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Filtered by: Freedom of Religion

Finnish Politician Investigated for Hate Crime for Sharing Bible Verse

August 27, 2019, Finland

The Helsinki Police Department announced it had opened pre-trial investigations into Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat MP, for her criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's (ELCF) participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June. She posted a photograph of Romans 1:24-26 from the New Testament on Facebook and wrote "How does the foundation of the church’s teachings, the Bible, fit with elevating sin and shame as reasons for pride?"

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

German Pastor Says Asylum for Christian Converts Has Become a Pure Gamble"

August 2, 2019, Germany

Protestant pastor Dr. Gottfried Martens, who ministers to over 1,600 people in his church, most of them converts and asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan, has said that whether someone is granted asylum or not is almost like a "pure gamble." The problem Martens sees in the administrative courts is how judges "verify" the earnestness of an asylum seeker's conversion to Christianity. Some trust a pastor's statement whether written or oral in court, while some ignore it and only focus on the short time they spend with the refugee in court. This fully depends on what kind of judge one gets appointed to, according to Martens, and there is no way to prepare well enough for a court date if there is no general regulation that a minister's statement be taken into account.

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

NHS Trust Agreed to Christian Sunday Services after Threat of Legal Action

July 30, 2019, United Kingdom

A Christian patient’s request to have Sunday worship services at a medium secure mental health unit in East London have finally been granted after a year-long legal battle with the NHS on the grounds of religious discrimination. As a result of his weekly requests falling on deaf ears, Freddie O'Neil turned to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) for support. A pre-action letter was then sent to the East London Foundation Trust in October 2018 stating that, as a Christian, Freddie needed to attend Sunday Christian services each week as well as receiving Holy Communion. After a year, and further threats of legal action, the Centre finally began offering weekly Sunday Christian services on Sunday 7 July 2019.

Freedom of Religion

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

Coalition Withdraws CDU Candidate for Constitutional Court Due to Criticism of Sex Ed

June 29, 2018, Germany

Just days before the parliamentary vote on the election of a judge to the state constitutional court, the CDU, Greens, FDP and SSW withdrew their nomination of Hamburg lawyer and law professor Christian Winterhoff due to his conservative views on the sexual education of children.

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

Bulgarian Catholics and Protestants Unite to Oppose Proposed Religious Law: Updated

May 13, 2018, Bulgaria

Catholic and Protestant communities in Bulgaria have unified their efforts to prevent the adoption of two legislative proposals put before the parliamentary assembly in May 2018. The first, sponsored by the conservative GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, would permit state subsidies only for major religious denominations. The second, tabled by the United Patriots, would require greater oversight of religious activities and financing.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Pentecostal Church in Rousse Threatened by Municipality Councilors and Media

April 17, 2018, Bulgaria

The municipality of Rousse will expel the Third Evangelical Pentecostal Church claiming that it illegally occupies a municipal building. The announcement was made by councilors from the right wing party, International Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. After an inspection launched by the local authorities, it was decided that the place where worship services are held three times a week, would be closed.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion

Canada Summer Jobs Funding Program Becomes Religious Freedom and Conscience Rights Controversy

March 20, 2018, Canada

The Canada Summer Jobs program funding application for 2018 requires that applicants sign a statement supporting, among other things, abortion and transgender rights in order to be eligible for funding. Hundreds of applicants, including Christian charities, pro-life groups, and churches have refused to sign the attestation because of the government's positions on moral issues.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Militant Equality Laws

Swedish Social Democrats Seek to Ban all Religious Schools

March 13, 2018, Sweden

The governing party announced the proposal on March 13, 2018, citing concerns about "systematic gender segregation and opinions that do not belong in Swedish schools." Although no examples of problems in Christian schools were cited, they would be included in the plan. Jewish schools would be exempted.

Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion Militant Equality Laws Rights of Parents

Christian Peer Fears Proclaiming Christianity could be a Hate Crime

December 12, 2017, United Kingdom

Lord Pearson of Rannoch posed the question to the British government: "Will they confirm unequivocally that a Christian who says that Jesus the only son of the one true God cannot be arrested for hate crime or any other offense?" The government's representative in the House of Lords refused to comment on the question.

Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Man was Attacked for Wearing a Cross in Berlin

September 11, 2017, Germany

The Berlin police reported that a 23-year-old man from Afghanistan was attacked and injured for wearing chain with a cross on it. He was approached by two men on evening of September 11, 2017 in Neukölln. According to the police report, he stated that the attackers had asked him why he had become a Christian. One of the two perpetrators tore the chain from the man's neck and beat him while the other held him down. The police called the incident "dangerous bodily harm" with a "religious background."

Freedom of Religion Hate Crime

Christian Celebration in Turkish-Cyprus Temporarily Prohibited

September 5, 2017, Cyprus

The Cypriot Orthodox Metropolis of Morphou was banned from holding its annual patron saint feast service. The ban was passed at the last minute and the official justification was that it was not possible to guarantee the safety of the Christian celebration because of the simultaneous Muslim festival of Kurban Bairam.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Religion

Court Rules Christian Child Can be Returned to Family

August 29, 2017, United Kingdom

A Christian five-year-old girl was placed into foster care with a Muslim family in London. Confidential local authority reports suggest that the foster family removed the girl's Christian cross necklace, suggested she learn Arabic, and forbade her from eating pork. In addition, It was alleged that when she had a visit with her biological mother, the girl said that Christmas was “stupid” and European women are “stupid alcoholics”. The court having jurisdiction ruled on August 29, 2017 that the girl should be placed with her grandmother.

Freedom of Religion Rights of Parents

Sweden to Deport Christian to Iran Despite Danger

July 26, 2017, Sweden

Sweden has rejected the asylum claim of Iranian Christian actress Aideen Strandsson and will deport her back to Iran, where she likely faces time in an Iranian prison -- or worse. In Iran, where it can be deadly to convert to Christianity, Strandsson kept her conversion largely a secret. But when she came to Sweden, she requested a public baptism. Iranian intelligence most likely is aware of her conversion and she has received threats on social media. Strandsson has said "I don't know what will happen to me, I know the punishment for me in Iran is death," she said. But "I have hope in Jesus, it's just the last hope I have in my life."

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion

Equalities Minister Said Churches Should Follow Public Opinion on Gay Marriage

July 23, 2017, United Kingdom

Justine Greening, who is also Education Secretary, said churches and other religious groups should “keep up” with public opinion on same-sex marriage.

Freedom of Religion Militant Equality Laws

U.K. May Scrap Single-Faith Schools

July 23, 2017, United Kingdom

Christian schools may soon be required to ensure that half of their students are from different religious backgrounds, due to concerns that Christian-only schools "heighten community divisions."

Freedom of Religion Rights of Parents

Christian Refugees on Lesbos Threatened; Prevented from Seeking Asylum

July 22, 2017, Greece

Several clashes broke out around July 22, 2017 at Lesbos Island’s Moria Camp for refugees, with Greek authorities arresting 35 Muslim rioters who threw large rocks at police officers and set fire to tents both inside and outside the bounds of the camp. A disabled Christian was nearly burnt alive while sleeping in one of the shelters. "Christians are being prevented from holding church services, worshiping and praying by their Muslim neighbors. Moreover, reports of tents being burned down, violence, bullying, harassment and severe threats paint a very bleak picture of the quality of life for Christians caught up within the camp," according to the British Pakistani Christian Association.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Religion Hate Crime Insult or Incitement

School Holidays Changed to Remove Religious Connection

June 3, 2017, Spain

The Ministry of Education in Spain has proposed changing the Carnival and Easter Holidays to a week in late February and May respectively in order to remove the religious connections from the school holidays. This proposal is waiting to be ratified and implemented for the school year 2017/2018.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion Rights of Parents

