"No Place for Hate in Europe" ... Except Against Christians?
In Europe, the number of hate crimes against Christians increases year after year, as do the legal discriminations related to their freedoms of expression and conscience. Despite this, the European Union remains silent about anti-Christian hatred in its communication on December 6, 2023, "No place for hate: a Europe united against hate," and still refuses to appoint a "coordinator on the fight against Christophobia," while the European Court of Human Rights encourages anti-Christian blasphemy under the guise of freedom of expression.
"No place for hate in Europe: a Europe united against hate." On December 6, 2023, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued a “call for action to all Europeans to stand up against hatred and speak up for tolerance and respect.” “Europe is experiencing an alarming increase in hate speech and hate crime and evidence shows that Jewish and Muslim communities are particularly affected.” And what about Christians? They have to come again.
However, in Europe, the number of anti-Christian hate crimes increases year after year, according to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe). This NGO, which identifies and reports them to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), recorded 748 of them in 2022, compared to 519 in 2021, an increase of 44%. It reports that the OSCE counted 792 of them in 34 European countries in 2022, "making Christians the most targeted religious group after Jewish believers."
OIDAC takes into account crimes ranging from arson, graffiti, desecration, and thefts, to physical assaults, insults, and threats, and observes that “increased cases of vandalism often lead to increased cases of physical assaults.” The NGO also laments an increase in attacks around Christian festivities such as Easter and Christmas.
According to the Observatory, the majority of anti-Christian crimes committed in 2022 are acts of vandalism by unidentified authors with unclear motivations (70%). However, those committed by organized groups are becoming more visible, particularly crimes by "far-left political groups, such as Antifa, radical feminists, or LGBTIQ groups” as well as "far-right groups, satanist groups, and radical Islamist groups." Germany experiences the most anti-Christian crimes (231), followed by Italy (146) and France (106).
In France, anti-Christian incidents increased from 2021 to 2022 (923 incidents, +8%), according to data from the Central Intelligence Bureau (SCRT), reported by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) in its report on the fight against racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia.
Anti-Christian incidents in France therefore constitute 60% of anti-religious incidents, but the CNCDH qualifies: "Very few anti-Christian incidents are truly detrimental to religion. They are mainly petty crimes, such as thefts in religious buildings, or even behaviors of unbalanced individuals, especially in cemeteries." Move along, there's nothing to see here.
The number of anti-religious acts in general, and anti-Christian acts in particular, is greatly underestimated. The CNCDH uses the term "dark figure" to refer to all criminal acts that completely escape the radar of justice because they are not reported. The OIDAC also notes that "the sensitivity of the topic and the limited resources and organizations invested in reporting anti-Christian hate crimes lead us to believe that this issue remains underreported."
Furthermore, the OIDAC highlights the violent rejection of Christian values, especially “views that dissent from liberal opinions on moral issues related to the protection of life, sexual relationships, marriage, or family. Consequently, a number of Christians have faced criminal charges and even criminal proceedings for voicing views in line with the mainstream moral teachings of their respective churches.”
For example, in Wales, a teacher was asked to share his Christian beliefs during a confidential discussion organized as part of mandatory diversity and gender equality training. The teacher stated that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman, that life begins at conception, and that he was against certain aspects of Sharia law, such as stoning homosexuals to death. He was fired the next day for "hate speech."
Similarly, cities like Manchester have created buffer zones around abortion clinics to prevent women from being approached by pro-life activists. This has led to absurd arrests, such as the two experienced a few months apart by Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, for silently praying inside a buffer zone in Birmingham neither speaking to anyone nor holding any signs. Threats also hang over the respect for the conscience clause of Christian medical personnel. Germany plans to make abortion practice mandatory in medical studies.
However, in its resolution 2036 (2015) "Tackling intolerance and discrimination in Europe with a special focus on Christians," the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe explicitly calls on its member States to “uphold freedom of conscience in the workplace" and "the fundamental right to freedom of expression by ensuring national legislation does not unduly limit religiously motivated speech.”
In the end, Christians are asked not to express or even think their religious beliefs. Freedom of expression belongs to others, like the Femen Éloise Bouton, who simulated, topless, the abortion of Christ by the Virgin Mary on the altar of the Madeleine church in Paris in 2013. France sentenced her to one month of suspended prison and a €2,000 fine.
However, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in its ruling of 13 October 2022, sided with the Femen, whose "performance" aimed only to “convey a message related to a public and societal debate in a place of symbolic worship”. Appalled, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) even declared that "it had become a habit at the ECHR to defend these attacks perpetrated in churches and against the Church."
The ECLJ angrily recalls that in March 2022, the European Commission explicitly refused to appoint a inator responsible for combating anti-Christian acts, arguing that “the Commission is committed to protect Christians and members of other religious groups from persecution within the EU and does not make any distinction between religious groups. The Commission has no plans as regards a specific strategy on Christophobia or to appoint a dedicated coordinator on this issue.”
What then should be said about the appointment in 2015 by the same Commission of a "Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism and Fostering Jewish Life" and a "Coordinator on Combating Anti-Muslim Hatred"?
There is no need to engage in a comparative dispute about anti-religious acts targeting one religion or another. The context of the conflict between Israel and Hamas with the surge in anti-Semitic acts does not lend itself to it either. One thing is certain: the European Union and the Council of Europe must acknowledge the tangible rise of anti-Christian acts and Christophobia in Europe and take action to address them.