"Kurosh," an Iranian convert to Christianity who received asylum in Germany four years ago, faced a 25,000 euro fine or a prison sentence if he did not respond to a lengthy series of questions about his faith from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). He was also required to provide a certificate from the pastor at his church to demonstrate his commitment to his faith. He reports that he provided all the information requested, but remains in fear that this will happen again. This is the BAMF "Revocation and Withdrawal Procedure."
Reza Karkah, an Iranian Christian, faces the prospect of imprisonment, torture and separation from his wife and child after the UK Home Office rejected his application for asylum on the basis that he was ‘fabricating’ his Christian faith.
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.
Victory in international court bolsters protections for Christians who face life-threatening persecution in home countries.
An Iranian Christian woman living in the state of Hesse in Germany fears for her life if she is forced to return to Iran, due to strict anti-conversion laws. The woman known as "Mahsa" fled Iran and traveled to Germany in 2015, after an attempted arrest by the religious police for her conversion to Christianity. A recent decision by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) denying her asylum limits Mahsa's options going forward.
The Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) rejected the request of the Assyrian Cultural Association Saarlouis allow about 400 Syrian Christians from the conflict-torn region of Northern Syria on the Khabur River to enter Saarland. Despite offers of respite and assistance from the existing Assyrian community in the German federal state, the government said it would only admit five refugees.
After surviving a 2014 car accident which resulted in tetraplegic paralysis and blindness, Italian disc Jockey Fabiano Antoniani (DJ Fabo) traveled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life. The subsequent ruling of the Italian Constitutional Court over proceedings made against his accomplice now opens the door for the legalization of assisted suicide in Italy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An elderly man preaching at the Southgate Underground Station was arrested by London police after he refused to leave the area, telling him he was "disturbing people's days" and needed to go away. The police seized the man's Bible despite his pleas not to take it.
Asher Samson, a Pakistani Christian who fought to stay in the UK after allegedly being beaten and repeatedly threatened with execution by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, was deported back to Pakistan on January 9th. Samson, backed by thousands of Christians, attempted to persuade the UK government to allow him to stay after being threatened with execution by Islamic extremists in his home country.
Christian refugees from the Middle East are widely underrepresented in the United Kingdom. In 2017, 4,832 Syrians were accepted to the UK, however, only 11 were Christians. The Home Office has acknowledged that Christian refugees in the Middle East are “reluctant” to enter the UNHCR refugee camp system, but refuses to state this is because of persecution.
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.
The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, wavered from his neutral position and backed the communists and government coalition parties' plan to tax outstanding restitution payments to churches and religious communities whose property had been confiscated during the communist regime. In a TV interview he said is was "angry" to some extent because church institutions have continued to demand compensation and filed complaints against municipalities despite the decisions that were made in the 2013 restitution laws.
An appellate court ordered a rehearing by immigration tribunals after Judge Lord Glennie, one of the appeal judges, found that the asylum judges had disregarded churchgoer's evidence of the Christian conversion of two Iranian asylum seekers who have been attending Tron Church in Glasgow and had been predisposed to rejecting their claims.
Not a single Christian was among the 1,112 Syrian refugees resettled in the UK in the first three months of 2018. In response to a Freedom of Information request from Barnabas Fund, the UK Home Office released figures on Syrian refugees resettled in the UK for the first quarter of 2018. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recommended 1,358 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK of which only 4 were Christians, representing a tiny fraction of just 0.29%. No Yazidis at all were recommended by the UN. The Home Office agreed to resettle 1,112 of these (82%), all of whom were Muslims, and approved no Christians.
Poland's Supreme Court ruled against a printer who refused to create a roll-up banner for an LGBT business group because he did not want to "promote" the gay rights movement, citing his Catholic religious beliefs. The Court held that although there may be legally justifiable reasons to refuse services based on religious objections, in this case they did not apply. UPDATE: In June 2019, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the law the printer was convicted under was unconstitutional, because punishment for refusing to provide services on the grounds of beliefs interfered with the service providers’ rights to act according to their conscience.
The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) fined Revelation TV, which is based in the UK but broadcasts in Spain, €6,000 after an individual complained to the state agency about comments made by an evangelical pastor during a morning program in September 2017. The CNMC deemed the pastor's comments "homophobic" when he expressed his opinion about transgender issues and whether Christians should move their children from schools when another student identifies as transgender.
The Home Office has repeatedly rejected the asylum applications of a Christian family, who have been living in the UK for the past six years. They fear death if forced to return to Pakistan.
The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a judgment in the case of Coman and others ruling that all EU Member States, including those that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, must recognize same-sex marriage contracted abroad, regarding the right of residence.
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.
Following a one-day trial, an Employment Tribunal dismissed a discrimination claim by a Christian teacher who was fired for answering students’ questions about her Christian beliefs.
ADF International filed an expert brief with the European Court of Human Rights in support of an Afghan citizen who faces deportation from Switzerland. A.A. (anonymized for security reasons) converted from Islam to Christianity and sought asylum, which the Swiss government denied. If returned to Afghanistan, he could face severe social and formal persecution, with punishments ranging from lengthy imprisonment to death.
France's highest administrative court refused to hear the appeal of a pharmacist who was sanctioned for refusing to sell an IUD.
