Hope for France: Banner with Flag

"Christ became a servant . . . in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy." (Romans 15:8-9)

The Need

  • 2% Protestant (compared to 30% in Europe as a whole)
  • 6% Muslim
  • More than 50% claim to be Catholic, though there are more Muslims than baptized Catholics
  • Non-religious secularism on the rise
  • Of those “close to Protestantism,” 46% say they never read the Bible, and only 19% claim to read the Bible “at least one time per month”

Metropolitan France (not including its overseas territories) covers a geographical area of 213,010 square miles (slightly smaller than the state of Texas), yet serves as home to nearly 61 million people (compare to the population of Texas: 23 million).

France’s modern-day borders are virtually the same as ancient Gaul, which was conquered by Rome in the 1st century B.C. As with much of Western Europe, that strong Romantic influence dominated speech and culture for several ensuing centuries. Eventually some of the Germanic tribes known as the “Franks” gained a foothold. It was 5th-century Clovis who is credited with the uniting of the various Frankish tribes into one country. Clovis had made a vow that if he won the Capetian territory around Paris, he would convert to Catholic Christianity (versus its religious counterpart Arianism). His keeping of that vow after he had established himself as sole king over the region made France the first of all the conquering Germanic tribes to become part of the Roman Church, thus giving her the title, “Eldest Daughter of the Church”. In the many centuries that have passed since that time, the influence of the Roman Catholic Church has maintained a strong grip on the country.

Though more than 50 percent of present-day French still classify themselves under the umbrella of Catholicism, a recent survey has categorized only 8 percent as “practicing” (attending mass at least once per month). The traditions of Catholicism and its “saints” are ever-present, but the country’s population is becoming increasingly secular in respect to religion. Only 2 percent claim the designation “Protestant” (compared to 30 percent in Europe generally), a label which includes Lutherans, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists and Evangelicals of all stripes. There are three times as many Muslims as “Protestants” in the nation. A 1995 commission on cult activities led to the labeling of several Protestant groups as cults, though generally they have been classified as “non-dangerous”.