The Union of Associations for the Defense of the Family and Individual (UNADFI) is an umbrella organization for anti-religious extremist groups in France. This deceptively-named association has a history of breaking families apart, at times by violent means. One of the only reasons UNADFI (whose name is often shortened to ADFI) even exists today is because it performs a propaganda function for France’s high level anti-religious extremists.
ADFI, and its affiliated organization the Centre Against Mental Manipulation (CCMM), is strongly influenced by the field of psychiatry. ADFI was founded by a Dr. Champollion and a psychiatrist named Andre Badiche; Badiche is an associate of the French psychiatrist Pierre Pichot, a past president of the World Psychiatric Association whose hostility toward new religions is well known. Psychiatrist Toby Nathan, who co-authored a psychiatric text book with Pichot, is also associated with ADFI. In 1999, Nathan was appointed by France’s Ministry of Social Affairs to “examine” the effect of minority religious membership in families, a fact that was announced in a UNADFI newsletter.
ADFI frequently advocates psychiatric intervention in the field of religion. Founded in 1974, it initially made the Unification Church its primary target. Soon, it was involved in efforts to organize and unify anti-religious efforts throughout Europe, expanding to include groups that target established Protestant and Eastern religions, labeling them as “cults.”
The first ADFI spokesperson and driving force, Alexandra Schmidt, even hoped to set up an international committee against religions, while being very active herself in a multitude of hate campaigns. Schmidt’s xenophobic, bigoted designs came to an end in 1982, when she became the subject of criminal charges for involvement in a “deprogramming”. In Europe, attempts to justify deprogramming continue on the basis of opinions by psychiatrists and psychologists, even though in the U.S., such opinions have been comprehensively debunked.
After being charged, Schmidt resigned and disappeared from public life. ADFI’s current president, Janine Tavernier, emerged in 1989 when she assisted in the organization of an anti-religious conference. One of ADFI’s members is Roger Gonnet an anti-religious extremist featured in this web site.
In 1993, false and hateful propaganda from ADFI resulted in a violent raid on families of a bible-based Christian community known as The Family. The world was shocked when more than 200 law enforcement officers, brandishing axes and automatic weapons, took 50 adults and 90 children from their homes at dawn on June 9, 1993.
During a two-day interrogation, the chief of police bluntly informed those in custody that he hoped to destroy their group, to see to it that they lost their children, and to imprison them. Children remained separated from their parents for six years while the case ground through the legal system. On January 11, 1999, the Justice Court of Aix-en-Provence acquitted all group members. The ruling was upheld despite an appeal from ADFI.
ADFI has also targeted members of the Church of Scientology. In October 1998, police concluded an investigation into the source of death threats against two Scientologists in Angers, one of whom was pregnant. The threats traced to the founder of ADFI Angers, Yves Damon — who tried to pass the threats off as a “joke.” Criminal complaints against Damon are pending.
In some instances, lies spread by ADFI have recoiled, resulting in legal actions against the group and its members. In 1999, for example, outrageous and false accusations made to the media about the Church of Scientology resulted in both an ADFI leader and an ADFI attorney being charged with criminal libel.
Any discussion of ADFI’s past would not be complete without mention of the influence of the American Family Foundation (AFF) and its former subsidiary group, the Cult Awareness Network (CAN). Between 1980 and 1993, AFF hosted more than a half dozen closed-door gatherings of European “anti-sect” (anti-”cult”) groups.
The first international gathering was held in the United States in 1985. Here, too, ADFI could be found, deeply entrenched with AFF in what would rapidly be exposed and rebuked by civil rights and religious leaders as the “Final Solution Conference” for new religious movements. Organizers went on to hold one of the largest of these gatherings in Paris in 1990.
ADFI is deeply entrenched in political circles which generate extremist actions designed to eradicate minority religions. In its 1999 annual report on France and its official policy toward minority religions, the International Helsinki Federation (IHF), one of the most respected and influential of human rights bodies, remarked: “While other countries abroad recommended dialogue with so-called sects, France has chosen open confrontation.”
Such is the modus operandi of the anti-religious group known as ADFI.