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.
Thieves targeted a church in Glossop and stole a number of ancient flagstones from the floor. The theft from the grounds of Glossop Parish Church of All Saints has left the local community saddened. The stolen flagstones were taken from the path outside the west end of the church overnight between Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 January. Tyre tracks were left nearby so it is believed a vehicle was used in the theft of the very heavy stone.
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.
On the 17th of October, over 200 hundred academics from different UK universities sent a letter to the Sunday Times expressing their concern about the bullying and suffering those who held the view that sex matters were receiving. The letter cited statistics from the organization "Sex Matters" and said that the majority of the discrimination came from "trans activist bullies". This type of abuse would be most acutely felt by religious persons and especially Christians who typically hold this view based off the Bible.
Christian MP David Amess was attending his regular duties in his local circumscription in a Methodist Church in Essex on 15. October, when a 25 years-old British citizen of Somali origin stabbed him to death. Soon after, the killer Ali Harbi Ali was arrested. An Anti-terrorism unit is investigating the case, given that the perpetrator has been identified as a radicalized Islamist. This murder is a direct attack on the Christian beliefs that David Amess represented. Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the Methodist Church where the incident happened, accompanied by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer. People have been gathering for candlelit vigils in Leigh-on-Sea and have held church services in his memory.
The historic St. John's Church in Bromsgrove was targeted by unknown vandals on the 14th of October. The door of the crypt was forced open which caused hundreds of pounds of damage but luckily nothing was stolen.
During the yearly Freshers' Fair at the Oxford University, the stand of the Pro-life group "Oxford Students For Life" (OSFL) was removed by other students and activists, who threw their material into a trash bin and completely removed it from the event. The students also refused to let them reinstall their stand and threatened them with tearing it down again. The group had already been criticized on the internet, as they posted some photos of their stand. The "Oxford Feminist Society" made a statement that the presence of a pro-life organization was a "threat to the safety, health, and autonomy of women", which was backed by the Students Union. The University of Oxford condemned the censorship and harassment of the pro-life group by stating that the university had a long history of protecting free speech.
Mrs. Onuoha worked at Croydon University Hospital in London for many years as a nurse and has been wearing a golden cross necklace for 40 years without any problems. During the last two years, she started being pressured to remove her cross. Her necklace was considered "too visible" and posed a ‘risk of injury or infection’, despite the jewelry pieces of other medical staff not being criticized. After her repeated refusal, Mrs. Onuoha faced an investigation, was suspended, and relegated to work as a receptionist, and was told not to mention the reason for her relegation. With help of the Christian Legal Center (CLC), she is confronting the Hospital for harassment and discrimination.
St. Matthew's parish community realized on Sunday 10th that the church bell was stolen after it failed to ring at a Sunday service. Apparently the bell was dropped from 9.1m above damaging the cellar doors. The damage is estimated at 8000€. Rev Martin Faulkner "would appreciate the return of its bell to the church grounds with no questions asked", he added that the bell "has a special place in the hearts of the Withernsea community", having been rung every week during Clap for Carers and to commemorate local people who died with Covid".
The Cooper Report has been recently published by the Ban Conversion Therapy Legal Forum that was founded at the end of June. The Ban Conversion Therapy Legal Forum is a multidisciplinary group of parliamentarians, academics, barristers, legal professionals and survivors, whose aim is to ban any form of what is by them considered as conversion therapy. The Forum also considers any from of prayer as a harmful practice used for conversion therapy. They further state that an individual cannot consent to any form of conversion therapy. This implies that Christians or people in general, who seek help or guidance when they struggle with their gender identity, would not be allowed to get pastoral help that is not confirming their new gender identity, which the persons are maybe not even sure about yet. The Report further states that the human right of religious freedom is to be seen as inferior in this case.
The pro-life student "Life Society" association from the University of Exeter was the target of a hate campaign aimed to dissolve the group and its activity at the university. A petition among students and an open letter addressed to the university's Students Guild was sent to stop the pro-life group. Additionally, the group got harassed on social media. An online hate campaign was coordinated, to send them negative comments and even death threats, which were reported to the police. Fortunately, the University of Exeter defended the Pro-Life Association and supported their right to freedom of speech.
A "substantial" part of St. Laurence's Church roof has been stolen by a group of thieves. Sergeant Simpson, from the Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team, has written on Facebook: "When someone steals from a listed or protected site, building or monument, its a crime against all of us. They are stealing our shared history", and he added, "the impact on the community can be devastating too, so please keep an eye on our history and report anything suspicious."
Fr Palmer had been declined as a University chaplain due to posts on his Twitter account expressing personal opinions and views regarding abortion and assisted suicide. After the "Free Speech Union" threatened the University for ignoring the 2010 Equality act, Nottingham University recognized Fr Palmer to become the Catholic priest of the University
The Christian Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Agency has lost the case at the Court of Appeal. They were hoping to reverse a ruling that found the agency "discriminatory" for working only with heterosexual couples. Three Court of Appeal judges have found the Foster agency's policy discriminatory, as they find that the basis of the agency's religious beliefs is not enough to justify their policy of only recruiting heterosexual carers.
The Wilberforce Academy (Christian seminar) has been holding its courses in different Oxford colleges for many years. But this year, the Worcester College, where the seminar was taking place, apologized for having hosted this event "that caused significant distress" as it was published in the student newspaper "The Tab".
Mohamed Issa Koroma has been stabbed to death, while he was handling out church leaflets. The attacker will be charge with murder and possession of a bladed weapon in public and will appear at Sheffield Crown Court on 22 September. When the police arrived, Mr. Koroma was seriously injured and still alive but shortly died after the attack. “Our investigation into this incident continues at pace and our officers remain at the scene as they conduct their enquiries" said the Detective Chief Inspector Paul Murphy, 31, of South Yorkshire Police. The motive is still unclear.
