Attacks on Christianity, throughout the world, emanate from two principal sources: radical Muslims and leftists. The role played by radical Muslims is detailed in the 2020 World Watch List published by Open Doors; the Gatestone Institute cites radical Muslims as well, but it also mentions the role played by radical left-wing groups.
By using the data provided by Open Doors, of the 50 most oppressive nations for Christians to live in, 38 are run by Muslims and 4 are communist-controlled; the other 8 are neither Muslim nor communist states.
For all the talk about an Islamic Reformation, it appears that nothing has changed. The violence against Christians is epidemic, yet there is little in the way of Christian persecution of Muslims.
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. The Gatestone Institute's research shows that approximately 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries and monuments were defaced or destroyed there in 2019.
France and Germany are the most anti-Christian nations in Europe; Spain is also notorious for its assaults on Christianity. That these nations are beacons of secularism cannot be denied. 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.
Muslim nations that persecute Christians have their origins in the most extreme interpretations of Islam. But what accounts for the anti-Christian assaults by radical secularists?
The Gatestone researchers sought to understand the motives of the anti-Christian acts in Western Europe. Vandalism and theft were two of the four listed in the report; there was nothing extraordinary about these findings. The other two motives were more revealing: they were grounded in politics and religion.
"Some attacks," they said, "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. 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."
Radical feminists, radical secularists, anarchists, and Satanists. What do they have in common? They are all aligned with the politics of the left.
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.
Historically, some extremists on the right have been anarchists, but today anarchists more typically resemble Antifa in the United States. "Anarchists and antifascists, often called the antifa, are factions of the far left who feel they are not represented by the mainstream Democratic Party." That description, offered by a reporter for the Washington Post, is accurate.
The Church of Satan says it has no "official" political position. Yet a look at the positions staked out by The Satanic Temple are squarely on the left: for instance, their support for abortion-on-demand is so extreme that it is impossible to go beyond it.
Many who have followed the litany of anti-Christian offenses in Western Europe have noted how left-wing the perpetrators are.
Ellen Fantini, director of The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, says her organization has 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." Four of the five groups mentioned (the last four) are clearly in the camp of leftists.
The bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, Dominique Rey, agrees, but goes one step further, saying 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."
It is striking to note that radical Muslims and radical left-wing activists prefer to attack Christianity, but not each other. Yet in terms of their respective worldviews, they could not be more different, particularly on matters governing marriage, the family, and sexuality. Moreover, as Bishop Rey observes, Christianity is being privatized while Islam is expanding in Western Europe. How can this be?
There is no cabal at work. What conjoins the two radical wings, one religious and the other secular, is hatred of Christianity. But the source of their animosity is not the same. Radical Muslims want to conquer the West but cannot do so without attacking the Christian roots of Western civilization. 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.
Christians are fighting for their lives against radical Muslims, and are fighting for their heritage against radical left-wing activists. They are the only sane players in this very sick development. More important, Christianity is the only tonic that can save us from their ravages.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.