The historian Dick Harrison recently wrote a review of a book called "The First Right: Freedom of Religion. Freedom from Religion", written by the deputy secretary general of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, Jacob Rudenstrand. The historian commented that the book was worth reading and pointed out that the current persecution of Christians "hardly gets any media attention."
Unknown perpetrators vandalized the Catholic Church of the Good Hirte, using a marker pen to write words and sayings on the pillars and walls inside the church. They further desecrated a Bible, which was open for reading, and a fresco in a side niche. Pastor Gerd Möller said that "the fresco, in particular, will not be easy to restore". According to the Pastor, the attack took place during the morning on August 4 and the damage caused amounts to 10,000 euros. He further added that "the immaterial damage cannot be estimated. A church is a place of encounter with God and prayer. These places are of inestimable value for people who practice their religion". The parish filed a criminal complaint with the police who launched an investigation to find the perpetrators.
The Canadian police released the hate crime data for 2021 on the 3rd of August, showing an alarming rise in anti-religious hate crimes: from 530 cases in 2020 to 884 in 2021. Anti-Catholic hate crimes rose 260%: while there were 43 cases in 2020, it rose to 155 in 2021. Catholics were the second most target group after Jews. Main News Broadcasters reported on these worrying numbers, but although Anti-Catholic motives were the second most targeted religious group and showed the highest rise among all categories, the media only used examples from other groups.
On the 29. July, the wall of the Church of our Lady in Zurich was found with inscriptions in red paint saying: "Burn in Hell", "Strike Fundamentalists on the Mouth" and an anarchist symbol, along with paint dripped over the staircase. For the time being, the parish staff is not allowed to clean up the graffiti, while the crime is being investigated by the police. The shocked priest said he had never experienced anything like this.
During a press conference on the 28. July, the "International Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte (IGFM)" reported on the indifference and even bias present in the BAMF (the Migration Office in Germany) in regard to the fate of Iranian Christian converts, who face persecution or even death if deported to Iran. Pastor Dr. Gottfried Martens, an expert on legal practice and deportation procedures recalls how representatives would make fun of the statements of Christian Iranians, he stated that court hearings were "pure gambling". Many Iranian converts shared their hardships and disappointing experiences with the german authorities.
The church of Saint-François-d'Assise in Perpignan was desecrated on the 23. July in the afternoon by a group of vandals. The perpetrators ransacked the church and the sacristry, they threw the consecrated hosts to the ground and attempted to set fire to a statue of the Virgin Mary and dried flowers. They also broke the safe and looted the little money that was in the church from offerings and donations. The police is investigating the case.
During an interview with the Christian Institute, Dr. James Holt, Chair of the Freedom Declared Foundation, said that there is a lack of religious literacy among some elected officials in the UK. He noted that at the recent International Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief in London, the issue seemed to be addressed mainly as a foreign policy issue and not a domestic concern. He considers that "much more needs to be done" to counter anti-religious hatred in the UK and secure religious freedom.
Between July 10 and 19, unknown vandals smashed two windows in the parish of St. Paul in Klein. The perpetrators threw stones at the windows, creating a total of five holes distributed over the panes' surface. The total amount of the property damage has not been assessed yet but, according to the police, it is estimated to be around several thousand euros, since "these are very old and colorful stained glass panes".
The facade of St. Agostino's Church, located in via Principi D'Acaja, was smeared with writings by perpetrators who were unaware of the security cameras in the vicinity. Thanks to the surveillance system the police were able to identify those responsible for damaging the church. Federico Battel, the commander of the Municipal Police of Pinerolo, disclosed that "we are talking about some girls, probably adults, from the shooting we recognize the faces well, now we are working to trace the names and surnames. Subsequently, we will proceed to report for damage and the costs of the restoration will also be charged".
Rosa Lalor, who on the 24th of February of 2021 was fined for praying silently on the public street, and later decided to challenge the sanction, won her appeal. At the time, the police considered that she did not have a "reasonable excuse" to be outside, even though she explained that she was simply "walking and praying" and that daily exercise was allowed. She received a fine of £200 and was then detained in the police car. Rosa Lalor decided to challenge the fine, with the help of ADF UK and won the case in court.
On the early evening of July 18, two people attending the church in Leezen noticed smoke building up in the rear area of the church and alerted the authorities. According to the police's preliminary investigations, a box with candles was lit on fire inside the church, deeming this case an "attempted serious arson". However, the extent of the damage caused could not be assessed yet. The police are looking for witnesses who might have seen people acting suspiciously on the church grounds. The arson motive was confirmed later on.
