‘Anti-Christian hate crimes’ in Europe up 44% in past year, watchdog group says

Cross of San Lázaro of Seville, Spain The Cross of San Lázaro of Seville, Spain, sculpted in the 16th century, was vandalized on the night of Oct. 21-22, 2023. | Credit: Emergencies Seville

Europe has witnessed a 44% jump in anti-Christian hate crimes across more than two dozen European countries over the past year, according to a group that monitors discrimination against Christians. 

The Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe) on Thursday released its annual report detailing the spike in anti-Christian incidents, which it said is “connected to a rise in extremist motivation and a higher acceptance of the targeting of churches.”

OIDAC Europe says on its website that it researches, analyzes, documents, and reports “cases of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe.” 

The group’s surveys of “intolerance and discrimination” against Christians reported “physical attacks and threats against individual Christians or Christian communities, desecration and vandalism of Christian sites” and “violations of freedom of religion, expression, association, and conscience,” among other incidents. 

In its release on Thursday, OIDAC Europe said “arson attacks on churches” increased by 75% between 2021 and 2022. The report also revealed “legal discrimination against Christians who expressed traditional Christian worldviews.”

The top five countries for anti-Christian hate crimes, the report said, were Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Poland. The United Kingdom and Austria were also near the top of the list.

Overall, “in 2022, OIDAC Europe documented 748 anti-Christian hate crimes in 30 different countries, which ranged from arson attacks, graffiti, desecrations, and thefts to physical attacks, insults, and threats,” the release said.

The group noted that those numbers align closely with those reported by the intergovernmental Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE “found 792 anti-Christian hate crimes in 34 European countries,” the group said, “making Christians the most targeted religious group after Jewish believers.”

The report also examines instances of Christians who reportedly “lost their jobs, faced suspension, or criminal court cases for expressing nonviolent religious views in public” as well as “violations of parental rights to educate children in accordance with one’s religious convictions.”

Notably, the release said that more hate crimes last year “were perpetrated by radicalized members of ideological, political, or religious groups that follow an anti-Christian narrative.”

Regina Polak, a professor and the head of the Department for Practical Theology at the Catholic-Theological Faculty at the University of Vienna who also works with OSCE, said in Thursday’s press release that the “increasing number of anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe” detailed by the report is “deeply worrying.”

“It is highly necessary to raise both governmental and societal awareness for this problem,” Polak said in the release, “and undertake political measures to tackle and combat it decidedly.”

The full report can be found here.

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.