All cases

Facebook Censors "Still One of Us" Image

May 15, 2019, International

The Dublin-based Iona Institute for Religion and Society launched a pro-life ad campaign during the week of May 7th, which included billboard signs depicting an unborn child in the womb. Iona extended that campaign to Facebook and paid a promotion fee to bring it to a wider audience. Facebook blurred the image in the ads behind a warning and said that the image comes under the heading of “graphic” or “violent” content.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas)

Vandalism of Church and Walls in Orvieto Medieval Quarter

May 12, 2019, Italy

For what was is described as the "umpteenth" time, the walls of the medieval Rupe quarter and the facade of its church, San Giovenale, were vandalized with graffiti which included "blasphemous phrases." Police began an investigation and specialized cleaning teams will be hired to remove the paint.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Vandalism in Villeurbanne Church

May 12, 2019, France

During the night of May 12th, intruders entered the church of Sainte-Famille in Villeurbanne (Rhône) and damaged the holy water stoup, candles, and left trash. The city's urban safety brigade is investigating.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Christian Statues Stolen from Cemetery

May 10, 2019, France

Three metal, meter-high, statues of Christian figures were stolen off their granite pedestals in a family plot in the cemetery of Argenton-les-Vallées (Deux-Sèvres). Police are investigating.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

UPDATE: Suspect Arrested for Arson in Equihen-Plage Church Sacristy

May 9, 2019, France

As a result of a forensic investigation into the origin of a fire that broke out around 6 am on May 5th in the sacristy of the church of Equihen-Plage, a man was arrested on May 9th. The 34-year-old confessed to having set the fire as well as having robbed churches in La Capelle-lès-Boulogne, Wimille, and attempting to rob a church in Boulogne. He said he also had tried to set those churches on fire, but without success. The damage to the Equihen-Plage was extensive, estimated at around 340,000 euros.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Sussex Church Suffers Repeated Vandalism

May 9, 2019, United Kingdom

In the latest in a series of vandalism incidents at the St John the Evangelist church in Copthorne, the Victorian gate memorial to World War I veterans in the churchyard was kicked in and broken. The Churchwarden reported that this was the latest in a string of incidents at the village church. Police are investigating.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Break-in and Attempted Burglary in Two Hesse Churches

May 8, 2019, Germany

During the afternoon of May 7th, the priest of a Hofheim church caught a man trying to break into the donation box with a tool. The man fled the scene on bicycle. Later, during the night between May 7th and 8th, intruders entered a church in Raunheim (about 65 km away from Hofheim) through a broken basement window. Although it appeared that nothing was stolen, they damaged the locked entrance door as they left.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Theft from Saint-Germain-des-Près in Paris

May 8, 2019, France

The parish priest of the church of Saint-Germain-des-Près discovered that a gilded metal cross, bronze candlestick, and a candle had been stolen from the church altar by two intruders. The thieves were able to enter the church between 2:10 and 2:30 a.m. without forcing the doors due to construction scaffolding on the building. Police are searching for the two perpetrators filmed by the security cameras.

Theft

Christ Figure Broken in Half and Left on Church Altar

May 8, 2019, France

On May 8th, parishioners at the church of Saint-Martin d'Asson (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) discovered that a crucifix had been dismantled, and the Christ figure it supported broken in two pieces and left on both sides of the altar. A complaint was filed and police began an investigation.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Vandalism in Village Church Twice in 10 Days

May 6, 2019, France

The church of Saint-Genest was vandalized on the afternoon of May 6th, with the Easter candle and other candles dedicated to the Virgin Mary burnt, the organ's power supply damaged, and trash was found. According to reports, this is the second instance of vandalism that the village church in ten days. Police began an investigation.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Repeated Thefts from Churches in Baden-Württemberg

May 6, 2019, Germany

Freiburg police are investigating a series of thefts from Catholic churches in Rheinfelden-Nollingen, Schwörstadt, and Bad Säckingen from mid-April to the beginning of May. Offering boxes were pried open and the contents stolen in each of the churches, with the Nollingen church hit twice by thieves.

