Freedom Declared Foundation were set up to champion Freedom of Religion or Belief throughout the United Kingdom. In our latest state of the nation interview, Maureen Sier gives her perspective about the state of Freedom of Religion or Belief in the UK.
The World Watch List is Open Doors’ annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Explore the country profiles to find information, stories and prayers for each of the countries, along with ways that you can stand with your persecuted church family in prayer and action.
On this episode of The FORBcast, we have an interview with James Holt – an associate professor at the University of Chester in the United Kingdom. He’s dedicated his career to preparing the next generation to respectfully interact with the belief systems of others. This will ultimately result in a more understanding and peaceful society. James is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Freedom Declared Foundation.
KEY FINDINGS We have identified five European countries in which thefreedoms of Christians have been most infringed during2019/2020: France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe increased by 70%between 2019 and 2020. These have a higher frequency in Franceand Germany, although they tend to be more severe in Spain and France,due to a reactionary form of secularism. The research indicated two main threatening dynamics thataffect the lives of Christians: Secular Intolerance and IslamicOppression. While secular intolerance is the driving dynamic in mostof the cases and areas of life we observed, Islamic oppression mainlyoccurs in concentrated hotspot areas, in which Christian converts arethe group that is mostly affected along with other residential Christians. We identified four areas of life where Christians are mostaffected. These are church life, education, politics and the workplace.We found that the area of church life is the most visibly affected due toan increasing number of hate crimes in most countries, but education,the workplace and politics are following shortly after. Another finding is that all of the five observed countries haveproblems concerning the protection of Freedom of Speech.The UK is the country with the most cases of legal prosecution foralleged “Hate Speech”. The other countries only present a few publiccases, but according to interviewees, have high rates of self-censorship. The right to conscientious objection has been threatenedmainly in three countries. The alteration of the conscience clausein Sweden is already affecting Christian professionals, but similardevelopments in France and Spain could lead to a complete exclusion ofChristians in certain professions. We have identified two trends in the educational sector thatare cause for concern. First, Christian university students perceivethat they cannot debate certain topics freely or express their opinionswithout judgement or negative consequences, which leads to thecrippling effects of self-censorship. Secondly, various new regulationson sex and relationship education are violating Parental Rights. Secular intolerance and discrimination against Christianity seem tobe based on the opposition against more traditional andconservative moral views of Christians. This polarisation alsoappears to be promoted by sensationalist and religious-illiterate mediathat stigmatises and marginalises religious voices in the public debate. Christian converts with a Muslim background are a veryvulnerable group in European societies, and there is very littleresearch about their situation. Our data indicates that many of themface intolerance and violence from their social environment, and thedanger they face is often ignored by state authorities. During the state of health emergency due to the Covid-19 Pandemic,churches were repeatedly discriminated against andreligious freedom denied in various countries. This happenedeither by the unjustified and disproportionate use of power by publicofficials (Spain) or through unproportionate blanket bans on publicworship, downgrading it to a non-essential service. It was also uncovered that there is a high rate of religiousilliteracy among state authorities, public officials and journalists.The improvement of religious literacy will be a crucial element toimprove the dialogue and to tackle discrimination and intoleranceagainst Christians. There is an urgent need for more research in the field ofintolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe on variouslevels, as the findings outlined. Religion … Read More