The heads of Mary and baby Jesus were broken off a statue at Ste. Anne-Des-Pins in Sudbury, Ont.

Database tracks persecution of Christians

Global Christian Relief (GCR) has launched a new searchable violent incidents database (VID) that chronicles all the violent attacks on Christians and people of faith around the world.

The catalogue already comprises 6,000 cases of violent persecution dating back to 2022, including a number of incidents in Canada. Cases that qualify for this index include killings, arrests, abductions, forced marriages, vandalism, church closures, sexual assault and more.

The 15 Canadian entries in the VID include:

  • May 2023: Josh Alexander, 17, detained for handing out Bibles at a sidewalk protest in Calgary;
  • April 2023: Calgary Pastor Derek Reimer of Mission 7 spent Easter weekend in jail for protesting a drag time story hour at a public library;
  • April 2023: Sharan Karunakaran, 28, is alleged to have attempted to run over congregants outside a mosque in Markham, Ont.;
  • August 2022: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Church in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., was the victim of arson; and
  • August 2022: The Ste. Anne-Des-Pins Statue of Mary and baby Jesus was broken in Sudbury, Ont.

Dr. David Curry, CEO of GCR, said the VID will be a tool that more effectively accentuates the severity of Christian persecution than watch lists published by the California-based non-profit organization.

“We typically saw when we released lists of Christian persecution is that over time there was more and more skepticism from people because they don’t understand the context of it, and they don’t know how to compare what is happening,” said Curry. “And frankly, there are many people who do not believe there is such a thing as Christian persecution.”

This tool, especially if it catches on, will be a welcome development to organizations like the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) and other entities that have decried the treatment of Christians throughout Canada in recent years.

JCCF represented many of the Christian pastors, mostly in Alberta, jailed for defying COVID-19 capacity restrictions as an infringement on their Charter rightss.

“The antagonistic targeting and prosecution of clergy (particularly) in Alberta is unconscionable,” JCCF lawyer Marty Moore told The Catholic Register in 2022. “The jailing of pastors in isolation, shackling them, is the treatment you expect to find in other countries on the religious freedom watch list.”

The CCRL has decried multiple times over the past couple of years that mainstream media are ignoring the disturbing Statistics Canada finding that hate crimes against Catholics rose 260 per cent in 2021 over 2020. The league strives to fill in this awareness gap with its own church attacks database, which has recorded over 85 incidents of vandalism or arson against Catholic parishes since the unproven discovery in May 2021 of 215 unmarked graves outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Phil Horgan, the CCRL’s president and legal counsel, said an unfortunate landscape has been crafted where attacks on Catholic churches are shrugged off or outright defended.

“It is sad,” said Horgan. “If I could paraphrase the Prime Minister, when I think he suggested that some of the frustration by the folks giving rise to this was, quote, understandable. The reality is when we have a continued assertion of false claims of mass graves and missing children or speculation in the absence of better evidence, much of this criminal activity is likely to continue.”

The perception of religious freedom became so negative that Ohio Republican lawmakers voted 58-29 in June 2022 to urge the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) “to consider adding Canada to the Special Watch List of countries where the government engages in violations of religious freedom.”  This body was largely motivated by the stories of forcibly closed churches.

State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus characterized Canada’s actions as “very similar to what we see in Communist-controlled China.”

Some instances of apparent religious persecution in Canada do not fit the categories outline in the VID. A well-publicized case is Alexander being suspended from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Pembroke, Ont., for stating during a classroom discussion that God created only two genders.

Curry, who is a USCIRF commissioner, said by Easter, the GCF will unveil its religious freedom index that will measure “the rise in secular intolerance, and how that fits into the judiciary, legal structures, zoning laws and various other things governments and secular institutions put into place to discriminate or be intolerant to Christian values.”

Every case in the VID is verified via web links to sources such as news outlets, posts on social media or information posted to the websites of involved organizations or entities. Curry said the tool provides “a baseline” examination of Christian persecution in each country.

From The Catholic Register


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