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Christians in Europe are target of hate, reports say

08 December 2023


The pulpit stands next to the destroyed altar in Paul Gerhardt Church in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, last year, after a suspected arson attack

The pulpit stands next to the destroyed altar in Paul Gerhardt Church in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, last year, after a suspected arson attack

TWO reports have assembled evidence for a sharp rise in anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe, and have appealed for more to be done to tackle the problem.

“Graffiti and vandalism against places of worship, the desecration of cemeteries and arson attacks on churches are some of the more common crimes motivated by bias against Christians,” the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) said in its annual survey, published last month.

“These incidents are influenced by a number of factors, including minority or majority status in a given territory, the level of recognition of particular religious groups, and the political and media focus on them.”

The report said that the Vatican had submitted information on “hate incidents” to OSCE’s 57 represented states for verification; further data had been received from the United Nations, OSCE missions, police, and civil-society organisations.

Although European governments had long made “specific commitments” to combatting “prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination”, the report said, 852 hate crimes had been documented in 2022 against “Christians or Christian places of worship, symbols and institutions”, along with increasing crimes against Jews, Muslims, and other faith groups.

In a report published at the end of last month, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians, said that it had recorded a 44-per-cent rise in anti-Christian hate crimes last year. Incidents ranged ranged from vandalism to physical attacks, and there was a 75-per-cent increase in arson at churches, with 105 documented cases.

Among incidents in Britain over the past month, the Observatory included the sacking of a Sainsbury’s supermarket employee from Whitstable, Jacqueline Rendell, for refusing to work on Sunday mornings, and the defection of a Scottish National Party MP, Lisa Cameron, to the Conservatives, after being pressured to vote against her Christian convictions.

“Social-media postings in which radical groups proudly confess to such crimes are becoming more common”, the Observatory’s executive director, Anja Hoffmann, said.

“The criminalisation of expressions of mainstream religious teaching as ‘hate speech’ when they do not incite violence or hatred is dangerous on various levels, by stigmatising legitimate conscience-related convictions. . . Silencing Christian voices in public undermines the plurality of democratic Western societies and essentially renders a free discourse impossible.”

The reports were published as the international RC charity Aid to the Church in Need began its annual “Red Wednesday” prayer campaign on behalf of persecuted Christians (News, 18 November 2022), and as the European Court of Justice ruled that public bodies could bar employees from wearing crosses and other religious symbols in order to ensure “a neutral administrative environment”.

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