A Christian mayoral candidate for Lewisham, Maureen Martin, has launched legal action after being sacked for her statement on Christian beliefs about marriage in her election manifesto. She was dismissed by her housing association employer L&Q for "gross misconduct" following three complaints of "hate speech" against her, as she expressed her belief that a marriage between a man and a woman was a "fundamental building block in society" and the "safest environment to raise a child".
Between July 16 and 17, a glazed door of a Catholic Church was destroyed by unknown people. During the previous week, another attack took place in the same church, in which unknown perpetrators destroyed a stained glass window. Both cases were reported to the police who opened an investigation.
Dymytrij Rudyuk, the Lviv Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OKU), accused the Russian army and the Moscow Patriarch Cyril of being responsible for torturing Ukrainian Orthodox priests. In an interview, he claimed that "the majority of OKU priests had to flee the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. Those who stayed are often tortured. Five Orthodox priests were shot and a priest-monk was cruelly tortured to death".
During the night between July 15 and 16, unknown perpetrators vandalized Rydboholm's church in Borås with swastikas, penises, and the word 'Hitler'. The security company was the first to notice the graffiti on the church's facade. When Pastor Sven-Erik Olsson arrived at the church, he noticed how much worse the case actually was: "There is graffiti on windows, on doors, flower pots and even on the stone stairs in front of the gate. It's outrageous, it's the whole community's church". The police were alerted and are looking into the case.
On the 15. July during the night, a 60-year-old restaurant chef witnessed how 3 men were vandalizing the St. Augustine Church in the centre of Cagliari and reprimanded the perpetrators to stop throwing bottles at the church. The three men then attacked him, beating him up and spraying pepper spray on him. The victim was taken to the hospital, he had three broken ribs and a chest injury. The police identified one of the perpetrators through the victim`s testimony and surveillance cameras.
The priest of the church of San Giorgio, Don William Maggioni, discovered on the morning of the 11. July that two pyxes, containing hosts inside, were missing from the tabernacle behind the altar. The burglars also forced the tabernacle of the altar of the Madonna open, which was found empty. In addition, the golden crown of St. Valentine was robbed as well. Don William alerted the police who started an investigation to find the perpetrators.
Two free evangelical churches have appealed to the Geneva Court due to the denial of their requests to perform baptisms on public beaches. On July 8, the Swiss canton of Geneva banned baptisms organized by evangelical churches in Lake Geneva, but the same baptisms are allowed in Vaud, an area that covers the northern shore of the Lake. The Swiss Evangelical Alliance wrote in a media release that they were shocked that Geneva, the human rights capital, would take such a "restrictive and exclusionary approach to religious freedom".
Between the 9. and 10. July, unknown vandals broke into the pilgrimage church "Maria Hilf", in the city of Batzhausen, and stole 30 organ pipes and 16 gold-plated candlesticks. According to the police, the damage caused by the burglary amounts to 24,000 euros. Unfortunately, they did not stop here and caused even greater property damages: they broke the church doors open and ripped out the organ pipes, causing damage that adds up to 40,000 euros. It seems like the organ was in fact destroyed, it is unclear if it is possible to repair it or not.
On July 10, unknown people smashed the window pane of St. Stephen's Church. Traces of blood were found at the scene meaning the perpetrators injured themselves by breaking the window. The motive is not clear since nothing was missing from the church. The case was reported to the police who launched an investigation.
Between the morning of July 9 and the morning of the 10th, unknown people broke the ground-level window of St. Michael's Church, causing material damage that amounts to 300 euros. It appears that the frame was kicked with a foot which caused the pane to break. The police was alerted and are now looking for witnesses who might have information on the case.
On the 10th of July, unknown vandals sprayed the entrance door and a wooden shed of a church with two white paint graffiti inscriptions. The property damage caused has not been assessed yet but the police have been alerted and are looking into the case.
During the night of July 10, unknown vandals damaged the facade of the evangelical church in Moers with hateful red tags. The sexton could not make sense of the writings left by the vandals. He believes this act was meant to target the church, although he was "not sure if the perpetrators even knew that this is a Protestant church". The writings included the words "Pontifex" and "F*ck Masonry", among others. The case was reported to the police who handed the investigation over to State Security, due to the possibility of the attack having a political background.
On the 8th of July, two young girls, aged between 12 and 15, vandalized a church located on Innsbruck's Spingeser Strasse. According to the police report, the two "destroyed bibles, candles, and sacrificial box candle jars". They further shattered flower pots, ripped seat cushions from the benches, and threw a statue from a pedestal. The total amount of the damages caused has not been accessed yet, but the case was reported to the police who started an investigation.
On July 8, unknown thieves broke into the Catholic Church of St. Joseph and searched the rooms inside the building. They stole several sacred objects, "including a crucifix, monstrance, and chalice", causing a still unknown amount of property damage. The case was reported to the police who opened an investigation to find the perpetrators.
