Christians face “the most striking cases of intolerance and discrimination throughout Europe”, according to a European think tank.
In its 2011 review the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (OIDCE) claim that 85 per cent of hate crimes in Europe are against Christians.
OIDCE director Dr Gudrun Kugler said: “We also notice professional restrictions for Christians: a restrictive application of freedom of conscience leads to professions such as magistrates, doctors, nurses and midwives as well as pharmacists slowly closing for Christians.
“Teachers and parents get into trouble when they disagree with state-defined sexual ethics.
“Our research shows that only with a more accommodating approach to religion and specifically to Christianity, Europe will live up to its foundational value of freedom.”
The report pointed to a ComRes poll which showed 74 per cent of UK respondents said “there is more negative discrimination against Christians than people of other faiths”.
It also highlighted several Christian Institute-backed cases, such as Adrian Smith – a housing manager who was demoted by his employer and suffered a 40 per cent pay cut after he defended traditional marriage on his personal Facebook page.
In its section focusing on ‘exclusion of Christians from social and public life’, the OIDCE lamented the National Secular Society’s High Court attempt to stop Bideford Town Council praying at the start of its meetings.
Although the High Court ruled that Bideford had no lawful power to hold prayers during official business, the Government fast-tracked new legislation effectively overturning that decision, thus restoring the right to pray at all local council meetings in England from the end of March.
Earlier this year a senior academic from the University of Oxford said courts in the West put equality issues before the right to religious freedom.
Professor Roger Trigg, a leading figure in the University’s philosophy and theology faculties, made the claim after studying recent cases in the UK, USA, Canada and mainland Europe.
He identified a trend towards curtailing religious freedom in favour of other social priorities such as non-discrimination.