The report describes numerous instances of German authorities using oppressive measures against Christians who act according to their religious and moral beliefs, such as restricting pro-life activity near abortion clinics and counseling centers that refer for abortions. It requests that Germany amend its law to allow legal exemptions for pharmacists who object to dispensing morning-after pills on religious grounds. Germany does not extend legal protection of conscientious objection to potentially abortifacient drugs.
A mood of hostility in Germany toward Christianity comes across in the numerous instances of vandalism, destruction of property, and defamatory displays listed in the report. Many of them involve the destruction or defamation of Christian symbols, churches, and cemeteries, as well as sites of religious significance such as the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Observatory has been documenting attacks on religious freedom in Europe since 2005, and compiles reports to bring these matters to the attention of international institutions. It fills a vacuum created by the lack of media reporting on the oppression of Christians and antipathy toward moral beliefs. “[J]ournalists and policy-makers are often more anti-Christian than their fellow citizens. But they shape the mood of the country,” noted Dr. Gudrun Kugler, the director of the Observatory, in an interview with Mercatornet.
The Observatory's report was filed in anticipation of the Human Rights Committee's review of Germany’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This treaty affirms the “freedom of faith, conscience, and to profess a religious or philosophical creed”, but also asserts its protection of a “negative freedom of faith” defined as the rejection of a religion and its symbols. The examples given in the Observatory's report warn of a society heading away from a freedom of faith and toward a culture that only tolerates a freedom from faith.
Last Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion or Belief addressed the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York. Echoing similar concerns raised by the Observatory, several member states asked Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt about the balance between the rights of children and those of their parents on the subject of religious education.
“The major philosophy underlying the children's rights convention is that parents are the trust holders of children's rights, so children's rights naturally also require guidance by parents,” Dr. Bielefeldt responded.