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 unidentified person set fire to the altar tablecloth in the chapel near the cathedral entrance. At about 8:30 a.m. on March 19th, parishioners and a priest noticed flames and smoke coming from a chapel altar and immediately extinguished the fire. The priest then reviewed surveillance footage and observed a man entering the cathedral and setting fire to linens in a different part of the church, as well. The police were called and began an investigation, noting that there were signs of forced entry on several doors.
On Sunday, March 17th, the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris had to be evacuated after a large fire broke out in the entryway. The large wooden door of the southern transept was engulfed in flames and severely damaged, as was the stained glass window above it. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the church. On March 18th, investigators announced that the fire was not accidental in origin, but had been deliberately started.
Sometime during the night of March 16th to 17th, unknown vandals damaged the crucifix outside the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Koszutka, a district of Katowice (Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa w Koszutce). Reports indicate that stones were likely thrown at the statue of Jesus, breaking the legs and arms.
A surge in aggressive nationalism in key parts of the world is to blame for a rise in violence and other intimidation targeting religious minorities—and the West is failing to convert words of concern into action. This is one of the principal findings of a new report on the state of religious freedom around the world produced by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), an international papal charity that serves the persecuted and suffering Church.
After a four-year legal battle, Ashers Baking Company in Belfast has won in the United Kingdom Supreme Court!