Rev. Ioann Burdin, a Russian Orthodox priest, was arrested after he gave a speech that condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine. His speech, given in the Karabanovo village, was said to “discredit(ing) the use of the Armed Forces” reported the BBC. His name was also on a public letter signed by 285 Russian Orthodox priests which called for an end to the war.
The Swedish Minister of Education, Lina Axelsson Kihlblom, announced the next step in the Social Democrat's plan to ban private religious schools. It will impose stricter regulations on schools that require them to report all religious activities and principals will have to pass "democratic conditions" to have their position. These new regulations have been introduced in the "democracy clause" and were justified with the need for "democratic control" of education.
The website of the Stanley Road Baptist Church in Morecambe, Lancashire was suspended by its host firm Torrix since the pastor signed an anti-conversion therapy letter. This letter was addressed to Liz Truss, whose governmental department will be dealing with proposed legislation to ban conversion therapy. Matt Fletcher, the Torrix proprietor, said he cannot support anything that opposes the LGBTQ+ movement. Rev. Hewitt commented his sadness for this development, but still expressed gratefulness for the working relationship they had with Torrix.
Stephen Donnelly, Irish Minister of Health, announced that the government plans to draft legislation regarding safe zones around abortion clinics before the Dáil summer break. This proposed law aims create a 100 meter zone around abortion facilities in which people cannot protest. This will severely restrict peoples freedom to express their beliefs on this issue, especially Christians who tend to hold pro-life views.
On March 8th, the façade of the Santissima Annunziata church in Turin, was defaced with anti - Christian graffiti by feminists during National Women's Day. The floor and steps were covered with purple paint that condemned the "patriarchy" of the church. This act showed an apparent ignorance to the role Christianity has played to improve the rights of women.
The St. Bernadette church in Montpellier, has once again been tagged with anti - Christian phrases such as, "the only church that illuminates is the one that burns". There have been a series of vandalistic attacks to this church and churches in the Montpellier area but no one has been identified despite an investigation launched by the national police.
The Beverwijk Mennonite Church was the victim of a vandalistic attack on March 8th. The intruder succeeded in kicking a chandelier from the ceiling but due to the lack of surveillance, was not caught. This location has also become a drug trafficking sight and cameras would help prevent that as well.
During the night of March 6th, burglars force their way into the St. Joseph Hospital Church and stole the key to the tabernacle. To do this, they broke through a wooden door and pushed open the door of the sacristy. The tabernacle holds the sacred hosts which shows this was a targeted act.
Four mothers of soldiers were detained for praying for peace in Ukraine at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. They, along with 100 other soldiers' mothers, were attending the regular evening prayer when the officers followed them into the main Orthodox cathedral of the city and after the service, demanded their documents and then took them for questioning. They were taken to the Central District Police Station and were released four hours later.
MLA's in Northern Ireland voted in support of a bill that will create "safe zones" around abortion clinics despite 98 percent of the 6,412 public submissions expressing strong opposition to it. This proposed legislation, from Green Party leader Clare Bailey, will make it illegal to “influenc[e] a [person seeking an abortion], whether directly or indirectly” within “safe access zones” reported the Right to Life News. Christians who hold pro-life views will find it difficult to freely express them under this proposed legislation.
Father Maksym Kozachyna, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was killed near Ivankiv on March 3rd when the Russian troops were advancing. He was in uniform at the time and an eye witness said he was pulled out of a car and shot. The Russian military has often targeted religious leaders during their invasion.
On March 1st, unknown perpetrators broke into the Villach parish church and tore off the metal decoration of a picture of the Virgin Mary while also stealing five gold plated candlesticks worth several hundred euros. During the police investigation, two metal bowls from the holy water font were also found near the crime scene.
A man, who has been identified by the police and arrested, spat in the face of a priest at the Saint Michel church in Bordeaux. Foreigners had set up stalls inside the church without permission and the police had to intervene. At the exit of the church, a priest was blessing those in the square when a man allegedly spat in his face. The priest has chosen not to press charges due to the church policy of maintaining peace.
Charity and Faith leaders around the UK have raised freedom of speech concerns in regard to Part 3 of the Policing, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts bill (PCSC). This bill empowers police officers to impose conditions or arrest public demonstrators who cause “serious unease, alarm or distress”, or even “inconvenience” to members of the public. Proposed amendments will remove this part of the bill and await final votes on the 28th of February.
Armed men, dressed in military uniforms and balaclavas, broke into the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Mariupol during the administration of a baptism. They physically harmed an employee, a security guard, and the priest; and then took money from the church safe, stole food, and household items. They then concluded their rampage by fleeing in two of the clergies cars. Due to their state of shock, those who observed the act were unable to identify the criminals.
The parish of Sainte-Bernadette in Montpellier has been graffitied with threatening tags directed at the church and Father Benoît on 25. February. The phrases were mainly intifada and anarchist related and included "the only church that illuminates is the one that burns." Father Benoît was distressed by the act and planned to file a complaint.
