Anti-Christian sentiment

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"Discrimination against Christians" redirects here. For religious persecution of Christians, see Persecution of Christians. For the scholarly criticism of Christianity, see Criticism of Christianity.
Demonstrators in Chicago, 2008

Anti-Christian sentiment is sometimes referred to as Christophobia or Christianophobia, although these terms actually encompass every form of discrimination and intolerance against Christians, according to Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE).[1] The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe publishes a report every year on the situation of Christians in Europe.

Anti-Christian expressions[edit]


The vandalism or defacement of Christian symbols or property is one form of the expression of anti-Christian sentiment.[citation needed] If the defaced or vandalized object is seen as holy by Christians, such as a Bible, a cross, or an image of Jesus or a saint, the case becomes one of desecration.[citation needed] Such destruction may also be found to be in violation of various criminal laws.[citation needed]


Main article: Church arson

Arson attacks on churches have been seen in Norway and the United States. Some arson attacks are considered hate crimes perpetrated for racial reasons by people inspired by racial hate groups.[2][3]


Musicians and followers of black metal music often declare open hatred of Christianity. Headliners of the black metal genre have claimed responsibility for inspiring (and sometimes perpetrating) over fifty Norwegian church burnings from 1992 to 1996 alone.[4] Among the most notable was Fantoft Stave Church, which the police believed was destroyed by the one-man band Burzum, Varg Vikernes, also known as 'Count Grishnackh'.[4] The burnt-out shell of the building is featured on the cover of his 1993 EP Aske (Norwegian for 'ashes').

Examples of anti-Christian sentiment in politics and culture[edit]

Middle East[edit]

Fiorello Provera of the European Parliament called the Middle East "the most dangerous place for Christians to live" and cited Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who blamed the international community for failing to deal with what she considers a war against Christians in the Muslim world.[5]

Former Lebanese president Amine Gemayel stated in 2011 that Christians had become the target of genocide after dozens of Christians were killed in deadly attacks in Egypt and Iraq.[6]

According Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, in the hundred years leading up to 2010 the Middle East's Christian population dwindled from 20% to less than 5%. Oren argues that with the exception of Israel, Christians in the Middle East have endured severe political and cultural hardships: in Egypt, Muslim extremists have subjected Coptic Christians to beatings and massacres, resulting in the exodus of 200,000 Copts from their homes; in Iraq, 1,000 Christians were killed in Baghdad between the years 2003 and 2012 and 70 churches in the country were burned; in Iran, converts to Christianity face the death penalty and in 2012 Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death; in Saudi Arabia, private Christian prayer is against the law; in the Gaza Strip, half of the Palestinian Christian population has fled since Hamas seized power in 2007 and Gazan law forbids public displays of crucifixes; in the West Bank, the Christian population has been reduced from 15% to less than 2%.[7]


In Egypt, the government does not recognize religious conversions from Islam to Christianity.[8] Since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt's Coptic Christians have been the target of increasing opposition and discrimination. In 2011, anti-Christian activity in Egypt included church burnings, protests against the appointment of a Coptic Christian governor in Qena, and deadly confrontations with the Egyptian army. On television Islamists referred to Christians as heretics and said they should be made to pay the jizya tax. A Coptic priest accused Islamists in the country of massacring uninfected pigs predominantly owned by Copts during a swine flu scare: "They killed these innocent pigs just because they thought they violated their religion in some way." In October 2011 a draft resolution passed by the European Parliament accused Egypt of persecuting the country's Christian population. By mid-2012 10,000 Christians had fled the country.[9][10][11]


The consolidation of power in the hands of Shiite Islamists in Iraq since the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime has been to the detriment of Iraq's Christian communities. Friction between rival sects in Iraq has frequently resulted in violence being directed against Christians in the country. Consequently, there has been a flight of Christians from some areas to Europe and to the United States. Since 2003, hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled Iraq, such that the Christian population, which may have been as high as 1.4 million prior to the Iraq War, has dropped to 500,000, with numbers continuing to decline. Between 2003 and 2012 more than 70 churches were bombed. In 2007 Al Qaeda militants killed a young priest in Mosul, and in 2010 terrorists massacred 53 Assyrian Christians in a Baghdad church.[11][12][13][14]


