On November 15th the St. Jan Kanty church in Warsaw was smeared with accusations and the lightning symbol. The symbol is known as the sing of the women's strike. The parish was target by activists connected to the women's strike group before. After attempts of breaking into the church during holy mass, the parishioners took action themselves and hired a security guard.
On the 10th of November, the Parliament of Norway has extended the hate-speech law to transgender and bisexual people, or generally "sexual orientation". People that are found guilty of hate speech could face up to one year in jail for private remarks and up to three years for public comments. This law could be conflicting with the freedom of speech for Christians, who preach the teachings of the bible.
Mary Douglas, a Christian councillor at Wiltshire, was forced to step down from her role in November 2019, as she expressed her disapproval of the use of public funds to promote the "gay pride" event, as she did not agree with this "ideology and worldview". Accused of homophobia, she had to leave her role, but after an investigation the Wiltshire Council reversed the decision. The council admitted that her removal was an infringement of her "right to freedom of expression".
The second Lockdown in France restricts people to only leave their homes for essential work or medical reasons. Schools and churches remain open but masses are not allowed to take place after the 1st of November. A group of Bishops and several other religious movements have appealed to the Council of State for the allowance of communal services of 90 minutes. This appeal was rejected on the 7th of November, but Vincent Neymon, President of the French Bishop's Conference will continue to seek an agreement.
In response to the rising number of Covid-19 infections, most European countries have started to announce a new lockdown entering into force in November. The new measures led to a continuing of the discussion about the relevance of the church and the understanding of Freedom of Religion in various countries. After the first lockdown, a number of courts were held discussing the matter of Freedom of Religion, which is reflected in the diversity of new approaches amon European states. France, Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland have banned the celebration of masses, which has stirred up criticism from the churches, demanding proof of the necessity for these measures. Austria, Germany and Spain, as other countries like Poland, did not declare a stop of religious services, arguing that religious freedom is among the essential freedoms to be protected in a liberal democratic society. In these countries the criticism mostly comes from secular societies, claiming that religion is a private issue and should not be given priority over cultural or leisure activities. In Italy the allowance of masses depends on the cities, other European countries allow services although with very strong restrictions.
In the UK, a new lockdown was declared, which closes bars, restaurants and non-essential retail businesses. Churches are also ordered to cease gatherings and worship services. Leaders from different churches signed a pre-action letter to the government to take back the ban on worship services. As the government didn't respond, they now have launched a legal challenge led by Pastor Ade Omooba MBE and with support of the Christian Legal Center.
On October 22nd, the polish Constitutional Tribunal decided that eugenic abortion is unconstitutional. This led to an outrage of the left-wing feminist organization "Women's Strike". among others, which started attacking churches across Poland and interrupting church services. The activists vandalized the facades of many religious buildings by tagging them with vulgar or insulting slogans. Among the attacked churches were the St. Magda Magdalena in Warsaw and the parish church St. Jakub in Warsaw, the St. Vincent de Paul church in Otwock and other Shrines and buildings. The police is investigating.
A new Bill is being passed rapidly in the United Kingdom, which would require extensive discussion on its moral standards. The Covert Human Intelligence Bill was presented on September 2020, and has already passed the first reading in the House of Lords (19.10.2020). It's regulations for the authorization of criminal activity for public bodies, like the police, to "prevent disorder" presents a threat to freedoms of speech and religion. The line is already very thin between "hate crimes" and "hate incidents" and the new Bill could give space to a targeted surveillance and use of executive power against Christians.
Street preacher Henning Heinrich Westrup reported that attacks against him increased in July. He calls on people to repent and follow Jesus Christ in the pedestrian zones in Bielefeld, Dortmund and Gütersloh, among others. He reported that attacks against him by people who reject his message have increased. He said he experienced insults, vulgarities, and threats -- along with an assault in July.
