The high rate of hate crimes and growing secular intolerance are having a devastating effect on Christians’ religious freedom.
Newsroom (16/11/2022 8:56 AM, Gaudium Press) The Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians (OIDAC) has documented more than 500 cases of hate crimes against Christians and Christian institutions in 19 European countries in the year 2021.
The report, published on 14 November, focuses on three main points of intolerance against Christians in European countries: anti-Christian hate crimes, censorship, and negative stereotypes and treatment of Christians in the media. OIDAC also discusses Covid-19’s disproportionate regulations for churches. The report looks at other forms of discrimination through legislation and lack of competence of authorities to deal with cases involving religion and religious freedom.
In addition to hate crimes such as vandalism, theft, or arson, the observatory also recorded an “alarming number” of negative stereotypes, alleged justifications for violence, or direct insults against Christians or Christian denominations by public figures, including politicians or journalists. Specifically, OIDAC identifies “a worrying trend in which society seems indifferent to derogatory statements and misrepresentations directed at Christians, particularly when compared to other religious groups.”
Examples of intolerance
As an example, a singer was labelled by journalists as disabled because he is a Christian. They refused to apologize, claiming that “any religious belief is a mental diagnosis from my point of view. Feel free to be offended“.
In several “journalistic articles they labelled Christianity as a ‘dangerous ideology’ and believers were labelled ‘stupid, religious fanatics’.”
“In November 2021, Beatriz Bandera, a Spanish far-left activist, published a video of a procession in Seville during Holy Week with the caption ‘Our Taliban’, comparing Catholics to radical Islamic terrorists. In September in Spain, a member of the left-wing political party ‘Unidas Podemos’ commented on a news item recalling 7000 Catholics murdered during the Spanish Civil War: “Only 7000? What a shame, it should have been more”.
The report warns that “growing secular intolerance” is having a negative impact on the freedom of Christian religion. One of the main developments in relation to intolerance is the censorship of Christians in the public space, on media platforms, but also in the private sphere or at work.
The Managing Director of OIDAC Europe, Madeleine Enzlberger, warned: “Tolerance and respect must be applied and protected equally for all groups in society. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of freedom of religion, not only for Christians around the world, but also for non-believers.”
Compiled by Sandra Chisholm