Expanding festivals in France creating Protestant unity

The growth of Protestant festivals and other annual gatherings in France is creating greater unity among members of this religious minority, even if such events often showcase the growing diversity of Protestantism in the country, writes Anne-Laure Zwilling in the Bulletin for the Study of Religion (March). The festivals, often involving concerts, teaching and preaching sessions, art exhibits and other social activities, have attracted increasing participation since the 1980s. First confined to evangelical Protestants, these festivals, called Protestants en fête, have also come to embrace establishment Protestants, such as Lutherans and French Reformed.

The events have drawn up to 30,000 Protestants of all varieties, with different activities according to denomination but also a common worship service. Participants praise the gatherings for showing Protestants’ vitality—publicized by extensive media coverage—although they only represent two percent of the French population. Zwilling writes that although French Protestants are marked by internal rivalry on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, the festivals have put the emphasis not on belonging to different denominations but on being French Protestant.

(Bulletin for the Study of Religion, https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/BSOR)