In Jerusalem, there have been instances of Christian churches being vandalized with spray-painted offensive remarks against Christianity including death threats. These are believed to be price tag attacks by extremist settlers.[15][16] In Tel Aviv in 2008, three teenagers burned hundreds of Christian Bibles.[17][18]

A number of Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi youth have reportedly spat at Christian clergymen. Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, of Jerusalem's Armenian Patriarchate, says he personally has been spat at about 50 times in the past 12 years.[19][20] The Anti-Defamation League has called on the chief Rabbis to speak out against the interfaith assaults.[21] Father Goosan, Chief Dragoman of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, stated that, "I know there are fanatical Haredi groups that don't represent the general public but it's still enraging. It all begins with education. It's the responsibility of these men's yeshiva heads to teach them not to behave this way".[22] In January 2010, Christian leaders, Israeli Foreign ministry staff, representatives of the Jerusalem municipality and the Haredi community met to discuss inter-faith tolerance. The Haredi Community Tribunal of Justice published a statement condemning harassment of Christians, stating that it was a "desecration of God's name." Several events were planned in 2010 by the Orthodox Yedidya congregation to show solidarity with Christians and improve relations between the Haredi and Christian communities of Jerusalem.[23][24]

In July 2012, a former member of the Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari, who supports Kahanism, videotaped himself tearing up a copy of the New Testament and throwing it in the trash. Ben-Ari referred to it as a "despicable book" that should be "in the dustbin of history".[25] In response, the American Jewish Committee urged the Knesset to censure Ben-Ari, while a spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned Ben-Ari's actions.[26]


According to the organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), state-controlled Palestinian media frequently demonize religions like Judaism and Christianity. PMW translated into English a children's television program aired twice in 2012 it said featured a young girl saying Jews and Christians are "cowardly and despised."[27]

West Bank[edit]

In 2002, a mob of Palestinian Muslims burned Christian property in Ramallah.[28] A dossier submitted in 2005 to Church leaders in Jerusalem listed 93 incidents of abuse alleged to have been committed against Palestinian Christians by Muslim extremists and 140 cases of gangs allegedly stealing Christian land in the West Bank.[29] In May 2012 a group of 100 Muslims attacked Taybeh, a Christian village in the West Bank.[30]


In 2007, the Gaza Strip had a tiny Christian minority of 2,500–3,000. The Hamas overthrow of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza during that year was accompanied by violent attacks against Christians and Christian holy sites by Islamic militants. A Catholic convent and Rosary Sisters school were ransacked, with some Christians blaming Hamas for the attack. In September 2007 Christian anxiety grew after an 80-year-old Christian woman was attacked in her Gaza home by a masked man who robbed her and called her an infidel.[31][32] That attack was followed less than a month later by a deadly assault on the owner of the only Christian bookstore in Gaza City. Muslim extremists were implicated as being behind the incident.[33] The library of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was bombed in 2008 by gunmen who, according to guards at the site, asked why the guards worked for "infidels."[34]

In 2011, the Christian population of Gaza Strip was less than 1,400. A member of the Catholic faith told The Guardian he was stopped by a Hamas official and told to remove a wooden crucifix he was wearing.[35]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

The human rights advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) told the Christian Post that 35 Christian Ethiopians – men and women – were violently arrested in Jeddah in December 2011 while holding a prayer meeting in their home. The prisoners complained of being persecuted on account of their faith and of being pressured to convert to Islam, and the women reported undergoing a humiliating strip search. According to the ICC, one prisoner said, "The Muslim preacher [that was sent by officials to speak to the prisoners] vilified Christianity, denigrated the Bible and told us that Islam is the only true religion."[36][unreliable source]


In October 2011, a draft resolution passed by the European Parliament accused rebel groups of persecuting the Syrian Christian population.[10] In March 2012 reports circulated indicating that Christians were expelled from parts of Homs by an anti-Assad militant group with ties to al-Qaeda.[11] In June a report in Agenzia Fides indicated that most of Qusair's Christian inhabitants had abandoned the town in the wake of an ultimatum from a local rebel leader.[37]



