Protestantism in France

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Protestant Christianity has existed in various forms throughout much of France's history. Today Protestants in France number over one million, or about two percent of the country's population.


The first extant Protestant tradition is often identified as the Waldensians, who originated through the teachings of Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyon who lived in the 12th century. The Waldensians later moved to Northern Italy, where they experienced near decimation from Catholic authorities until the Reformation, when they affiliated with the Calvinists and other Reformed Christian groups of Switzerland, Germany and France. The group still exists in Italy, Germany, Brazil and the United States.


The Huguenots of the Reformed Church of France emerged from the teachings of John Calvin, and became the major Protestant sect in France until a large portion of the population died in massacres or were deported from French territory following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The group survived until the end of the monarchy and the restoration of full citizenship for Huguenots by the French Revolutionaries. Today, the Huguenots number about one million, or about two percent of the population; They are most concentrated in southeastern France and the Cévennes region in the south. The Calvinist congregations in Alsace and Moselle are organised as the Protestant Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine (EPRAL).


Lutherans formed a minority among the overall French Protestants. Their congregations were strengthened by Lutheran immigrants, mostly settling in economically propsperous places. With the French eastward expansion also a number of smaller states of prevailingly Lutheran population had been annexed in the 17th and 18th century. Under Napoleonic religious legislation of 1801 and 1802 also French Lutheranism was reorganised forming the Église de la Confession d'Augsbourg de France, established as a nationwide synod and body. It renamed as Evangelical Lutheran Church of France in 1906. In 1872 the Protestant Church of Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine (EPCAAL) had branched off, competent since for most Lutheran congregations in Alsace and Moselle.

Later establishments[edit]

In 1927 some congregations of EPCAAL branched off and established a separate Evangelical Lutheran church and synod for France and Belgium. Many Evangelical Protestant sects would be established in France in the post-WWII period, many of which would derive their liturgical styles from North American evangelical charismatic or Pentecostal movements.


Further reading[edit]

  • Dagon, Gérard. Petites églises de France. [S.l.]: Édité par l'auteur; [S.l.: Printed by] M. Hagondange, 1977. N.B.: Concerns non-Catholic Christian groups and also non-Christian religions in France.
  • Mehl, Roger. Le Protestantisme français dans la société actuelle: 1945-1980, in series, Histoire et société, n'o 1. Genève: Éditions Labor et Fides, 1982. Without ISBN