On the 13th November, the door of the Sankt Laurentius church in Langenhorn was set on fire by unknown perpetrators. A video of the crime was uploaded on the internet but it has been removed again. A vandal threw a Molotov Cocktail at the church and posted a video of the flames. The police opened an investigation with the video.
On Sunday, October 30, the rector of the Church of St. Andrew the First-Called on Vuoksa (Vasilevo village, Priozersky district of Leningrad region) contacted the police. He reported that unknown perpetrators tried to set fire to the structure of a wooden church. The fire burned part of the outer wall of the church. The vandals also broke down the gate to the bridge leading to the temple. The rector of the temple said that he had not had conflicts with anyone.
Between the 22. and 28. of October, the windows of the Protestant church in Urspringen were damaged by unknown perpetrators. An employee of the church filed a complaint for damage to property. She had found four small holes in the windows of the church. According to the police, the affected panes are at a height of three metres. The damage amounts to about 500 euros.
In the morning of October 27. a man vandalised the church of San Carlo in Lugano. First, holding a vase of flowers, he hit the protective glass of the statue of the Virgin above the altar. Then he used a candleholder to destroy other statues and objects in the church, including decapitating a plaster statue of Padre Pio. The sacristan's wife, assisted by another person, locked the intruder in the church and called the police. The sacristan, who arrived at the church shortly after, tried to stop the intruder, who then attempted to assault him.
In Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Territory, the Military Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation intends to open a criminal case against two members of the Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity for refusing to go to the war for religious reasons. If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to three years. The two Christians, Sergey Tarasov and Maxim Drozdov were called under the mobilization decree on 24 September. As they objected for religious reasons, the commander refused their appeal.
On the night of the 25. Oktober, unknown burglars entered the Evangelical Lutheran Emmaus Church in Leipzig by smashing a window. They damaged parts of the furnishings and the organ room, causing considerable damage mostly to the sanctuary. Among other items, the altar cross was stolen, leaving toilet paper instead. The perpetrators also set fire to the church. The amount of damage could not yet be quantified.
After an emergency call on Sunday night (23. October), multiple police officers from the Leipzig police department went out on a large-scale operation including explosives experts and sniffer dogs. Someone had made a threat of a bombing a church. A 36-year-old man has been identified and arrested as the main suspect.
It was reported on the 20. October that the walls of the Sint-Elisabeth Church in Kortrijk were vandalized with crossed-out crosses and the word "F*CK" written with black spray paint. This is not the first time the church has faced vandalism. The pastor of the church, Guido Cooman, said that he is going to file a complaint with the police.
The Russian Embassy in Portugal denounced that Fr Sergiy Borsky, of the All Saints Parish of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Lisbon, "has received several threats to his life and physical integrity" and had been criminally attacked.
On the 17. October, the police in Lubasz were notified that an unknown vandal had severely damaged the statue of John Paul II, which was estimated at a loss of PLN 1,500. The 20-year-old perpetrator has been caught by the police and now faces up to 5 years imprisonment for the crime he committed. However, the final punishment will be decided by the court.
The European Court of Human Rights has recently concluded that Eloïse Bouton, a "Femen" member who performed a topless act simulating an abortion of Christ by the Virgin Mary in front of the altar and tabernacle of La Madeleine Church in Paris in 2013, has to be compensated. She had been sentenced by the French court to a one-month suspended prison and 2,000 euro fine for "sexual exhibition". She had also desecrated the altar of the church with urination and anti-Christian slogans and symbolism. With this ruling, a dangerous record of precedents is being created that will only encourage more blasphemous attacks on Christians.
In a Press Release on the 13. October, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) stated: “The internal rule of an undertaking prohibiting the visible wearing of religious, philosophical or spiritual signs does not constitute direct discrimination if it is applied to all workers in a general and undifferentiated way.” This means, now companies can prohibit workers to use religious symbols at work, including cross necklaces or headscarves. This will not be considered discrimination against religious groups, as long as it applies to all religions.
Two Russian Orthodox hieromonks (monks who are also priests in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism) had criminal cases opened against them for opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine on religious grounds. Forum 18 is following the cases and reports that Fr Nikandr Pinchuk's first full trial hearing in Sverdlovsk Oblast is due on 17 October, while Fr Ioann Kurmoyarov, who is in pre-trial detention since early June, has his trial on 14 November in St Petersburg.