The Scottish Justice Committee has proposed a new hate crime bill, which extends the current hate crime law covering race, to include other "protected characteristics" such as religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity. Christian and secular groups have criticized the bill as too broad and subjective, potentially interfering with freedom of speech and worship. The Parliament has accepted to re-draft the Bill, to protect Freedom of Speech. The new amendment should be known in December 2020.
Proposed Equality Bills 96 and 97 are ostensibly aimed at protecting an extensive group of people from discrimination and cover areas such as schools, public religious symbols, and services and employment. The Bills would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, religious belief, state of health, and other “protected characteristics.” However, many sectors of society, including educators, professionals, business owners, health workers, parents, faith-based groups, and believers are concerned about the laws' overreach.
The abbess of the German Benedictine convent Maria Frieden in Kirchschletten faced criminal charges for granting church asylum. The trial against Mother Mechthild Thürmer before the Bamberg District Court was scheduled for July 31. The abbess of the monastery in Upper Franconia had taken in an Eritrean woman in fall of 2018, who was to be deported to Italy. She disputed a penalty order for "aiding and abetting an illegal stay", combined with a fine of 2,500 euros, arguing for freedom of conscience.
The Observatory of Religious Freedom (OLRC) based in Spain, reported a decrease in the attacks towards fundamental rights and an increase in violence against Catholic believers and places of worship (mostly Christian), on June 8th. According to Maria Garcia, President of the OLRC, 80% of the attacks have been directed against Christians. The report also shows political parties like "Podemos", the left party and the PSOE party as clear opposers of religious freedom involved in acts against Christians. The most affected cities are Madrid, Andalucia and Cataluña.
On May 10th, municipal police fined the rector of Lloret for saying Mass with about thirty people inside the church. The priest, Martirià Brugada, however, defended his actions and, in fact, finished the Mass with the parishioners outside the church and the windows open.
The president of the Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience (OLRC) sent a letter to the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, asking for "explanations" and showing her "discomfort" about the suspension of Masses in the course of their celebration that has taken place in different parts of Spain during Lent and Holy Week.
On March 15th actress Seyi Omooba got dismissed from her leading roll for a Facebook post, citing the Bibel. The actress was supposed to play a LGBTQ character in a musical at the Leicester Curve Theatre, when she was not only accused of homophobia but verbally abused online. She was called "ni**er" because of a post on Facebook four years ago, about her Christian view on same-sex marriage. After being removed from the roll, Seyi Omooba is suing Leicester Curve Theatre and Global Artists Agency supported by the Christian Legal Centre. On November 25th, the judge rejected arguments from Seyi Omoobas lawyers that the theatre critic, Lloyd Evans should be allowed to give evidence in her claim. It was ruled that the theatre critic could not support Omooba in court with an expert evidnece report. The trail of Omooba's religious discrimination and breach of contract claim is scheduled to run for 11 days next February.
A seniors group of Christians from recognised religious communities such as the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church and the Free Churches in Austria (FKÖ) is no longer allowed to use the tax-financed community centre after several years of use. In an e-mail from ISD (Innsbrucker Soziale Dienste), the Christian seniors group was informed that "prayers, devotions, hymns of praise, Bible readings or the like" are no longer permitted in the ISD Community Centre in Wilten with immediate effect. Representatives of political parties and Tyrollean citizens are protesting against this decision accusing of violating religious freedom.
On March 2nd, member of the Finnish Parliament Päivi Räsänen faced a police interrogation because of a tweet she posted in June 2019. The tweet was directed at the leadership of her church and questioned its official sponsorship of the LGBT event “Pride 2019”, accompanied by an image of a bible text.
Just before Christmas, the Catholic Church Guthirt in Aarburg was forced to withdraw access to holy water in its basins following repeated acts of urination into the water. The deacon, Markus Stohldreier, expressed shock and disappointment at repeated attacks against the parish community."In my 36 years as a theologian, I have never experienced anything comparable." He added, "The perpetrators must have urinated in holy water in broad daylight," because the church is closed at night to prevent vandalism.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution which calls "for an end to violations against the freedom of Christians and other religious minorities to worship."