Theft

Winnweiler Church Damaged by Vandals

May 6, 2019, Germany

During the period from May 4th to 6th, unknown perpetrators broke the lock at the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Winnweiler (Rhineland-Palatinate), lit a small campfire on the sandy ground outside the church, and defaced a wall with graffiti. A lightning rod was torn from the wall and the outer facade of the church was damaged. The police in Rockenhausen are investigating.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Thüringen Church Vandalized

May 6, 2019, Germany

Unknown perpetrators smeared "several numbers, characters and figures in different colors" on the outer wall of the Evangelical Lutheran City Church in Rudolstadt. Police began an investigation.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Rampage in Umbria Church

May 5, 2019, Italy

During the night between May 4th and 5th, vandals ransacked the church of San Girolamo in Narni. On Sunday morning the 5th, the priest discovered that statues, benches, and kneelers had been overturned and damaged. Wires were torn from the sound system, furnishings in the sacristy and other rooms were destroyed, and sacred books had been thrown to the ground. As a result of the extensive damage, Mass had to be cancelled. A complaint was filed with the police.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Graffiti on Toulouse Church

May 5, 2019, France

Graffiti with the phrase "Allah u Akbar" and a heart was found written on the door of the Notre-Dame-du-Taur church in Toulouse during the evening of May 5th.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Hoxel Chapel Window Damaged

May 5, 2019, Germany

During the night from May 4th to 5th, unidentified vandals smashed a stained glass window in the chapel in Morbach-Hoxel with a paving stone. Property damage is estimated to be around 2000 euros.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Thieves Steal Cross from Altar

May 4, 2019, Germany

Sometime between May 3rd and 4th, the intricately carved wooden cross was stolen from the altar of the Peter-Paul-Kirche in Bad Oldesloe. Pastor Diethelm Schark said to enter the sanctuary to steal the wooden cross broke a major taboo and said he hoped the cross would be found and returned.

Theft

Cross Broken and Trampled at Kwidzyn Cathedral

May 3, 2019, Poland

On May 3rd, a priest discovered a destroyed and trampled cross in the porch of the entrance to the church of Saint John the Evangelist in Kwidzyn, as well as a strong smelling liquid poured into the holy water font. Because the incident occurred on the Catholic feast of the Queen of Poland and Poland's Constitution Day holiday, there were many visitors and tourists around the cathedral, making it difficult to identify the perpetrators, according to the priest. The area was not covered by the security cameras in the church.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Consecrated Hosts Stolen from Deux-Sèvres Church

May 2, 2019, France

The church of Saint-Germain in Brion-prés-Thouet held a reparation Mass on May 4th after consecrated hosts in a chalice were stolen a few days earlier.

Desecration Theft

Donation Box Torn from Wall of Church found at Bus Stop

May 2, 2019, Germany

Police investigated the theft of an offertory box from a church in Wiehe (Thüringen). On May 2nd, church staff discovered that the donation box had been forcibly torn from the wall. It was later found at a bus stop. A small amount of cash was stolen, but the incident caused property damage of about 100 euros.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Two Vandalism Incidents in Two Days on Catholic Churches in Scotland

April 29, 2019, United Kingdom

On Saturday, April 27, anti-Catholic graffiti (“F*** the Pope”) was found spray-painted on a bus shelter outside Holy Family Catholic Church in Mossend. On Monday, April 29, vandals entered St. Simon Catholic Church in Glasgow, the main place of worship for the city's Polish community, and attacked the sanctuary, breaking a statue, overturning candles and a shrine to Our Lady of Częstochowa.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Two Vandalism Incidents in Two Days on Catholic Churches in Scotland

April 29, 2019, United Kingdom

On Saturday, April 27, anti-Catholic graffiti (“F*** the Pope”) was found spray-painted on a bus shelter outside Holy Family Catholic Church in Mossend. On Monday, April 29, vandals entered St. Simon Catholic Church in Glasgow, the main place of worship for the city's Polish community, and attacked the sanctuary, breaking a statue, overturning candles and a shrine to Our Lady of Częstochowa.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Heavy Damage after Church Break-In

April 29, 2019, Germany

Unknown thieves broke into a church on the Luisenring in Mannheim on April 29th. According to police, the perpetrators gained access to the church through a back window during the night of April 29th. They searched the chapel and the sacristy. Doors and containers were broken into with massive force, resulting in property damage of around 10,000 euros throughout the building. Police began an investigation.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Theft from Evangelical Church During Service

April 28, 2019, Germany

During the Sunday morning worship service on the 28th of April, an unknown perpetrator stole the offertory box from the evangelischen Kirchengemeinde Spaichingen (Baden-Wüttemberg).