In May 2019, Dr. Richard Scott faced an investigation by the NHS England (National Health Service) after several complaints were made about him offering prayer to patients, as he discussed this practice during a BBC Radio 4 interview. Dr. Scott faced an investigation to see if he was fit for practice, but the case has now been settled between Dr. Scott and the NHS, as reported on the news at the beginning of October. He has agreed to attend a course about professional boundaries and at the same time, with no admittance of wrongdoing.
Between the 7. and 8. October, unknnown perpetrators threw apples at the hexagonal baroque windows of a collegiate church in Klagenfurt. The police has to quantify the amount of the damage to property.
The UK's already controversial Public Order Bill has received an amendment proposal that would criminalize supporting women seeking an abortion within a 150-meter "buffer zone" from an abortion clinic. Apart from the fact that this would open the way for authorities to repress Christian street preachers, this amendment means that prayer or any kind of help inside the "buffer zones" could lead to an up to two-year jail sentence. Laws like this already exist in Northern Ireland since March, and will also be a reality in Scotland in the near future.
After a fire on September 25, where arson has not been ruled out, media sources reported on October 6 that Belarusian authorities are terminating the Red Church's use agreement with the Roman Catholic parish community of St. Simon and St. Helen. Notice of this has already been received by the church authorities and the parish has been ordered to take all belongings from the temple within a few days.
It was reported on the 6th of October that Minsk authorities closed a religious school at the Catholic Christian Social Center of the city. Police were sent to the centre to check "whether there were any classes there", Radio Svaboda reports. According to Fr. Yuri Sanko, Minsk authorities ordered the social and educational parts to be closed on August the 30th.
A new report on "Hate Crimes Based on Religion, Belief or Nonbelief in Turkey" by the Freedom of Belief Initiative of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee describes the increasing problem of hate incidents against religious minorities in the country. These attacks target Christians, Jews, Alevis (a branch of Shīʿa Islam with some pre-Islamic influences, which is practiced mainly in Turkey), and atheists. The nature of the hate attacks varies between damage to property, threats, violent attacks against individuals, damage to places of worship and cemeteries, harassment, and insults. Some places belonging to religious communities have been repeatedly targeted.
A TikTok video shows how a large group of young people vandalize the Cathedral of Lugo – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2015 – by climbing up and down its facade in a kind of competition. Earlier this year, in March there was another incident of vandalism at the cathedral, as three young men urinated on its facade. The damage done was estimated around 900 Euro by the police.
A new report was submitted to the Scottish Government on the 4th of October that could criminalize efforts by parents to mentor their children according to their beliefs, with the possibility of losing parental custody. Prayers and private conversations could also be criminalized. The report considers "conversion practices" as "any treatment, practice or effort that aims to change, suppress, and/or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.".
In the city of Vöhringen, unknown perpetrators threw several eggs at the façade wall of the front side and the main entrance of the church in the Roselfelder Straße between 31 October and 3 November. After it was cleaned, not all residues could be removed, according to the police report, which estimates the damage caused at several hundred euros.
During the week of the 3rd of October, the Saint-Joseph chapel in Saint-Pol-de-Léon was vandalised by unknown perpetrators. The door was smashed with an axe and the cupboards were searched. The perpetrators also broke windows, dishes and kitchenware. Some electronic devices were stolen and the library was ransacked. On top of that, inside the tabernacle, the vandals smashed crucifixes and other sacred symbols. A case has been filed with the police.
On the Sunday night of October the 2nd, an unidentified person threw bleach from a balcony at the image of the Virgin of the Rosary when the statue was in procession near the Cathedral. The Local Police were immediately informed and are trying to identify the perpetrator of this hate crime.
A statue of the Virgin Mary was thrown into the garden of the parish of San Miguel Arcángel in Las Rozas, Madrid, on the night of the 1st to the 2nd of October. The parish priest, José Antonio Buceta Toro, denounced the act on Sunday morning and informed the police.
On the 2nd of October, a student was arrested in Montpellier after threatening to set fire to the church of Saint-François d'Assise. She said that she could not stand the noise of the church bells. The woman is said to have stormed into the church at the time of service (around 11.30 am) and threatened to set fire to the church, referencing what happened at Notre Dame in Paris. Given the aggressive behaviour towards the parish volunteers, she has been banned from entering the church.
