In 2022, OIDAC Europe documented 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 different countries, which ranged from arson attacks, graffiti, desecrations, and thefts to physical attacks, insults, and threats. These numbers match the data of the OSCE Hate Crime Report, also released on November 16. The OSCE found 792 anti-Christian hate crimes in 34 European countries, making Christians the most targeted religious group after Jewish believers.
Two particular trends were highlighted in the report, one was the increase in arson attacks, which rose from 60 in 2021 to 105 in 2022. The second trend was that more hate crimes were perpetrated by radicalised members of ideological, political or religious groups that follow an anti-Christian narrative.
OIDAC Europe’s Executive Director, Anja Hoffmann, points out that the increase in anti-Christian hate crimes, especially in vandalism, is connected to a rise in extremist motivation and a higher acceptance of the targeting of churches in society:
The OSCE Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions, Professor Regina Polak expressed concern about the rising number of cases:
“The increasing number of anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe reported by OIDAC is deeply worrying. It is highly necessary to raise both governmental and societal awareness for this problem and undertake political measures to tackle and combat it decidedly.”
The report also analyses different forms of discrimination against Christians. Over the past year, several Christians lost their jobs, faced suspension, or criminal court cases for expressing non-violent religious views in public. Christians who adhered to the traditional teachings of their churches were targeted or even prosecuted for allegedly committing “hate speech”. Among the cases are the dismissals of the teachers Ben Dybowski and Joshua Sutcliffe, and the school chaplain Rev. Bernard Randall.
"The criminalisation of expressions of mainstream religious teachings – which do not incite violence or hatred – as “hate speech” is dangerous on various levels: It stigmatizes legitimate conscience-related convictions and at the same time weakens the severity of actual incitement to hatred", stressed Anja Hoffmann. “Furthermore silencing Christian voices in public undermines the plurality of democratic western societies and essentially renders a free discourse impossible.”
There have also been legal limitations on freedom of religion and assembly through so-called “buffer zone” bills, especially in the UK, which criminalize prayer and religious manifestations around abortion clinics. Particularly striking was the arrest of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce who was interrogated by the police when standing silently in one of the “buffer zones”, and asked whether she was “praying in her mind”.
OIDAC Europe also found violations of parental rights to educate children in accordance with one’s religious convictions and limitations of freedom of conscience through the elimination of conscience clauses from existing provisions in medical laws, which put medical personnel who refuse to participate in certain practices for reasons of conscience in vulnerable positions.
Download and read our report for free in our publications section: https://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/publications