The Government must reform the Public Order Act to protect freedom of speech, MPs have warned during a debate in Parliament. Edward Leigh MP insisted that the Bill should be used to remove the word “insulting” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and listed numerous examples of people whose free speech had been restricted by the existing law.
The website Libertad Digital reported on March 11, 2011 that animosity against Christians and in particular Catholics is aggravating in Spain. Journalist Javier Lozano lists incidents Christians recently witnessed from the temporary close of the chapel at University of Barcelona due to violence and intolerance to the cancellation of a lecture by Cardenal Rouco Varela because of demonstrations and the lack of security to deter anti-Christians activists.
An uproar in Croatian society on the silencing of a primary school teacher has led to a peaceful manifestation in Zagreb. The protestors were wearing stickers over their mouths to symbolize that Christians are being silenced by court proceedings.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered on March 2 at the XVI ordinary session of the Human Rights Council on religious freedom an address in which he urged the UN to protect the right to seek truth.
Premier Christian Media claims that there is an inconsistency in the way the Courts apply and interpret equality laws in relation to Christians. When it comes to competing rights between different groups, the rights of Christians seem to be consistently ‘sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.’
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, OSCE Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance against Christians and Members of Other Religions: "On the level of raising awareness about discrimination against Christians we can do more. ... I have ... suggested to the States that wish to participate the celebration of a Day of Christian Martyrs of our time, to be celebrated not – or not only – in churches, where there are already similar initiatives in place, but in schools, cities, and public institutions because the persecution of Christians does not affect just Christians, but everyone."
Lord Mackay warned that we are “in danger of putting religion in a box only to be brought out on ceremonial occasions. Religion, certainly the Christian faith, is much more than that.” Lord Mackay also argued forcibly for “the right to liberty of conscience, freedom of expression and religious liberty” in the public sphere. He added: “One does not lose them when one steps into the public sphere. Indeed, for the sake of everyone’s liberty it is paramount that such rights are upheld in the public realm.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, Chairman of the German Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned that the principle of religious neutrality of states must not evolve into a “policy to prevent religion”. The right to practice one’s religion has to be assured to the full extent by national governments as well as the European Union, the archbishop demanded.
One of Britain’s most senior news broadcasters has accused the BBC of a systemic bias to the left and of bashing Christianity and traditional British values. Peter Sissons, a top anchorman of the BBC’s leading evening news slots, has said that the BBC’s leftist bias is so deeply engrained it is not so much a bias as a “mindset.” “At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left,” Sissons said. “The one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe and Everything.”
Turkish President Gül was asked by reporters about the status of Christians in Turkey. The reasons for asking were the expropriation of the Syriac-Orthodox monastery Mor Gabriel, the reproach that Christians are denied government jobs, and the unclear legal status of Christian communities in Turkey. Gül answered, that the treament of Christians in Turkey was a „disgrace“.
Interview with Dr. Massimo Introvigne, Italian sociologist of religion, representative of the chair-in-office of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions, Rome/Vienna.
"The right to hold religious beliefs, and to act in keeping with one's faith, is being set against the right not to be offended – and is losing. This is a dispiriting trend in a free society. The views of the Bulls will seem to many to be old-fashioned, even distasteful – but they have every right to hold them. A pervasive climate of political correctness, however, is driving such beliefs to the margins; the law is out of kilter. It no longer protects the freedom of the believer in the way that it defends the interests of those who consider themselves discriminated against. As we have argued before, this is an unhealthy imbalance that needs to be redressed – if not by the courts, then by Parliament."
“Turning our gaze from East to West we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society. ...
"Sadly, in certain countries, mainly in the West, one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular. It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion. But such an approach creates confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle approaches other than its own, finishes in a dead end. There is thus an urgent need to delineate a positive and open secularity which, grounded in the just autonomy of the temporal order and the spiritual order, can foster healthy cooperation and a spirit of shared responsibility."
“We may have gone too far. If the law has gone too far in one direction, then the experience of the law is that it tends to move back. The law must be above any sectional interest even if it is an interest of a faith but at the same time it must be aware of the proper concerns of that faith... The law should be developed in ways that, wherever practicable, it allows that faith to be preserved and protected."
Anthony Frontiero of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: “Between 200 and 300 million Christians face daily threats of murder, beating, imprisonment and torture. And a further 350 to 400 million encounter discrimination in areas such as jobs and housing.”
The religious freedom of Christians in Europe is under threat from “equalities” and anti-discrimination laws around the EU, said a director of The Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) at a conference.
Virtually every human rights group and Western government agency that monitors the plight of Christians worldwide arrives at more or less the same conclusion: Between 200 million and 230 million of them face daily threats of murder, beating, imprisonment and torture, and a further 350 to 400 million encounter discrimination in areas such as jobs and housing. A conservative estimate of the number of Christians killed for their faith each year is somewhere around 150,000.
Brice Hortefeux, former French Minister of Internal Affairs: "Since the beginning of the year (2010), 323 assaults against Christian sites have been identified on French territory: 140 cemeteries and 183 places of worship were desecrated. When a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a temple or any other place of worship is attacked, when a grave is desecrated, it is the entire national community which is offended... A desecration is not only an insult to the dead but also to France and to civilization. The guilty will not go unpunished."