The church of St. Peter and Paul in Niederndodeleber, Germany was vandalised on February 24. Pastor Martin Zander found "numerous destructions" and smears, reported the Volksstimme as well as paper scattered everywhere. The devastation reflected a lack of respect for religious spaces.
Several vases at the alter of the Thizy-les-Bourgs church were broken on 24. February. It was not known who committed the act but an investigation was started.
An urn, used for the exchange of payment for lighting candles, was broken in the Moux-en-Morvan church on February 21st. The contents of the urn were also stolen but it was not known who committed the sacrilegious act.
After being restored for only a few days, the outer wall of the Angevin building at the Saint Marta church in Napoli was once again covered with graffiti. Writings offending the church from the first incident had been painted over but new inscriptions were there to replace them on February 23. The community has been very saddened by this vandalism of the historic church.
During the night of February 23rd, unknown vandals spray-painted an insult on the side of a church in Curlu, France. The insult was directed towards the parish priest Sylvain Mansart, who commented: "At least I'm not alone in this problem. (...) We comfort each other". Priests in neighbouring churches have received similar abuse. The local police confirmed these claims and are investigating.
The organisation Forum 18 has been monitoring the human rights of Christians and other religious communities in the area of eastern Europe, and they recently published a survey on the situation in the Luhansk region in Ukraine. They state that freedom of religion is severely restricted in the rebel zone occupied by the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), which makes up a third of the Luhansk region. In this area, all Protestant and non-Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox communities are rendered illegal, there are repeated denials of permission to a Catholic priest to live in the region, Evangelical and Catholic literature is being banned and there is an overall fear about discussing these — among other — human rights violations.
Irene Montero, Spain's equality minister, has told Congress's Equality Commission that 16 to 18 year old girls should be allowed to access abortion without consulting their parents. This would allow for the daughter of Christian parents to complete an abortion without them knowing or being able to advise her on this life changing event. This change has no set date yet but will greatly affect the lives of minor girls if enacted.
Back in 2020, a group called The National Federation for Free Thought requested that The statue of the Virgin Mary, in the village of La Flotte-en-Re France be removed. They claimed it was not in accordance with the separation of church and state. This case has now gone to court and will be decided on March 3rd. The statue was only targeted after it was hit by a car and was later rebuilt identically.
Satanist inscriptions were found on the façade of the Notre-Dame de Coutances Cathedral on the 21st of February. They were painted in black and included the words "I'm back" with a star after it and the number 666, symbolizing the devil. A complaint has been lodged about this hateful attack.
An Easter candle was stolen from the Apparition of the Lord Catholic church in Blumenau, Munich. The police were searching for the individual who was wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt and black vest, attire often worn by the Harley rider group. The thief caused 100 Euros of damage.
A man, who was Caucasian and possibly Chechen, entered the Saint - Gervais church in Avranches during the morning mass on February 20th. He walked around the building shouting "Allah Akbar" while play rap music with his phone. The authorities were notified and began searching for him.
A church in St. Gallen was targeted by thieves who caused property damage to 1000 Swiss francs in the process of stealing a small amount of cash on the 20th of February. They forced their way through a window and once inside, searched rooms and broke open several containers. The case was recorded by the police.
In a theft at the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, candlesticks and holy water holders were stolen by unknown perpetrators. Located in Einswarden, this church and the surrounding land have been bought by the Coptic Orthodox Church.
An unknown thief stole a pyx filled with consecrated hosts and a candle from the San Giovanni Battista in Careggi. Don Marco Fantappiè called the police and an inspection was carried out but few conclusions were made. This was not the first attack against this church and Marco Fantappiè was quite distressed at how little help he has received to prevent sacrilegious acts such as this.
On 17. February, Belgium's Constitutional Court in Brussels advanced amendments that made it illegal for health care institutions to withhold euthanasia on the grounds of faith. This has adversely affected Christian doctors whose faith does not permit this practice. Human Rights experts have expressed concerns over this challenge to freedom of religion and conscience.
Two TikTok influencers, Benjamin Ledig and "Queen Paul", filmed themselves wearing a crop-top and twerking (dancing sexually) in front of a crucifix at the Parisian church of Saint Paul on February 16th. They later posted this video on social media where it received some 20 million views despite it being repeatedly removed. Ledig claims he did it to protest the "homophobia" of the church while "Queen Paul" apologized for his behaviour.
The façade of a Protestant church in Velten, was defaced with large amounts of graffiti. Although most of it seemed to be contentless, some phrases read "Satan" or the "Devil is here," giving the act a definite anti - Christian bias. Pastor Reimers has reported the incident and several volunteers have offered to assist with the removal of the paint.
The rose stained glass windows of the Saint-Laurent de Tromenec chapel in Landéda were broken by vandals for the second time. Rocks were used to inflict the damage and the openings had to be covered with plexiglass until the glassmaker came. The police compiled a file of these incidents.
