In August 2021, a Christian preacher was questioned by U.K. police for reading the Bible out loud, in a calm tone, outside a railway station in London. It was one of several cases of street preachers running afoul of authorities in public streets for preaching Christian values.
According to the report, these incidents happen because “ambiguously-worded hate speech laws and public order legislation have undermined the right to Freedom of Speech.”
In 2021, media and political groups subjected Christians to increased stereotyping, the report added. Christian-led organizations were banned from social media platforms for expressing dissenting beliefs, while insulting and violent speech against Christians was permitted on the same platforms.
An OIDAC press release noted that “in journalistic articles, Christianity was described as a ‘dangerous ideology’ and believers were called ‘stupid religious fanatics.’ For example, a Spanish politician described a Catholic procession as a ‘Taliban’ event, and another politician commented that the 7,000 murdered Catholics during the Spanish Civil War ‘should have been more.’”
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Germany, Spain, and the U.K. saw the push for “safe access buffer zones” around abortion clinics. This “criminalizes activities including prayer vigils, conversations with the public, and other forms of peaceful activism,” the report said.
The report also included two well-known cases: that of the former Finnish minister Päivi Räsänen, who was charged with “hate speech” for tweeting a passage from the Bible on homosexuality.
The other case concerned two Swedish midwives who refused to perform an abortion and, for that reason, were allegedly denied employment.
“Unfortunately, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed the case, setting a precedent for future cases and prompting legal scholars to urge for a formal examination of the case,” the report said.
The report also covered new laws that impose sexual education, often including gender theory. According to the authors, these infringed on the rights of parents to decide how to educate their children.
Further areas of concern identified in the report were rules that gave minors autonomy to undergo an abortion and gender transition and “unjustifiable and discriminatory treatment” against churches in anti-COVID-19 legislation.
In its concluding list of recommendations, the report called on “politicians, journalists, and other public figures” to support “building a more tolerant society.”
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Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.