At the presentation of the US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2010, Hilary Clinton gives a useful description of religious freedom.
Mgr Marc Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne: “In 2009, the official ‘Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Fight against sects’ numbered 226 acts of desecration against Christians, 6 against Muslims and 4 against Jews. In other words, over 95% of the desecration recorded in our country are targeted against Catholic places of worship and Catholic cemeteries, and their number is unfortunately increasing from one year to the other."
“When their institutions are forced to adopt secular standards in everything from rules of employment to selection of intake, the community should speak up for a fair society in which secularist values do not automatically trump Christian values.”
"Religion is regarded as a legally permissible private eccentricity; allowable behind closed doors once a week, but not in any way to be given expression in public or working life."
"Every Englishman could understand what he was talking about: The expression “Merry Christmas” is disdained; people use petty phrases to make seasonal wishes instead. An Anglican Bishop voiced doubts over homosexual-marriage and was therefore sentenced to a remarkable fine. Even with these rather controversial statements, the Pope met the audience’s approval. According to the liberal newspaper The Independent, he caught the spirit of the times. Benedict’s condemnation of aggressive secularism would vocalise the discomfort many British people feel towards their own country."
Sep 24, 2010 (CNA).- Bernard-Henri Lévy, a well-known atheist associated with what is considered to be the European left, said in an interview that Catholicism is by far the most attacked religion in Europe. The prominent intellectual also noted it was unfortunate that so many injustices are committed against Benedict XVI.
Bernard Henri-Lévy, French philosopher and writer: "In France, one talks a lot of violations of Jewish cemeteries and Muslims, but no one knows that the graves of Catholics are frequently desecrated. There is a kind of anti-clericalism in France that is absolutely not right. We have the right to criticize religions, but the religion the more assaulted today is the Catholic religion (...) much more than Islam. Intellectuals take the defense of Muslims. The defense of Catholics, much less.”
„Everyone can agree that today’s Britain – which we’re always being told has become so much more liberal – is the very model of a forward-looking, tolerant society in which freedom of expression is paramount. Correct? If only. In fact, the intellectual trend in Britain is a remorseless slide towards a dark age of intolerance, reverting to a reason-suppressing, heresy-hunting culture in which certain opinions are being turned into thought crimes. Astoundingly, people are being arrested by the police – even if the case against them eventually falls – because of what they have said. They are not inciting violence or any criminal activity. They are merely expressing a point of view. Yet for that they may find the police feeling their collars. ...“ Melanie Philipps, The Spectator, 18 September 2010 (UK)
Read here a striking excerpt of his speech during his UK visit on Sept 17th speaking to Politicians at Westminster Hall
In a poll conducted by ComRes regarding the Papal Visit (Nov – Dec 2010), 93% of Christians agreed with the Pope’s comments that religion, and Christianity in particular, is being marginalised in British society, on his most recent trip to the UK. Only 5% disagreed.
Louis Guédon, French member of parliament, speaking to the Assembly in September 2010: "One can only regret the silence of the media and the institutions when it comes to the very numerous desecration of Christian sites."
“For years, faith communities have been quietly making a huge difference day-in and dayout, to every single neighbourhood in the country - something that has not been sufficiently recognised by central Government… “Some see religion as a problem that needs to be solved. The new Government sees it as part of the solution. I want to send an important signal that we value the role of religion and faith in public life.”
Barnabas Fund Publication: "Many popular dramas caricature committed Christians and their leaders andless and malevolent, while recent storylines in a number of TV soaps have sent the clear message that Christians are ridiculous. Such disinformation and ridicule create mistrust and ill will and pave the way for outright discrimination."
Commentator Melanie Philips: "Indeed, such a ruling comes very close indeed to criminalising Christianity. For if putting Christian belief into practice is outlawed, it won't be long before Christian believers find themselves outlawed".
Dr Taj Hargey, the Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation: "Christianity is under siege in this country. Britain's national religion has never been so marginalised and derided by the public institutions that should be defending it."
Richard Dawkins, atheist and author of The God Delusion, said: “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”
“What is happening in Western Europe is not persecution but a marginalising of faith which seeks to portray it as a matter of personal conscience only. Some examples of this originate from a mistaken but well-meant political correctness that is anxious not to upset minority faiths by seeming to ‘privilege’ Christianity. Hence the regular ‘pantomime’ every Christmas where some local Council or another absurdly gives Christmas another name....
Mgr Michel Dubost, évêque d’Évry: “I am pleased to see how eagerly the government, politicians, the press and public opinion revolt when a mosque or a synagogue is attacked. I join those who denounce such crimes. But this general eagerness makes the total silence about the churches quite stunning... Personally, I cannot get used to these desecrations... If we have to scream, we will scream. After all, we too are citizens.”
“The trouble with a lot of Government initiatives about faith is that they assume it is a problem, it’s an eccentricity, it’s practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities."
The Evangelical Alliance’s Head of Public Affairs Don Horrocks told Third Sector magazine that ministerial pledges of support for religious charities had so far come to nothing. In contrast to public pronouncements, Don Horrocks said that new measures such as the Equality Bill displayed prejudice towards Christian groups.