“Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians” is the phrase we use to describe the ranges of hostilities and marginalization Christians and Christian institutions face in Europe.
The term “intolerance” refers to the cultural or social dimension and at its worst, includes hate crimes against Christians; the term “discrimination” refers to the legal dimension and includes interference with freedom of expression, religion, conscience, association and assembly, rights of parents, contractual freedom, governmental removal of Christian symbols, laws that negatively impact Christians, and unequal access to justice.
We find that two terms, “squeeze” and “smash” used by the Christian charity Open Doors in its annual World Watch List6 to be informative as we discuss the situation for Christians in Europe. While the World Watch List tracks and reports the most extreme persecution7 of Christians, the concepts are useful in analyzing the situation facing Christians in Europe.
We witness Christians being “squeezed” in many different ways in Europe: from interference with freedoms of conscience, expression, and association to denial of access to justice and legal services. The rights of Christian parents to raise their children in conformity with their faith are infringed. Christian-owned businesses are sued or forced out of business because of discriminatory ‘equality’ policies. Christian religious symbols are removed from the public square, Christians are subjected to negative stereotyping in the media, and Christian groups are excluded from university campuses.
“Smash” describes incidents of violence or aggression, and ranges from vandalism and desecration of Christian sites to threats and physical violence against Christians because of their faith. Many of these incidents are also known as “hate crimes.”
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) defines a “hate crime” as an incident with two distinct elements or features: first, the act is a criminal offense, and second, that it is motivated by a bias or prejudice towards a particular group of people.