Between the evening of July 4 and the morning of July 5, unknown vandals poured a kilo of sugar into the Holy Water font of the Church of St. Joseph. The sugar was taken from the pantry with food donations in Lindlar - the baskets had been put up in the Church for a while so donators can place the food there. This has not been the first distasteful prank taking place in the Church of St. Joseph in recent months. Heinz Otto Höher says, even though nothing was stolen "we want to know who is behind it", now considering installing a surveillance system in the church, to avoid the recurrence of similar cases. Nonetheless, a good thing came out of this bad situation: "After it became known in Kirchdorf, we received numerous food donations that more than compensate for the loss of sugar".
The Italian Mario Mauro was appointed the new EU Commissioner for Religious Freedom after the position was vacant for 9 months, ever since the previous Commissioner, Stylianides, resigned. Before Stylianide's appointment, the post was vacant for 10 months, which indicates that it is not a priority for the European Commission. It only attempted to fill the vacancy after some politicians, and other figures pressed the issue.
Unknown thieves stole a historic 17th-century crown from a church in Weikersheim. According to the information provided by the police, the thieves also stole two cable drums from the church. The total amount of the valuables stolen is in the five-digit range. It was the 3rd reported theft at the church only in the month of June and the police "are examining a connection between the crimes". In the previous thefts, the unknown perpetrators stole construction equipment and building materials.
On the 29th of June, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., unknown people entered the church of St. Pantaleon in Walpertshofen and vandalized it. First, they damaged the entrance door of the church and inside tore a tile out of the wall. Then, they ripped out the pages from the hymn and prayer books and scattered them through the church. The vandals continued to damage the church by lighting candles and spreading the wax on the floor and on the pews, in addition to knocking over chairs and flowers. They fled the scene leaving significant property damage behind, which is estimated to amount to 2,000 euros. The case was reported to the police who started an investigation to find the perpetrators.
According to the Leubsdorf police, between June 23 and 28, unknown vandals daubed and sprayed the catholic church building with black paint graffiti and by smearing it with rowan berries. The police were alerted and are looking for witnesses to help them identify the perpetrators.
On the night of the 28th of June, an unknown person attempted to set a fire in the Cathedral of Malaga, by placing flammable liquid in the corners of the old wooden door. Fortunately, it did not produce the outcome desired and did not cause any significant damages thanks to the rapid action of young people who called the emergency services. The only visible damages were on the door jambs, "in which the stone and wood have been blackened". The police opened an investigation and started analyzing the surveillance cameras to find the perpetrator.
On the 27th of June, the Spanish Cabinet approved the so-called 'trans law', despite controversy. Now it goes to the Spanish Parliament "where an intense debate is expected". According to the government, the purpose of this law is "to advance in the depathologisation of transsexuality and gender self-determination". The law has been criticized, as it criminalizes content that questions the trans ideology, including anything that might be understood as "conversion therapy", and it undermines parental rights.
Between June 20 and 26, the Reliquary of St. Namphaise was stolen from the church of Caniac-du-Causse, along with several other valuable objects, such as the ciborium containing the consecrated hosts. Father Michel Cambon, Chancellor of the Diocese of Cahors, was the one who noticed the theft and alerted the police, who started investigating. It is the 14th church of the vicinity reported looted, in only a few months.
Unknown vandals tagged the walls of the church of Saint-Martin-duTouch, the statue of the Virgin, and the war memorial with insulting writings. On the wall of the bell tower, they wrote "fuck Jesus", and on the Statue of the Virgin obscene writings and signatures were found. Jean-Jacques Bolzan, the neighborhood mayor and deputy mayor of Toulouse said this was a severe attack and commented: "with our CCTV cameras, I hope we can identify the authors of these tags. Of course, we will not stop there".
In the city of St. Petersburg, on June 26, a man decided to set a fire to the Church of Saint Basil the Great, after having an argument with his wife about the amount of money she donated to this congregation. According to a Russian newspaper "He always worked, they have four children and his wife works in the church. Everything he earned, she took to the temple. That's why they had a conflict".
The evangelical Christian preacher and member of the Free Speech Union, Hatun Tash, was arrested on the 26th of June, at Speakers’ Corner. It was her third arrest in two years. Apparently, she was dragged by a group of police officers, who took her to the police station, "strip-searched, interviewed, kept overnight in a cell and then released without charge". She was released the next day, interestingly, on the 150th anniversary of Speakers’ Corner.
