All cases

UK Court agrees to hear Challenge to Ban on Pro-Life Prayer Outside Abortion Center

January 11, 2019, United Kingdom

A British court has ruled that a pro-life activist may challenge a legal decision banning prayer and support for women in crisis pregnancies outside a Marie Stopes clinic.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression

Strasbourg Christmas Market Shooting Declared Terrorism

December 11, 2018, France

Prosecutors announced that the attack on a busy Strasbourg Christmas market was an act of terrorism, committed by an Islamist extremist who had previously pledged alliance to ISIL. During the attack, the suspect shouted "Allahu Akbar." Security experts have said that the Christmas market was likely targeted both because it was crowded and its connection to Christianity and Christian symbolism. In response to the deadly attack, other Christmas markets across France implemented extra security measures.

Hate Crime

Protests Against Polish Radio Maryja on its Anniversary

December 1, 2018, Poland

As Radio Maryja listeners gathered in Toruń to celebrate the radio station's 27th anniversary, a protest against public funding of the station took place a few kilometers away. Organized by a Polish secularist association, a small group protested at the monument of Nicolaus Copernicus.

Anti-Discrimination Law Expanded in Switzerland

November 28, 2018, Switzerland

The Swiss Ständerat (Council of States) passed a law on November 28th adding discrimination based on sexual orientation to the existing criminal law prohibiting discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or religion. A broader version of the legislation, which included "gender identity" was passed by the Nationalrat (National Council) in October. Critics of the law noted that it could restrict freedom of expression and conscience, particularly for those who hold a traditional view of sexuality and marriage. Those who violate the law could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Vulgar Graffiti Sprayed On The Facade Of Church

November 28, 2018, Spain

The parish of San Isidro de la Estación in Cártama, as well as the entrances to the parish hall and the office of Caritas, were spray painted with obscene images and phrases during the night of November 28th. The graffiti outraged the whole town and local police began an official investigation.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

22 Statues on the Avenue of Saints Destroyed

November 25, 2018, Poland

Just three weeks after the the new "Avenue of Saints" in front of the Matki Bożej Śnieżnej Church in Zarzecze was unveiled, 22 of the 23 statues were broken by vandals on November 25th. Only the figure of St. Paul was unharmed. The figures in the Avenue of Saints were dedicated on November 11th on the 100th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland "as an expression of gratitude and an invitation to the saints to our future and our nation," said parish priest Jan Rokosz. 

Religious Symbols Vandalism (form of hate crime)

"The Mafia never loses" - Ancient Church Vandalized with Graffiti

November 25, 2018, Italy

"The Mafia never loses" (“La mafia non perde mai”) and other graffiti were discovered by the volunteers of the "San Cataldo Baia della Legalità" association in an ancient church by the bay in Terrasini.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Historic Cornwall Church the Target of Arson

November 24, 2018, United Kingdom

Firefighters were called to St Mary’s Church in Penzance at around 4am in the early hours of November 24th by the key holder and his wife after the alarm sounded. A bin had been placed in front of the church door and set on fire. Witnesses reported that the fire nearly spread into the interior of the church. Police were given the CCTV footage and began an investigation. Damages are estimated at up to £10,000. 

Hate Crime Hate Incident Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Arson in Funeral Chapel

November 21, 2018, Germany

Unknown persons set fire to two benches in the altar room of the funeral chapel in Treysa on November 21st. The benches in the interior of the church were set on fire with paper waste and presumably fire accelerators. The fire caused considerable soot damage, but the building remained intact. The damage was estimated at 500 euros.

