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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Two weeks earlier, the crypt of the St John’s Church in Bromsgrove was forced open causing significant damage, and then, on November 11th, a storage shed holding Christmas decorations was vandalized for no reason. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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".