The inside and outside of the Saint-Germain church crypt in Flers, was tagged with red paint and crosses were drawn on 15. February. This was done by an unknown perpetrator who also broke a window to get in, smashed a wheelchair, and knocked a cross to the ground. The sacrilegious crime has been reported and the police are investigating.
The wooden staircase in the Evangelical church in Wangen was set on fire by a stranger on February 2nd. It was thought that the arsonist used disinfectant to facilitate the fire but it was still relatively unsuccessful. Pastor Martin Sauer could only shake his head as the material damage, which was manageable, but the emotional damage was devastating. Police were investigating the crime.
Johnny Brady, an 18 year old, has been accused of several acts of arson committed in 2020 to several churches and school buildings in Derby, England. The historic church of All Saints was damaged and some schools, including St Mary’s Catholic School, were burned entirely to the ground. He is due to appear in court on March 31.
The Jackson Church of Scotland in Airdrie, a North Lanarkshire town near Glasgow, was deliberately set on fire on the morning of the 13. February. An investigation has been launched by the police, who are treating the fire as arson. According to the police, the fire was started around 3 am and the fire brigade was called around 4 am. The church building will remain closed and services have been suspended, as Kay Gilchrist, the church's reverend announced on the Twitter account of the church.
In the beginning of February 2022, 35 graves were desecrated in the Ciempozuelos municipal cemetery. The perpetrators stole status of Christ, crucifixes and other metal and copper funerary elements that adorned the tombstones, while some of them were found broken and trampled.
Initial findings of a report were presented on the 10. February by French MPs Ludovic Mendes and Isabelle Florennes. They were ordered by the French Prime Minister Jean Castex to conduct a report on anti-religious attacks in France. The report found a 38% rise in anti-religious violence since 2019. Of the 1.659 anti-religious incidents in 2021, 857 were against Christians, which makes them the most targeted religion in France.
Two men and one women were charged with terrorism, endangering life, and damage to property after they threw a Molotov cocktail into the entrance of a Greek Orthodox church. They were expected to be part of a group called Organization Anarchist Action who have done similar attacks in the past. Thankfully this targeted attack caused little damage.
Four commemorative plaques, a funeral medallion, and a crucifix were stolen from the La Fosse-à-Terre cemetery in Gouvix. It was the grave of a young man who's father, Georges Delannée, found the theft and was heartbroken. He said "this rekindles the pain of a father who lost a child who left too early, in the prime of life." The father has filed a complaint.
Unknown vandals broke into St. Mary's Church in Higham Ferres where they stole money from a large glass jar, scattered the prayer candles, and smashed the organ alter. A crowbar found in a hedge the next day was thought to be used for the ransacking. The act showed a complete disregard for the religious objects in the church.
In the early hours of February 6th an act of vandalism took place in the town of San Fernando Cádiz. The sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, located in the square of the parish of Nuestra Señora de la Oliva, was decapitated. After the attack the sculpture had to be removed from its usual place. The parish, and some municipal political groups alerted the police and asked the authorities to arrest the offenders and compel them to pay for the damages caused.
A current tool has been implemented under the french anti-separatism law, which aims at reinforcing "respect of republican principles." This is the Republican Commitment Contract (CER), which was approved in 2020, and it needs to be signed by all associations, including religious ones, to have access to subsidies. While the National Council of Evangelicals (CNEF) and the Protestant Evangelical Committee for Human Dignity (CPDH) welcome the contract that seeks to uphold freedom of association and freedom of conscience, thought and religion, as well as the fight against violence, they are concerned about the practical application and interpretation of these measures by public authorities or administrations, as "some terms could be misinterpreted."
On the 4. February, the UK Government published a press release about strengthening the Online Safety Bill that was drafted back in 2019. While the Bill aims to protect children and internet users from criminal acts, such as sexual harassment, illegal pornography and violence, some MPs are raising concern about other parts of the Bill that could endanger freedom of speech. The drafted Bill could also include the prosecution of what is to be considered "harmful" information and communication, which is a very broad term, and could be used wrongly to target unwanted opinions, such as the conservative Christian teaching.
On the 4th of February, the Karlskirche in Vienna was vandalized by unknown people.
New legislation in Spain could mean that people who support or pray in demonstrations outside abortion clinics may be arrested and face a jail sentence of three months to a year. Christians, who are more likely to be involved in this type of protest due to their pro-life convictions, will be targeted if their actions are said to be "offensive, intimidating, or coercive". After being passed in the Congress of Deputies on February 3rd, this bill awaits a vote in the Senate.
The Ålidenskolan kindergarten in Flen may be charged a fine of 10,000 SEK (960 euros) if they continue to do a meal time payer in school. They came under scrutiny after an school inspection accused them for having a religious element to their teaching which is not in line with Swedish regulations. This reflects Sweden's goal to remove all religion from their education system.
The chapel of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue (Manche) was once again vandalised when flowers and other objects were taken. This chapel was dedicated to lost sailors at sea and is a sacred place for many. It has now been placed under video surveillance to stop such acts happing in the future.