Weekly column: Promoting peace in France


Christian Life

Marc Derœux, CNE.news

Respect is a Christian message of peace and goodwill. Photo AFP, Joel Saget

In the past few weeks, I have been verbally abused twice while using a zebra crossing. The first time, I was walking to my office from home at noon.

A motorist, no doubt in a hurry, got angry because he had to give me the right of way, even though I really did have the right of way.

The second time, I was with my wife and our daughter as a driver on a scooter almost ran me over. He gestured wildly to show his displeasure, even though I was in my right.

Marc Derœux (1965) is a French pastor, connected to the Baptist Federation (FEEBF).


At the moment, he serves as the director of the language school Center des Cèdres in Massy (near Paris).

Before, he served as a minister in Lille, Lyon and Valence. He is involved in the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF).

Derœux is married to the schoolteacher Catherine, with whom he has three children.

Such incidents, occurring frequently, tell much about the violence in our society that lurks just below the surface.

Recently, I was listening to a radio programme, in which sociologists and psychologists were asked about the effects of the Covid restrictions. The consequences for people’s mental health are significant, especially in our European countries. The analysis shows that the periods of confinement have caused many people to develop behavioural disorders. They have also exacerbated the general sense of impatience and exasperation that many have been feeling.

Regulations are seen as being divisive

In France, like elsewhere in Europe, the introduction of the vaccine passport has provoked strong reactions. There has even been some violence on the part of the anti-vax activists. Some commentators speak of social fragmentation. Specialists point out that violence within society is not a new phenomenon, but they recognise that particular situations can encourage and accentuate it. It should also be noted that domestic violence increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The lockdowns have certainly encouraged people to withdraw into themselves and become more self-focused, leading to a kind of inner turmoil. However, “every man for himself” became a norm in our Western societies a long time ago. The right of the individual has taken precedence over his duty.

In France, we are entering a phase of preparation for the presidential election of May 2022. Not all candidates have presented themselves yet, but debates are already raging, with plenty of condemning statements being made about those who have.

Violence might break out

This approach to political debate does not help to calm down an anxious and pressured society. Many observers fear an outbreak of violence in the coming months.

It is easy to react to violence with violence and to respond to insults with insults. However, that way we allow ourselves to be drawn into a vicious circle. As Christian believers, we should ask ourselves the question: How can we positively influence the society in which we live and show goodness in it?

The city where we live is part of the Greater Paris suburbs. Several religious communities and cultures live together, mainly in peace. But from time to time, in some volatile neighbourhoods, violent clashes stir up animosity.

Abraham Collective

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the local mayor had the good idea of bringing together the religious leaders of the city. His plan was to bring a message of peace and tolerance. From this initiative, the Abraham Collective (“Collectif Abraham”) was born, bringing together the leaders of the mosque, the synagogue, the Catholic parishes and the Protestant churches.

This collective meets regularly, not only to talk. The leaders discuss concrete actions that promote harmony in the community, notably through a peace park (“jardin de la paix”) and through seminars. In these ways, the faith groups attempt to be a visible example to all the inhabitants of the city.

I myself have been part of this collective for two years. I have noticed that the actions of this network have been constructive. We have been able to promote harmony in our community.

Our society needs men and women committed to the common good, respecting and listening to each other, despite their differences. As Christians, we have a message to live out and to share, a message of peace and goodwill. It is a beautiful and noble responsibility.



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