Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians is the phrase we use to describe the denial of equal rights of Christians and the social marginalisation of Christians. The term "intolerance“ refers to the social dimension, the term "discrimination“, to the legal.
Such intolerant and discriminatory behaviour results from opposition to individual traits of the Christian faith or moral positions that are intrinsically part of the Christian faith, or from a negative categorical bias against Christians or Christianity as a whole. It leads to attacks on the social level (such as negative stereotyping or social exclusion), on the legal level (for example through a discriminatory law or a bias court verdict) and on the political level (exclusion from the public sphere; a resolution of a parliament; etc.).
Christianophobia or Christophobia are common terms describe the phenomenon of intolerance and discrimination against Christians. The term consists of the words "Christian" or "Christ“ and "phobos" (φόβος) which means “irrational fear”. The term means therefore an irrational animosity towards Christ, Christians, or Christianity as a whole. As Christianity is familiar to Europeans, and antagonism against Christians is not due primarily to an "irrational fear of the unknown", we have chosen to use the phrase Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians when speaking about this phenomenon.
We do not use the term persecution when speaking of Christians in Europe, as it refers to a systematic mistreatment commonly understood to focus on imprisonment, torture, execution, or confiscation of property.
The terms "Christophobia" or "Christianophobia" entered the public debate in 2004, in the spring at the UN, and in the fall also at the European Institutions, after the European Parliament caused the rejection of Rocco Buttiglione, a practising Catholic, as a member of the EU commission. Several politicians and diplomates argued that discrimination against Christians must not spread any further. They called on the UN to speak up against Christianophobia, as it has done on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva now speaks of "anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia."