Parents “have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the State.”
Turkey has been named as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, along with countries such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
In the report "Clearing the Ground", UK parliamentarians say after a six month investigation that Christians are facing genuine legal difficulties in Britain. They suggest to promote a concept of “reasonable accommodation” for religious belief in the public sphere. The report criticises the Equality Act for failing to deal with the tensions between different strands of equality. It also says that the Equality Commission should be reviewed and restructured so that it better includes and represents religious beliefs. It also says some court rulings have relegated religious belief, effectively creating a hierarchy of rights.
“Christians in the UK face problems in living out their faith and these problems have been mostly caused and exacerbated by social, cultural and legal changes over the past decade... Christians in the UK are not persecuted. To suggest that they are is to minimize the suffering of Christians in many parts of the world... But the experiences of Christians in the UK seeking to live out their beliefs and speak freely illustrate a very real problem in the way religious belief, and in particular Christianity is understood and handled. The problem is a pressing challenge to our idea of a plural society."
Roger Trigg, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick, and Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Kellogg College, Oxford, shows in his book "Equality, Freedom, and Religion" how freedom of religion is often trumped by other rights and therefore subject to erosion.
‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a ‘democratic society’ within the meaning of the Convention", pronounced the judges of the European Court of Human Rights.
French Governmental Services of Classified Information (les Renseignements Généraux) released a report saying that 522 sites have been the target of desecrating acts in 2010. This represents a 34% increase compared to 2009 (389 acts) which had already known a 46% increase compared to 2008 (266 acts). This thus represents a 96% increase in two years. Figures of the year 2010 identify 214 acts of vandalism towards cemeteries, 272 towards chapels, 26 towards war memorials and 10 towards crosses or calvaries.
Premier Christian Media, a Christian media company, committed to monitoring the increasing marginalisation of Christianity in British public life, gather evidence through consultations, public polling and content from our multi-media platforms. Read the key findings of the report here.
United Nations High Commissionar on Human Rights presents a report of the Secretary General - "Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief"
Christians in the UK feel more side-lined than ever. 74% of respondents of a ComRes study say: „There is more negative discrimination against Christians than people of other faiths.“ In November 2009, „only“ 66% said so. More than 60% feel that the marginalisation of Christians is increasing in the government (66%, which compares to 59% in November 2010), in the workplace (61%), and in the public (68%). 71% of the responsdents perceive an increase in the marginalisation of Christians in the media.
In 2010 and 2011 693 charges aggravated by religious prejudice were reported in Scottland. This is a nearly 10 per cent increase in one year and the highest level in four years. 95% of this violence was directed against Christians.
In 2008, 88% of Christians surveyed thought that certain parts of the media had a secular agenda that ignores Christian concerns. This view has not changed 3 years on.
Following a number of warnings given to people working in the medical profession after they'd offered prayer to their patients, the Medical Defence Union, backed by the General Medical Council, issued a guidance earlier this year saying that GPs can pray with patients, as long as it's 'tactful'.
The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians was granted leave to intervene as a third party in the European Court of Human Rights' pending freedom of religion cases Chaplin and Eweida.
The one-day OSCE high level meeting took place in Rome on September 12th, 2011. OSCE’s reason: „Recent attacks on Christian communities have highlighted the necessity to address the problem of intolerance against Christians with a specific focus on hate crimes.“
In 2011, Christians have felt an increasing bias against them in relation to ‘Gay’ lobby groups. In August 2011 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) publicly stated that Christians were experiencing more discrimination than other religious groups in the work place and that, where possible, the concept of reasonable accommodation should be considered. However the EHRC retracted this statement as a result of Angela Mason’s (formerly of Stonewall) intervention.
One-third of the world's population experiences an increase The Pew Research Center (Washington DC) released an report on „Rising Restrictions on Religion“ in August 2011. It states: „Europe had the largest proportion of countries in which social hostilities related to religion were on the rise from mid-2006 to mid-2009. Indeed, five of the 10 countries in the world that had a substantial increase in social hostilities were in Europe: Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The study also finds that social hostilities involving religion have been rising in Asia, particularly in China, Thailand and Vietnam.“ Link: http://pewforum.org/Government/Rising-Restrictions-on-Religion(2).aspx
The survey, conducted by the Corporation itself in July 2011 was based on a poll of 4,500 people includind BBC staff. Results show that the broadcaster is regarded as anti-Christian and misrepresenting Christianity.
The parliamentary assembly of the OSCE recommends that a "public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians be initiated and that the right of Christians to participate fully in public life be ensured" (12); that, "in view of discrimination and intolerance against Christians, that legislation in the participating States, including labour law, equality law, laws on freedom of expression and assembly, and laws related to religious communities and right of conscientious objection be assessed" (13); and "encourages the media not to spread prejudices against Christians and to combat negative stereotyping" (15); and "encourages Christian churches to continue their participation in public life contributing to the defence of the dignity of all human beings and to freedom and social cohesion" (16).
The Observatory contributes a written submission to "Religare", a three-year European research project funded by the European Commission. This submission maps out the way to a Europe that is conscious of its heritage and has respect for fundamental rights, without disregarding today’s plurality of religion and belief.
A recent document from the Russian Orthodox patriarchate, reported by L'Osservatore Romano, notes the "profound concern" of its synod at the increase of Christianophobia in the world.
In a significant legal development, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has requested that the British Government state whether they believe that the rights of Christians have been infringed in recent cases where individuals have been penalised for expressing their faith in the workplace.
The media plays an important role in shaping public attitudes towards Christianity. ComRes research reveals the majority of Christians believe current representations of Christians and Christianity in the media is often negative or misleading. According to a BBC survey conducted in 2011, respondents of its own survey said representations of Christians were often ‘derogatory and in some instances, anti-Christian.’
There is cross-party support in the UK for a change in the law that would remove a single word from the Public Order Act 1986 that has allowed Christians to be arrested when they offend the sensibilities of homosexual activists. The amendment proposes to remove the word "insulting".
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has closed a case after the European Commission apologised for omitting Christian holidays in a school diary it had published for 2010/2011. This follows a complaint from an Irish priest who submitted that the diary did not mention Easter and Christmas, although it contained certain non-Christian holidays, such as the Jewish and Islamic New Years.
Read here a report of the Observatory's director about the striking discussion at the presentation of the Five-Year-Report on Intolerance against Christians in Europe at Fundamental Rights Platform of Fundamental Rights Agency.
The Christian Institute (CI) has published quotations of journalists and media professionals regarding the BBC anti-Christian policy in the UK.
European Parliament seminar held on March 16th in Brussels concludes: Intolerance and discrimination against Christians exists also in the EU.
Russian Orthodox Archbishop Metropolit Hilarion met with Roman Catholic Cardinal Kurt Koch to discuss cooperation between the two Churches. They mentioned the combat against "Christianophobia" in Europe and other regions of the world as a common key issue.
The Council of the European Union condemned religious intolerance on Feb 21st by saying: „ The Council expresses its profound concern about the increasing number of acts of religious intolerance and discrimination, as epitomised by recent violence and acts of terrorism, in various countries, against Christians and their places of worship, Muslim pilgrims and other religious communities, which it firmly condemns. Regrettably, no part of the world is exempt from the scourge of religious intolerance.“
The recommendation mentions the incident in Cyprus on December 25th, 2010: "[T]he Assembly calls on Turkey to clarify fully the circumstances surrounding the interruption of the celebration of Christmas Mass in the villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada in the northern part of Cyprus on 25 December 2010 and to bring to justice those responsible.“
“As recent tragic events have shown, individuals of all religious confessions are increasingly victims of discrimination and aggression – sometimes at the cost of their lives – only because of their religious beliefs. We, the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, strongly condemn such acts and all forms of incitement to religious hatred and violence. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is an inalienable right enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guaranteed by Article 18 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, of which the Council of Europe is the custodian. There can be no democratic society based on mutual understanding and tolerance without respect for freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Its enjoyment is an essential precondition for living together.”
It notes that respect for human right and civil liberties, "including freedom of religion or belief, are fundamental principles and aims of the European Union and constitute a common ground in its relations with third countries." In this regard, the resolution urged European officials to "pay increased attention to the subject of freedom of religion or belief and to the situation of religious communities, including Christians, in agreements and cooperation with third countries as well as in human rights reports."
Church of England seeks "to be explicit about the need to counter attempts to marginalise Christianity and to treat religious faith more generally as a social problem."
An overwhelming majority of the British public agree that the exercising of freedom of thought, conscience and religion is important, not only to the British identity, but in key areas of public life, i.e. the workplace. The two cases of Shirley Chaplain and Nadia Eweida were widely supported by the general public in regards to exercising these freedoms.
"Religious freedom should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth. […] A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others. A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has no objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an ‘identity’ to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other ‘wills’, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other ‘reasons’ or, for that matter, no ‘reason’ at all. The illusion that moral relativism provides the key for peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions and the denial of the dignity of human beings."
The vast majority of British adults support the general principle that Christians should be free to manifest their faith and exercise their conscience in the workplace without fear of punishment. Very often in the national debate we hear a lot from a small minority, with extreme views, that would like to see the Christian fabric of our nation destroyed. This poll suggests that their voice is not representative of the vast majority of the British public.
NGOs call for mindfulness with regard to intolerance and discrimination against Christians also in Europe. Read details and quotes in this press release.
In its 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom, the US state department cites a number of cases of intolerance against Christians in the United Kingdom.
Our key recommendations for the OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan in December 2010, based upon documentation of current discrimination of Christians in Europe:
"This is an intervention, presented by Barbara Vittucci, on behalf of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, an organization that monitors and documents such cases in Europe (www.IntoleranceAgainstChristians.eu). Increasingly Christians report to us that they are being discriminated against or treated in an intolerant manner or that they become victims of hate crimes, East and West of Vienna..."
"In the context of working with individuals and the related social issues regarding growing occurrences of discrimination against Christians, we also observe legislative developments. What seems to be advancement in one area of Human Rights sometimes can backfire in another. We have identified four problematic areas with regard to freedom of religion, when looking at the rights of Christians..."
The general public think a strong bias exists against Christians in British public life and that this is set to increase in the future. According to a ComRes poll, commissioned by Premier Christian Media in May 2010, across all four areas of public life (in public, in the media, in the Government and in the workplace) on average, approximately a third of respondents thought the marginalisation of Christians in public life is increasing.
The majority of Christians had not directly experienced victimisation, finds Premier Christian Media's polling. 12% of the "Freedom of the Cross" respondents had directly experienced it. In fact, the majority of respondents had either known of a close contact (a friend or a family member) that had been marginalised.
Both Christians and non-Christians believe religious freedom constitutes an important part of the British identity; consequently the majority of the British public believe people should have the right to wear religious symbols in the workplace if they wish to. In fact, 4 out of 5 respondents (81%), in a public opinion poll conducted in April 2010, agreed that “people have a right to wear and show a cross at work if they want to, whatever their job.”
French Governmental Services of Classified Information (les Renseignements Généraux) and the Police Department released that the number of vandalism acts towards Christian places of worship amount to 389, an increase of 40% compared to the 2008 figures.
A significant number of Christians perceive a strong bias exists against Christians, in favour of other groups i.e. other religions and those of a different sexual orientation. This bias occurs in all areas of public life including Government, the media and in the Courts’ application/ interpretation of equalities and anti-discrimination legislation. For example, in a C-Panel poll, conducted in November 2009, two thirds of Christians (66%) believed there was more negative discrimination against Christians than people of other faiths.
"Protect freedom of speech by abandoning its opposition to the free speech protection clause currently within the sexual orientation hatred offence which preserves the right to, discuss, criticise and urge to refrain from certain forms of sexual conduct or practices.”