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.
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.
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".
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.
Scottish ministers said they plan to explore options of mediation with pro-life activists regarding "buffer zones" around abortion clinics. According to minutes from an abortion "buffer zone" meeting in February, the Centre for Good Relations asked for engagement “with all interested parties, not just those who are directly involved with the conflict itself." The ministers were criticized for their plan which aims to understand “the issues and perspective from all sides."
The windows of the St. David's Church in Newtown were smashed by vandals on April 25th. It was not known who did the act and someone who was closely affiliated with the church said it was "absolutely disgusting to see yet again," which implies that vandalism similar to this has already occurred.
Three teenagers entered the Magherafelt Catholic church on the 23rd of April and, after verbally insulting the priest, damaged several objects. Officers then arrested three suspects aged 11, 13, and 15, for a number of charges including criminal damage, as they smashed a vase, threw the Bible and other holy books around, and damaged a microphone. They appeared in court, for what the police called a hate crime, and two of them were banned from entering the Magherafelt area while the third still awaits trial.
Over four consecutive nights, ending on April 15th, vandals have visited the St Patrick’s Church in Hartlepool and caused thousand of pounds of damage. They broke around a dozen stained glass windows and left the inside fo the church covered with masonry ruble.
During an evensong service in the Shrewsbury church of St. Chad's, vandals smashed the stained glass widows of the church causing £8,000 in damage, and endangered those inside. The incident happened on the 15th of May at a church which often holds large events. Church warden Joanna Hepper said: "This was extremely upsetting for the congregation and could have caused injury."
76-year-old Rosa Lalor was arrested on February 24th, 2021 as she did not have a "reasonable excuse" to be outside at the time. This was despite her explaining to the police officer that she was "walking and praying," and daily exercise was allowed. The officer accused her of not praying in a house of worship and fined her £200 after detaining her in a police car. She challenged this fine and has taken it to court with the help of ADF UK.
New DIY abortion laws in the UK, allow for women to have an abortion without seeing a medical professional; but, by simple talking, and then ordering pills over the phone. This raised serious concern for the health of women and the possibility for minors to abort without properly consulting a professional or their parents before starting something that could traumatize their lives. Parental rights are violated in this case, which is especially problematic for Christian parents who would not agree with their child taking such actions.
Youth have been asked to show more respect to the All Saints Church in Holbeach, after they tore lead off its roof and threw marrows at its doors on April 5th. This was the second time this has happened in a month and the acts forced Mick Boylan, the church warden, to consider reducing the hours the church is open to hopefully prevent the crime. He said "They don’t have respect for anything. What do the parents think they are doing?”
Boris Johnson announced on March 31st that the so-called conversion therapy ban in the UK would no longer cover transgender people but only gay or bisexual people. This was a change from what had been announced a few hours earlier which was that the ban would be dropped entirely and non-legislative methods would be explored. Despite the entire ban not being dropped, this was still good news for the Christian community as this potential legislation would make it difficult if not impossible, for parents and teachers to encourage their children to adopt the Bibles views on gender and marriage.
An independent investigation found that there was no substantial evidence for Worcester College's apology and cancellation of the Wilberforce Academy in September of 2021. After hosting this Christian youth conference that seeks to uphold free and considerate debate about controversial issues, this Oxford College said it had received "a number of complaints" and would not hold the event next year. Christian Concern inquired about these complaints, which they had heard nothing of, and upon getting little response, instigated their own investigation.
The police were called after the St. Cuthbert's Church in Wells, Somerset was vandalized on March 16th. A door was damaged and glass was broken but no one has been found yet. After viewing some CCTV footage, the police have a man they would like to question.
Robin Walker, Schools Minister in England, told the House of Commons' Education Select Committee that schools would continue to teach LGBTQ+ content. This came in response to Conservative MP Miriam Cates who said "you cannot change sex" and that she often got concerns from parents that their children were being transitioned in school. This posses a problem for Christian parents and children who may disagree with such teachings on a religious basis.
Evangelical ministers have faced a severe backlash after signing a letter to Liz Truss which expresses their opposition to the governments upcoming conversion therapy ban. Consequentially, they have had to take down the list of signatures which was published on the Ministers' Consultation Response website for fear of more acts of discrimination happening. It had collected 5,000 signatures from ministers and church leaders.
The SNP in Scotland have advocated for legislation that will make it a criminal offence to not "affirm" someone's preferred gender and make it illegal for parents to "refuse to support" their children in taking puberty blockers. This legislation would prevent people from legally holding to their religious beliefs on issues like gender and infringe on parental rights by not allowing parents to educate their children on sexual matters in a way they deem appropriate. The latter would disproportionately affect Christian parents who may have religiously grounded sexual guidelines.