Anti-Christian graffiti in Tampere, Finland

On 6 June 1992, the Fantoft Stave Church, a wooden structure originally built in 1150 in Fortun, when the Vikings converted to Christianity, and moved to Bergen in 1883, was burnt down.[38] At first the fire was attributed to lightning and electrical failure. In January 1993 Varg Vikernes, also known as "Count Grishnackh", was interviewed by a local journalist in his apartment decorated with 'Nazi paraphernalia, weapons and Satanic symbols'. Vikernes, a proponent of White nationalism, social conservatism, survivalism and his Neo-völkisch ideology, has declared that he wants to blow up Blitz House and Nidaros Cathedral. He has publicly supported black metal fans burning down eight churches in Norway. He used a photo of the charred remnants of one church taken soon after the fire on his band Burzum's album entitled Aske (Norwegian for ashes). Following his statement the Norwegian authorities began to clamp down on black metal fanatics.[39]

In 1994, Vikernes was found guilty of murder, arson and possession of illegal weapons (including explosives) and given the maximum sentence under Norwegian law of 21 years in prison.[39] He was released in 2009.[40]

The following is a partial list of Norwegian Christian church arsons in 1992 by anti-Christian groups reported by English-language media sources:


Many attacks, arsons and acts of vandalism against churches in Russia are reported each year.[46][47] The acts of vandalism, are often accompanied by Satanic symbolism and graffiti.[48] In many instances, icons and crosses are burned and vandalized, and Swastikas and Satanic symbols are painted on the walls of the churches (while in other attacks on churches in Russia they can be understood as more simple robberies).[47] Some of the attacks on the churches, such as the cutting down of crosses, appear to be conducted by groups organized online and by local youth.[49]


On 7 February 1993, the Lundby New Church in Gothenburg, Sweden was burnt down.[50]

United Kingdom[edit]

Mark Pritchard, the Member of Parliament representing the English constituency of The Wrekin, instigated a debate in the House of Commons on 5 December 2007 on the issue of Anti-Christian sentiment, describing the phenomenon as "Christianophobia".[51] An example was when a church building was wrecked by squatters, including anti-Christian graffiti.[52]



The Islamist group Ansar Dine has led to Christians fleeing their cities to avoid being put under sharia law.[53]


The Foreign Missionary Society Act of 1962 put a limit on the number of churches constructed. Students in military training were forbidden from praying unlike Muslims.[54]


In Muslim-majority Zanzibar, part of Tanzania there have been numerous attacks on churches. A bishop condemned the lack of action by the government.[55]



An angry mob of Indigenous peoples destroyed the only evangelical church in the remote village of Chucarasi in the Bolivian Andes after beating a congregational elder unconscious. Villagers apparently attacked their Christian neighbors because they blamed them for a hail storm that damaged local crops.[56]


Government regulations aimed at curbing the growth of Christian house churches in Cuba[57]


The killing of the priest Faustino Gazziero in 2004.[58] CNTV program The Comedy Club parodies of Jesus,[59] the burning of the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (national Patroness),[60] and the subsequent mock of the faithful's grief in a nation wide newspaper.[61]

United States of America[edit]

Jay Scott Ballinger, a self-described Satanist, admitted to setting fire to 30 to 50 churches in eleven states between 1994 and 1998. Ballinger and two others spray-painted an inverted cross on the steps of one church they burned as part of a satanic ritual.[62][63]

In 2012, American Atheists ran a billboard campaign in New York City telling viewers to "Keep the merry! Dump the myth!" Its communications Director was quoted as saying, "The true beauty of the season – family, friends, and love – have nothing to do with the gods of yesteryear. Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism."[64] American Atheists' (AA) Nov/Dec 2013 billboard ads proclaim "Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.".[65]



Christians in China have been detained, denied the protection of the laws, and ordered to refrain from religious activities outside of China's single official Protestant church.[66]


In Pakistan, 1.6% of the population are Christian.[67] Pakistani law mandates that "blasphemies" of the Qur'an are to be met with punishment. At least a dozen Christians have been given death sentences,[68] and half a dozen murdered after being accused of violating blasphemy laws. In 2005, 80 Christians were behind bars due to these laws.[69]