Theft

Disruptions and Security Concerns at Armenian Genocide Commemorations in Germany

April 27, 2019, Germany

In Frankfurt am Main, the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Germany and the Central Council of Armenians held a memorial service at the Paulskirche on April 27th for the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Just hours before the event, the keynote speaker was forced to cancel his participation due to acute security concerns. The speaker, Mourad Franck Papazian of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Associations in France, received a warning from French security police that he might become a target for Turkish extremists in Germany.  Other incidents included damage of cross stones and threats toward ceremony participants.

Hate Incident

Posters of Our Lady of Częstochowa with Rainbow Halo Scattered around Płock Church

April 26, 2019, Poland

On the morning of April 27th, parishioners noticed posters of Our Lady of Częstochowa (a sacred image of the Virgin Mary and Child) scattered around the church of St. Maksymilian Kolbe with rainbows replacing the golden halos. The posters were found around litter bins and portable toilets. The spokesman for the Polish Bishops Conference denounced the act and asked for people "regardless of beliefs and personal views, to respect the religious feelings of believers." The incident was also harshly criticized by the Interior Ministry.

Insult or Incitement Intolerance towards Religious Symbols Religious Symbols

Thieves Fled Church after Trying to Steal Donation Box

April 26, 2019, Germany

At about 4:30 pm on April 26th, two people entered the Annakirche in Düren (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and immediately noticed two males: One was kneeling in front of the donation and sacrificial candle container trying to cut open the padlock with a bolt cutter. When the witnesses approached the men, they fled the church.

Theft

Bomb Threat Halted Church Commemoration of Armenian Genocide

April 24, 2019, Germany

Police evacuated the Lutherkirche in the Bad Cannstadt district of Stuttgart on April 24th shortly before a 7pm commemoration service for the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was to take place. The pastor of the Armenian Christian community reported that received a warning from police to clear the church after an anonymous bomb threat was received. Police forces blocked off a large area around the church, employing special forces with machine guns and dogs until late in the evening. A police spokesman neither confirmed nor denied that it had been a bomb threat, but called it a "threat situation" and explosives detection dogs were brought in as a precautionary measure. Police authorities are still investigating. 

Hate Incident

Windows Damaged and Donations Stolen from Lower Saxony Chruch

April 24, 2019, Germany

Sometime between April 21st and 24th, unidentified perpetrator(s) broke at least nine windows of a Wilhelmshaven and stole the donation proceeds from the inside the church. Police investigated and looked for witnesses.

Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Easter Mass Disrupted in Trieste

April 21, 2019, Italy

During the Easter Mass in the church of San Giovanni, a man who was receiving communion responded to the traditional formula "the Body of Christ" by saying "thanks" and then asking "what part of the body is this?" and began walking away, carrying the consecrated host and denouncing the Catholic religion. Parishioners were shocked and one ordered the man to consume the host before leaving the building.

Desecration Insult or Incitement

Homeless Man Stabbed for Wearing a Cross Necklace in Rome

April 20, 2019, Italy

A 44-year-old Georgian man was stabbed in the neck in front of Rome's Termini Station on Easter Eve by a Moroccan man after a dispute about religion on a bus. According to reports, after the victim got off the bus at Termini Station, the aggressor followed him and after noticing the crucifix necklace he was wearing, called the Georgian man a "Italian Catholic Sh*t"and tried to cut his throat with a kitchen knife. The Moroccan man was arrested by police and charged with attempted murder with religious hatred as an aggravating factor.

