The authoritarian policy of the socialist-communist government of Pedro Sánchez has set off alarms regarding one of the most basic human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and religious freedom
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects this right in its Article 18: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Likewise, Article 2 includes religion among the grounds that should not be a cause of discrimination against a person.
An OIDAC report points out the European countries that most infringe religious freedom
This Tuesday, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDAC) presented its report for 2019 and 2020, entitled “Under pressure: Human Rights of Christians in Europe” (can be downloaded here in PDF format). On page 6, the report states: “We have identified five European countries in which the freedoms of Christians have been most infringed during 2019/2020: France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK.“
In Spain, Christians have the risk of being excluded from certain professions
Then the report warns: “Anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe increased by 70% between 2019 and 2020. These have a higher frequency in France and Germany, although they tend to be more severe in Spain and France, due to a reactionary form of secularism.“ On the same page, the report cites Spain again in point 6, warning of the following: “The right to conscientious objection has been threatened mainly in three countries. The alteration of the conscience clause in Sweden is already affecting Christian professionals, but similar developments in France and Spain could lead to a complete exclusion of Christians in certain professions.“
Cases of physical violence against priests
Page 9 of the report warns about physical violence against priests: “In 2020, priests in Spain, France and Germany were victims of physical assault or violent threats. The Spanish priest, Javier Contreras Beorlegui, was stabbed in the upper body and arms while he prepared to open his church. Sadly, these stories have not alarmed the public about the erosion of Religious Freedom of Christians in Europe, until a tragedy happens that resonates internationally, like the terror attack in Nice that ended in the death of three believers.”
«Spain’s laicism and secularism are highly belligerent»
The OIDAC report dedicates an entire section to Spain, between pages 27 and 31. This section reviews what has happened in recent years: “Between 2004 and 2011, religious intolerance in Spain increased alarmingly. Spain’s secularism is not a new phenomenon, it reassembles the sentiments that spiked in the years before the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, motivated to a large extent, by its anti-Catholic postures.” Later, it warns: “Spain’s laicism and secularism are highly belligerent, to a degree that they become, in many instances, radicalized against religious groups. The attacks targeting Christians in Spain have been steadily increasing and becoming more violent, according to the Spanish Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience (OLRC).”
The OIDAC denounces the promotion of this intolerance by the government
The OIDAC warns of the promotion of this intolerance from the political power: “The secularism in Spain also comes from the governmental side. According to Pew’s Global Restrictions on Religion Study, Spain scored 2 out of 10 in the Government Restriction Index in 2007, and by December of 2016, it increased to 3.0. As for the Social Hostility Index, Spain scored 1.6 in 2007, and 4.0 in 2016.”
“The anti-Catholic manifestations of Spanish secularism adopt various forms. Some examples are the legislative measures that discriminate against the Catholic Church, favouring other faiths in the fields of education, religious celebrations, treaties, laws, etc.”, the report notes, adding: “There are also specific calls to protest, and even to use violence against churches and members of the clergy and, more alarming is the implementation of a violent discourse.“
Threats to the freedom of speech of Christians
Attacks on the freedom of expression of Spanish Christians are also addressed in this report: “According to our research, Christians can face social and legal harassment for expressing Christian positions openly in the private and public spheres. In some cases, Christian leaders of civil society organizations have faced criminal lawsuits for “hate speech” and in other cases, their social media accounts have been suspended on grounds of “intolerance” or they have been subjected to smear campaigns. Expressions of Christian faith and views on life, marriage and sexuality from the Biblical perspective are being discriminated against and accused of being “extreme.” Christian opinions are often considered offensive towards other groups, which often leads to self-censorship.”
Attacks on the freedom of Christians in academia
The OIDAC notes that “our data indicate that there have been cases of professors who have been denied a position for their Christian views on certain subjects and doctors, who have not been given certain positions for refusing to perform specific operations. because of their faith in Christ,” the report denounces. “In Catalonia, religious teachers were prevented from teaching the Catholic faith. And there It was the case of an evangelical policeman, Salvador Martí, who was prevented from giving talks on road safety and prevention of child abuse in schools after criticizing the content of LGBTQ laws.”
