All cases

Update: Atheist Parents win Legal Challenge against Christian Assemblies in Church-Run School

November 20, 2019, United Kingdom

An atheist couple who launched a High Court challenge because they feel their children are being religiously "indoctrinated" during assemblies have won their judicial review claim. The Burford primary school in the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire is one of 33 schools of the Church of England's Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST). Although parents were already entitled to withdraw their children from assemblies, even in church-run schools, The Harrises have argued that the school must provide an "inclusive assembly as a meaningful alternative for pupils withdrawn from Christian worship," rather than simply supervision of the children.

French Nun Denied a Place in Retirement Home Due to Religious Habit

November 19, 2019, France

In October 2018, an elderly nun applied for a place in a retirement home in Vesoul, run by the city's Centre Communal d'Action Sociale (CCAS) in her home prefecture of Haute-Saone. After nine months on the waiting list, on July 2019, her request for housing was accepted, but with one condition: "With due respect for secularism, any ostentatious sign of belonging to a religious community cannot be accepted in order to ensure the serenity of all. Indeed, religion is a private affair and must remain so." The nun was told she could only wear a discreet cross. Having worn her religious habit all of her adult life, she refused to comply and was thus denied a place.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Intolerance towards Religious Symbols Religious Symbols

Italian Church Thief Urinated on Altar

November 16, 2019, Italy

On the afternoon of November 16th, an unidentified man entered the Trasfigurazione del Signor church in Scorrano while it was empty and stole money from the donation box and a golden necklace from around the neck of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Before leaving the church, he urinated on the altar underneath the crucifix. The incident was captured on video and police are investigating the identity of the individual.

Desecration Hate Crime Hate Incident Intolerance towards Religious Symbols Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

German Church and Pilgrimage Site Targeted by Arsonists Twice in One Week

November 16, 2019, Germany

A visitor to the St. Katharina Kirche in Buschhoven discovered that a fire had been set in the church during the early afternoon of November 16th. Local media reports that books and booklets were placed on top of the lit candlesticks in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, revered by Christians and pilgrims as the "Rosa Mystica." The books caught fire and the church was enveloped in a huge mass of smoke and soot before the fire brigade was able to extinguish the blaze. Earlier in the week, a fire had been set in the same church using the candles but was extinguished before major damage occurred.

Hate Crime Hate Incident Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Protestant Church Vandalized in Buschhoven

November 16, 2019, Germany

The Protestant Versöhnungskirche in Buschhoven was the target of vandalism twice in the same week, with its hymnals and booklets scattered, seat cushions thrown on the floor, candles pushed off the altar, and a small fire lit on a doormat. These incidents coincided with fires having been set at the nearby St. Katharina Kirche.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Christ Figure Burnt in Holy Sepulcher Chapel

November 14, 2019, Spain

On morning of November 14th, the hermitage of the Holy Sepulcher in Tauste (Zaragoza) was discovered vandalized and the life-sized statue of the Nazarene Christ burnt. The custodian of the hermitage, Juan Francés, found the remains of a fire when he opened the hermitage and found "everything lying on the ground and on fire.” The city council of Tauste condemned the attack on the hermitage “It was an attack on a religious and cultural symbol of our people. It is not a simple act of vandalism.”

Desecration Hate Crime Hate Incident

Nuns at Carmelite Convent in Ireland Verbally Abused by Intruders; Chapel Desecrated

November 11, 2019, Ireland

Intruders broke into the Star of the Sea Carmelite Nuns monastery in Malahide in the early afternoon of November 11th and verbally abused the elderly resident sisters, sprayed and smeared the walls of convent's chapel with graffiti.

Desecration Hate Crime Hate Incident Insult or Incitement Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Desecration and Vandalism of Tonnay-Charente Church: Tabernacle Broken Open; Statue Decapitated

November 9, 2019, France

Just before an evening Mass on November 9th, unidentified vandals entered the Tonnay-Charente church and tore open the tabernacle of the altar of the Virgin Mary, breaking the doors. The consecrated hosts in the ciborium were thrown to the ground and the glass container holding a host consecrated for adoration was stolen. In addition, crosses were reversed and chairs and statues were broken, including one depicting St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus, which was decapitated by the perpetrators. The Bishop said, this was "desecration, not burglary."

Freedom of Religion

'Battering Ram' Night-Raid Robbery at French Cathedral

November 4, 2019, France

A car fitted with a battering ram was driven into the door of the Cathedral Sainte-Marie d'Oloron in southwestern France on November 4th. Once inside the cathedral, thieves entered the chapel and sawed the iron bars protecting sacred and liturgical items. They stole chalices, ciboria, a centuries old nativity scene, and vestments used by the priest for the Mass. Authorities characterized the theft as organized and well-planned.

