical school of Salerno in a medieval illuminated manuscript. The World Teachers’ Day is an annual day of observance established in 1994 by two United Nations agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to commemorate the signing of the 1966 Recommendation, Concerning the Status of Teachers. That Recommendation relates to a variety of subjects, ranging from working conditions to the continuing education of teachers.

Let me then briefly underline the crucial importance of teachers for a virtuous society. In fact, no one should under-evaluate it.

Teachers are key elements in the transmission of values that sustain a community. In fact, teaching and schooling mean not only communicating a set of notion but offering a particular aid to the general educational task needed in any human community, working with families in a subsidiary way. In this regard, teachers work side by side, at least implicitly, with families, and should never contrast them in their guiding principles. As families are the fundamental and foundational cells of a society, teachers working with families help families to implement their vocation.


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In Defense of the Gurus: Why Spiritual Masters Are Persecuted

by Massimo Introvigne

“Guru” has become a derogatory word in a world that does not understand what a spiritual master is, as the Tai Ji Men case demonstrates.

by Massimo Introvigne*

*Conclusions of the hybrid seminar “Persecuting Spiritual Masters: The Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers in Walnut, California, on October 8, 2022, after the World Teacher’s Day

For reasons I and other scholars have discussed elsewhere, France has a particularly aggressive and government-sponsored system to fight against “cults,” called in French “sectes.” One of its most bizarre features is the use of the word “guru” as if it was a synonym of a criminal religious leader brainwashing and exploiting his or her followers for money, sex, and power. This use is now common in French-language media but is, if you would pardon my French, idiotic.

Not only is “guru” used outside the original context of spiritual masters in the tradition of the Indian religions, but the meaning of the word is totally misunderstood. “Guru” is a word used in the Indian tradition to indicate the best of all human beings. It is an ancient Sanskrit term with a variety of etymologies, which are complementary rather than alternative. A “guru” is first of all a “dispeller of ignorance,” as “gu” means “ignorance” and “ru” means “one who dispels.” A guru is one who has received a special call from the divine and calls others to enlightenment, from the Sanskrit root “giri,” “one who calls.” “Guru” also means one who “has weight,” figuratively but also physically: hence the representations of the Buddha as a fat man and the popular Indian legend that a guru on a scale has a weight much higher than an ordinary man or woman with similar features.

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Spiritual teacher’s persecution - Tai JI Men

A similar example – yoga teacher Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru

By Camelia Marin, Soteria International

The subject - Persecuting spiritual teachers - is in the same time unbelievable to happen nowadays but, unfortunately very real.

I will start by just pointing out The ongoing case of Tai Ji Men and its leader Dr. Hong Tao-Tze is one of such terrible example of persecution.

With no reason and no proves Dr Hong was unjustly kept in a detention center for 159 days by the Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen.

Prosecutor Hou and those who persecuted Tai Ji Men, were politically motivated, but they also wanted to destroy a spiritual community based on moral rules and guided by healthy principles. They did not succeed and Dr. Hong after his release came back to teach his disciples, dizi.

Following his path, Dr Hong continues to successfully teach about conscience, peace, love, and self-cultivation to this very day. However, he and Tai Ji Men continued to be harassed in Taiwan in several ways, particularly through ill-founded tax bills.

I will bring one more example, which shows several similarities - the case of yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru and MISA yoga school.

During time, since the communist regime in Romania till nowadays, in persecuting the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru, Romanian authorities skilfully falsified facts, documents, for changing and then “disguising” all political persecutions into common crimes.

See the videorecording of the whole webinar here


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Anti-sect movements and witch-hunt against Academia de Yoga – Ananda (Uruguay)

Another fabricated case against yoga schools

It all started in August 2015 when the members of RIES – anti cult organization from Spain, present in Uruguay and constituted in the Infosectas association (members Alvaro Farias and Miguel Pastorino) initiated an extensive defamation action in the local and international press against the yoga school Ananda in Uruguay and the yoga instructor Octav F.