Hate Crime Hate Incident Vandalism (form of hate crime)

War Memorial and Church Defaced in Scotland

November 17, 2018, United Kingdom

A church and war memorial were hit by vandals sometime on the 17th of November in Coatbridge. The graffiti included Republican slogans like "RIRA" (Real Irish Republican Army). The incident happened just a week after Armistice Day - the day the Allies and Germany signed the peace treaty ending the First World War.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Persistent Littering and Vandalism in front of Cosenza Church

November 17, 2018, Italy

For years, the piazza and steps in front of the church of Santa Teresa in Cosenza has been littered with bottles, glasses, vomit and urine by young people who congregate there in the evenings and on weekends. However, as parishioners stepped past all of the litter and excrement to attend Mass on the weekend of November 17th, they were greeted with a new insult: the steps to the church were defaced with graffiti.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Miniature Model of Church Destroyed and Offertory Box Looted

November 15, 2018, Germany

A wooden model of the small parish church in Bräunlingen was returned to its place next to the church altar after the damage caused by vandals had been repaired. A few days later, it was hit again by vandalism. The bottom plate of the model was forcibly torn open, the wood was shattered in the back, and part of the electronics were exposed. The offertory box on which the small church stands was looted, leaving only a few coins. Additionally the smaller of the two church towers, which was completely replaced in the past repair, was damaged again.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Prosecutors Believe Hague Stabbing in May Targeted Christians and Jews

November 14, 2018, Netherlands

New information from the prosecutor's office indicates that Malek F., a Syrian asylum seeker charged with 3 counts of attempted murder for stabbings in The Hague on May 5, 2018, was specifically searching for “Christian and Jewish kuffars," Arabic for non-believers. In a recorded conversation with his mother from prison, he said they were similar to “animals or retarded people” and that he was a "soldier of Allah."

Hate Crime

Theft and Desecration of Madrid Church

November 13, 2018, Spain

On the 13th of November intruders broke into the church of Nuestra Señora de Madrid, desecrated the tabernacle, stole a ciborium, a small monstrance, and other objects from the parish office. The Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoro, expressed his pain, his prayers, and his condemnation for this desecration to the whole parish community and will soon hold an act of reparation in the church. The police began an investigation.

Desecration Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Thousands of Euros in Damage Caused by Rocks Thrown at Church Windows

November 13, 2018, Germany

On four afternoons in a row, between November 13th and November 17th, unknown perpetrators threw rocks at the stained glass windows of the church of St. Stephanus in Grevenbroich-Elsen. "In total there are 27 holes up to a diameter of ten centimeters and cracks [in the windows]," according to Gerd Reibel, Deputy Chairman of the Church Council. "We estimate the total amount of the damage to be between 3,000 and 4,000 euros," he said. The parish filed a police complaint.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

British Government Denies Asia Bibi Asylum for Fear of Community Unrest

November 9, 2018, United Kingdom

Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan, was released from prison after the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned her sentence for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Her acquittal led to unrest and riots among Pakistan's Muslim hardliners, prompting the government to try to prevent her from leaving the country. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, pleaded to the UK government: “I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom.” The British government reportedly rejected this request for fear of civil unrest.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Exclusion (of individuals or ideas)

Vandalism in the Church of Sainte Croix

November 7, 2018, France

A press release of the parish of Port de Bordeaux reported that there were “more then 40 chairs crumbled to pieces, tables and displays thrown over” in the 11th century church of Sainte Croix. Debout France – a local federation – published information about this incident on its Twitter expressing regret saying: “vandalism (…) is more and more frequent within our church.”

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Historic Forest Church Heavily Damaged by Vandalism

November 6, 2018, Italy

Several stained glass windows of the Lama Church were broken by rocks and the door was smashed by an axe. The damage was estimated several thousand euros.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Vandalism at Wallyford Church

November 5, 2018, United Kingdom

East Lothian (Scotland) Police investigated a case of vandalism at the Wallyford Livingroom Church. Vandals smashed a window by throwing stones.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Vandalism to Parish Church

November 4, 2018, Germany

Sometime between November 4th and 7th, unknown perpetrators smashed in a window at the St. Walburgis Church in Menzelen-Ost. The damage was discovered by church staff on the evening of November 7th. The perpetrators threw an object into a glass window with lead glazing with an unknown object.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Parish Church Vandalized

November 2, 2018, Germany

Police reported that two teenagers are suspected of having caused at least €3,000 in damage to the Reichertshausen parish church St. Stephanus between August 31st and September 13th. Many statues were damaged: the wing of a dove (representing the holy spirit) was broken, the statue of John the Baptist was damaged, and the head of a statue on the altar was broken off. A foul smelling and foamy liquid was poured into the holy water. The sacristan who discovered all of this damage also found remainders of ashes and crumbs, spilled beverages, a burned prayer book, and the note “F… dich Gott” (“F… you God”) in a book for prayer requests. 

