All cases

UK Christians' Right to Freedom of expression Threatened in upcoming Public Order Bill

October 7, 2022, United Kingdom

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.

40 bronze Virgins stolen from a cemetery in Spain

October 7, 2022, Spain

In less than twelve hours the town of A Coruña suffered two robberies in the local cemetery, affecting practically all the inhabitants. María Cambón, a neighbour who visits the cemetery every day, raised the alarm on the 10th of October, after discovering that someone had taken a number of bronze and copper virgins from the niches. Most of them were behind the glass doors of each tomb, in small chapels. In the afternoon of the same day, a similar robbery happened again. An image of the Virgen del Carmen was found lying on the floor of the cemetery, which the thieves probably left behind. In total, around 40 statues have been stolen.

Belarusian authorities take Minsk's Red Church from Catholics

October 6, 2022, Belarus

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.

Minsk authorities close the Catholic school of the Catholic Christian Social Center

October 6, 2022, Belarus

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.

Report: concerning rise of hate crimes against religious minorities in Turkey

October 4, 2022, Turkey

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.

Cathedral of Lugo Vandalized by Young People and Posted on TikTok

October 4, 2022, Spain

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.

Scotland: proposed “conversion therapy” ban gravely affects parents' rights and religious freedom

October 4, 2022, United Kingdom

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.".

Vandals Throw Eggs at Church in Germany

October 3, 2022, Germany

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.

Extreme Vandalism to Saint-Joseph Chapel in France

October 3, 2022, France

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.

Bleach thrown at an image of the Virgin of the Rosary during a procession in Spain

October 2, 2022, Spain

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 torn down in Spain

October 2, 2022, Spain

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.

Student threatens to set church on fire in France

October 2, 2022, France

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.

Two Crosses Were Stolen from a Church in St. Petersburg

September 30, 2022, Russia

At the end of September, two thieves entered the Church of All Saints of St. Petersburg in Kingisepp, Leningrad oblast, through the bell tower and stole two pectoral crosses placed on the altar. They were arrested. The youngest was also connected with a theft from a florist. A third protagonist who was on the lookout is also wanted.

Statue of Mary vandalised and broken in France

September 30, 2022, France

During the night of September 30 to October 1, a recently refurbished statue of the Virgin Mary was broken and placed on a pole a little further away, in La Chapelle Thouarault, a township located west of Rennes, near the Hermitage-Mordelles station. The act aroused the indignation of the town hall and local residents.

Sacristan Brutally Beaten Up While Praying

September 29, 2022, Austria

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.

Break-in and theft in Church in Speyer

September 28, 2022, Germany

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.

Theft in Church in Montecosaro

September 27, 2022, Italy

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.

Church Wall in Zaragoza Defaced with Insulting Graffiti

September 27, 2022, Spain

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.

Belarus: Pentecostal Church Evicted and Worship Banned by Police

September 25, 2022, Belarus

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.

Open Letter to Ursula Von Der Leyen: EU Special Envoy of Religious Freedom Position Still Vacant

September 23, 2022, European Institutions (EU, ECHR, et.al.)

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".