On March 12th, the Russian Orthodox Church of St Nicholas in Oxford was looted by unknown individuals who damaged the holy alter and stole other religious items such as crosses, and altar vessels. They also broke open the church safe and stole a collection of money that was intended for Ukraine. The police were investigating the crime.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Swastikas and a Star of David were spray - painted on the St. Mary's Church in Melton Mowbray. Police officers were looking into the vandalistic act and labeled it "religious aggravated graffiti." It came a few days before the Holocaust Memorial Day and a member of the church posted online "To desecrate a House of God seems pretty low."
As reported by Daily Mail on 23. January, a leading mental health clinic in London, Portman Clinic, told a student therapist during a training course that Christianity is a racist religion and that the Bible can be considered racists because it makes a contrast between "darkness" and "light". Amy Gallagher is a 33-year-old nurse, who is preparing to take legal action against this clinic. She will sue the clinic for discrimination against her as a Christian and a white person, and also due to the distress caused through this experience. A crowdfunding campaign has been started to support her on her legal challenge.
In Dundee, Scotland, the St Luke’s Parish Church was the victim of an arson attack on the 15. January. The crew that extinguished the fire found that someone had set alight rubbish around 4 pm, according to the police. Also, neighbours said there have been issues with teenagers accessing the grounds of the former church.
Mary Onuoha was constructively dismissed in 2020 from the Croydon NHS Trust Hospital in London for wearing a golden cross necklace. She now has won the case against her unfair dismissal for discrimination and harassment, with the help of the Christian Legal Center, as it was communicated on 5. January. The Hospital had said her necklace was "too visible" and posed a ‘risk of injury or infection’, but the ruling found out that other medical staff wore jewellery, religious attire and badges, and that this was "widely tolerated". The ruling declared the dismissal of Mrs Onuoha discriminatory and arbitrary, and recognized her right to religious freedom, such as wearing a cross necklace.
A church located in Oxfordshire celebrates after the return of Jesus to its nativity scene. The figurine was stolen a week before Christmas from St Mary's Church in Church Green in Witney, with local the police appealing for help on social media, in order to find its whereabouts. The appeal received a huge response, which lead to its return, even though slightly dirtier than before it was taken. Rev Canon Toby Wright told the BBC: "Baby Jesus is safely back and tucked up - it's great news for Christmas." The person who took Baby Jesus is still unidentified.
On the night of December 23rd, a group of unknown people vandalised the St Peter's Church at Upper Arley in Worcestershire. The perpetrators urinated inside the church, damaged pews and a piano with graffiti, tore off a door and stole irreplaceable items. They urinated near the church altar and left the bell tower's doors open, which left the place unprotected against the rain. According to Louvain Beer, treasurer and lay minister at the church, the police did not attend the case until the 27th of December, and now they are investigating it as a hate crime.
The small church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt, Cardigan, had been vandalised twice in December, as the Rev John Bennett revealed. The church was damaged first at the beginning of December and the last case happened between the 18th and the 21st of December. The windows od the church were smashed with rocks and the pillar outside the church was damaged. A fundraising appeal was launched to help the small church with reparations, which has had a very positive response.
A year after the Nativity scene in a village in Wales was fire-bombed by vandals on Christmas Eve, the community Raglan in Gwent has decided to create a new life-sized Nativity.
A local council in Northern Ireland has dismissed claims, by an ‘equality expert’, that repainting Bible texts on a local sea wall may be in breach of its equality scheme. The council-owned wall bears the words: “‘The sea is His and He made it’ Psalm 95 v 5”, “Eternity?”, “Jesus said: ‘Ye must be born again’ John c3 v7”, and “‘Christ died for us’ Romans c5 v8”.
On the 11. November, the Catholic Charity "Aid to a Church in Need" (ACN) UK noticed that Facebook had censored its ad campaign on tackling sexual violence against religious-minority women and girls. “Hear Her Cries” was the slogan of the campaign, which launched on 24. November. The campaign aimed to raise concern on a widespread problem in many African and Asian countries: the abduction of Christian girls and women for sexual violence by both armed extremists and militant members of other religious communities.
The 47-years-old pastor Chez Dyer was fined over £16,000 for holding a church service for the homeless in a car park during the lockdown in February 2021. Thanks to the support from the Christian Legal Centre her case has been dismissed by a magistrate’s court. She was also told by a magistrate, at a hearing at Nottingham Magistrates Court, that she was cleared from paying the fine and was issued with a defense cost order which means her legal fees will now be paid by the government.
