Anti-Christian graffiti in Vienna, Austria. The text states Kirchenaustritt heute: "[I'm] leaving the church today".

Anti-Christian sentiment, also referred to as Christophobia or Christianophobia, constitutes the fear of, hatred of, discrimination, and/or prejudice against Christians, the Christian religion, and/or its practices.

Anti-Christian sentiment has frequently led to the persecution of Christians throughout history. Anti-Christian sentiment is sometimes referred to as Christophobia or Christianophobia, although these terms actually encompass "every form of discrimination and intolerance against Christians", according to the Council of European Episcopal Conferences.[1][2][3]


Anti-Christian sentiment began in the Roman Empire during the first century. The steady growth of the Christian movement was viewed with suspicion by both the authorities and the people of Rome. This led to the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. During the second century, Christianity was viewed as a negative movement in two ways. The first way encompasses the accusations which were made against adherents of the Christian faith in accordance with the principles which were held by the Roman population. The second way encompasses the supplementary controversy which was aroused during the intellectual age.[4]

Anti-Christian sentiment is visible in the New Testament, and it seems to have been anticipated by Jesus of Nazareth, as it was documented by the writers of the gospels. The anti-Christian sentiment of the first century was not just expressed by the Roman authorities, it was also expressed by the Jews. Because Christianity was a sect which was largely emerging from Judaism at that time,[5] this sentiment was the anger of an established religion towards a new and revolutionary faith. Paul of Tarsus, who persecuted Christians before he became a Christian, highlighted the Crucifixion of Jesus as a 'stumbling block' to the Jews, and the belief that the messiah would have died on a cross was offensive to some of the Jews because they awaited a messiah who had different characteristics.[6]

Middle Ages

According to Sahih Muslim, a collection of hadith compiled by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Muhammad said "I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim."[7] William Muir says that Muhammad "had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into the house with the figure upon it."[8] A hadith has Prophet Muhammad's wife Aisha claimed: "I never used to leave in the Prophet house anything carrying images or crosses but he obliterated it."[9] Muhammad also prophesied that in Jesus' Second Coming he will break the cross (Destroy Christianity), abolish the Jizya tax from Christians, accepting only Islam or death and that Allah would perish all other religions.[10]

Abu Bakr told the early Muslims:[11]

You will also meet such a Satanic people who worship the Cross [Christians]. They shave their heads in the middle to expose their skulls [monks]. Cut off their heads until they accept Islam or pay Jizyah disgraced. Now I place you in Allah's hands, may He protect you.

On the subject of historical Anti-Christian sentiments of early Muslims, professor Sidney H. Griffith explains that "The cross and the icons publicly declared those very points of Christian faith which the Quran, in the Muslim view, explicitly denied: that Christ was the Son of God and that he died on the cross." for that reason, "the Christian practice of venerating the cross and the icons of Christ and the saints often aroused the disdain of Muslims," so because of that there was an ongoing "campaign to erase the public symbols of Christianity [in formerly Christian lands such as Egypt and Syria], especially the previously ubiquitous sign of the cross. There are archaeological evidences of the destruction and defacement of Christian images [and crosses] in the early Islamic period due to the conflict with Muslims they aroused."[12]

The prominent Andalusian jurist Ibn Rushd decreed that "golden crosses must be broken up before being distributed" as plunder. "As for their sacred books [Bibles], one must make them disappear", he added (he later clarified that unless all words can be erased from every page in order to resell the blank book, all Christian scripture must be burned).[13] An anti-Christian treatise published in Al-Andalus was titled as "Hammers [for breaking] crosses."[14]

The Persian poet Mu'izzi urged the grandson of Alp Arslan to root out and wipe out all Christians in the world in a genocide:[15]

For the sake of the Arab religion, it is a duty, O ghazi king, to clear the country of Syria of patriarchs and bishops, to clear the land of Rum [Anatolia] from priests and monks. You should kill those accursed dogs and wretched creatures... You should... cut their throats... You should make polo-balls of the Franks' heads in the desert, and polo sticks from their hands and feet"

Marco Polo journeyed throughout the East in the 13th century and made an observation of the people of Arabia: "The inhabitants are all Saracens [Muslims], and utterly detest the Christians."[16] Marco Polo also said that, "indeed, it is a fact that all the Saracens in the world are agreed in wishing ill to all the Christians in the world".[17]