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Desecration of Church in French Guiana

November 2, 2018, France

One or more unknown individuals broke into the church du Bon Pasteur and ransacked everything. The table of the altar was broken, furniture was knocked over, video material disappeared, the locks to the sacristy were broken, and consecrated hosts were emptied from the tabernacle. The parish priest and the church community were shocked and dismayed. An investigation was opened.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Offensive Graffiti and Vandalism in Church

November 2, 2018, Germany

Unknown perpetrators sprayed three walls and a prayer bench with offensive graffiti in the St. Benedikt-Kirche in Herbern. The local police spokesperson referred to the act as "antisocial behavior" and suspected "marauding teenagers" committed the vandalism sometime between 11 am and 5 pm on November 2nd.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Shocking Graffiti on Pietà

November 1, 2018, Germany

During the night before All Saints Day, the Pietà in front of the parish church St. Georg in Freising was defaced with black graffiti and vulgar sexual images. Just two weeks earlier, church painter Florian Böck had finished restoring the statue of the Mary, Mother of Sorrows (Mater Dolorosa), holding the corpse of Jesus Christ taken from the cross. Böck expressed his anger: “We really need to ask ourselves, who could do something like this?” and said it would be a long process to clean the statue and bring it to the previous status. The damage to the statue which dates back to 1640 was estimated by the police at around 3000 euros.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Over 100 Windows Smashed at Church in Ireland

October 31, 2018, Ireland

Sometime between the 29th and 31st of October, unknown perpetrators broke 104 windows at St Catherine’s Church in Tullamore. The police are investigating, and cannot exclude a targeted crime although the motive remains unclear. Parishioners expect up to €70,000 will be needed to renew the windows and enhance security.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Obscene Vandalism on Salerno Church

October 31, 2018, Italy

Vandals sprayed a phallic symbol in foam next to the Madonna on the bronze door of the church of Santa Maria a Mare a Mercatello on Halloween. The priest, who called the act disrespectful and offensive, reported that this was not the first instance of vandalism, as the churchyard is a frequent target of vandals. Both the priest and the parishioners were upset and discussed closing the churchyard and installing security cameras it the area.

Insult or Incitement Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Three Windows of Village Church Destroyed

October 30, 2018, Germany

Unknown perpetrators smashed three stained glass windows with stones between the 28th and 30th of October. The Hamminkeln police began an investigation.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Christian Group Ordered to Pay for Extra Security at Oxford Event

October 29, 2018, United Kingdom

Oxford students voted to ban Christian Concern from hosting its Wilberforce Academy residential conference at Lady Margaret Hall, calling the group a “real threat to the physical and mental safety of students.” The college, however, said it would permit the group to use its facilities provided that it paid for extra security. A college spokesperson said that Christian Concern's "opposition to abortion, Islam and LGBTQ+" rights would lead to protests so it needed to pay "additional security costs."

Contractual Freedom Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression Negative Stereotyping

"Rainbow Friday" May Violate Polish Constitution and Education Law

October 26, 2018, Poland

For the third year in a row, more than 200 schools across Poland participated in "Rainbow Friday," a campaign to celebrate and promote acceptance of LGBT issues. The Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture examined whether such an addition to the school curriculum violated the education law and interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of parents to direct the education of their children. It encouraged parents who objected to their children's participation in the program to inform the schools of their wishes, and to report violations if their children are compelled to attend.

Rights of Parents

Scottish Campaign calls Believers 'Bigots'

October 22, 2018, United Kingdom

An anti-hate crime campaign One Scotland, launched in September 2018 by the Scottish police and government, includes a poster directed toward religious believers which reads (in part), “Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hatred here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.” Other posters in the campaign were directed toward 'transphobes' and 'homophobes.' Critics of the campaign have noted that it singles out religious believers and calls them bigots without any qualification, and it is based on a political ideology which discriminates against those who hold traditional views.

Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Negative Stereotyping

Second Church Arson in a Month in Heroldsbach

October 21, 2018, Germany

For the second time in a month, a fire was set in the St. Michael church in Heroldsbach. A witness noticed the fire around 5:45pm on Sunday, the 21st of October and called the authorities. The fire brigade was able to quickly extinguish the fire and prevent further damage. An intentional fire had been set in the same church on September 16th. The criminal police of Bamberg continued the investigation into both fires and continued to seek witnesses.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Church in Yvelines Desecrated

October 16, 2018, France

Police were called to the church of Sainte-Julitte de Saint-Cyr-l'Ecole after feces, urine, and a cigarette butt were discovered at the foot of the altar. A police investigation was opened and a complaint will be filed.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Statues of Saints and the Virgin Mary Smashed, Decapitated, and Stolen in Ticino

October 10, 2018, Switzerland

Since Easter, there have been eight attacks against statues of female saints and the Virgin Mary in the southern canton of Ticino.

Intolerance towards Religious Symbols Religious Symbols Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Rifle Fire Damaged Stained Glass Windows of Church

October 8, 2018, France

Mayor René Beausoleil announced at a city council meeting that he had filed a complaint with the gendarmerie after "23 impacts of rifle fire" damaged several stained glass windows in the church of Saint-Laurent in Montfaucon-d’Argonne. The damage was estimated at €16,700. The police are investigating.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Cross Torn Down in Lesvos

October 7, 2018, Greece

A huge cement cross erected over a beach in honor of people who have drowned there was torn down by unknown perpetrators during the night of October 7th. The NGO "Coexistence and Communication in the Aegean" had previously called the cross "offensive" to non-Christian migrants, a symbol of "racism and intolerance," and claimed that it had been placed above the beach to prevent refugees and migrants from swimming there. Local residents reacted with dismay and discussed re-building it.

Intolerance towards Religious Symbols Religious Symbols Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Huge Metal Cross Torn Down

October 7, 2018, Germany

Vandals tore down a huge 30 kilo metal memorial cross from the cemetery next to the pilgrimage church in Marienbaum. Father Jeremias Kehren, pastor of the church, expressed the shock of the community and called it an attack on the cemetery and those who mourn there: "The wickedness with which this memorial was desecrated leaves us speechless."

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Anti-Abortion GPs Argue Against Being Forced to Refer Patients

October 3, 2018, Ireland

The current draft of abortion legislation provides that doctors, nurses, and midwives who have a conscientious objection to abortion must refer their patients to another provider who will perform the abortion. The National Association of GPs (NAGP) voted to "advocate for conscientious objection, without obligation to refer" and for an "opt-in" system, where medical professionals register their willingness to perform the procedure, rather than an "opt-out system.

Freedom of Conscience

Diocese of Osma-Soria Reported Two Churches Damaged and Robbed in 15 Days

October 2, 2018, Spain

The Diocese of Osma-Soria reported on October 2nd that the church of San Esteban in the town of Masegoso was vandalized, but nothing was stolen. In Soria on September 22nd, thieves entered the hermitage of the Virgin of Ulagares and stole the money donated by the faithful, as well as cult objects of low value and some construction tools. The civil guard began and investigation.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Elderly Priest Injured by Two Young Men

October 1, 2018, France

On September 26, 2018 an 81-year-old priest was assaulted by two homeless men he sheltered in his home. The priest was awakened by noise at around 2:00 in the morning and discovered the men trying to steal his television. The men, who the priest had been sheltering and feeding for a few days, attacked him, threatened him with a kitchen knife, and tied him to his bed. After he shouted, the perpetrators fled but were soon identified and captured by the police. On October 1st, they were each sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

Hate Crime Theft

Abortion-Specific Conscience Clause Targeted by France Socialists

September 27, 2018, France

An attack on the freedom of conscience of doctors and medical staff was launched on the 27th of September in the French parliament by socialist senators including former Minster of Families Laurence Rossignol. They want to cancel the specific conscience clause for doctors covering abortions, because it is already covered by the Public Health Code.

