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Report Catalogues Dozens of New Incidents of Persecution against Christians in the West

January 30, 2024

Religious persecution against Christians in the Western world is rising at an alarming rate, according to a new report from Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty.

In the 2024 edition of “Free to Believe? The Intensifying Intolerance Toward Christians in The West,” the Center for Religious Liberty identified 168 incidents of anti-Christian hatred or discrimination from January 2020 to the end of 2023, including 33 incidents last year alone. Although 2020 (61) and 2021 (49) saw the most incidents of persecution against Christians, the majority were related to COVID-19 lockdown violations, but the report notes an increase in intolerance toward public and even private expression of biblical worldviews in the West.

The report states, “As the mainstream culture moves further and further away from a Christian worldview, Christian beliefs that contradict progressive secular values are increasingly denounced by the culture and wrongly portrayed as being hateful or bigoted.” It adds, “The past three years each having fewer incidents than 2020 does not necessarily indicate an overall decline in intolerance toward Christians. … Although FRC identified fewer incidents related to COVID-19 after 2020, incidents that we identified of Christians facing discrimination for their biblically informed beliefs increased.”

“This report is a warning call,” wrote FRC President Tony Perkins in a letter attached to the report. “It is shocking to see Western countries — the same ones we think of as free and open societies — take authoritarian measures against Christians simply trying to live out their faith. Hostility toward Bible-believing Christians is clearly and steadily rising in the West.” Perkins, former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, added, “Religious freedom is the foundation for the human rights that Western democracies seek to promote abroad. Yet, the ability to promote this fundamental human right will be lost if we do not protect it within our borders.”

In comments to The Washington Stand, Center for Religious Liberty Director Arielle Del Turco said, “We remain clear-eyed about religious freedom conditions in Western democracies. It’s easy to take our rights for granted, but we are seeing governments across the West target Christians to be silenced, restricted, or fined for living out their faith or expressing their religious beliefs.” She continued, “Often, the pressure point revolves around Christians’ ability to speak about doctrine that contradicts mainstream secular orthodoxy on issues such as abortion, transgenderism, or same-sex marriage.”

Although the report is “far from exhaustive,” some of the 2023 incidents in the U.S. include:

  • An Ohio pastor being fined for allowing homeless to sleep in his church;
  • A Texas church being charged excessive fees by a county utility company and seeing those fees doubled after the church noted its tax-exempt status;
  • The Oklahoma attorney general suing a virtual school board for approving a publicly-funded Catholic charter school;
  • An Oregon couple being denied a foster care license due to their biblical views on sex and gender;
  • A California library cancelling a Moms for Liberty event when a speaker expressed biblical views on gender and biology;
  • A Georgia church being threatened with fines for hosting a car show as a form of community outreach;
  • A Christian school in Colorado being denied a religious exemption from a pro-LGBT state discrimination law;
  • An Oregon church being threatened with fines for providing free meals to the homeless;
  • A school counselor in Indiana being fired for speaking out against her school district’s preferred pronoun policy;
  • A Vermont Christian school being barred from a state tuition program for upholding biblical values on sex and gender;
  • A Christian high school coach (also in Vermont) being fired for saying that there’s a biological difference between men and women;
  • An Arizona elementary school district ending a teaching partnership with Arizona Christian University;
  • A California teacher being fired for refusing to comply with a policy hiding students’ gender transitions from parents; and
  • A Colorado cake shop owner being sued for refusing to make cakes celebrating gender transitions, Satanism, or marijuana use.

In the United Kingdom, two town councilors were penalized (one was even arrested) for speaking out against a local Pride parade, a school chaplain was fired for telling students they don’t “have to accept the ideas of LGBT activists,” and at least six people were arrested or fined for praying outside abortion facilities or holding pro-life signs.

In Canada, a pastor was arrested twice for praying outside a library drag queen story hour, a church was fined for hosting in-person services in 2020, and a teen at a Catholic school was arrested for organizing a protest against biological men using women’s bathrooms. A Christian hybrid school was shut down in Germany, a Maltese health care worker was charged with a crime for sharing in an interview how he left the homosexual lifestyle, a Norwegian city denied Christian organizations community grant funding due to their biblical views on sex and gender, a woman was arrested in Spain for praying the rosary, and a Swedish bakery was investigated for refusing to bake a same-sex wedding cake.

Perkins noted, “This report is merely a sampling of the rise of actions by Western governmental officials that target Christians’ ability to practice and express their faith, especially in the public square.” He explained that the report “is a call to individuals to vigorously exercise their religious freedom while at the same time calling upon government officials to recognize and prioritize the protection of this fundamental human right so that religious freedom can continue to be promoted around the world.”

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.