Christians in Pakistan are reportedly being subjected to a genocide by Pakistani Taliban.[70][71][72]

A pattern of attacks on Christian children shows the "Pakistani police either failed to act or sided with the rapists and murderers."[73]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bishops condemn Christianphobia" Religious Intelligence; October 1, 2008[dead link]
  2. ^ Fulton, Greg (2006-03-08). "Time Magazine". Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Washington Post article". Washington Post article. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Grude, Torstein (Director) (1 January 1998). Satan rir Media (motion picture). Norway: Grude, Torstein. 
  5. ^ Provera, Fiorello (9 April 2012). "Fiorello Provera: Christianity's Via Dolorosa". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Ex-Lebanon Leader: Christians Target of Genocide". CBS News. 3 January 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Oren, Michael (9 March 2012). "Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Fowler, Lilly (18 June 2012). "Coptic Christian ex-patriots keep a wary eye on Egyptian elections". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Fathi, Yasmine (4 December 2011). "Egypt Copts react to Islamist electoral win". Ahram Online. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Mostafa, Abdallah (28 October 2011). "EU parliament accuses Egypt of persecuting Christian minority". Egypt Independent. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c Tevrov, Daniel (16 June 2012). "Syrian Christian Support For Assad Regime May Turn Out To Be A Losing Strategy". International Business Times. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Pope marks Easter with call for end to violence in Syria". Fox News. Associated Press. 8 April 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Christians fleeing Iraq". Watertown Daily Times. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Arraf, Jane (8 April 2012). "A northern Iraqi Easter". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Zaimov, Stoyan (21 February 2012). "Christianity in Jerusalem Under Attack? Extremists Hit Another Church". The Christian Post. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Elgot, Jessica. "Rabbis condemn attacks on Israel's Christian sites". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  17. ^ In a 2008 Tel Aviv incident, hundreds of copies of the New Testament, which had been handed out in the city (allegedly by Messianic Jews in order to convert Ethiopian Jews), were burned by three teenaged Orthodox students of Judaism. Uzi Aharon, the town’s deputy mayor, told CNN he had collected the New Testaments but that he did not plan for them to be burned. The youths had done so while he was not present. Once he found out that the fire was going, he put it out.
  18. ^ Bixler, Mark (28 March 2008). "Hundreds of New Testaments torched in Israel". CNN. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  19. ^ Barkat, Amiram (27 June 2009). "Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them". Haaretz. 
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  29. ^ de Quetteville, Harry (9 September 2005). "'Islamic mafia' accused of persecuting Holy Land Christians". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  30. ^ "Muslim attacks against Christians on the rise in West Bank". World Tribune. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  31. ^ Hadid, Diaa (27 June 2007). "For Gaza's Christians, new reality unsettling". The Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  32. ^ Abu Toameh, Khaled (25 April 2007). "Christian-Muslim tensions heat up". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  33. ^ Silver, Eric (8 October 2007). "Gaza's Christian bookseller killed". The Independent (London). Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  34. ^ "Militants bomb Gaza YMCA library". BBC News. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  35. ^ Greenwood, Phoebe (23 December 2011). "Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  36. ^ Oleszczuk, Luiza (9 February 2012). "Christians Imprisoned in Saudi Arabia Pressured to Convert to Islam". The Christian Post. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  37. ^ "Syrian Christians flee city as rebel 'ultimatum' expires". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Los Angeles Times. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  38. ^ In Cod We Trust, By Eric Dregni. p.185. 2008-09-22. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
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  66. ^ Chastain, Mary. "Christian Persecution in China Despite Supposed Religious 'Freedom'". 2013-10-14.
  67. ^ "Country Profile: Pakistan" (PDF). Library of Congress Country Studies on Pakistan. Library of Congress. February 2005. Retrieved 2013-02-19. Religion: Approximately 1.6 percent of the population is Hindu, 1.6 percent is Christian, and 0.3 percent belongs to other religions, such as Bahaism and Sikhism. 
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  73. ^ Raymond Ibrahim (Oct 17, 2012). "The Rape and Murder of Pakistan's Christian Children". Middle East Forum. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]