At that time the yoga school had very successful classes at the State University of Uruguay with more than 3000 students. The reason for the defamation was the connection of the yoga school in Uruguay with the yoga school MISA in Romania, which the so-called cult experts from RIES and Infosectas consider a sect.

Similar to the cases mentioned by Susan Palmer in her book "Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religious Communities", in August 2018, a team of 15 people from the General Directorate for the Fight against Organized Crime and Interpol from the Ministry of the Interior of Uruguay came to headquarters of the Ananda Yoga Academy in Montevideo where Octav F.'s home was, showing a Search Warrant and an Arrest Warrant for Octav F. on the grounds of sexual offenses and domestic violence.

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The MISA case - A fabricated case against Gregorian Bivolaru

Webinar, 27th April 2022

Author: Willy Fautré

Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

Minority religious or belief groups around the world are often victims of suspicion, prejudices, stigmatization, discrimination, fabricated charges, miscarriage of justice, intolerance and even physical violence although they teach and practice peace and love for all human beings without any distinction.

This is the case for Ahmadis in Pakistan where they are considered heretics.

This is the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia where they are stigmatized as extremists and have been banned for five years.

This is the case for all faiths in China where atheism is the doctrine of the CCP.

But this is also the case in our European democratic countries with minority groups which were created in a recent past. Media outlets and public authorities stigmatize them as cults, harmful or dangerous and that has quite a negative impact on the lives of their members.

MISA is one of such groups in Romania.

MISA (Movement for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute) is a non-profit organization registered in 1990 in Bucharest. It was founded by 27 people, including their spiritual master Gregorian Bivolaru. Its first objective is “to raise the cultural and spiritual level of people through an adequate, deeply beneficial preparation, to popularize knowledge in the fields of yoga”.

MISA is a loose network of training centers, yoga schools and ashrams. Before the 2004 police crackdown, it numbered about 37,000 practitioners. In addition, there were about 40 ashrams in Romania where some 750 people were living and practising yoga. After the 2004 events, the number dramatically decreased due to the social panic instilled by the media.

The project to destroy any ‘unwelcome’ or socially/politically rejected group in societies which have a problem with the otherness concept usually follows a well-known pattern:

  • Using the media artillery, even with fake and fabricated news, to destroy the image of the group and get the support of public opinion when the time has come to resort to other weapons;
  • Accusing the said group of representing a danger to society and the security of the country;
  • Taking the said group and/ or its leader(s) to court for alleged violations of the law. Alleged sexual abuse is quite often misused to this end.

These three strategies were chronologically used against MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru.

In this presentation today, I will focus on the fabrication of the criminal case against Gregorian Bivolaru as a way to try to get rid of MISA.

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The Swedish Asylum Case of Gregorian Bivolaru, 2005

The Journal of CESNUR - Rosita Šorytė; Webinar, 27th April 2022

Author: Rosita Šorytė
FOB (European Federation for Freedom of Belief)

ABSTRACT: An important precedent was established by the Supreme Court of Sweden on October
21, 2005, when it stated that “cult” leaders accused of common crimes not directly related to religion
cannot expect a fair trial in countries where an obvious prejudice against their religious beliefs and
practices exist. They may thus be eligible for asylum abroad. Extradition was denied in the case of
Gregorian Bivolaru, the leader of MISA (Movement for the Spiritual Integration into the Absolute), who
was wanted by Romania for sexual abuse and human trafficking. The decision opened the way to asylum
in Sweden, which was granted two months thereafter. The article analyzes the Swedish case, and
discusses its relevance as a precedent whose principles may be applied in other countries as well.
On December 31, 2005, Gregorian Bivolaru, the founder and leader of MISA, the Movement for the Spiritual Integration into the Absolute, was granted asylum in Sweden. This followed a decision of October 21, 2005, of the Supreme Court of Sweden denying a request of extradition to Romania (Supreme Court of Sweden 2005; I also rely on files on the case made available to me by CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions).

