The international Catholic charity and Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) published a report entitled Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014, which was first presented on November 5th, 2014. The Observatory provided data for the European region to the report. Find here a summary of the key findings, including information on the seven countries, ACN finds worrying in Europe.
The report, which is published every two years, covers the period from the October 2012 to June 2014. It desribes the degree to which religious freedom is granted in 196 countries of the world and covers all faith groups. The publication is considered as the most comprehensive report on religious freedom delivered by a Catholic charity. Its presentation was accompanied by a video message of His royal highness Prince Charles.
Key points of the report summary:
41 % of the countries are identified as places where religious freedom is impaired, classified as “high” or “medium” or where religious freedom is in decline.
18 % of the countries – were classified as having some religious freedom issues that are “of concern”, but with no deterioration in their status.
The remaining 41 % of the countries – indicated no concerns regarding religious freedom, meaning that the report found no regular or systemic religious freedom violations in these nations.
28% of the countries – recorded deteriorating conditions, 3% of the countries – recorded a change for better.
Even in the six countries where some improvements have been noted, four – Iran, United Arab Emirates, Cuba and Qatar – remain classified as places of “high” or “medium” persecution. Zimbabwe and Taiwan are classified “of concern” and “low” respectively.
In total, in twenty countries persecution is listed as “high” with regard to lack of religious freedom:
Fourteen contries experienced religious persecution linked to extremist Islam -Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
- Six countries, religious persecution is linked to authoritarian regimes – Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, North Korea, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
Religiously-inspired terror is not only widespread but is on the increase.
The mayority of changes have been for the worse – sometimes the deterioration is caused by legal or constitutional discrimination or to sectarian hostility, often linked to racial or tribal tensions. In some cases one religious group is oppressing another, partly to the point of trying to eliminate other groups.
In Western countries, religious tension is rising, provoked by ‘aggressive atheism’, liberal secularism and the rapid influx of economic migrants and refugees with a faith and culture markedly different from the host country. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the countries where the state of religious freedom is mentioned as “worrying” and at the same time “worsening” by the report.
The Report explains its concerns regarding Netherlands, France and Germany in detail.
Regarding the United Kingdom, the report states: « Hate Speech Laws have been used to arrest Christians preachers ». « An official Scottish Government report showed an increase of 26% in religiously aggravated offences over the period 2011-12, with 876 charges being made. Catholicism and Protestantism were the target of abuse most often. » « Members of religious groups have experienced conflict between their beliefs and Equality Legislation ».
Regarding Norway, the report deplores that « acting in accordance with one’s own convictions can prove to be damaging to one’s professional life and working career. As from October 2011, doctors who object in conscience to certain practices have been subject to political pressure from the government. The authorities effectively prevent those who refuse to be involved in abortions from being in the medical profession ».
Regarding Denmark: « In June 2012 there was a breakdown in cooperation between the State and the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) when Parliament approved a law obliging ministers of this religion to celebrate weddings in church between persons of the same sex. » « Other alarming cases, this time directed against Christians, included an act of vandalism by a young man who on 26th May 2013 smashed the legs of the figure of Jesus on a crucifix in the Catholic church of Esbjerg, in Jutland. The crucifix had already been damaged; at Easter 2012, the figure of Jesus had been broken away from the cross ».
Regarding Sweden: „Four people were in fact punished, following a long legal wrangle that began in 2004. They had attempted to initiate a debate on the lack of objectivity in the Swedish school system and had handed out flyers about an alleged “homosexual agenda”. The Supreme Court, while recognising people’s right to express their opinions, took the view that their claims had been “pointlessly offensive.” « As to the freedom of parents to provide an appropriate education to their own children, this has been severely restricted since the passing of the education act in 2010, which has made homeschooling illegal. It is argued that the Swedish state has trampled on the right of families to make their own choices regarding the human and spiritual formation of their children. As a result, a number of Christian families have left Sweden and moved to Finland ».
Pour en savoir plus:
-. Link to the full report: www.acnuk.org/religious-freedom-in-the-world-report-2014
Full report shown on a map to choose individual countries: www.aidtochurch.org/report2014/eng/tab2_eng.htmlreligion-freedom-report.org.uk/wp content/uploads/2014/10/executive_summary.pdf
-. Links mentioning the ‘Observatory’ and the European situation in particular:
: www.cruxnow.com/faith/2014/11/04/report-rise-of-anti-christian-persecution-is-catastrophic/ it.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/11/07/cristiani_in_europa_casi_di_esclusioni_e_limitazioni_legali/1110420
-. Other interesting links about the report: www.cruxnow.com/faith/2014/11/04/report-rise-of-anti-christian-persecution-is-catastrophic/
Guardian (p.4) www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/04/threat-christians-middle-east-prince-charles The story was top story on the Guardian website at one point and an additional piece appears on the Guardian website: www.theguardian.com/uk-