‘Chilling effect’ of secular intolerance on Christians is leading to ‘self-censorship’, report warns

‘Chilling effect’ of secular intolerance on Christians is leading to ‘self-censorship’, report warns Staff Writer for Christian Today

Secular intolerance is having a “chilling effect” on Christians that “directly affects their capacity to express their faith freely in society and is leading to various forms of self-censorship”, a new report has warned.

‘Perceptions on Self-Censorship’ was compiled by the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDAC Europe), together with the Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America (OLIRE) and the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF).

It looked at the nature, scope and intensity of self-censorship as well as secular intolerance as a “persecution engine”, using France, Germany, Colombia and Mexico as case studies.

The report concludes that while many incidents are “seemingly insignificant”, together they “cause ‘death by a thousand cuts'” and create “an environment in which Christians do not feel comfortable – to some degree – to live their faith freely”.

Researchers observed that “because of the subtle and generally non-physically violent nature of the chilling effect, it is often misunderstood or even ignored and therefore largely remains invisible”.

Christians across the four countries were typically found to be self-censoring around issues relating to marriage, identity politics, sexuality, bioethics and morals.

In Colombia and Mexico, interviewees expressed fear about legal sanctions, while those who said that they do freely share their beliefs also recognised that there was “a price to pay”, with some of the consequences being “the immediate discrediting or stigmatization of Christians who openly voiced their convictions and the use of labels such as ‘retrograde’, ‘discriminator’, ‘intolerant’ or ‘incompetent'”.

In other cases, speaking up led to defamation, loss of employment, academic suspension or allegations of discrimination, creating “a kind of fear or paralyzing effect”.

“An important consequence of this chilling effect is not only that persons are limited in their exercise of religion or in their right to manifest their convictions, but also that these violations to the right to religious freedom can cause the disappearance of religion in a given context,” the report said.

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