The church of St. David and its surroundings continue to be vandalized almost on a daily basis: litter, condoms, sanitary towels, signs of drug use, and human excrement have had to be cleared away by the parishioners, the vast majority of whom are elderly. The latest event affected the church directly where the windows were smashed and graves desecrated. Church members, neighbors, and the police have worked to limit the amount of vandalism. One of the regular church attendants expressed her concern regarding the ongoing vandalism, "The costs and efforts to maintain and continue to preserve these local assets are immense. As a community, we seek to protect our village green and buildings for future generations (...) For almost 900 years it has been cherished and used by thousands of people near and far, as a place of spiritual peace and as a link between generations past and present".
Nottingham University confirmed on 25 August, that they had declined to install Father David Palmer, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our lady of Walsingham, because of "the manner" he commented on his social media site, a university spokesperson said. Palmer was supposed to become the chaplain of both Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University. While the latter instaled him the former invited Father Palmer to an interview in which he defended his posts about assisted suicide and abortion to go against the Catholic belief. After Bishop Patrick McKinney declined to propose another priest the University accepted to allow Father Palmer to celebrate mass as a "guest Priest".
In 2018 Christian A&E doctor David Mackereth was fired from his position because of his deeply held belief that God created humankind male and female. An employment tribunal consequently ruled that Davids belief is not 'worthy of respect in a democratic society' and that the Christian belief is 'incompatible with human dignity'. Supported by the Christian Legal Centre Dr David Mackereth is now appealing the ruling, which legally states that Christians could be discriminated against, as their belief is not protected by the Equality Act. The first hearing is expected to start this autumn, probably in October.
UK's Minister for the School System, Baroness Berridge, took a clear position regarding collective worship in state-funded schools in England and Wales. Her statement came as a response to the National Secular Society (NSS), who asked the Government in a letter to repeal the law regarding the daily act of collective worship in schools earlier this year. In their statement, they asked to replace collective worship with secular worship, Berridge referred in her statement to the School Standards and Framework Act from 1998, which declares that state-funded schools in England and Wales must conduct acts of collective worship "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character". Nick Gibb, the Minister for School Standards stated in March that "the department would remind schools of their duties if needed".
Scottish feminists groups and lawyers are siding with the Christian Institute who consider the new guidance introduced by the government as highly questionable and being promoting a dangerous ideology. The document states that some children "are exploring their gender identity in primary school settings", and that they can come out as transgender "at any age". It reads: “If a young person in the school says that they now want to live as a boy although their sex assigned at birth was female, or they now want to live as a girl, although their sex assigned at birth was male, it is important to provide support and listen to what they are saying.”Marion Calder, from For Women Scotland described the new guidance as "really, really worrying". Leading Human Rights Lawyer Aidan O'Neill criticised that this move goes against human rights laws and is additionally a threat to parental rights. The Government has now backtracked from their plans as the Christian Institute threatened them with legal action.
“Be careful with what you say in future when reading outside”, this was the response a Christian street preacher received one month after he was questioned by the police for reading the Bible aloud in a calm voice and steady tone outside a railway station in London. During his interview, the police tried to determine whether the man's reading was "abusive" and harassing under the public order act. Organisations aiming to protect freedom of speech are concerned about peoples right to freely express themselves in public as the Public Space Protection Orders can easily censor and therefore criminalise normal people on the streets. Changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill are expected in September.
Father Colin Mason of Sacred Heart Church in Westbury-on-Trym has addressed a complaint letter to the police after the investigation about the attack he suffered was dropped. The incident took place back on 20. August when 60-year old Priest told a group that was renting his church hall for a wedding party that they had gone past the agreed time. Immediately after, he was held by four men, while one man - probably in his late 20's - punched him until he was covered in blood and left him lying on the ground. He said the initial response from the police was very efficient, but he did not hear any news for a month. As he called asking for an update, they told him that the case had been 'filed'.
Street preacher Ryan Williamson from Loughbrickland was arrested for alleged hate speech, while preaching in Larne on 10 August. Subsequently, MP Mr. Wilson expressed on social media that “police probably didn’t handle this very well”, for there is video footage of Williamson preaching and his arrest circulating on social media. Williamson was released 30 minutes later. However, the police are being harshly criticised. Williams stated to have received much support from the local community.
Under the new LGBT inclusivity guidelines, children as young as four will be able to change their names and gender at school, without their parents' consent. A 70-pages document authorized by the Scottish government, dictate teachers to ask pupils for their new names and pronouns instead of questioning their 'decision' to transition to living as the other gender. Campaigners fear for the safeguarding of children and the breach of parental rights to protect their children. Scottish lawyer Aiden O'Neill fears that this move could be very illegal and potentially dangerous.
Christian street preacher Hazel Lewis, 49, won her legal case after being accused of hate crimes and being falsely arrested by the local police. On 12 February 2020, the preacher was arrested for allegedly making homophobic and racist comments and was held in custody for several hours. Although Lewis provided audio evidence proving her innocence, the police went on to charge her for the accusations made against her. In court Judge Julia Newton ruled in favour of Lewis stating there is "no case to answer".
Former police officer, Winston Roderick, took legal action against his colleagues on grounds of religious discrimination. An employment tribunal under Judge Rhian Brace dismissed all of his claims on the grounds of Roderick, who is also a pastor, being too sensitive. According to Judge Brace, the comments were never made. Roderick also filed for two other cases, which were equally dismissed.