Under pressure: Human Rights of Christians in Europe

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  1. We have identified five European countries in which the
    freedoms of Christians have been most infringed during
    2019/2020: France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
  2. Anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe increased by 70%
    between 2019 and 2020. These have a higher frequency in France
    and Germany, although they tend to be more severe in Spain and France,
    due to a reactionary form of secularism.
  3. The research indicated two main threatening dynamics that
    affect the lives of Christians: Secular Intolerance and Islamic
    Oppression. While secular intolerance is the driving dynamic in most
    of the cases and areas of life we observed, Islamic oppression mainly
    occurs in concentrated hotspot areas, in which Christian converts are
    the group that is mostly affected along with other residential Christians.
  4. We identified four areas of life where Christians are most
    affected. These are church life, education, politics and the workplace.
    We found that the area of church life is the most visibly affected due to
    an increasing number of hate crimes in most countries, but education,
    the workplace and politics are following shortly after.
  5. Another finding is that all of the five observed countries have
    problems concerning the protection of Freedom of Speech.
    The UK is the country with the most cases of legal prosecution for
    alleged “Hate Speech”. The other countries only present a few public
    cases, but according to interviewees, have high rates of self-censorship.
  6. The right to conscientious objection has been threatened
    mainly in three countries. The alteration of the conscience clause
    in Sweden is already affecting Christian professionals, but similar
    developments in France and Spain could lead to a complete exclusion of
    Christians in certain professions.
  7. We have identified two trends in the educational sector that
    are cause for concern. First, Christian university students perceive
    that they cannot debate certain topics freely or express their opinions
    without judgement or negative consequences, which leads to the
    crippling effects of self-censorship. Secondly, various new regulations
    on sex and relationship education are violating Parental Rights.
  8. Secular intolerance and discrimination against Christianity seem to
    be based on the opposition against more traditional and
    conservative moral views of Christians. This polarisation also
    appears to be promoted by sensationalist and religious-illiterate media
    that stigmatises and marginalises religious voices in the public debate.
  9. Christian converts with a Muslim background are a very
    vulnerable group in European societies, and there is very little
    research about their situation. Our data indicates that many of them
    face intolerance and violence from their social environment, and the
    danger they face is often ignored by state authorities.
  10. During the state of health emergency due to the Covid-19 Pandemic,
    churches were repeatedly discriminated against and
    religious freedom denied in various countries. This happened
    either by the unjustified and disproportionate use of power by public
    officials (Spain) or through unproportionate blanket bans on public
    worship, downgrading it to a non-essential service.
  11. It was also uncovered that there is a high rate of religious
    illiteracy among state authorities, public officials and journalists.
    The improvement of religious literacy will be a crucial element to
    improve the dialogue and to tackle discrimination and intolerance
    against Christians.
  12. There is an urgent need for more research in the field of
    intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe on various
    levels, as the findings outlined.
  13. Religion is a social reality that cannot be ignored by academia,
    media or politics. Religion plays a vital role in a stable and healthy