French Churches Under Attack, But Media and Politicians Remain Apathetic
Attacks on Christian sites in France increased about 250 percent between 2008 and 2018
French churches are increasingly under threat from arson and desecration, but the government and press continue to provide little coverage of these attacks.
According to statistics highlighted by the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe in an email to the Washington Free Beacon, there has been an increase of about 250 percent in attacks on Christian sites in France between 2008 and 2018.
Ellen Fantini, who directs the Observatory, told the Free Beacon that under-reporting is a serious problem when calculating the number of attacks on Christian sites, noting that churches are often busy with other matters and prefer to move on, while the press thinks the incidents are minor.
France is better documented because, unlike most European countries, it produces official figures on anti-Christian bias, but even those may be misleading. Fantini believes the reported number of incidents is low, possibly because many Catholic churches are owned by the French government and therefore are “not even counted because they’re put into the figures of government buildings.”
Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, recently described the attacks on French churches over the past few years in a piece for the National Catholic Register:
In many cases the unprotected churches are preyed on by thieves, which indicates criminal intent, if not hatred…. But many times, the culprits are a variety of extremists enraged by the identities and teachings that the churches symbolize—Christianity, French nationalism and Western civilization at large….
While arrests are few, a mix of ideologies and motives is readily apparent from the graffiti the vandals often leave. They are shown to be radical secularists, anarchists, leftists, feminists, sexual libertarians, Islamists, radical Muslims and a Satanist group, which religion scholar Massimo Introvigne says is minuscule in France.
Anarcho-libertarians claimed responsibility for the burning of Grenoble’s Saint-Jacques Church in January. The phrase, “our lives, our bodies belong to us,” was found on the Cathedral of Saint-Jean of Besancon, along with the anarchist “A” in a separate incident.