In 2021, over 500 anti-Christian hate crimes were reported in Europe, according to data released in October of this year.
The report, published by the Observatory On Intolerance And Discrimination Against Christians In Europe (OIDAC), recorded 519 anti-Christian hate crimes in countries across Europe in 2021.
OIDAC’s number is down significantly from the nearly 1,000 anti-Christian hate crimes Europe saw in 2020. However, OIDAC noted that in 2021 some countries also self-reported high numbers of crimes with an anti-Christian bias. For example, France reported an alarming 857 anti-Christian hate crimes in 2021, the highest number of the European countries surveyed. An average of two Christian sites (churches or cemeteries) were attacked every day in France, per the country’s report.
Vandalism was the most common form of anti-Christian hate crime, OIDAC reported. Phrases like “burn churches,” “abort fundamentalists,” or “a good Catholic is the one on the cross” were reportedly scrawled across church walls. OIDAC also noted 60 arson attacks or intended arson, 14 physical assaults or threats of assault, and four homicides.
Hate speech laws with vague wording and undefined terms in the UK led to the arrests of several street preachers in 2021, the report stated.
The future of Christianity in Europe and the UK seems uncertain as religious freedoms as a whole are eroded, animosity towards historically Christian values grows, and fewer people identify as Christian. In Europe as a whole, the Christian population is projected to decline nearly 10% — almost 100 million people — by 2050, according to Pew Research.
New census data published Tuesday revealed that the number of people in England and Wales who call themselves Christian has declined significantly. According to the census, Christians are less than half of the population and are now in the minority in England and Wales.
Christian self-censorship is an additional issue in Europe. According to OIDAC’s report, a combination of social pressure and legal cases brought against outspoken Christians had a “chilling effect” that resulted in European Christians’ self-censoring of their faith and beliefs in public. Children were also affected by this “chilling effect,” the report says.
One father in France told OIDAC in a report specifically on Christian self-censorship: “I remember that my son, one day, had put his catechism notebook in his school bag. At school, his classmates discovered it, and my son was mocked. And so, he never again put his catechism things in with his school things. He separated the two worlds. It’s very insidious.”