Intolerance Against Christians in Europe

December 16, 2021
Map of anti-Christian acts during 2020

Christians and their institutions are increasingly exposed to discrimination, and even persecution, in Europe. This is what emerges from a new study that mentions vandalism of churches and hate crimes against individuals.

According to a recent study, Christians or Christian institutions in Europe are increasingly exposed to discrimination and even persecution. This is what emerges from a report by the Vienna-based Observatory On Intolerance And Discrimination Against Christians In Europe (OIDAC) presented in an online press conference Tuesday.

“In today’s Europe, living one’s Christian faith with conviction is not only out of fashion, but it can also lead to serious infringements of personal freedom in important areas of life, such as work or education,” summed up OIDAC director Madeleine Enzlberger, according to the Kathpress news agency.

Intolerance and discrimination against Christians ranges from vandalism of Christian churches and buildings to hate crimes against individuals. Converts to Christianity, who are often exposed to threats and violence from Islamists, further constitute a small but particularly vulnerable group.

But there is also a progressive restriction of fundamental rights such as freedom of opinion, religion, and conscience, the freedom to enter into a contract, or parental rights, under pressure from society or the State, as well as a high level of “self-censorship” among Christian students.

In its annual report, the Vienna Observatory made a precise assessment of the facts. It shows that anti-Christian hate crimes increased by 70% in Europe between 2019 and 2020 - a figure that the authors urge be handled with prudence.

The report ventures into “uncharted territory” and highlights a huge research gap. It is still too early to draw quantitative and comparative conclusions. For Germany, the report lists 255 cases, most of which concern vandalism of churches.

Regina Polak, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Representative for Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Discrimination, says the trends reflected in the report are “worrying.” She stressed that the increase in the number of cases was due to an increasing number of reporting states.

At the same time, the number of unrecorded cases is higher, because one OSCE state in four does not separately register such crimes and other countries do not define them.

In November, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) released its own report on hate crimes against people because of their religion. It recorded nearly 1,000 such incidents against Christians in the same study area.