U.S. Religious Freedom Report 2024 - Europe

Posted on: May 6, 2024


On May 1, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its Annual Report 2024, which highlights a number of worrisome developments around the world. According to the U.S. monitoring, conditions worsened in 10 countries, remained the same in 18, and improved in only one. While mainly focusing on the global situation and those countries that are of particular concern regarding persecution on religious grounds, the report also mentions concerning cases and developments in Europe.

In regard to intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe, USCIRF Annual Report 2024 mentions vandalism attacks on churches in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, including reference to data from OIDAC Europe. 

Cases of discrimination against Christians for peaceful expressions of their religious believes are treated more extensively in the report. The USCIRF found that "[d]uring the year, several European governments targeted individuals for their peaceful religious expression. In England in March [2023] , authorities in Birmingham arrested and launched an investigation against Isabel Vaughan-Spruce for silently praying outside an abortion clinic within a “buffer zone” where a city council order prohibits protests, including prayer. By the end of September, the city announced that it would not charge Vaughan-Spruce. In Finland in November, the Helsinki Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling acquitting member of Parliament Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland on charges of hate speech against members of the LGBTQI+ community for expressing their religious views on sexuality and marriage. As of January 2024, the state prosecutor was seeking to appeal the ruling to the country’s Supreme Court." (USCIRF Annual Report 2024, p. 78)

At the same time, it is noteworthy that discrimination and intolerance against Christians in Europe are mentioned only as part of the chapter "Other Religious Freedom Concerns in Europe", while the report included separate chapters on antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes. Also, some of the most concerning cases of anti-Christian hate crimes from 2023, such as the terrorist attacks on two churches in Spain in January 2023, in which an altar server was killed and at least four persons are injured, were not mentioned in the report. 

You can download the full USCIRF Annual Report 2024 here.