The NGO ADF UK posted a video of two community safety accredited officers in Bournemouth interrogating a veteran who was standing on the street alone, praying in his thoughts. The officers told Adam Smith-Connor that he was praying inside a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) space, for which he was fined. According to the PSPO, certain activities such as acts of "disapproval" towards the abortion facility in the area are prohibited. Adam is at least the second person who was fined for praying silently on the street. He told the officers he was praying for his deceased son, which they considered an "act of disapproval."
An unexpected shooting occurred in North London on January 14. at the St Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. The 22-year-old suspect drove and shot 6 people who were coming out of a memorial service inside the church. The victims were a 48-year-old who has severe life-threatening injuries; a 12, 21, 41, and 54-year-old. A 7-year-old girl was also injured and was in serious condition. The police department detained the suspect for questioning after his car was found parked on Sunday. It was also mentioned that the bullets came from a black Toyota C-HR.
ADF UK reported that a charity volunteer has been arrested and charged with four counts after telling the police that she “might” be praying silently in her mind, after being questioned by them over why she was standing inside an abortion facility’s censorship zone. The arrest and charges took place as authorities consider criminalising prayer near abortion facilities nationwide in the new Public Order Bill.
Derek Timms, a chaplain from Solihull, was told in September at the Marie Curie charity’s Solihull branch, that he must not wear the cross as it might "offend’ and "create barriers" with patients. He was also told that he would face consequences if he did not remove the cross, which was a symbol of his faith but also a memory of his late wife. After receiving legal support, Mr Timms received an "unreserved" apology letter from the Marie Curie charity's regional head office.
The Christian Institute has reported that parents of children at Hatcham College were denied access to see the Sex-Education lesson slides used by an external NGO. The parents requested access to the slides by the School of Sexuality Education (SoSE), but the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) denied their request, stating it would compromise the sex education provider’s “intellectual property”. This, nevertheless, undermines parental rights, as the parents are not able to raise concern over material being taught to their children that might go against their beliefs.
A buffer zone was implemented outside the BPAS clinic in Bournemouth in a bid to deter people from praying or standing with pro-life signs outside the clinic. Anyone that fails to accept the decision could incur a fixed penalty notice of £100 or face court action. Buffer zones have been widely discussed, due to their limitation of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
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.
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.
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.".
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.’
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.
Residents of Worcester, England, are protesting against the gangs of young offenders who occupy the churchyard around St. John's Church and engage in various forms of depredation, graffiti, attempted arson, defacement, robbery, etc.
For the third time on the year, the village church of Saint Gregory the Great in Morville has been the target of theft and vandalism. This time, the thieves stole a plaque commemorating a war hero, Thomas Hoblyn-Robins (from WWI). This happened on the 9. of August. On the same day two brass candlesticks, one brass vase and two brass candleholders were stolen. The police are asking for witness information.
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".
Pitsmore Christ Church in Burngreave, a district of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, is no longer able to hold services after being damaged in a fire on the night of 3 to 4 July. The authorities and the parish consider the fire to be arson. An investigation has been launched.
The abortion clinic in Bournemouth has been calling for a buffer zone around the facility, due to the daily vigils outside the clinic that have been taking place over the years, in order to prevent pro-life protesters from approaching the women going to the clinic, as well as the staff that works there. Rachel Clarke, from the mentioned clinic, said "[Bournemouth] is one of the worst-hit clinics in the country". A buffer zone could undermine the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech of pro-life activists.
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.
An arson attack took place at the St. Mary's Church in Riccall on Friday 24. June. A wooden cross that was attached to the front entrance of the church was set on fire and destroyed. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, as the religious symbol was directly targeted.
The wooden eagle lectern was stolen from St Mary's Church in Gunthorpe by unknown perpetrators. The theft is believed to have taken place at some point during the weekend of Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12. The police were able to return the eagle lectern the Church in Gunthorpe.
The West Midlands police have released CCTV footage of three people wanted for smashing the windows of Life City Church with stones on 11 and 13 June. The damage to the church was £1000 and a complaint has been made.
A large church in Eckington, which has not been used for quite some time, was set on fire by unknown arsonists on the 3rd of June. Residents were told to leave their homes and two fire departments had to be called. Although this church may have been unused, its religious value was still present.
In a series of break-ins at the former South and Levern Church, more than £50,000 of damage was caused by unknown vandals. In the latest act of vandalism on the 27th of May, the organ was destroyed and radiators were torn off the walls. Although the church has been closed, it is still a sight that carries religious sentiment for many people.
The stained glass windows of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Ringmer were broken by youth with catapults and ball bearings on May 23rd. The police identified the culprits and confiscated their catapults. A police spokesperson said: “The youths will subsequently be coming into Lewes Police Station to account for their actions.”
