Arson, Thefts, Physical Attacks: Anti-Christian Hate Crimes on Rise in Europe
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A new report released Friday reveals an increase in anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe over the last year.
The Vienna, Austria-based nonprofit watchdog Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe) released its annual report for 2022/2023 on Friday, the International Day of Tolerance.
Last year alone, OIDAC Europe said it recorded reliable reports of 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 different countries. The attacks included arson, graffiti, desecrations, thefts, physical attacks, insults, and threats.
According to the organization, these numbers match the data in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Hate Crime Report released on Thursday. The OSCE found 792 anti-Christian hate crimes in 34 European countries. This finding makes Christians the second-most targeted religious group after Jews, according to the report.
The report also noted the increase in hate crimes perpetrated by radicalized members of ideological, political, or religious groups that have always spouted hate for Christians.
OSCE Representative and University of Vienna Associate Professor Regina Polak expressed her concern about the rising number of attacks against European Christians.
"The increasing number of anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe reported by OIDAC is deeply worrying," Polak said in a statement. "It is highly necessary to raise both governmental and societal awareness for this problem and undertake political measures to tackle and combat it decidedly."
The annual report also evaluated different forms of discrimination against Christians. For example, over the past year, several Christians were fired from their jobs, faced suspension, or found themselves in criminal courts for expressing non-violent religious views in public.
Christians who followed the biblical teachings of their churches were prosecuted for allegedly committing "hate speech." Among the notable cases were U.K. teaching assistant Ben Dybowski and school chaplain Rev. Bernard Randall.
Dybowski was urged to express his views during a training course delivered by a Left-wing charity to reduce "unconscious bias" among teachers, The Daily Mail reported last May.
Those in attendance at the seminar were told it was a safe space and they could talk freely, according to the outlet. Dybowski told the group he believed in marriage between a man and a woman, that life began at conception and he opposed some parts of sharia law, including stoning men for the sin of homosexuality.
According to The Mail, the very next day he was called before the headmaster of the school where he worked and was fired from his job.
In another incident at a U.K. school, Rev. Bernard Randall, an ordained Church of England (CofE) chaplain, was fired from his job at Trent College in Nottingham and secretly reported to the UK government's terrorist watchdog for a moderate sermon in a school chapel on identity politics.
As CBN News reported last March, Randall, 50, from Derbyshire, was ordained by the Church of England in 2006. He had been employed by the school for four years until he was dismissed in 2019.
"The criminalization of expressions of mainstream religious teachings – which do not incite violence or hatred – as 'hate speech' is dangerous on various levels: It stigmatizes legitimate conscience-related convictions and at the same time weakens the severity of actual incitement to hatred," OIDAC Europe's Executive Director Anja Hoffmann said in a press release.
"Furthermore silencing Christian voices in public undermines the plurality of democratic Western societies and essentially renders a free discourse impossible," she added.
OIDAC Europe's annual report also highlighted the limitations on freedom of religion and assembly through so-called "buffer zone" bills, especially in the U.K. which criminalizes even silent prayer around abortion clinics.
The report pointed out the shocking arrest of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce who was arrested twice in less than three months for the "offense" of silently praying in her head within an abortion facility censorship zone or "buffer zone."
As CBN News reported, her second arrest came just weeks after being acquitted by a UK court for the same violation. As we reported in February, Vaughan-Spruce, a pro-life volunteer, and co-director of March for Life UK went to trial for praying silently in an abortion clinic censorship zone. She was criminally charged with violating a local Public Spaces Protection Order last December and was acquitted of all charges by Birmingham Magistrates' Court.
The charges against Vaughan-Spruce were dropped in late September, but then she was fined again in October.
In its report, the OIDAC Europe made several recommendations to the governments of European Countries and the European Union, including:
- Safeguard the freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to conscientious objection of Christians.
- Refrain from adopting "non-discrimination" or "hate speech" legislation that lacks clear definitions and thus significantly limits freedom of expression, association, and religion.
- Examine EU legislation to eliminate direct or indirect discrimination against Christians.
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