The word “vandalism” comes from the Vandals, a Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in the middle of the 5th century. These “barbarians,” as Roman writers called them, actually behaved much better than their name might suggest. For example, they spared the lives of most of Rome’s citizens and left her buildings standing—including, notably, Christian churches. This was because the Vandals themselves claimed the name of Christ—although their theology was of a type condemned by orthodox Christians.
Modern vandals, on the other hand, fail to live up to their namesakes’ example. Over the last few months, Europe has seen a wave of attacks against churches and other Christian sites. CBN reports that in countries like France and Germany, there has been “…a spike in violent vandalism, desecrating cherished churches and Christian symbols…”
To clarify what the report means by “spike,” there were over one thousand attacks just in 2018, and the vandalism involved more than spray paint. Crucifixes, icons, statues, and sacramental vessels were damaged and destroyed. Sometimes attacks included human waste. According to Roman Catholic clergy in France, an average of two churches per day are desecrated. And that doesn’t include Protestant sites.
Recently, the Reformation Wall in Geneva was hit. The intended message of the vandals was made clear by the rainbow paint dumped all over the statues of 16th-century Reformers William Farel, Theodore Beza, John Knox, and John Calvin.
This wasn’t even the first act of vandalism at this site this year. Back in March, feminist activists graffitied the Reformation monument with the insightful message, “Where are the women?”
Around the same time, Newsweek quoted Ellen Fantini, the executive director of a Vienna-based organization that tracks religious discrimination. She said that while the motives and identity of vandals aren’t always clear, France in particular faces a surge of anti-Christian violence by “anarchist and feminist groups.” According to Fantini, attacks were up 25 percent in March over the same time last year.
The fact that Christianity is no longer Europe’s dominant religion, and hasn’t been for some time, is not new news. Pew Research reports that while a majority of Western Europeans still identify as Christians, just 22 percent attend services at least once a month. Compare that with the U. S., where around half attend regularly.
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Source: Christian Headlines