The Liberal Swedish Party wants to completely ban denominational independent schools, within the framework of the Swedish school system. Previously, they intended to block the opening of new religious schools but now they claim that the existing ones should also be closed in the next term. The chairman of the Christian Free School Council, Jan Rosman, says this "would definitely be a violation of religious freedom".
Between the evening of June 22 and the morning of the 23rd, unknown vandals threw paving stones at a total of three church windows in Leipzig. The total amount of damages is estimated to be around 300 euros. The case was reported to the police and a case was opened to investigate the vandalistic act.
On June 22, a surveillance camera of the church of St. Andrzej Bobola recorded a man entering the vestibule of the building, damaging the cross, and then leaving the church. The video was sent to the police, who published a picture of the unknown vandal. They opened an investigation to gather evidence and witnesses who might be able to identify the perpetrator.
The police announced on the 21st of June, that a statue of the Virgin Mary was stolen from the Church of St. Wenzeslaus in Schönsee, by unknown burglars. The statue was apparently ripped out from its attachment to the wall. It is approximately 100 years old, with 75 centimeters, hand-carved, and worth around 5,000 euros. It is not yet known the exact date and time the crime occurred, but the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office is looking into the case in order to find the culprits.
According to the diocese of Fulda, on the 19th of June, a valuable bronze cross was stolen from the Bonifatius tomb, in the Fulda Cathedral. It appears that the cross was violently torn from its anchorage, which likely damaged it in the process. The theft was reported to the police, which opened an investigation to find the burglars.
On the night between June 15 and 16. June, unidentified vandals glued the locks and the doors of the two entrances to the church of Peter and Paul in Biegenstrasse, blocking its access. A locksmith had to be called to the scene to repair the entrances in order to allow the Corpus Christi service and the procession for this festivity to take place in the church. The police were alerted and started an investigation to find the ones responsible for the vandalistic act.
Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., on 16. June, a Catholic Church was broken into by unknown people, who got access to the church through the entrance of the sacristy. They stole several objects, but it has not been clarified yet how many valuables were stolen. Nonetheless, the total damage caused to the property is estimated to be around several thousand euros. The case was reported to the police on the 19th of June, which opened an investigation to find the ones responsible for the burglary.
On June 13, between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. unknown vandals broke into the Catholic Church in Helden, where they vandalized several furnishings and stole the microphone that was on the altar. The property damage is estimated to be in the four-digit euro range. Also, between June 12 and 13, unidentified thieves stole decorations from a grave in the cemetery located behind the church. It is unclear whether these acts were committed by the same perpetrators.
On June 13, a fire was set to a palm tree in the garden of the church of San Leopoldo Mandic, in Padua. The friars reported the case to the police, whose investigations led to the 17-year-old teenager from Ponte San Nicolò, then held responsible for the damage. Fortunately, no significant damage was recorded, apart from that caused to the plant.
During the night, between the 11th and the 12th of June, the church of Sant'Antonio di Padova was the target of an act of vandalism. Unknown people entered the church, by breaking a window, possibly looking to steal money or some valuable items. The vandals did not steal anything, but started drinking inside the church and vandalized it. Consecrated hosts were found scattered on the floor and the tablecloth on the altar had traces of blood. The blood found is suspected to be from one of the thieves who might have been injured while breaking into the church. The case was reported to the police, who started conducting investigations and collected the bloody tablecloth hoping it leads them to the culprits.
Between June 12 and 16, four Protestant Churches were harassed in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine, by soldiers and officials. Three of the churches are located in the Donetsk region - Central Baptist Church, the Church of Christ the Saviour in Mariupol, and a church in Manhush - and the other one is a church in Vasilievka in the Zaporizhia region. According to Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, representative of the Voice of the Martyrs Korea, officials conducted searches in these churches, demanded to see documents, confiscated equipment, and even forced church members to exit the building.
A 26-year-old man was arrested for painting inscriptions on the façade of a church in Złotoryja, as well as some other buildings. He used spray paint and his vandalistic act was recorded by surveillance cameras. He could face up to 5 years in prison.
On the 8th of June, an unknown vandal destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Kluki commune in Poland. The residents were shocked by the hateful act and recalled other religious sights that had been damaged in the area. No official report had been submitted to the police yet.
During a debate on 8. June in the European Parliament, triggered by the massacre of Christians in Nigeria that happened in a Church during a Pentecostal Mass, Commissioner Valdis Dombrovski severely downplayed the attacks by attributing them to "underlying causes beyond faith" such as "scarce resources", and "poor education", "unemployment", among others. These affirmations ignore that the perpetrators belong to the jihadist terrorist organization Boko Haram. Such statements push the narrative away from the issue of the terrible human rights violations of religious freedom in Nigeria, which has already claimed the lives of thousands of Christians in the last years.