Early modern period

At the time of the Reformation, anti-Christian sentiment grew with the rise of atheism.[18] During the Reign of Terror, a period of the French Revolution, radical revolutionaries and their supporters desired a cultural revolution that would rid the French state of all Christian influence.[19] In 1789, church lands were expropriated and priests killed or forced to leave France.[19] Later in 1792, "refractory priests" were targeted and replaced with their secular counterpart from the Jacobin club.[20] Anti-Christian sentiments increased during 1793 and a campaign of dechristianization occurred, and new forms of moral religion emerged, including the deistic Cult of the Supreme Being and the atheistic Cult of Reason.[21] The drownings at Nantes targeted many Catholic priests and nuns. The first drownings happened on the night of 16 November 1793. The victims were 160 arrested Catholic priests that were labeled "refractory clergy" by the National Convention.

Late modern period

Christians fleeing their homes in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1922. Many Christians were persecuted and/or killed during the Armenian genocide, Greek genocide, and Assyrian genocide.[22]

When British writer Charles Montagu Doughty journeyed around Arabia, the local Bedouins said to him, "Thou wast safe in thine own country, though mightest have continued there; but since thou art come into the land of the Moslemin [Muslims], God has delivered thee into our hands to die—so perish all the Nasara [Christians]! And be burned in hell with your father, Sheytan [Satan]." Doughty also records how Muslims in Arabia would, while circling around the Kaaba, supplicate Allah to "curse and destroy" the Jews and Christians.[23][24]

Many Christians were persecuted and/or killed during the Armenian genocide, Greek genocide, and Assyrian genocide.[22] Benny Morris and Dror Ze'evi argue that the Armenian genocide and other contemporaneous persecution of Christians in the Ottoman Empire (Greek genocide, and Assyrian genocide) constitute an extermination campaign, or genocide, carried out by the Ottoman Empire against its Christian subjects.[25][26][27]

The Affair of the Cards was a political scandal which broke out in 1904 in France, during the Third French Republic. From 1900 to 1904, the prefectural administrations, the Masonic lodges of the Grand Orient de France and other intelligence networks established data sheets and created a secret surveillance system of all army officers in order to ensure that Christians would be excluded from promotions and advancement in the military hierarchy, and "free-thinking" officers would be promoted instead.[28][29][30][31]

The Cristero War was a widespread struggle in central and western Mexico in response to the implementation of secularist and anticlerical articles. The rebellion was instigated as a response to an executive decree by Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles to strictly enforce Article 130 of the Constitution, a decision known as Calles Law. Calles sought to eliminate the power of the Catholic Church in Mexico, its affiliated organizations and to suppress popular religiosity. To help enforce the law, Calles seized Church properties, expelled foreign priests, and closed monasteries, convents, and religious schools.[32] Some have characterized Calles as the leader of an atheist state[33] and his program as being one to eradicate religion in Mexico.[34] Tomás Garrido Canabal led persecutions against the Church in his state, Tabasco, killing many priests and laymen and driving the remainder underground.[35]

The Red Terror in Spain committed various acts of violence that included the desecration and burning of monasteries, convents, and churches.[36] The failed coup of July 1936 set loose a violent onslaught on those that revolutionaries in the Republican zone identified as enemies; "where the rebellion failed, for several months afterwards merely to be identified as a priest, a religious, or simply a militant Christian or member of some apostolic or pious organization, was enough for a person to be executed without trial".[37]

Although Nazi Germany never officially proclaimed a Kirchenkampf against Christian churches, top Nazis freely expressed their contempt for Christian teachings in private conversations. Nazi ideology conflicted with traditional Christian beliefs in various respects – Nazis criticized Christian notions of "meekness and guilt" on the basis that they "repressed the violent instincts necessary to prevent inferior races from dominating Aryans". Aggressive anti-church radicals like Alfred Rosenberg and Martin Bormann saw the conflict with the churches as a priority concern, and anti-church and anti-clerical sentiments were strong among grassroots party activists.[38] Hitler himself disdained Christianity, as Alan Bullock noted:

In Hitler's eyes, Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; he detested its ethics in particular. Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.

Throughout the history of the Soviet Union (1917–1991), there were periods when Soviet authorities brutally suppressed and persecuted various forms of Christianity to different extents depending on State interests.[39] The state advocated the destruction of religion, and to achieve this goal, it officially denounced religious beliefs as superstitious and backward.[40][41] The Communist Party destroyed churches, ridiculed, harassed, incarcerated and executed religious leaders, flooded the schools and media with anti-religious teachings, and it introduced a belief system called "scientific atheism", with its own rituals, promises and proselytizers.[42][43] According to some sources, the total number of Christian victims under the Soviet regime has been estimated to range around 12 to 20 million.[44][45] At least 106,300 Russian clergymen were executed between 1937 and 1941.[46]


Remains of a church property burnt down during 2008 Kandhamal violence in Orissa, India in August 2008.

