Five years ago International Society for Human Rights published a research article showing that 80 percent of all the people, who came across religious persecution, were Christians. The disheartening report conveys a message that the amount of bloody suicide attacks against churches and Christians, who are murdered by fanatic jihadists, is huge. Articles and reports in the media during the last years testify that the situation is becoming even worse.

Many refugees leaving their home countries for Europe today have experienced persecution because of their Christian faith. According to Open Doors there are 139 countries in the world where over 250 million Christians lack the religious freedom guaranteed by the United Nation’s declaration of human rights. Dagens Nyheter (the biggest Swedish daily newspaper) wrote 2014-01-19 that every 11th minute, seven days a week, 365 days per year, a Christian is statistically killed because of their faith!

Even in Europe the pressure against Christians is increasing. There are cases where midwifes of Christian conviction have lost their jobs when they have refused to do abortions. Organizations emphasizing traditional Christian family values are questioned. Priests and churches who refuse to register same-sex marriages are discriminated.

Last summer, reports came from different parts of Europe about attacks directed against church buildings, graveyards and other properties of congregations. Only in Northern Irland, 11 police districts registered 445 crimes against church buildings and properties (Finnish newspaper Uusi Tie, 2019-09-04). The crimes consist of incendiarism, burglary, destruction of properties. In one church the organ was destroyed and in another feces were found.

According to the human rights organization Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians, the amount of crimes since 2012 has also increased in England, Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Poland. In Spain, the number of attacks against church buildings has increased by 20 percent during 2017–2018. On the church walls there have been written messages like “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is greater), in Germany and France, and “Banish the Christians from the earth”, in Spain.

Three years ago, a new law was initiated by Irina Yarovaya against extremism and terrorism in Russia. It limited the missionary work outside church buildings. Over the last two years more than 200 trials have been held against Pentecostal-, Charismatic- and Baptist churches. 90 percent of the cases have led to fines. Some Pentecostal prayer houses have been closed and properties confiscated. During the last months the situation has however slowly become better, which was reported during the bishop’s meeting of Pentecostal Union in Moscow on the 9th to 11th of October, 2019.

Rauli Lehtonen
Secretary for the religious liberty commission
of Pentecostal World Fellowship & WAGF

Visiting the Parliament of Finland with a delegation of Church leaders from Evangelical Free Church, Adventist-, Baptist-, Charismatic- and Pentecostal Unions in Eurasia. Photo: Eero Antturi