Two principal sources are being blamed for the bulk of violent attacks against Christians worldwide – fundamentalist Muslims and leftists.
In the wake of Open Doors' release of the 2020 World Watch List revealing the 50 countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians, Catholic League president Bill Donohue and the Gatestone Institute both attribute the violence to followers of Islam and groups on the far left.
Where Islam reigns, Christians suffer
Donohue points out from Open Doors' statistics how 38 of the 50 most oppressive nations for Christians to reside are governed by Muslim leadership, with four of them being run by Communists.
"For all the talk about an Islamic Reformation, it appears that nothing has changed," Donohue contends in a press release issued by the Catholic League. "The violence against Christians is epidemic, yet there is little in the way of Christian persecution of Muslims."
Even though the sources of Christians' afflictions are seldom covered by the mainstream media, Donohue notes that Muslim countries or post-Christian godless nations are responsible for the atrocities experienced by believers.
"If Muslims run three out of four of the most violent places in the world for Christians to live, radical left-wing groups are responsible for the lion's share of anti-Christian attacks in the secular nations of Western Europe," Donohue continues. "The Gatestone Institute's research shows that approximately 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries and monuments were defaced or destroyed there in 2019."
He describes how Germany, France and Spain are the three main "anti-Christian" nations in Europe.
"That these nations are beacons of secularism cannot be denied," Donohue affirms. "Theirs may be a softer persecution than is true in Islamic nations – the left-wing activists favor arson, defecation, looting, mockery, profanation, Satanism, theft, urination and vandalism to armed attacks on individuals – but it is no less menacing."
He notes how the biggest offenders were Islamic nations that follow a literal interpretation of the Koran regarding jihad and target "infidels" – those to do not submit to the god of Islam, Allah.
Also touched on was Gatestone's examination of leftists' motivation for their attacks on Christians for their faith in Western Europe – vandalism, theft, politics and religion.
"Some attacks – especially those against Roman Catholicism, which some radical feminists and radical secularists perceive to be a symbol of patriarchal power and authority – are political in nature," Donohue quotes from the Gatestone report. "Such attacks include defacing churches and religious symbols with political graffiti – much of it anarchist or feminist in nature.
"Many attacks that appear to be religious or spiritual in nature reflect a deep-seated hostility toward Christianity. Such attacks include smearing feces on representations of Jesus Christ or statues of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Other attacks involve the defilement of or theft of Communion wafers ... [which] may be the work of Satanists, who use the consecrated host in a ritual called the Black Mass."
Different and the same
He then draws a common link between radical feminists, radical secularists, anarchists and Satanists.
"They are all aligned with the politics of the left," Donohue argues. "No one doubts that radical feminists and radical secularists are among the most influential left-wing activists in the Western world. More contentious is the proposition that anarchists and Satanists are also associated with left-wing politics."
He mentions how the anarchists and antifascists in Europe are similar to the far-left group, Antifa, in America, and how the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple are also aligned on the extreme left concerning political stances, such as abortion on demand.
Ellen Fantini, director of The Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, also comments on persecutors' far-left views.
"[We have documented that] churches and other symbols of Christianity in Europe are targets for many groups – from Islamists to radical feminists, LGBT activists to anarchists and self-proclaimed Satanists," she states in the release.
Fréjus-Toulon Bishop Dominique Rey backs Fantini's assessment.
"We are witnessing the convergence of laicism – conceived as secularism, which relegates the faithful only to the private sphere and where every religious denomination is banal or stigmatized – with the overwhelming emergence of Islam, which attacks the infidels and those who reject the Koran," Rey offers, noting the divergence in worldviews on marriage, sexuality and the family between Islamists and leftists, while also pointing out that while Islam continues to spread throughout Europe, Christianity is being privatized.
Donohue also distinguishes the two groups.
"Radical Muslims want to conquer the West, but cannot do so without attacking the Christian roots of Western civilization," he concludes. "Radical secularists want a full-blown libertine society – a sexual Shangri-La – but cannot do so without also attacking the Christian roots of Western civilization."