Where It's Not Easy Being Christian

Web Site Details Christianophobia in Europe

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VIENNA, Austria, JAN. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- International organizations need to know that being a Christian in Europe sometimes means being the victim of Christianophobia, say the promoters of a new Web site detailing this phenomenon.

The "Europe for Christ!" network launched www.christianophobia.eu from Vienna to both explain what Christianophobia is, and to tell how Europeans have experienced it.

"Christianophobia means irrational fear or hatred of Christians, or Christianity in general," explained Gudrun Kugler, founder of the site. "It includes anti-Christian bias, and also manifests itself in the slow marginalization of those confessing the Christian faith."

The site includes cases of mockery or ridiculing of the Christian faith, the removal of Christian symbols from public places, restrictions on wearing symbols of Christian faith, and attacks in movies and television broadcasts.

The site also details the persecution of "politically incorrect" positions intrinsic to the Christian faith, such as the opposition to abortion and gay "marriage." Cases range from people being fired or sentenced to pay a fine. For example, the site explains, French member of Parliament Christian Vanneste was sentenced to payments of about €10 000 ($14,870) for his critical comments on homosexuality.

On record

The term Christianophobia has already entered several documents of the U.N. and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], the site records. Vatican officials, including Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states at the Vatican Secretariat of State, have also supported the recognition of the term and the phenomenon.

The site lists other references to the term from social or religious leaders. It records a comment from Joseph Weiler, a Jewish author and professor of international law at New York University. He said, "European 'laicité,' as distinct from American secularism, is not simply an ‘I don't happen to believe in God.' It is a kind of faith in itself. It is a positive hostility to religion, which in Europe means Christianity. This is why I did not hesitate in my book to speak about Christophobia."

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to European organizations, accuses the European Union of turning a blind eye to anti-Christian practices in EU countries, the Web site records. "In insisting on tolerance, EU leaders slam Islamophobia and anti-Semitism but often ignore various anti-Christian practices," the bishop said.

Self-confidence

According to Web site founder Kugler, "The attitude in Europe is becoming very hostile. We work on the issue and publish these cases in order to alert. Our work is not about self-pity. It is about solutions which must include the political level."

She said she also thinks that as a remedy, European Christians should have more self-confidence: "Christianity constitutes a large part of the humanism Europe is famous for. It gave much -- and it still has a lot to offer. It is on us Christians to participate in the public square with self-confidence. As a result, Christianophobic tendencies will diminish."

The Europe for Christ! initiative offers tools for participating in public life as well as summaries of issues being debated.

The initiative is also a prayer network: Participants pray an Our Father a day for a Christian Europe.