After the windows of the St. David's Church in Newtown were broken the month before, someone returned to break them again on the 22nd of May. The church has not been used for many years but is a historic building and a religious symbol. Paul Williams, a local, said: "This is really sickening yet again. Whoever you are, stop it."
St Catherine’s Dominican Chapel, a Catholic chapel in Newry, was targeted by arsonists who set religious books and pamphlets on fire. Nobody was hurt, in the incident which happened on the 22nd of May, but the head priest had to put the fire out. A witness said they saw youths running from the scene and it was guessed that they were the arsonists.
The Kilmarnock South Parish Church in Ayrshire, was repeatedly targeted by vandals during May. Over several weeks, doors were smashed and glass was broken by a group of youth who were seen on CCTV. A spokesperson for The Well, an outreach group that organizes events at the church, said: "We are slowly trying to get the place up and running to serve the community but this is just soul destroying."
Gillian Mackay, an MSP for the Green Party, "initiated a public consultation on the Bill" that would allow a 2-year sentence to be assigned to someone who "attempts to influence or persuade someone seeking an abortion inside censorship zones," reported "RighttoLife" News. Some claim, there has been a rise in incidents outside abortion clinics involving pro-life activists, but Robert Colquhoun, the campaign director for "40 Days for Life", disagreed saying that it was actually just increased media attention that made it seem so. The introduction of such zones would negatively impact Christians who often attend such vigils due to their biblically based pro-life belief.
Between the 16th and 20th May the memorial statue from the All Saints Graveyard was stolen in Glazebury. The police reported that the family that owned the memorial statue was deeply affected and were looking for witnesses.
A cross and candlestick were stolen from the medieval church of St. Mary in Addington on the 10th of May. Reverend Debbie Forman said that the items have "little intrinsic value" but the church is "not the same without them." The church remained open and the hope was that the thief, who was not known, would return them.
On May 10th, vandals broke into the Rotherham Church and trashed the interior. They drank wine and left broken bottles everywhere as well as destroying the church-run nursery which is used to help single mothers with childcare. The incident forced the nursery to close for a week.
The St. Nicholas Church in Boston was the victim of a burglary on the night between the 9th and 10th of May. One of the stolen items was the reliquary containing the blood of Jerzy Popieluszko, a Polish priest who was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 2009. The police are investigating.
St. Mary's church near Saxton, Yorkshire, which is an important listed building, was vandalized by anonymous intruders on May 8th. A volunteer group that takes care of the chapel wrote on Facebook: "A sickening sight this morning...litter, smashed vases, glass everywhere, and worst of all the crosses broken too. To add insult to injury, a note of apology with a fake phone number," was also left there. The chapel stands in an isolated field and has often been a place of refuge.
On the 6th of May, the Supreme Court of the UK declined to take the Bell v Tavistock case, regarding puberty blockers for teenagers under 16 years old, which means the ruling by the Court of Appeals will currently stand. After the High Court ruled that 13-year-olds were not old enough and needed parental consent to begin hormone blockers; Tavistock appealed in June of 2021 and the Court of Appeals ruled that it was not the High Court's decision to make. Instead, they ruled that parental consent was unnecessary and that clinicians could decide it with their patients. This is a significant concern for Christian parents who would disagree with such treatment.
The St. Nicholas Church in Swallow was targeted by vandalism on April 29th. Unknown perpetrators, possibly youth, took two picnic benches from the church to a park, set fire to one, and painted the other with obscene language and initials. The church was quite disappointed by the act especially since it took time to repair the damage.
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.
A Union Jack, put up to celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee, was torn down from the St. Andrew's Free Church in Bellshill. Reverend Jason Lingiah, has labelled the attack an "anti-Protestant sectarian hate crime." The flag was thrown near the wall and left, while the pole was bent.
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.
Two large bass instruments and a euphonium were stolen from the St. Peters Church in Cambridgeshire on April 23rd. The instruments are worth around £20,000 so it was a significant loss for the church especially since it was not covered by insurance. The Cambridgeshire Constabulary were investigating the crime and needed more information.
Teenager, thought to be between 11 and 12 years old, broke 7 stained glass windows in St. Helen's church in Cliffe and damaged several roof tiles around the 18 of April. The cost of the damage was extensive and could be in the thousands since the kind of roof tile used was particularly expensive. The children's parents said the actions were "inexcusable" and some even made them apologize to the churchwarden.
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?”
St. Mary and St. Margaret's Church in Sprowston were victims of vandalistic attacks on April 3rd. Police were investigating the act in which the intruders threw toys at the spotlight in the nave, broke eggs inside the building, smashed the organ, and tried to start a fire.
St. Mary and St. Margaret's Church in Sprowston were victims of vandalistic attacks on April 3rd. Police were investigating the act in which the intruders threw toys at the spotlight in the nave, broke eggs inside the building, smashed the organ, and tried to start a fire.
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.
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."