In 2019, The Robertson Trust - Scotland’s largest grant-awarding charity - cancelled the bookings of its conference rooms to two evangelical organisations: Stirling Free Church and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. According to the Trust's policy, they are ideologically neutral and did not want to promote any religious belief. Almost a year after the controversy, the foundation has apologized for breaching equality laws for Christians and offered to pay both institutions £20,000 in reparation.
The Church of the Holy Cross in a cove of Mwnt in Cardigan, was vandalized on the 2nd of November by unknown perpetrators. The intruders ransacked the church, smashing windows and damaging property. The church is visited by thousand every year so the act had a significant impact.
For the second year in a row, only London has experienced more crimes in religious buildings than the county of Sussex. The data, provided by the Sussex Police after the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requested it, revealed that 367 crimes have been committed at churches in Sussex in the 12 months to August. Of the 367 crimes at churches, cemeteries, and crematoriums, 54 were thefts, 106 cases of criminal damage and 44 cases of violence. This showed how these places of worship are considered easy targets for criminals.
According to the Countryside Alliance, an organisation that has been reporting on crimes committed at churches across the UK, during a period of 12 months from 2020 to 2021, there have been over 4,000 crimes committed at churches and religious premises. The figures were gathered from 40 of the country's 45 police forces, which revealed there were 4,169 incidents of theft, vandalism, physical assault or burglary across the UK during one year, despite the eight months of lockdown. During the last 4 years, the organisation has documented 30,169 crimes.
Police are looking for vandals responsible for the damage caused to the memorial plaques and flower pots at a church in Quedgeley, on the night of 16th of November. “Plaques were damaged while flowers and flower pots were thrown around outside of St James Church in School Lane,” said a police spokesperson. Police officers spoke to the vicar and church wardens, who expressed interest in working with the vandals once they have been identified, in order to educate them on how their actions impacted the church community.
On Sunday 14. November, the St John’s Methodist Church in Arbroath was targeted by vandals. Three windows of the church were deliberately smashed. “The act of vandalism was bizarre and upsetting for the congregation gathering on Remembrance Sunday,” said Reverend Baker. Mr. Baker thinks something was used to hit the window repeatedly, rather than an object being thrown at it. The police are investigating.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick have started studying the possibility to allow Catholic priests at crime scenes. This proposal was submitted after Sir David Amess, a Catholic MP, was killed during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea (Essex), on October 15. A Catholic Priest, who was also a personal friend of Sir David's, wanted to give him the Last Sacraments, but the police denied him access. After this event, he realized how important it is, especially for the Catholic community, to ensure that the Last Sacraments is granted.
On the afternoon of November 10, an icon belonging to St. Dunstan's church in Stepney was stolen by a man. The church described it as a "beautiful and much-treasured icon" of St. Dunstan.
The damaged gravestones dating back to the 1800s were found by a working party that maintains the graveyard of the Church. The vandalism is suspected to have taken place sometime between the 2nd and 8th of November. The police started investigating and encouraged anyone who may have information relating to the vandalism to contact them.
On November 2nd, the storage shed holding Christmas decorations for the Bromsgrove church of St. John was vandalized. This is the second hateful incident at the church in only two weeks. The incidents caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage which the church cannot afford. The church warden, Neil Cramb said “Basically, this senseless act is going to cost us dearly."
The Welsh government has admitted that the ban on conversion therapy "could lead to the prosecution of religious leaders". The ban on conversion therapy was announced by the Queen in May this year and was welcomed by the Bench of Bishops in the Church in Wales. The document presented by the government leaves aside questions such as the possibility to attack religious freedom and claims that conversion therapies cause harm, although it gives "no evidence to justify the claim". Since then, Christian groups have raised concern that the ban could apply for private prayer and conversations, undermining religious freedom. The consultation by the Government will be open until 10. December 2021.
Several hymn books from the Holy Trinity Church in Embleton were stolen on the 24th of October and burned in a nearby cricket ground. Despite this event, Reverend Alison Hardy said that the church would stay open and added: "I'd ask people to appreciate churches for what they are and respect them as a community asset."
On October 17, the Carfin Grotto, Scotland's National Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, appeared partially burnt and destroyed as unknown perpetrators deliberately made a pile and set it on fire. As Police reported, "Enquiries are ongoing and at an early stage". Meanwhile, the community has launched a micro-funding campaign to help pay the damages due to the lack of economical means. However they are even more concerned about the rise of attacks against religious places, "we hope it is addressed at a national level", said the spokesman, John Mallon.