Jehovah’s Witnesses Outlawed in Russia

April 21, 2017, Russia

The Russian Supreme Court has ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses are an “extremist” religious group and therefore they have outlawed them. A Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesperson has stated that the group is “greatly disappointed by this development and deeply concerned about how this will affect our religious activity”. A spokesman of a Russian Baptist Evangelical union had defined the de-legalisation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an “unreasonable and dangerous step.” The Ministry of Justice “is beginning to distinguish between proper and improper believers. What will prevent these same officials tomorrow from condemning, say, the Evangelical Christians-Baptists, (Orthodox) Old Believers or Catholics? I think this approach is fundamentally wrong”, Vitaly Vlasenko, of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists said.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion

Easter Procession Ended in Turmoil in Sevilla

April 14, 2017, Spain

“La Madrugá”, the Easter procession during the night from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday was interrupted and ended in turmoil with 17 people being taken to the hospital and one person was admitted to the ICU for head trauma. Eight people were arrested for the vandalism and the police investigated the connections and potential coordination of the attack on the Easter procession.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Hate Crime Hate Incident Intolerance towards Religious Symbols Vandalism (form of hate crime)

Social Worker Discouraged Parents from Christening Son

April 13, 2017, United Kingdom

A social worker from Kent met with parents who were considering placing their child for adoption and told them the chances of their son being adopted would be hindered if he were “christened into the Christian faith,” after they expressed their wish to have their son baptized.

Freedom of Religion Negative Stereotyping Rights of Parents

Easter Procession Disrupted by Threatening Teenagers

April 13, 2017, France

On the evening of April 12th, a religious procession in Toulon was interrupted by three teenagers who threatened the priests and nuns in the procession. One of the teenagers threw his backpack at them and all of them shouted “Allah Akbar”, “Long live Daesh” and “You will all blow up” (“Allah Akbar”, “Vive Daech” and “Vous allez tous sauter”). Once police were called the perpetrators fled the scene.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Religion Insult or Incitement

Women Attacked after Mass in Brussels

April 9, 2017, Belgium

Two Polish women were on their way to the bus station to return home after having attended Mass at the church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle on Palm Sunday. As they walked through what was described in media reports as an “the Arab quarter” on their way to the Midi station, they were attacked by a man who cursed at them both in Arabic and French calling them “dirty Christians” and “whores” (“sales chrétiennes” and “putes“). Because the women were carrying palms from the Mass, the man was able to identify them as Christians. One of the women was knocked down and then kicked. She did not sustain any major injuries, but was in pain. The police were called but the attacker fled before they could arrive. The Polish Christian community responded by hiring security for the doors before and after Mass.

Freedom of Religion Hate Crime

Good Friday Procession Cancelled due to Complaint by Secularist Group

April 8, 2017, Spain

The Andalusian Education Inspection cancelled the Good Friday procession for school children in Dos Hermanas due to time pressure for parents and complaint by a secularist group, Sevilla Laica. The parents of the affected children gathered signatures to reverse the decision as the procession is a voluntary activity and their children “were very excited” (“estaban muy ilusionados”).

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Religion

Bulgarian Justice Ministry Proposes Ban on Foreign Financing of Religious Groups

April 4, 2017, Bulgaria

The Justice Ministry of Bulgaria has presented a draft bill that would ban foreign countries from financing religious groups in the country, unless an inter-state treaty is in effect. The bill would require that foreign citizens serving as religious workers be fluent in Bulgarian and that no Bulgarian citizen can do the work. This could affect Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, as well as Islam and Judaism.

Freedom of Religion

Christian Convert Murdered in Front of her Children

April 1, 2017, Germany

A female Afghan Christian convert was stabbed to death by an Afghan asylum seeker in front of her children in front of a supermarket in Prien am Chiemsee. The 29-year old Muslim attacker yelled at Farina S. before stabbing her. He continued to stab her until an off-duty policeman and several witnesses dragged him aside. The woman, who moved to Bavaria six years earlier, died of her wounds. The victim’s family is convinced that the motive for the attack was the 38-year old woman’s religion. The police report: "For us, only facts count. But there is evidence of a religious motive for this act that we are pursuing."