The Andalusian government fined a convent of Spanish nuns 170,000 euros for having a priceless church organ repaired without the state's permission. After public outcry, the fine was reduced to 1,1710 euros on December 19, 2017.
On October 27, Felix Ngole, a Christian student who was expelled from university after posting on Facebook his support of Biblical teaching on marriage and sexual ethics, lost his case in a judicial review of the university’s decision.
A Christian prison worker has lost his latest appeal in the courts over his discipline by HMP Littlehey. Rev Barry Trayorn who worked as a gardener, but volunteered in the chapel, fell into trouble after delivering a talk to prisoners about homosexuality and sin. Following a complaint, he was disciplined then later resigned. In 2016, an employment tribunal ruled that his employers acted within the law. A judge confirmed in August 2017 that ruling was fair, claiming his words could "legitimise mistreatment of homosexual prisoners." Trayhorn will take his case to the Court of Appeal.
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.
Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen are two pro-life midwives who challenged their employment termination cases in court. Grimmark's case was taken to the Labor Court where she lost the case in April 2017. Due to this loss, she has been ordered pay all the court costs and received an invoice from the Jönköping County in the amount of 1 640 000 Swedish Kronor (€168 634). Linda Steen was denied an appeal in the Labor Court, but she will receive an invoice of 1.2 million Swedish Kronor (€123 391).
A Christian prison worker who felt he had no option but to resign after being disciplined for quoting from the Bible during a prison chapel service, will challenge an Employment Tribunal's ruling that the prison was right to discipline him. In March 2016, the Employment Tribunal ruled that Barry Trayhorn spoke of God's forgiveness in an "insensitive" way which "failed to have regard for the special nature of the congregation in the prison".
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.
Freedom of Information inquiries made by the Network of Sikh Organisations revealed that the London Metropolitan Police recorded 1,227 incidents of Islamophobic hate crime in 2016, but in 57 of these incidents the victim was not contacted, in 86 the religion of the victim was unknown, and 85 of the reported cases were ‘blank’. 19 Hindus, 11 atheists, 43 Christians and four Sikhs were victims.
On February 9, 2017, a Norwegian court ruled against Katarzyna Jachimowicz, a Polish Catholic doctor who sued after she was fired for refusing to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs). Jachimowicz v. the Municipality of Sauherad was the first case in Norway in which a medical professional sued over conscience rights.
Aisling Hubert, who began criminal proceedings against two doctors who were filmed offering 'gender-abortion', went to court to challenge £36,000 of the costs that were awarded against her after she tried to bring two 'gender-abortion' doctors to justice. The judge said he could not amend or reduce the costs. Instead a settlement was reached for the amount Aisling has to pay. She now has until 18 August to pay the agreed amount.
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.
Rita Maestre had been fined for removing her top inside a chapel during a protest against the "antidemocratic and chauvinistic" positions of the Catholic Church in 2011. On appeal, that decision was reversed as the court found that "inadequate clothing or certain inappropriate gestures" were "disrespectful but not desecration."
Abel Azcona stole more than 240 consecrated hosts from Masses celebrated in the cities of Madrid and Pamplona. He later took nude photos of himself arranging them on a floor to spell the word ‘pederasty.’ He was charged with an offense against laws respecting religious sentiments. However, on November 16, 2016, a judge dismissed the case against Azcona. In his ruling, the judge described the consecrated and stolen hosts as “small white round objects.” He claimed that there had been no desecration of the sacred hosts because according to the Spanish Royal Academy dictionary desecration is defined as “treating something sacred without due respect or using it for profane purposes.”
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.
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.
Christian leaders and the Christian Police Union criticized the acquittal, noting that all of the witnesses were Muslims - many of whom helped the accused flee after the incident.
An unknown person threw a rock through the window of the Catholic church in Karlstad a week after the city's administrative board denied permission for the church to install CCTV cameras.
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.
The Catholic Church of Karlstad has been a repeated victim of attacks: Hate graffiti, inverted crosses glued on its walls, and broken windows. In 2015, Father Martin Ferenc, pastor of the church, filed no fewer than 15 police complaints. The police suggested that he install video surveillance cameras in order to identify the perpetrators. The priest therefore asked the administrative board to authorize their installation. The board rejected the application on the grounds that the church's interest in solving these crimes is outweighed by the individual's interest in not being recorded.
Gordon Larmour, a Christian evangelist, was charged with behaving in a "threatening or abusive manner aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation" and "assault", after he referred to the Book of Genesis and stated that God created Adam and Eve to produce children in response to a 19-year-old's question about God's views on homosexuality. He spent one night in prison. Six months later, a court in Kilmarnock, Scotland acquitted him of all charges.
A York jury heard evidence about sustained bullying of a teenage apprentice, a Catholic, by tying him to a cross in a mock crucifixion, among other acts, during a trial. They found the accused guilty of assault, but not guilty of religiously aggravated assault.
Muslim refugees at the regional office complained about having to sit in the waiting room with "impure Christians". Security staff responded by banning the Christians for six months.
Six Iranian Christian refugees were told by a security employee of the Tempelhof accommodation that they had an hour to leave because they were trouble-makers. Just days earlier, these six men had been threatened with beatings by 70 radical Muslim refugees for reading the Bible.
Numerous churches in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus were profaned and turned into storage rooms, museums and mosques.