The environment often reacts in a deterrent manner when Christians speak openly about their beliefs. This is the finding of the Vienna-based “Observatory for Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe” (OIDAC). The OLIRE (Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America) and IIRF (International Institute for Religious Freedom) were also involved in the study of four countries in Europe and Latin America.
There is a “narrowing of the corridor of opinion,” explained Friederike Boellmann, who was responsible for the study on Germany. The universities would have proved to be the most “hostile” environment for Christians, just as they would have found the most self-censorship in academia.
It is not the respective legal situation, but above all the cultural mentality that is responsible for the observed “deterrent effect” in countries with an advanced degree of secularization such as France and Germany, according to the report.
The report summarizes the results of four case studies conducted in Germany, France, Mexico and Colombia and draws on ten years of research. Practicing Christians from different walks of life were interviewed personally. OIDAC Managing Director Madeleine Enzlberger described it as the “most tragic finding” “that people give up their beliefs when the social costs of representing and expressing their beliefs become too high”. The faith of younger and uneducated people is particularly at risk.
The study findings are not intended to fuel fear, division or resentment, but to provide a better understanding of “how much we need a pluralistic society where everyone can speak their mind without fear of reprisals and live out their beliefs without being discriminated against,” stressed the Viennese expert Enzlberger.