More than 500 anti-Christian hate crimes occurred in Europe in 2021, a significant drop from the nearly 1,000 that happened in the previous year, according to a new study.
The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, a nongovernmental organization based in Austria, released its 2021 Annual Report last week. The report details "cases of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe" from Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021.
The report identified 519 incidents it classified as hate crimes in 2021. At 124, France was home to the highest number of anti-Christian hate crimes last year. Germany had the second-highest number of such incidents, with 112 reported hate crimes against Christians, followed by Italy (92), Poland (60), the United Kingdom (40), Spain (30), Austria (15), Belgium (10), Ireland (7) and Switzerland (7).
In Germany, the 112 incidents listed by the OIDAC as anti-Christian hate crimes exceeded the 109 the German government included in its statistics detailing the number of hate crimes, indicating that the German government did not agree that some of the incidents classified as such by the OIDAC fit the government's relevant definition. National police in France recorded 857 hate crimes in 2021, while data compiled by the OIDAC revealed 701 hate crimes in the U.K. and 156 in Austria.
Vandalism constituted the most frequent type of hate crime directed at Christians in 2021, with OIDAC recording approximately 300 examples of "graffiti, damage to property, and desecration" directed at Christian organizations and churches. Eighty anti-Christian hate crimes involved the "theft of offerings, religious objects, consecrated hosts, and church equipment." According to OIDAC, 2021 featured 60 anti-Christian attacks involving arson or intended arson, 14 physical assaults or threats and four homicides.
The 519 anti-Christian hate crimes constituted a noticeable drop from the 981 incidents measured in 2020. The number of anti-Christian hate crimes in 2021 is also slightly lower than the 578 that occurred in 2019.
Apart from anti-Christian hate crimes, OIDAC's 2021 annual report highlighted examples of "marginalization Christians face in Europe."
"Religious freedom is gravely threatened in Europe, especially that of Christians," said Todd Huizinga, senior fellow for Europe at the Religious Freedom Institute, in the report. "And the greatest threat arises out of relativism. Now that relativism is the reigning worldview in the West, it has developed its own rigid, absolutist dogma, one that, in the name of a false tolerance, brooks no opposition. A central tenet of that dogma is that sexual minorities, LGBT and gender-fluid individuals are oppressed minorities whose views must be affirmed."
Huizinga explained that under the philosophy of relativism, "the traditional views on sexuality and marriage of most religions, including Christianity, deny these oppressed groups their human rights and, in refusing to embrace gay marriage, gender fluidity and other sexual innovations as positive goods, violate the dignity of these oppressed minorities: traditional faith amounts to nothing more than hateful bigotry. It must be suppressed."
The report also featured an interview with Paivi Rasanen, a Finnish lawmaker identified by Huizinga as an example of a target of the West's relativism. Rasanen was acquitted of criminal charges earlier this year after a prosecutor labeled her statements in defense of traditional marriage as hate speech.
"The prosecution's 26-page appeal openly attacks the core teachings of the Christian faith, considering them offensive," Rasanen said. "The prosecutor tries to deny the core message of the Bible: the teaching of law and the Gospel. God has created all human beings in His own image, and we all have equal value, but we are also all sinners. The points of view for which I am accused do not deviate from so-called 'classical' Christianity, nor does my view on marriage deviate from the official policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. It is strange that we have gone this far in Finland."
The report details how hostility toward traditional Christian beliefs extends beyond Rasanen.
"Christian-led organizations were banned from social media platforms for expressing dissenting beliefs, while insult and violent speech against Christians were permitted on the same platforms," the report stated. "Ambiguously-worded hate speech laws and public order legislation have undermined the right to Freedom of Speech, leading to several unjustified arrests of street preachers, mainly in the U.K."
The report highlighted the implementation of "safe-access buffer zones" around abortion clinics designed to prevent pro-life activists from engaging in "prayer vigils" and sharing the pro-life message with the public.
OIDAC criticized efforts to curtail freedom of conscience rights for medical professionals who oppose participating in procedures that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs and the implementation of measures the advocacy organization viewed as infringements on parental rights.
Specifically, the report warned of governmental efforts to erode parents' input regarding their children being prescribed puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones or being encouraged to have body-mutilating sex-change operations.
Other parents are not being informed about their underage daughters secretly having abortions. It also painted a picture of "unjustifiable and discriminatory treatment" against churches and places of worship that were ordered to close for months in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Hostility toward religious perspectives manifests visibly in hate crimes and other openly discriminatory behavior toward Christians," the report added. It called on individual European governments and supranational organizations to more strenuously enforce the established human rights to freedom of expression, assembly, religion and belief.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com