Freedom of Conscience

Ravensburg Church Arsonist Sentenced

September 25, 2018, Germany

A 40-year-old unemployed man was sentenced to 7 years in prison on September 25, 2018 for the arson of two churches, St. Jodok in Ravensburg and St. Martin in Schlier. The incidents occurred in March 2018, which we reported at the time. The fire at St. Jodok church in Ravensburg caused at least two million euros in damage.

Spanish Mayor Disguised Himself as Priest to Perform Civil Wedding

September 23, 2018, Spain

The mayor of Ayna (Albacete), Emiliano Rodríguez, disguised himself as a priest to perform a civil wedding ceremony in the town of Castilla-La Mancha. He wore a cassock with a large cross hanging around his neck and carried a small book like a bible in his hands. While the socialist mayor claimed it was a private event not intended to offend anyone, the stunt was widely criticized. The parish priest of Albacete wrote on social media, "As a priest I protest vigorously. Please respect my faith." (Como sacerdote protesto enérgicamente. Por favor, respete mi Fe).

Insult or Incitement

Finnish Foreign Minister Faced No-Confidence Vote over Pro-Life Views

September 21, 2018, Finland

Members of the Finnish Parliament voted 100–60 against a motion of no confidence brought against Catholic Foreign Minister Timo Soini on September 21st. Four opposition parties, the Green League, Left Alliance, Social Democrats and Swedish People’s Party, brought a motion of no confidence over Soini's attendance at pro-life vigil while on an official trip to Canada in May.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

Explosion at Banquet Hall of Syrian Orthodox Church in Södertälje

September 19, 2018, Sweden

Police completed their forensic investigation of an explosion in an events hall owned by the St. Afrem Syrian Orthodox Church. The hall, rented from the church for events such as parties and wedding receptions, was empty at the time of the explosion. Police said they are still investigating who was behind the attack and the motives remain unclear.

Hate Crime Hate Incident

War Memorial Damaged at Catholic Church

September 18, 2018, Germany

Police began an investigation of vandalism at the war memorial at a Catholic church in Bischofsdhron, a few days after a Way of the Cross was damaged nearby. Several stone slabs were knocked out of their foundation causing an estimated €400 in damage.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Assault on Priest and Attempted Robbery at Bulgarian Monastery

September 18, 2018, Bulgaria

Six masked men entered the medieval Rozhen Monastery at about 8:00 pm on September 18th. They assaulted and tied up the priest who was present and began digging into the wall behind the iconostasis in the monastery church with picks and spades. After about 30 minutes, they left the monastery without taking anything except the priest's mobile phone. The priest was reportedly unharmed but shaken by the incident. Security camera footage led to the arrest of some of the perpetrators.

Hate Crime Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Neuroscience Professor Investigated for Telling Students Men and Women are Biologically Different

September 17, 2018, Sweden

Germund Hesslow, a neurophysiology professor at Lund University, is under investigation for "anti-feminism" and "transphobia" for telling his students there are biological differences between men and women.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

Arson in Bavarian Church

September 16, 2018, Germany

Early in the evening of September 16th, a witness noticed smoke coming from the St. Michael church in Heroldsbach and contacted the authorities. Police discovered burning scraps of paper and initial estimates amounted to at least 2,500 euros in damage. After a criminal investigation, officials concluded that the fire had been intentionally set and asked for assistance from any potential witnesses.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Perpetrator Confesses to Arson of Evangelical Church

September 15, 2018, Austria

A 58 year old man confessed to setting a fire that heavily damaged the Johanneskirche am Lendkanal on September 15th. The altar cross, a gift of British soldiers and of great sentimental value, was missing after the fire but later found near the church.

Hate Crime Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Pro-Life Charity Banned from Three UK Universities

September 14, 2018, United Kingdom

Student Unions in Manchester, Warwick, and Liverpool rejected the Life charity's application to appear at their Freshers' Fairs. The Warwick Students' Union rejected Life because its members "voted to adopt a pro-choice stance." Manchester said the Fair was an inappropriate platform, while Liverpool said the charity would not offer "impartial advice" to students. Life said its displays inform students that help is available if they get pregnant. The charity filed a complaint to the Office for Students (OfS) citing discrimination and restrictions on freedom of speech. It noted that the Chair of OfS had earlier promoted the protection of freedom of speech.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression