Attacks on Christians and church property in Europe has soared by 70 per cent in just one year, a new report has said.
Physical violence, arson, vandalism and harassment, along with increasing discrimination by public authorities rocketed in 2019-2020.
The worst five countries effected were the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, according to a two-year study carried out by the Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe.
The final report revealed the UK as the country in Europe with the most cases of legal prosecutions for alleged “hate speech” involving Christians.
It said Christians increasingly endured both subtle and explicit discrimination as a result of secularist and Islamist ideologies taking hold in the local populations producing an intolerance which is “becoming more visible”.
The report found that the “rising phenomenon” of anti-Christian intolerance resulted in a massive increase in “hate crimes” against Christians in 2019 and 2020.
“When comparing the number of incidents from last year to the number of this year, we can see an increase of almost 70 per cent,” it said.
But it added that discrimination against Christians in the public sphere – including dismissals and suspensions from work, no-platforming, calling police and counter terrorism officers over the expression of biblical faith – was an equally troubling phenomenon, which it referred to as “secularist intolerance”.
“The negation of a public voice is mainly based on strong and sometimes even extreme opposition to Christian morals derived from core beliefs,” the report said.
“In some cases, it does not stop at negation but goes even further towards a criminalisation of public or even private opinions.”
The report concluded by inviting “international and civil-society organisations to contribute towards improving this situation by reporting and raising awareness about this phenomenon”.
Speaking at online press conference to launch the report, Madeleine Enzlberger, the executive director of the observatory, said: “This phenomenon can occur in various forms, such as vandalism – anti-religious motivated attacks against churches and Christian buildings – or even anti-Christian hate crimes against individuals.
“But also, through the progressively restricting or contestation of fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, contractual freedom or parental rights.”
Austrian Professor Regina Polak, an expert on Sociology of Religion at the University of Vienna, told the press conference that “the number of reported anti-Christian hate crimes … in particular vandalism against places of worship, the desecration of cemeteries and arson attacks against churches, is worrying.
“This is a call for comprehensive action – first of all, supporting victims, promoting awareness-raising measures and research.”
The report revealed that there had been an increase in physical assaults against Christian believers in the UK even before Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP for Southend West, was stabbed to death in suspected Islamist terror attack in October.
An anti-Christian bias among public authorities in the UK accompanied a strong social hostility toward Christian believers in general, the report said.
Catholic shrines in Germany, France and Spain have been desecrated and vandalised, the report revealed, and in some instances worshippers have been attacked and sometimes killed while visiting churches.
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