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The Harrises have argued that the school must provide an "inclusive assembly as a meaningful alternative for pupils withdrawn from Christian worship," rather than simply supervision of the children.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)