Persecution of Christians in the post–Cold War era refers to the persecution of Christians from 1989 to the present, which is taking place in Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Middle East.

Christians are persecuted widely across the Arab and Islamic world.[47][48][49] Muslim-majority nations in which Christian populations have suffered acute discrimination, persecution, repression, violence and in some cases death, mass murder or ethnic cleansing include; Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Indonesia, the Maldives.[citation needed] Native Christian communities are subjected to persecution in several Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt[50] and Pakistan.[51]

The persecution of Christians in North Korea is ongoing and systematic.[52][53][54][55][56][57] According to the Christian organization Open Doors, North Korea persecutes Christians more than any other country in the world.[58]

The issue of Christianophobia was considered by the UK parliament on 5 December 2007 in a Westminster Hall Commons debate.[59]

Some people, such as actor Rainn Wilson, who is not a Christian himself, have argued that Hollywood has often expressed anti-Christian bias.[60] Actor Matthew McConaughey has stated that he has seen Christians in Hollywood hiding their faith for the sake of their careers.[61]

See also


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  2. ^ "Definition of ANTI-CHRISTIAN". Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  3. ^ "ANTI-CHRISTIAN | Definition of ANTI-CHRISTIAN by Oxford Dictionary on also meaning of ANTI-CHRISTIAN". Lexico Dictionaries | English. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved 2021-05-20.
  4. ^ WAGEMAKERS, BART (2010). "Incest, Infanticide, and Cannibalism: Anti-Christian Imputations in the Roman Empire". Greece & Rome. 57 (2): 337–354. doi:10.1017/S0017383510000069. ISSN 0017-3835. JSTOR 40929483. S2CID 161652552.
  5. ^ "Religion:Christianity". Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Religions: Paul". BBC. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  7. ^ Sahih Muslim 1767a
  8. ^ The Life of Mohammad: From Original Sources. Alpha Editions. April 2020. p. 200. ISBN 9789354010323.
  9. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 5952
  10. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood 4324
  11. ^ Wāqidī, Muḥammad ibn ʻumar (2005). The Islâmic Conquest of Syria: Futuhusham the inspiring History of the Sahabah's Conquest of Syria. Ta-Ha. p. 13. ISBN 9781842000670.
  12. ^ The church in the shadow of the mosque: Christians and Muslims in the world of Islam. Princeton University Press. 2008. pp. 14, 144–145. ISBN 9780691130156.
  13. ^ The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise. Open Road Media. 9 February 2016. p. 41. ISBN 9781504034692.
  14. ^ Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1997. p. 143. ISBN 9780812215694.
  15. ^ Hillenbrand, Carole (21 November 2007). Turkish Myth and Muslim Symbol: The battle of Manzikert. pp. 151–152. ISBN 9780748631155.
  16. ^ The Travels of Marco Polo. Random House Publishing. 4 December 2001. p. 264. ISBN 9780375758188.
  17. ^ World Communication: A Journal of the World Communication Association.
  18. ^ Gifford, J.D. (2022). The Hexagon of Heresy: A Historical and Theological Study of Definitional Divine Simplicity. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 265. ISBN 978-1-6667-5432-2. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  19. ^ a b Hunt, Lynn (2019). "The Imagery of Radicalism". Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution. pp. 87–120. doi:10.1525/9780520931046-011. ISBN 978-0-520-93104-6. S2CID 226772970.
  20. ^ Report by the Jacobin Society of Besançon on Refractory Priests, 1792-01-08, retrieved 2021-12-09
  21. ^ Kennedy, Emmet (1989). A Cultural History of the French Revolution. Yale University Press. p. 343. ISBN 9780300044263.
  22. ^ a b James L. Barton, Turkish Atrocities: Statements of American Missionaries on the Destruction of Christian Communities in Ottoman Turkey, 1915–1917. Gomidas Institute, 1998, ISBN 1-884630-04-9.
  23. ^ The Explorers: An Anthology of Discovery. Casell. 1962. p. 55.
  24. ^ Travels in Arabia Deserta: Two Volumes in One. Ravenio Books. 14 March 2014.
  25. ^ Morris, Benny; Ze'evi, Dror (2019). The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey's Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894–1924. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-0-674-24008-7.