Hate Crime

Statue of Sainte-Barbe Smashed

April 17, 2019, France

A statue of the patron saint of miners and firefighters was removed from its glass case in a square in front of a church in the small town of Belle-Roche (Cocheren) and smashed to the ground by unknown vandals.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Statue of Virgin Mary Decapitated in Marlhes

April 17, 2019, France

Residents of the Loire village were stunned to discover the statue of la vierge de Cartaire had been smashed, breaking the chest and decapitating the head. The statue, which sits in a small flower-filled grotto, is made of cast iron with metal reinforcements. Reports indicate that the person or people who committed this act would have had to be well-equipped to break such a strong structure.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

UK School Employee Challeges Dismissal for Raising Concerns about Sex Education

April 16, 2019, United Kingdom

Kristie Higgs, a Christian school worker will challenge a Gloucestershire school academy’s decision to dismiss her for gross misconduct. She was dismissed after she shared two posts on her Facebook page in October 2018 that raised concerns about Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at another school in the same village - her child’s Church of England primary school. Higgs was told following an investigation and a six hour hearing that she would be dismissed without notice for gross misconduct.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Expression Rights of Parents

Anti-Catholic Graffiti Sprayed on Galicia Church

April 14, 2019, Spain

On the morning of Palm Sunday, the priest and parishioners discovered graffiti sprayed on the outside of the Meside (Ourense) church. "Borregos" ("sheep"), "La religión es el opium del pueblo" ("Religion is the opiate of the people"), "Por la república" (For the republic"), a cross in a circle with a line through it, and leftist symbols were among the messages on the church.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Dillenburg: Vandalism in the Catholic Church

April 14, 2019, Germany

On April 14th, between 2 pm and 6 pm, unknown persons vandalized the Herz Jesu Catholic church on Wilhelmsplatz in Dillenburg (in Hesse's Gießen region). They damaged a holy water stoup and candles and scattered leaflets on the floor.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Sacred Objects and Keys Stolen from Mödling Church

April 13, 2019, Austria

Unknown perpetrators stole a chalice, two ciboria, and a monstrance from the tabernacle, as well as all the keys in the sacristy from the parish church in Biedermannsdorf (district of Mödling) on ​​the evening of April 13th.

Theft

Break-in and Vandalism at El Copo Chapel

April 13, 2019, Spain

A chapel attached to the parish of the Sagrada Familia in the El Copo neighborhood of Málaga was broken into during the early morning hours of April 13th. The chapel door, as well as the tabernacle, were forced open and the sacristy was damaged. Nothing was stolen. Police investigated whether it was connected to the theft of ciboria containing consecrated hosts from another Málaga church a few days earlier.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Pro-Life Student Group Challenges Student Union Ban

April 12, 2019, United Kingdom

In April 2018, the pro-life student university group Aberdeen Life Ethics Society submitted an application for affiliation to Aberdeen University's Societies Union (AUSA) but was denied due to AUSA's policy which required the union to give “no funding, facilitation, or platform” to any pro-life group and forbids the “unreasonable display” of pro-life material on campus. Aberdeen Life Ethics Society has taken legal action against the University and AUSA claiming unlawful discrimination and the violation of equality rights protected by UK law.

Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas)

Vandalism in Nienborg Church

April 11, 2019, Germany

According to a police press release, unknown perpetrators set a brochure on fire and poured wax on an altar cloth in the church in Nienborg. An investigation was opened.

Theft of Consecrated Hosts in Málaga

April 10, 2019, Spain

The Diocese of Málaga report the theft of two ciboria containing consecrated hosts from the Iglesia de la Trinidad in Antequera. The diocese noted that apart from the fairly low value of the ciboria stolen, the theft of the hosts was a "desecration of extreme gravity that deeply offends the Catholic faith."

Tabernacle Broken and Hosts Stolen from Montluçon Church

April 9, 2019, France

When the sacristan came to close the church of Saint-Pierre in Montluçon on the evening of April 9th, he discovered that the tabernacle had been broken open and the ciborium containing consecrated hosts had been stolen. Monsignor Laurent Percerou, Bishop of Moulins said "This act, which touches us in the heart of our faith, is a terrible and dramatic act."

Desecration Theft

Cemetery Restoration Includes System to Obscure Christian Symbols

April 8, 2019, Italy

The municipal council of Pieve di Centro in Bologna approved a proposal to install a motorized curtain system in the unconsecrated cemetery chapel to temporarily cover Christian symbols and tombs inside the chapel during ceremonies for non-Christians. The decision generated controversy, with some commentators criticizing the lack of transparency about the project, noting that the public had not been consulted and that construction of another, non-denominational space had not been considered or discussed.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Intolerance towards Religious Symbols

Fire Set in Doorway of Evangelical Church in Naples

April 8, 2019, Italy

In the early morning hours of April 8th, an unknown arsonist set fire to the door of the church of Nuova Pentecoste Gesù ritorna in Naples. Security cameras captured video of a man removing a bottle containing flammable liquid, sprinkling the liquid in front of the church door, and setting it on fire. The door and facade of the church were damaged, but the fire did not spread to the inside.

Hate Crime

Vandalism in Parish Hall

April 7, 2019, Germany

Vandals ransacked the restrooms in the parish hall of the Catholic church of St. Leodegar Oberschopfheim (Friesenheim) causing an estimated €5,000 in damage. Toilet bowls and the sink were smashed, stall doors pulled from their hinges, and glass from broken windows and bottles was scattered everywhere. Lighting along the passage between the church and the parish hall was also destroyed.

Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Repeated Vandalism in Coesfeld Church

April 5, 2019, Germany

There were several reported incidents of vandalism in and around St.-Johannes-Kirche in Bösensell in late March and early April. A windowpane was smashed and wax was poured on the altar and on the sanctuary (chancel) lamp. Lightning rods were torn from the facade of the church, and tools were used to try to break into the Poor Clares donation box. Brochures, prayer books, and tea lights were scattered around the church, including in the holy water basin. Glass bottles containing holy water were smashed to pieces.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Church of Saint-Etienne Vandalized, Hosts Desecrated in the Vendée

April 4, 2019, France

According to a statement from the mayor of Bois-de-Céné, on April 4th vandals attempted to force open the wooden door of the tabernacle in the church of Saint-Etienne and when they were unsuccessful, they tore its bottom from the wall to take the consecrated hosts. The hosts were later found on the ground. The perpetrators, who the mayor said "it appears were teenagers" also stole holy water and urinated behind the organ. The municipality condemned the acts and filed a complaint with the police.

Desecration Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Priest Calls Church Rampage "Spiritual Anarchism"

March 23, 2019, Austria

Unknown perpetrators entered the parish church in Leoben sometime between 11am and 2pm on March 23rd and urinated on the altar, dumped out holy water, rearranged candlesticks and pews, tore the wiring for the sound system out of the wall, draped the pew cushions on top of the altar and laid the cordons on top of them. Fifty tea lights which had been placed next to a statue of the Virgin Mary were stolen and thrown into an empty fountain 100 meters from the church.

Desecration Theft Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Report Calls Swedish Asylum Process for Converts a "Complete Lottery"

March 20, 2019, Sweden

A study analyzing the asylum claims from 2015-2018 of 619 Afghan converts to Christianity outlined serious shortcomings in the Swedish Migration Board's process. 68% of the converts were denied asylum on the grounds that their conversions were not deemed to be "genuine," despite all of them being baptized members of 76 churches in 64 locations across Sweden. The report noted that the Migration Board emphasized knowledge-based answers to questions and intellectual ability, rather than evidence of belief, religious practice, and involvement in church life.

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

UK Home Office Rejected Christian's Asylum Claim by Quoting Bible

March 19, 2019, United Kingdom

An Iranian man who converted to Christianity after discovering it was a peaceful religion in contrast to Islam had his asylum claim rejected by the Home Office on March 19th. In a rejection letter from the Home Office, passages with violent imagery from the Bible including Matthew, Revelation, and Exodus were used to argue that the claimant's claim about Christianity was false. “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful religion’ as opposed to Islam, which contained violence and rage,” the letter read. The Home Office later said the letter was "not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution" and agreed to reconsider the application.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Religion