Freedom of Religion Hate Crime

Zaragoza City Council Initiated Proceeding to Claim Public Ownership of Cathedral and Church

March 28, 2017, Spain

The municipal government's proceedings are an attempt to nullify the inmatriculación (entry into the property registry) of La Catedral de San Salvador de Zaragoza, known La Seo and Iglesia de La Magdalena by claiming the buildings are public property. The spokesman for the Archbishop of Zaragoza, José Antonio Calvo, replied that that the city cannot prevail because the Church has owned the buildings since the 12th century.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Religion

Muslims Encouraged to Marry Christians to Spread Islam in Spain

March 15, 2017, Spain

Hundreds of posters were hung around the El Raval neighborhood of Barcelona encouraging Muslim men to take Christian wives, saying that they were permitted and encouraged to marry "honest and chaste women of the Book" (meaning Christians) for the purpose of increasing the population of Muslims in the region. The posters read "Brother, join in alliance with a Spanish woman, teach her that Islam is the only true religion. Islamic law dictates that the fruits of this alliance will follow Islam, which will further strengthen our community." It appears these posters are part of the "right-to-return" movement to "Restore Al-Andalus" -- that is, Muslim Spain.

Freedom of Religion Insult or Incitement

The Mayor of Zarazoga Prohibits the Traditional Firefighters Mass

March 8, 2017, Spain

The Mayor of Zarazoga and the local coalition government prohibited the Firefighters to continue with their tradition to celebrate Mass in their firehouse for the feast of San Juan de Dios.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Religion

Church Funeral Disrupted by Man Shouting Koran Verses and Calling Mourners "Infidels"

February 3, 2017, Germany

A 33-year-old Muslim man from the western Balkans was charged with criminal interference with the exercise of religion after he interrupted a funeral service at the Christuskirche in Schnaittacher, shouting "I curse you and your religion."

Freedom of Religion Hate Crime Insult or Incitement

NHS does not Record Religious Discrimination

February 2, 2017, United Kingdom

The National Health Service has confirmed, in response to a question from a Member of Parliament, that it does not collect information on instances of discrimination against NHS staff on the basis of their faith.

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

Church Bells in Two Towns Ordered Silenced by Courts

January 22, 2017, Slovakia

After a complaint by a resident in Pezinok about the volume of the local church bells, and another complaint by a different resident in Svinna, courts have ordered the church to reduce the volume or silence the bells in each town.

Freedom of Religion Intolerance towards Religious Symbols

Iranian and Afghan Christian Converts Face Deportation from Germany

January 16, 2017, Germany

Germany’s Ministry for Immigration and Refugees (BAMF) rejected many applications for asylum from Iranian and Afghan converts from Islam to Christianity, following “kangaroo court”-style hearings as to whether the conversions are genuine, according to a Berlin pastor.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Religion

Woman Attacked for Reading from Bible

December 28, 2016, Austria

A 22-year-old man from Afghanistan stabbed a Christian woman when he heard her reading from the Bible at a refugee accommodation in Vöcklamarkt (Upper Austria).

Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Hate Crime

UK Considering Secularist Oath of Allegiance to British Values

December 21, 2016, United Kingdom

The UK government has proposed that all office holders and employees of the State swear an Oath of Allegiance to British Values that conflicts with traditional Christian teaching about sexuality.

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

Christian Family Forced to Flee their Home

November 9, 2016, United Kingdom

A family have been forced to flee their home under armed police guard amid fears for their safety after suffering what they say is eight years of persecution for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Freedom of Religion Hate Crime Insult or Incitement

Christian Midwife Loses Case Against County Council

November 4, 2016, Sweden

Swedish midwife Linda Steen objected to assisting with abortions for reasons of conscience and as a consequence public hospitals denied her employment. She sued the Sörmland county council for violation of her freedom of conscience and religion. After losing the case, she was ordered to pay 1.2 million Swedish krona for the city's legal expenses.

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

Christian Convert Threatened with Death in French Refugee Camp

November 2, 2016, France

A Kurdish church leader smuggled to Britain says he received death threats – for having left Islam for Christianity – while living in makeshift camps in northern France. The church leader, who did not wish to be identified, spent nine months living in camps outside the French cities of Calais and Dunkirk. He said that Kurdish Muslims in both camps antagonized him for his Christian faith.

Freedom of Religion Hate Crime Insult or Incitement

City Council to Vote on Removal of Religious Symbols from Public Spaces

October 26, 2016, Spain

In November, the Madrid City Council is expected to approve a draft "human rights" law which includes the removal of religious symbols from public spaces.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion Intolerance towards Religious Symbols

Religiously-Motivated Attacks on 743 Christian Refugees in Germany

October 17, 2016, Germany

The NGOs AVC (Action on behalf of Persecuted Christians and the Needy), EMG (European Mission Society) as well as ZOCD (Central Council of Oriental Christians in Germany) and Open Doors announced the results of their research on October 17th.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Religion Hate Crime Hate Incident Insult or Incitement

Serbian Orthodox Chapel turned into Public Toilet

October 3, 2016, Kosovo

A recently repaired and cleaned cemetery chapel was turned into a public toilet and a garbage dump, with many graves overrun with weeds, despite a custodian employed by the Priština municipality.

Desecration Freedom of Religion

Pro-Government Officials and Media using Anti-Christian Propaganda

October 1, 2016, Turkey

Following the failed military coup against President Erdogan the Christians of Turkey are being made scapegoats by government officials and Islamist extremists.

Freedom of Religion Insult or Incitement

Armed Police Patrol Canterbury Cathedral

September 29, 2016, United Kingdom

Police with guns patrol Canterbury Cathedral due to concerns about terror attacks. The extra security is in response to a series of jihadist attacks across Europe, including the murder of French priest, Father Jacques Hamel.

Freedom of Religion

Humanist Association Urges Vote to Remove "God" from Constitution

September 29, 2016, Ireland

The Association calls for the removal of any references to God in the Constitution, and to any clauses that require public officials to swear a religious oath upon taking office.

Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Pressures on Christian Refugees Continue in Sweden

September 1, 2016, Sweden

Refugees who have converted from Islam to Christianity report beatings, threats, bullying, and social exclusion in refugee accommodations.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion Insult or Incitement

Albanians Threaten to Burn Serbs and their Churches

August 28, 2016, Kosovo

Attempts by Serbs to mark the religious holiday of Assumption in several towns in Kosovo and Metohija were met with road blocks, threats of burning, rocks, tear gas, and an attack on the car of the deputy director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Dusan Kozarev.

Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Religion Hate Incident

Nice Deputy Mayor Confirms "Burkini Ban" Also Applies to Nuns' Habits on Beaches

August 26, 2016, France

Rudy Salles defended the ban of the "Burkini" and said that the same ban would apply to Catholic nuns wearing habits on Nice beaches.

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

U.S. Baptist Minister Arrested, Convicted Under Missionary Activity Law

August 14, 2016, Russia

Donald Ossewaarde was arrested on August 14th as he conducted a bible study group in his home. He is first foreign missionary to be charged with violating Russia's law banning missionary activity outside officially registered church buildings.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Religion

Mass of the Assumption Banned by Authorities

August 11, 2016, Turkey

After 88 years of closure, the Panagia Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, was reopened in June 2010 and since then, the Turkish authorities had given a license for a yearly Mass to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to celebrate the Mass of the Assumption. This year, the authorization was administratively revoked.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Religion