Christians have been found to have difficulty in freely expressing their faith in society due to secular intolerance.

A new report has found that many Chrsitians are now having to self-censor themselves because they find that they cannot freely express their faith in society due to the "chilling effect" of secular intolerance. Some Christians now fear that they would be taken to court or be criminally sanctioned for discrimination by expressing their religious views.

The new report is titled "Perceptions on Self-Censorship: Confirming and Understanding the 'Chilling Effect'" and focuses on case studies on France, Germany, Colombia, and Mexico. It was releasd by the International Institute for Religion Freedom (IIRF), the Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America (OLIRE), and the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians or OIDAC Europe.

"Secular intolerance has a chilling effect on Christians, which directly affects their capacity to express their faith freely in society and is leading to various forms of self-censorship," the report said. The study found that some people "fear being subjected to legal proceedings or being criminally sanctioned on charges of discrimination, while others fear being subjected to disciplinary proceedings in their work or places."

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Most Christians Tend to Keep Their Religious Beliefs Private

According to the new study, many people are now choosing to keep private their expressions of faith or opinion on life, marriage, and family, especially from a Christian doctrine perspective because they have seen how their peers have been sanctioned or persecuted for sharing their religious beliefs. Such incidents may appear insignificant but the report writers believe that this is equivalent to "death by a thousand cuts," the Christian Post reported.

The writers of the report argued that while "a few cuts" will not do much harm, the collective "small strikes" will eventually create an "impact." This impact is the creation of an environment in which Christians "do not feel live their faith freely." This is what the report writers refer to as the "chilling effect" that results from "perceived pressures in their cultural environment."

Moreover, the report writers underscored how the "chilling effect" has a "non-physically violent nature" that is often "misunderstood or ignored" so the problem is mostly "invisible." This is also the reason why self-censorship is often not talked about in religious freedom datasets such as that of the Pew Research Center.

Self-censorship of Expressions of Faith May Lead to Disappearance of Religion

Not only does secular intolerance cause self-censorship, it also limits a faithful group's exercise of religion, which report authors believes are "violations" related to religious freedom. In fact, report authors believe that secular intolerance and the resulting "chilling effect" of self-censorship can also cause "the disappearance of religion in a given context."

Christian Today reported that OIDAC Europe's executive director Madeleine Enzelberger raised a question on how such a "liberal democratic society" can commit secular intolerance. The "chilling effect" of secular intolerance is now being felt by Christian communities, especially those who were interviewed for the report. They said that they did not even realize they were self-censoring and that sometimes, they sel-censor to the point of being unable to see the characteristics related to self-censorship as a genuine problem.

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