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Report: Christians are being targeted in Europe, with hate crimes up 44 percent in 2023


OIDAC says that Christians and churches are increasingly being attacked for their biblical beliefs by radical political groups, jihadists, Satanists, and even by their own supposedly tolerant governments.

A group that monitors persecution reported that hate crimes against Christians in Europe increased 44 percent last year, with arson attacks jumping 75 percent.

Last Thursday, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians (OIDAC) released its annual report regarding hate crimes against Christians in Europe. The report details an increase in vandalism, arson, defacement, threats, assaults, and government persecution of Christians over the reporting period, which ran from September 2022 to August 2023.

OIDAC said there were 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 European countries. This was an increase from 519 in 2021-2022. Arson attacks rose from 60 to 105.

Of the attacks, 38 were acts of physical violence.

The majority of anti-Christian hate crimes were acts of vandalism committed by unknown perpetrators. However, the report found that hate crimes committed by radicalized members of political groups had increased. The majority of these were perpetrated by far-left political groups such as Antifa, radical feminists, or pro-LGBTQ groups. The report also showed a sharp increase in hate crimes in which the motive was clearly extremism. While in previous year crimes were mostly anonymous and motives weren’t clearly established, many crimes in 2022 and 2023 showed the reason behind the crimes and the group often took credit for the crime.

Christians were also victims of hate crimes by Satanists and Muslims in 11 cases by each group.

The report showed that hate crimes are becoming normalized and more visible.

Another element of the report focused on legal efforts that criminalized Christian belief or actions.

The organization highlighted hate speech laws, explaining that the term “hate speech” has no definition and is often used to stymie Christians from sharing or even demonstrating their beliefs through prayer. One law the report cited is an Irish speech law that criminalizes the mere possession of materials that could be considered to incite hate against a group. The law also reverses the burden of proof, requiring the person who possesses the material to prove that they did not intend to use the material to spread hate.

Countries with similar laws are Spain, the United Kingdom, and Norway. Spain’s “hate speech” law, for example, allows for up to two years in prison for those who “harm the dignity of persons through actions that entail humiliation, disregard or discredit of any of the groups [members belong to an ethnicity, race or nation, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or identity, or due to gender, illness or disability]”.

In the U.K., it is a crime if a person “displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.”

This has led to numerous arrests of Christians due to other people claiming to feel distress on hearing or reading Christian beliefs.

Norway’s hate speech law led to the Church of Norway being asked to remove crosses from its chapels and cemeteries, as they were deemed “threatening.”

The report also cited laws that create “buffer zones” around abortion clinics. These buffer zones ban anyone from holding signs, counseling women, or silently praying within areas surrounding the clinics. While these censorship areas have drawn a great deal of attention in the U.K., they have also been implemented in Spain, Ireland, and Germany.

Another area of concern discussed by the OIDAC report is the push to remove conscience protections for Christians in the medical field. Some in the United Nations and World Health Organization have called for requiring all medical workers to perform abortions and transgender surgeries and hormone treatments.

Also listed were bans on so-called conversion therapy or anything other than affirmation of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. One Spanish law prohibits “the practice of methods, programs and therapies of aversion, conversion or counterconditioning, in any form, aimed at modifying the sexual orientation or identity or gender expression of persons is prohibited, even if they have the consent of the person concerned or his or her legal representative.”

Some European nations are also working to criminalize parents who do not affirm their child’s gender identity. Newly introduced legal provisions in Iceland would subject parents to a prison sentence of up to five years for putting their child through conversion therapy, which is defined as “any type of therapy (….) discouraging someone’s identity.”

In England and Wales, the “Trans Equality Statement” would label it domestic abuse if a parent is guilty of “withholding money for transitioning” or “refusing to use their [children’s] preferred name or pronoun.”

OIDAC summed up its findings by saying,

“The criminalisation of expressions of mainstream religious teachings — which do not incite violence or hatred — as ‘hate speech’ is dangerous on various levels: it blurs the line between legitimate conscience-related convictions and actual incitement to hatred (with the former being a human right and the later a crime), it undermines the plurality of democratic western societies, curbing free speech and thus essentially rendering a free discourse impossible, it stigmatises religion and thus leads to a ‘chilling effect’, affecting believers in the whole region, and it disproportionality infringes on fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression, assembly — and, of course, the freedom to thought, conscience, and religion.”

Socialism has taken root in Europe and is quickly leading to the loss of God-given freedoms in most of its nations. Europe shows the dangers of abandoning Judeo-Christian values, adopting secular humanism as the state belief system, and then letting in untold millions of supposed refugees who hold to ideologies that are anathema to Western civilization without proper vetting. Europe’s culture and its legacy are crumbling while its leaders are operating the wrecking ball. Without protections for free speech and religious liberty, its fall will be swift and great.

America is far from protected from a similar fate.

Our nation is quickly abandoning its founding values and embracing the same godlessness, the same socialism, and the same government elimination of basic freedoms as those across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the southern border has been left unchecked even as millions of immigrants, some coming from China and Iran, storm our nation. If Americans don’t hold leaders to our Constitution and demand the protection of constitutional liberties, we will soon find ourselves criminalized for praying and sharing our faith in public, supporting pro-life pregnancy resource centers, and refusing to call our children by their “preferred” pronouns or trying to keep them from being subjected to Frankensteinian surgeries.

Europe is the canary in the coal mine, and it is starting to warble a death song. If Americans don’t wake up and cry out to God for help and His great mercy, we too will soon find our God-given freedoms, bought and secured by the blood of patriots, to be little more than a distant memory.

The Church must be involved in public discourse and influence. That’s why we write — so our readers can be equipped to understand and pursue righteous change in the world. For more timely, informative, and faith-based content, subscribe to the Standing for Freedom Center newsletter.

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