A leading defender of Christianity in Europe has called for greater awareness of secularist intolerance and a more nuanced approach towards resisting it.
Dr. Martin Kugler, of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, highlighted a rising number of attacks on Christian places of worship. He noted that in 2010, 84 percent of these attacks in France were directed against Christian sites.
Addressing a Ukrainian-sponsored conference in Rome Nov. 29th on the state of religious freedom in the OSCE region, Kugler referred to a survey his organisation carried out with the nunciatures of Europe.
He said they documented 41 laws which adversely affect Christians in Western Europe.
In particular, the survey found restrictions in the areas of freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, parental rights and discriminatory equality policies.
“Today, in the West of Europe, my organisation researched and documented in the past six years 1,000 cases of intolerance and discrimination against Christians,” he said.
He noted that such restrictions are pushed by three main groups, the first of which are radical feminists. Kugler noted that for them sexual education must be mandatory, start at an early age and focus on technicalities of sex and contraception. “It does not mention the meaning of sexuality, love, life and the family,” he said.
Another group lobbying for such laws are radical homosexual movements, seeking to silence the Church on moral issues and remove employer rights. Lastly, he singled out radical secularists who, he said, seek to exclude religious viewpoints from public life.
“These work independently of each other even though they know each other,” he said. “They are ready to be intolerant in the name of tolerance. And the Church is one of their biggest obstacles.”
As a first step to remedying the situation, he argued that Christians need to first be aware of the problem. Secondly, he said Europe needs to understand more deeply the concept of reasonable accommodation. And thirdly, he argued that victim status is helpful and should be used, though with care.
The observatory has a nuanced approach to defending Christians. “We do not use the terms Christophobia or Christianophobia,” Kugler said, “because phobia means irrational fear, and in this context, there is nothing irrational.”
“Nor does the organisation speak of persecution. This would create wrong images in peoples heads,” Kugler said.
Since its founding, the observatory has documented hate crimes and hate incidents, negative stereotyping and exclusion, and looked at legal restrictions effecting Christians. All can be viewed on the organisations website.