The report adds: “Christian pupils and students, as well as Christian academics, have faced discrimination and intolerance. The government introduced new legislation at the end of 2020 to remodel the educational system, which intensified the secularisation process by reducing religious teaching and implementing more restrictions on state funding for private schools, of which 58% are Catholic. The organization Europa Laica, teacher unions and other groups in the field of education have been demanding a complete “secularity of education,” and consider it to be necessary “to remove religion from education immediately.” This will specifically hinder Parental Rights, recognized in Article 27.3 of the Spanish Constitution, in terms of choosing the education for their children following their religious or moral beliefs.”
The report also cites the Parental Pin proposed by Vox to protect that constitutional right and the opposition of the leftist government to that proposal, because it sees “the secularisation of education in Spain as a key area. Parents and their children who have demanded the application of the “Parental Pin” have been harassed by students and teachers, as reportedly happened in the French school Julio Verne in Tenerife.”
Violations of religious freedom due to the pandemic
Regarding the restrictions on religious freedom due to the pandemic, the report denounces that “executive authorities evacuated and interrupted religious services several times.” The OIDAC has documented “several cases, of which many took place in April 2020, where the police evacuated the churches although they were acting according to the law. Two times the police interrupted and evacuated a church service in La Laguna district of Cádiz and on 11. April, the police demanded the evacuation of the Cathedral of Granada during a Good Friday service.”
The hostility of the Spanish media against Christians
The OIDAC is also very critical of promoting hatred against Christians from the media sphere: “Mass media frequently offended, mocked, insulted, threatened, or disproportionally criticized Christians and the church.“ The report also warns that “hostility in the media in Spain increases around important Christian festivities like Christmas or Easter.” According to the OIDAC, this indicates “a biased attitude of the media against the church and Christians. The incidents in mass media outlets, like television and news broadcasts, have shown constant hostility towards Christians and Catholicism in particular.“
Attacks on Christian monuments and harassment of Christian converts
Attacks on Christian monuments are also addressed in the report: “At least 18 cross monuments in public spaces have already been removed or are required to be removed, even if they do not have any plaque referring to the dictatorship and have now only a religious meaning.” The OIDAC also denounces the government’s plans to desecrate the Valley of the Fallen and expel the Benedictine Order from there.
On the other hand, the OIDAC denounces the situation faced by Muslims who have converted to Christianity in Spain: “Christian converts living in oppressive Muslim communities face hostility, ostracization, monitoring, rejection and even violence from their family and the local community. Numbers are not publicly known, but many experts from our internal research confirm the risks of ostracization and psychological or physical abuse that Christian converts face.”
Violence against Christians is on the rise in Spain
The OIDAC report also refers to the increase in attacks against Christians, denounced in September by the Observatory for Religious and Conscience Freedom (OLRC), and comments: “Forms of violence range from severe physical assault against priests who have been attacked and even stabbed, arson attacks to churches or religious symbols, vandalism, theft, desecration like smearing faeces on church walls, and aggressive disruption of mass with threats and shouts such as “I’m going to burn you all”.”
Spain, the only country where the authorities promote these forms of intolerance
The report adds: “In many cases, hateful speech and incitement to violence against Christians have also been used without major concern from the Government.” Likewise, in its conclusions, the OIDAC warns that the case of our country is unique in one respect: “Spain is the only country that shows clear tendencies of radical secularism that goes hand in hand with government authorities and the social environment.“ The Observatory ends its section dedicated to Spain by denouncing the following: “The situation in Spain affects Freedom of Speech, Parental Rights, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Assembly. In some cases, it exposes persons to physical and psychological violence from radical individuals, politicians, or the media.”
Original photos: PSOE / Contando Estrelas.
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