In the district of Haselbach in Braunau, a sacristan was brutally beaten up during his evening prayers on the 29. September. The perpetrator has been identified as a 26-year-old homeless man from Romania. The perpetrator had asked the 87-year-old sacristan for money, who had given him some help before. This time, the sacristan refused and the young man decided to attack him. The victim was found by witnesses, who saw him severely injured and alerted the police.
Between September 25 and 28, unknown perpetrators forced open an entrance door of the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Holy Trinity Church) and thus entered the church building. Inside, cupboards and donation boxes were broken open and an unknown amount of money was stolen from them. The damage to property cannot yet be quantified, reports the local police.
On September 27, a number of brass chalices and two big screens were stolen from the basilica of the Santissima Annunziata di Firenze in Montecosaro. The chalices are sacred objects that are used to celebrate Mass.
It was reported on the 27. September that the Municipal Committee of the Aragonese Party (PAR) criticised the vandalism caused to the exterior of the church of La Magdalena in Zaragoza. The exterior wall of the church is covered in graffiti that includes offensive expressions or insults against the clergy.
Belarusian Police banned New Life Church from meeting for dominical worship in the parking lot of the church building from which they had been forcibly evicted. On 25 September officials ordered the Belarussian Police to ban the Sunday meeting and detain anyone who did not leave, while pastors Vyacheslav Goncharenko and Antoni Bokun were detained and fined for having organized the 18 September 2022 service.
The position of an EU Envoy of Religious Freedom is still vacant. The position was left vacant for 2 years, until it was briefly held by Christos Stylianides from May to September 2021. He left the role, as he was offered a different position only 5 months later. In 2022, it was communicated that Mario Mauro would be confirmed as a new Envoy, but there has not been any further confirmation. On the 23. September 2022, Marco Gombacci wrote an Open Letter to Ursula von der Leyen questioning why the EU is not making the safeguarding of Religious Freedom a priority, given its "indispensable value for defining democracies and states under the rule of law".
On the 20. September, a large-scale study was published by the Faith and Media Initiative (FAMI), which looks at the portrayal of faith and religion in the media. The study revealed there is a strong demand across the world for more news and media coverage about faith. It also shows that journalists and editors admit coverage of faith-related topics is rarely encouraged in the industry. The study had 9,000 respondents, including citizens, journalists, and editors from 18 countries and major religions. An important finding was that the general population feels that "media coverage can perpetuate faith-related stereotypes rather than protect against them."
The diocese of Jaén reported that on the 19. September, a robbery and a desecration took place in the parish church of Our Lady of Carmen. The perpetrators stole money from the lampstand and broke into the tabernacle. The consecrated hosts were scattered on the floor, which is what struck the community the most. The Bishop of Jaén, Monsignor Sebastián Chico Martínez, condemned the incident and asked all the parishes to worship a prayer of atonement during that week.
A Scottish politician, John Mason, has been disciplined by party leaders at Holyrood after he showed support for pro-life activism outside hospitals. He was sent a written warning and was accused of causing women “great distress” for his remarks on abortion and buffer zones outside clinics. The news was reported recently on the 15. September.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has pronounced in favor of the legislation meant to limit pro-life activity around abortion clinics, which could lead to the creation of abortion clinic "buffer zones" across Scotland. The First Minister suggested that pro-life groups could protest in front of the Scottish parliament instead of gathering outside abortion clinics. A legal counsel for ADF UK, Mr. Igunnubole, warns that such laws do not possess a "reasonable excuse" to ignore basic tenets of the rule of law, such as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly.
In the city of Leeds, members of society raised concerns, claiming that street preachers in the city center are using hate speech and homophobic language. The local council, together with the Police have now issued a new "code of conduct", in which they tell preachers that they respect their freedom of expression, but also recognise that it may be limited to "prevent disorder or crime".