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“Cults,” Music, and Discrimination

Words may be easily used to discriminate against religious or spiritual groups. There are examples even in music,

by Susan Wang-Selfridge*


*An in-session response to the papers presented by Holly Folk, Donald Westbrook and Rosita Šorytė in the session “‘Cults’: The International Return of a Dubious Category,” at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, Los Angeles, August 7, 2022.

The original “Madama Butterfly,” 1904. The original “Madama Butterfly,” 1904. Credits.

Certain words are used to create and perpetuate prejudice. I have studied and taught music all my life, first as a lecturer at the University of California Los Angeles, where I had earned my PhD, and then as a private teacher. Music can teach us something about stereotypes, labels, and prejudices too.

I would mention only one example. “Madama Butterfly” by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini premiered in 1904 and is among the six most performed operas in the world. Yet, recently it has been criticized by some, including in The New York Times, as perpetuating racist and orientalist prejudices.

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Scholars Discuss Human Rights and Justice in MISA Case - video

Webinar, 27th April 2022

An event organized by Soteria International, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR),  European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) on MISA, or the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute,. With Camelia Marin – Massimo Introvigne – Willy Fautré –Gordon Melton - Alessandro Amicarelli – Rosita Sorite - Konrad Swenninger – Mihai Stoian (Advaitananda) – Eileen Barker

The webinar is introducing a recently released book of Prof Massimo Introvigne – “Sacred Eroticism in MISA”. And also is raising the concern on the human rights violations, institutional discrimination, social and media marginalization on MISA yoga students and the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru.

If we take individually such case of a spiritual community accused of criminal intent, we can remain passive in front of the dark side presented in media, or in the doubtable evidences presented by prosecutors. Just because seems to be a particular situation.

But when we look to a larger perspective, observing the similarities from such cases, worldwide, noticing the same pattern of accusation on fraud, or human trafficking or sexual abuse, then we feel to take a stand and wish to find the truth and to support the spiritual communities in need.

This is why we are here today, and thank you again to all our distinguished guests for their research and efforts done.

During time we studied cases from different countries in Europe, as for example Ananda Assisi and Arkeon – Italy, OKC – Belgium, Poetrie Esoteric Institute – Czech Republic, MISA – Romania ... and others.

What happened and why MISA yoga school and Gregorian Bivolaru were under unprecedented attack from authorities in Romania and how that Mr Bivolaru case became a precedent of non-respecting Geneva Convention in EU?

Our guests offer their expertise in the field – see the video.

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Scholars Discuss Human Rights and Justice in MISA Case

On April 27, 2022, webinar!

from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Brussels time

Access link on zoom:

This event is organized by Soteria International, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) on Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute - MISA.

The webinar will bring a synthesis on the discrimination and persecution happened on MISA school and students.  

Also the webinar will aim to bring a perspective upon the teaching of MISA school and their perspective upon eroticism, which is the main reason for the social context and misunderstandings around MISA school.

The event will bring together distinguish scholars and experts from all around the world: Camelia Marin, Massimo Introvigne, Willy Fautré, Gordon Melton, Susan Palmer, Alessandro Amicarelli, Rosita Šorytė, Konrad Swenninger and special guests.

The webinar will be on zoom and also LIVE on Facebook -

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Anti-Corruption and Human Rights- December 9th and 10th

The Tai Ji Men Case

On December 10 we celebrate the Human Rights Day. Such a celebration always is a source of hope and optimism in solving different issues regarding the human rights, raising the humanitarianism and morality in the world.

This year, 2021, Soteria International, was invited to participate to a webinar – “Human Rights and Anti-Corruption: The Tai Ji Men Case, organized by International Forum for Human Rights, in the celebration of the human rights day and also to raise awareness and celebrate December 9th – the Anti-corruption Day.

Soteria International was represented by the Deputy Director, Camelia Marin. Here is her presentation:

“Today, rule of law is challenged not only from arbitrary application of the law within certain states, but increasingly by how the tools regulating the interaction between different national judicial systems lacks a precision to hinder abuses and misinterpretations. Thus, the very tools for securing the rule of law open a risk for its corruption.