Desecration Hate Crime Hate Incident Theft

Self-Described Satanist Vandalized 100 Graves in Cognac Cemetery

October 30, 2019, France

Just before All Saints' Day, about 100 graves were damaged or destroyed in the Breuil cemetery of Cognac. Christian symbols including crucifixes, crosses, and statues of the Virgin Mary and angels were targeted. An 18-year-old self-described Satanist who "hates all religions, especially Catholicism," was arrested by the police. The timing of the incident, given its close proximity to the feast of All Saints and All Souls, shocked local residents.

Desecration Hate Crime Religious Symbols Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Parish Church Cemetery Vandalized in Zabrzu-Helence

October 27, 2019, Poland

More than 40 graves were vandalized in the cemetery of the Our Lady Mother of the Church (Maryi Panny Matki Kościoła) parish of Zabrzu-Helence during the night between October 26 and 27, just days before Catholics observe All Saints' and All Souls' Days. Granite tombstones were torn down and broken, and wooden crosses were destroyed by unknown vandals.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Fire Set in Neapolitan Basilica

October 10, 2019, Italy

The parish priest of the Basilica of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples has condemned the fire set in the church's musician's chapel, known as the Ecce Homo. The fire had spread to the altar when firefighters were able to extinguish it.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Berlin Pregnancy Counseling Center Ransacked by Activists

October 6, 2019, Germany

Radical feminists claimed responsibility for breaking into the Pro Femina crisis pregnancy center in Berlin during the night of October 5-6. They smashed the windows on the third floor, smeared a hallway with paint and butyric acid (a foul smelling chemical) and the slogan "Pro Choice!", and glued closed the locks.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Legal Extension of IVF Met with Staunch Opposition in France

October 6, 2019, France

Tens of thousands of French protestors took to the streets of Paris on October 6th to protest the draft bioethics law which passed the lower house of parliament on September 25th. The bill would, amongst other provisions, allow all women under 43 the right to "medically assisted procreation," including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), regardless of their relationship status, or sexual orientation. Currently, French law only allows access to IVF to heterosexual couples unable to have children through natural means, who are either married, or who have lived together for two years.

Equality Militant Equality Laws Rights of Parents

Córdoba Church Broken into; Consecrated Hosts Scattered on Altar

October 5, 2019, Spain

Before dawn on October 5th, one or more intruders entered the 18th century Chapel of La Rosa in the Córdoba provincial town of Montilla through a side door. Once inside, they found the keys to the tabernacle, opened the pyx inside and scattered several hosts on the altar, according to the Rev. José Félix García, pastor of the parish of Santiago, to which the chapel belongs. Police opened an investigation.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Safety Fears for Iranian Convert to Christianity Facing Threat of Deportation

October 4, 2019, Germany

An Iranian Christian woman living in the state of Hesse in Germany fears for her life if she is forced to return to Iran, due to strict anti-conversion laws. The woman known as "Mahsa" fled Iran and traveled to Germany in 2015, after an attempted arrest by the religious police for her conversion to Christianity. A recent decision by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) denying her asylum limits Mahsa's options going forward.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Tribunal Rules Biblical View of Sexes "Incompatible with Human Dignity"

October 2, 2019, United Kingdom

A Christian doctor has lost an employment tribunal case, where he alleged that the Department of Work and Pensions breached his freedom of thought, conscience and religion pursuant to the Equality Act. Disability assessor, Dr. David Mackereth claimed discrimination on part of the Department of Work and Pensions for failing to accommodate his refusal to use pronouns which did not correspond with the biological sex of clients. In its decision, the panel stated that Dr. Mackereth's belief that "the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female" was "incompatible with human dignity."

Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Christian Actress Sues after being Fired for Biblical Facebook Post

September 30, 2019, United Kingdom

In March 2019, a Christian West End actress, Seyi Omooba, was removed from a leading role in a musical and dropped from her agency for a Facebook post about homosexuality citing the Bible over four years earlier. With representation by the Christian Legal Centre, she launched a legal challenge on September 30th against Leicester Curve Theatre and her agency, Global Artists, for breach of contract and anti-Christian discrimination.

Contractual Freedom Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

Medical Professionals Call for Conscience Safeguards if Northern Ireland Liberalizes Abortion Law

September 28, 2019, United Kingdom

Northern Ireland Minister received correspondence from more than 700 medical practitioners calling for conscience protections which would allow Christians and conscientious objectors within the profession the statutory right to refuse to participate in abortions.

Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience

Marseille Crucifix Vandalized for Fifth Time in Four Months

September 26, 2019, France

The crucifix monument on the grounds of the Saint-Patrice church in the Croix-Rouge district of Marseille, was found vandalized with red paint on September 26th. It was the fifth time since the middle of May 2019 that the Christ figure had been defaced with red or blue paint. Public employees removed the paint and Marseille public officials denounced the vandalism.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)