Rev Dr. Bernard Randall is a Christian chaplain who was reported to a terrorist watchdog by the school he worked at, after giving a sermon addressing the new LGBT Guidelines and telling his pupils it was ok to make up their own minds, as long as they remain respectful towards other's opinions. He is now facing a high-profile Employment Tribunal hearing and has even been blacklisted as a safeguarding risk to children by the Church of England (CofE). Dr. Randall says he was interrogated and told that refusing to capitulate to the allegation and denying his beliefs made him a risk. The diocese safeguarding team concluded ‘the Church itself is a risk factor.’
The parishioners of a Romanian Orthodox Church found the door locked with chains and a padlock on Sunday 21. August. Unknown vandals" had wrapped a chain around the iron knobs of the front door of the St. Roque's church in Valletta, they also locked the chain with a padlock. The president of the community, Fr George-Alexandru Popescu, told the newspaper that he contacted the people of the parish to see if someone had locked the doors in this way, but found out that it was an act of vandalism. Another incident had already happened in November of last year, when vandals poured gasoline on the parvis.
On 21. August, "Grimsby Live" reported that the Willows Community Church in Grimsby had been tagged with slogans about sex and drugs that affected the community. Organizers of the Church repainted the walls within hours after the desecration took place. And the news outlet chose not to publish the pictures of the vandalistic act, due to the nature of the slogans. The police was notified and they will run an investigation.
Teenager vandals entered the Church in Pionca di Vigonza with their bikes and set fire to a Crucifix on the 18. August. One parishioner noticed the smoke coming out of the Church. The Carabinieri has identified two young boys, who committed the arson by placing candles under a Crucifix inside the church. Fortunately, the flames were extinguished within minutes. The police is still investigating to identify other perpetrators.
On the 16. August, the tabernacle of the parish of Santa María Reparadora in Santander was desecrated. The perpetrators stole the ciborium with the consecrated hosts that were reserved inside, as well as the virile of a monstrance. The Diocese of Santander and the National Police confirmed that a group of unidentified individuals desecrated the temple. It seems that at least one parishioner witnessed the incident, seeing how two persons went to the tabernacle, opened it, and took the sacred objects. Fr Antonio Arribas, media delegate of the Diocese, told ACI Prensa that the incident has been reported to the Police.
Three armed and masked individuals robbed the presbytery of a church in Gironde during a baptism ceremony on the 14. August. The perpetrators stole a chest that contained the money of a week's collections. As one of the priests found the robbers, one of them pointed his handgun at him while the others fled. The police were immediately alarmed, but they did not manage to arrest the criminals. The amount of damage is around 2000 Euros and the police has opened an investigation.
The Church of Buissenal was vandalized on the night of 13. to 14. August by unknown perpetrators. The vandals broke into the building by destroying stained glass windows and left a message on the main altar with the word "EVIL". They also defaced two grave markers in the cemetery.
The doors and several sections of the façade of the Saint-Patrice church in Rouen were tagged with insulting slogans and militant symbols on the night of Saturday 13. August. The Diocese released a statement expressing the sadness due to the desecration and announced that the parish has filed a complaint with the police for damage to property. The tags were removed from the historic Church on the 16. August.
Germany rejected the asylum application made in 2018 by Hassan, a 44-year-old Iranian who converted to Christianity in Iran and was prosecuted for the same reason. When he testified before the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany, he disclosed that he learned about Christianity in Iran through his brother-in-law, who had been imprisoned for his activities and was then killed for practicing his faith in jail. During the second week of August, the European Court of Human Rights refused to listen to Hassan's case, meaning now he faces the threat of being deported to his home country, where he will likely face imprisonment or death.
The columns and the flower boxes of the Church of San Benedetto in Livorno have been spray-painted with red tags. Some of the inscriptions that defaced the Church said "No Nazi" and "1312". It is presumed that it is the same vandals that have vandalized a statue of Canapone in the Piazza XX Settembre. A concierge hopes that the security cameras might help identify the perpetrator.
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."
On Sunday 7. August, tthe police in Murcia arrested two men after they attacked the church of San Bartolomé during the celebration of Mass. The perpetrators, aged 24 and 27, who are originally from Estonia, entered the church shouting and obscene gestures. The parish priest and several parishioners tried to intervene and stop them before they gained access to the tabernacle. The parishioners told the police officers the details of the incident and regretted the lack of respect by these individuals for their faith and the violation of their freedom of worship. The perpetrators have been handed over to the Examining Magistrate's Court on duty.
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.