[PARIS - May 9, 1996] -- France's self-image as both the home of rational thought and "eldest daughter of the Roman Catholic Church" has been severely dented by statistics showing the country now contains more psychics and clairvoyants than priests.
The decline of religion and the rise of magic as the millennium approaches has prompted a passion for crystal-ball gazing. Last year's tax returns show that more than 50,000 people make money from faith-healing, predicting the future, astrology or similar practices, while 35,000 are men of the cloth.
About ten million people, almost one-fifth of the French population, have consulted a clairvoyant, according to a magazine survey, and the paranormal business has an estimated annual turnover in France of more than 1 billion francs.
At the same time, the parish priest is becoming rarer. As Brigitte Bardot, the former actress said recently in a rant against the Muslim ritual of sheep slaughter, "our church bells fall silent due to lack of priests."
The number of psychiatrists has also dropped, to 6,000. "The astonishing thing is that the more science progresses, the less it affects obscurantist phenomena such as clairvoyance," Gerard Miller, a Paris psychiatrist says.
Original file name: .CNI - Psychics in France 5.9
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