  26. ^ Gutman, David (2019). "The thirty year genocide: Turkey's destruction of its Christian minorities, 1894–1924". Turkish Studies. 21. Routledge: 1–3. doi:10.1080/14683849.2019.1644170. S2CID 201424062.
  27. ^ Morris, Benny; Ze'evi, Dror (4 November 2021). "Then Came the Chance the Turks Have Been Waiting For: To Get Rid of Christians Once and for All". Haaretz. Tel Aviv. Archived from the original on 4 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  28. ^ Boniface, Xavier (2010). "L'affaire des fiches dans le Nord". Revue du Nord. 384 (384): 2, 169–193. doi:10.3917/rdn.384.0169.
  29. ^ Thuillier, Guy (2002). "Aux origines de l'affaire des fiches (1904) : Le cabinet du général André". La Revue administrative. 55 (328): 354, 372–381. ISSN 0035-0672. JSTOR 40774826.
  30. ^ Berstein, Serge (2007). "L'affaire des fiches et le grand mythe du complot franc-maçon : conférence du mardi 6 février 2007 / Serge Bernstein, aut. du texte ; Serge Bernstein, participant". Gallica. p. 8.
  31. ^ Vindé, François (1989). L'affaire des fiches, 1900–1904: chronique d'un scandale. University of Michigan: Editions universitaires. ISBN 9782711303892.
  32. ^ Warnock, John W. The Other Mexico: The North American Triangle Completed p. 27 (1995 Black Rose Books, Ltd) ISBN 1-55164-028-7
  33. ^ Haas, Ernst B., Nationalism, Liberalism, and Progress: The dismal fate of new nations, Cornell Univ. Press 2000
  34. ^ Cronon, E. David "American Catholics and Mexican Anticlericalism, 1933–1936", pp. 205–208, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XLV, Sept. 1948
  35. ^ Kirshner, Alan M. "A Setback to Tomas Garrido Canabal's Desire to Eliminate the Church in Mexico". Journal of Church and State (1971) 13 (3): 479–492.
  36. ^ Cueva, Julio de la (1998). "Religious Persecution, Anticlerical Tradition and Revolution: On Atrocities against the Clergy during the Spanish Civil War". Journal of Contemporary History. XXXIII (3): 355–369. JSTOR 261121.
  37. ^ Hilari Raguer, Gunpowder and Incense, p. 126
  38. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. W. W. Norton. pp. 381–382. ISBN 978-0393067576.
  39. ^ "Revelations from the Russian Archives: ANTI-RELIGIOUS CAMPAIGNS". Library of Congress. US Government. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  40. ^ Daniel, Wallace L. (Winter 2009). "Father Aleksandr Men and the struggle to recover Russia's heritage". Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization. 17 (1). Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (George Washington University): 73–92. doi:10.3200/DEMO.17.1.73-92. ISSN 1940-4603. Retrieved 2014-03-29. Continuing to hold to one's beliefs and one's view of the world required the courage to stand outside a system committed to destroying religious values and perspectives.
  41. ^ Froese, Paul. "'I am an atheist and a Muslim': Islam, communism, and ideological competition." Journal of Church and State 47.3 (2005)
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  44. ^ "Estimates of the total number all Christian martyrs in the former Soviet Union are about 12 million.", James M. Nelson, "Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality", Springer, 2009, ISBN 0387875727, p. 427
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  49. ^ "Persecution of Christians 'coming close to genocide' in Middle East – report". 2 May 2019.
  50. ^ "The Fate of Egypt's Coptic Christians: Part One With Raymond Ibrahim". 25 April 2013.
  51. ^ "Persecution in Pakistan". Christian Freedom International. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  52. ^ Casper, Jayson (21 December 2020). "117 Witnesses Detail North Korea's Persecution of Christians". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on 1 September 2021. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  53. ^ Benedict Rogers (22 July 2021). "The World Must Not Forgot North Korea's Crimes Against Humanity". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 5 September 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
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  59. ^ "Christianophobia". Hansard. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  60. ^ Bergeson, Samantha (13 March 2023). "Rainn Wilson Calls Out 'Anti-Christian Bias' in 'The Last of Us'". IndieWire.
  61. ^ Dowd, Cooper (27 October 2020). "Matthew McConaughey Addresses Anti-Christian Bias in Hollywood". Movieguide.