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Tai Ji Men and the Intolerance of Bureaucracy

By Massimo Introvigne

Kafka’s novel “The Castle” and Merton’s criticism of bureaucracy describe a situation that is also at work in the Tai Ji Men case.

by Massimo Introvigne*

A paper presented at the webinar “Witnessing for Tolerance: Scholars, NGOs, and the Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on November 15, 2021, on the eve of the International Day for Tolerance.

"During a cold night, a man whose last name starts with the letter K. arrives in a Central European village dominated by a mysterious Castle. He claims to be the new land surveyor, invited there by the Castle.

So starts one of the most famous novels of European literature, “The Castle,” that German-speaking Czech novelist Franz Kafka started writing in 1922 and left at his death in 1924 in the unfinished form in which it was published in 1926.

The novel continues with K. meeting the mayor, who informs it that his appointment as the local land surveyor was due to what initially he calls a mistake. But then the mayor corrects himself, explaining to K. that “One of the principles that governs the work of the administration is that the possibility of a mistake must never be contemplated. […] Mistakes are not made, and even if this happened by exception, as in your case, who could say in the end that it was really a mistake?” Besides, K. is told, the question is not whether a bureaucratic decision is reasonable or stupid. If it is properly stamped, it should be obeyed.

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Witnessing for Tolerance: Scholars, NGOs, and the Tai Ji Men Case

Scholars, Human Rights Activists Discuss Tolerance and the Tai Ji Men Case

By Alessandro Amicarelli

On November 15, 2021, on the eve of the International Day for Tolerance, CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized one of the bi-monthly webinars on the Tai Ji Men case, with the title “Witnessing for Tolerance: Scholars, NGOs, and the Tai Ji Men Case.”

Camelia Marin, Deputy Director of Soteria International, introduced the webinar, noting that intolerance is prevailing in several countries, and spread by the media, against certain new religious and spiritual movements, and is present even where many would not expect it, including in Taiwan, as the Tai Ji Men case, of which she offered a short summary, proves. She also introduced a video where specific, and in some cases tragic, victim cases evidenced the prevalence of tax injustice and the use of taxes as a tool for intolerance in Taiwan.

The full video of the webinar.

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August 22, 2021 - two webinars

Two events organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers to celebrate the 2021 International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. With Camelia Marin – Massimo Introvigne – Willy Fautré – René Wadlow – Christine Mirre – Rosita Šorytė – Alessandro Amicarelli – Hans Noot – Thierry Valle – Eric Roux – Kenneth A. Jacobsen – Konrad Swenninger, and witnesses from Tai Ji Men.

August 22, 2021 – Two webinars (no registration needed)​

10 a.m.-12 noon Brussels time:​

7-9 p.m. Brussels time:

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The Anti-Cult Ideology and FECRIS: Dangers for Religious Freedom. A White Paper

Six scholars look at the European anti-cult federation, and conclude it is seriously dangerous for religious liberty.

By Luigi Berzano (University of Torino, Italy), Boris Falikov (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia), Willy Fautré (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels, Belgium), Liudmyla Filipovich (Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University, Lutsk, Ukraine), Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy), and Bernadette Rigal-Cellard (University Bordeaux-Montaigne, Bordeaux, France)

1. The Anti-Cult Ideology

In 2020, the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom), a bipartisan commission of the U.S. federal government, identified the anti-cult ideology as a major threat to international religious liberty (USCIRF 2020).

The anti-cult ideology, or anti-cultism, is based on the idea that “religions” and “cults” are different. “Cults,” it claims, are not religions, although they may falsely claim to be religious. While religions are joined freely, “victims” join “cults” because of the latter’s coercive practices.

International terminology needs a preliminary clarification. The derogatory English word “cult” should not be translated with “culte” in French, and similar words in other languages. As scholars of religion have noticed from decades, the French word having the same derogatory meaning of the English “cult” is “secte,” rather than “culte.” “Cult” should be translated with “secte” in French, and in turn “secte” should be translated with “cult”—not with “sect,” which does not have the same negative meaning (for example, the different mainline Buddhist schools are often referred to in English as “Buddhist sects,” with no negative judgment implied).

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