Attacks on Christians Skyrocketing in Spain

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by Martina Moyski  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 10, 2020   

Persecution, desecration growing across Europe

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MADRID, Spain (ChurchMilitant.com) - Persecution of Christians and desecration of their sacred places are surging in Spain, according to a shocking report issued by a Spanish watchdog group.

The Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience (OLRC), which recently issued the report, found that in 2019, 80% of all attacks targeted Christians. with 73.7% of that percentage targeting Catholics, specifically.

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Anarcho-feminism emblem

"Christians are discriminated against and sometimes physically attacked violently, and their churches suffer vandalism and desecration continuously," OLRC president Marcia García said in a press release.

Attacks on Christian churches have been occurring continuously since 2014, she adds.

While the majority of the attacks have targeted 140 Christians, eight have been directed against Muslims and three have been directed against Jews. 

The report numbers also demonstrate "a radical secularism that tries to eliminate all [religious affiliations] from the public space, as well as their representatives and followers," says the president of the OLRC, referring to attacks categorized as non-denominational. 

A tally of aggressive acts directed against Catholics include the following —

  • 46 attacks overall
  • 3 cases of physical violence 
  • 13 cases of harassment 
  • 22 cases of derision of religion
  • 45 cases of belligerent secularism (marginalization of religion from the public sphere)

One case highlighted in the report is that of two young anarcho-feminists, a group dedicated to the destruction of partiarchy, family and authority, that painted a church with the phrase: "The only church that illuminates is the one that burns," along with an anarcho-feminist symbol. 

The only church that illuminates is the one that burns.

According to the report, the two alleged perpetrators boasted of their deed on social media, even uploading a video to Instagram to record the event.

"Several churches ... have been subjected to similar acts of vandalism in recent time," including "satanic drawings against the Church [being] some of the proclamations that have appeared on the facades and doors of the churches," the report writers document.

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OLRC found left-wing political parties are most aggressive toward religious freedom with Podemos ("We can") being listed as most belligerent, followed by Izquierda Unida (United Left) and PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party). 

Based on its findings, the OLRC has asked of political parties and politicians:

  • that they respect the fundamental right to religious freedom, both individually and collectively, and that they, therefore, guarantee compliance with the treaties signed by the Spanish state with the different religious [affiliations]
  • that, as representatives of citizens in public institutions, they also ensure respect for religious freedom, for example, with surveillance measures to reduce the number of desecrations to temples, to investigate and, where appropriate, punish whoever damages temples and who mocks the religious feelings of believers
The data obtained in reports prepared in other countries show that this trend is also present in the rest of Europe.

"Respect for religious freedom does not only benefit believers, but also favors all society by promoting peaceful coexistence among citizens," García said.

The OLRC president points out the data obtained in the 2019 report is necessarily limited, based on OLRC particular methods of categorization, and does not represent all incidences of attacks on religious freedom. She points to the Gatestone Report on Religious Freedom for more information.

Speaking to the pervasiveness of the persecution, García says, "The data obtained in reports prepared in other countries show that this trend is also present in the rest of Europe."

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St. James the Greater

Church Militant has reported extensively on increased persecution of Christians and destruction of churches in France — the bloody murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel by Islamic state assailants in 2016 while he said Mass, the burning of Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2019 and the ransacking, robberies and desecrations estimated at nearly three acts per day in just one French diocese

García notes that although Spain is a country with deep Christian roots, it is nonetheless the most attacked, as verified in her report.

Indeed, one of Jesus' 12 apostles, St. James, made his way east across the continent to spread Christianity in Spain. Returning to Jerusalem,  he was beheaded and his body was transported back to Spain and is buried at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

The names of the saints Spain has produced reads like a prayerful litany — among them St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Dominic, St. Francis Xavier, St. Ferdinand III, St. Lawrence, St. Peter Claver, St. Peter of Alcántara, St. Francis Borgia, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. John of Ávila.

Respect for religious freedom does not only benefit believers, but also favors all society, by promoting peaceful coexistence among citizens.

It can be added that the apparitions of Our Lady — which warned the three children at Fatima about the errors of communism — occurred on the Iberian peninsula.

OLRC is an association created in 2006 that defends the right of citizens to participate in public life without being defamed or discriminated against for their moral and religious convictions in Spain. It began tracking pesecution in Spain in 2009.

García told Church Militant that to do its work, OLRC relies on volunteers throughout Spain to gather data online. She pointed out that the U.S. State Department relies on OLRC data, as does ODHIR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) and OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

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