RELEASE – Attacks on French Churches Constitute a Warning

Save the Persecuted Christians: Unless We Stand Up for Persecuted Christians, What Is Happening There Will Come Here

For Immediate Release | April 15, 2019

Hamilton Strategies,,

WASHINGTON—The faithful around the world watched in shock and horror as flames from the Notre Dame Cathedral lit up the Paris sky, marking at least the partial destruction of a religious, cultural and historic global landmark.

Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, says the tragedy is the latest in a string of church fires in France—a trend that should alarm believers worldwide.

Frank J. Gaffney, president and CEO of Save the Persecuted Christians, issued the following statement in the wake of the destruction.

“The fire that catastrophically consumed Christendom’s most beautiful cathedral in the heart of one of its most important capitals is a tragedy not only for Christians, but for the world,” Gaffney said. “While the cause of this particularly devastating loss remains to be determined, it comes against the backdrop of numerous attacks that have desecrated or destroyed Christian houses of worship across France.

“This pattern of attacks is a symptom of a Sharia-supremacist assault on Christianity in France, often enabled by the country’s intolerant secular left,” he continued. “It suggests that the kind of persecution that is now afflicting some 300 million followers of Christ elsewhere around the world is coming full force to Europe as well.

“Americans are on notice: Unless we counter the forces perpetrating such crimes against humanity in furtherance of the global triumph of Sharia, we will be subjected to similar predations here, too. Indeed, a leading indicator of the state of submission in this country is the self-censorship that seems to be precluding widespread reporting about the wave of attacks on churches in Europe, and anti-Christian persecution more generally.

“This phenomenon amounts to compliance with Sharia-blasphemy restrictions,” Gaffney concluded, “and only incentivizes its adherents to demand further concessions. We must stand up for Christians and Christianity in the face of those who would destroy, not just their houses of worship, but the faith itself, as well as its practitioners.”

Save the Persecuted Christians Executive Director Dede Laugesen also pointed to recent headlines about the burning, vandalism or destruction of churches in France:

  • In March, the over 800-year-old Basilica of Saint-Denis in the now heavily migrant-populated suburbs of Paris was also vandalized, with the basilica’s organ being heavily damaged and stained-glass windows were broken, Breitbart reported.
  • Just last month, a fire blazed at Saint-Sulpice,according to Reuters. Four people were inside but no one was hurt. The fire was later determined to have been deliberately set.
  • The UK Sun reported that France’s Christian heritage is under attack from “militant secularism.”
  • Breitbart reports: Twelve French Churches attacked, vandalized in one week
  • CruxNow reports: “Vandals and arsonists have targeted French churches in a wave of attacks that has lasted nearly two months.” Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, south-central France, had its altar cloth set ablaze and statues smashed.
  • The American media coverage of church vandalism in France is underwhelming, according to Get Religion.
  • And perhaps the most disturbing coverage, this Newsweek headline: “Catholic Churches are Being Desecrated Across France—and Officials Don’t Know Why”

“Due to the extensive damage, we may never know the cause of the inferno that has destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral,” said Laugesen. “Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, and Phillipe Karsenty, a French elected official, were cut off by Fox News anchors when they raised the concern that this fire may in fact be tied to a string of suspicious fires and acts of desecration at churches and cemeteries all over France in just the past few months. These heinous, religious-based hate crimes targeting Christians demand attention. What happened at Notre Dame must be investigated in light of these recent acts of violence. They should be heard.”

Christian persecution worldwide is illustrated through Save the Persecuted Christians’ traveling exhibit called “The People of the Cross,” which displays heartbreaking photos and facts about several countries where Christian persecution is commonplace. Each of 24 banners feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and Nigeria where two of the world’s most violent terrorist groups surround and slaughter entire villages of Christians. A majority of the countries highlighted in the banners are high on the World Watch List.

The exhibit premiered in July 2018 at the U.S. Capitol as a side event to the first-ever U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Since then, it has toured the United States, reaching tens of thousands. “The People of the Cross” exhibit is available for churches, public venues and special events. To learn more about hosting “The People of the Cross,” contact Save the Persecuted Christians or visit the website, where panels are available to view online.

The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by holding the persecutors accountable and creating costs for their crimes against humanity. To that end, it will disseminate actionable information about the magnitude of such crimes and bring to bear a movement of concerned Americans determined to hold persecutors accountable for such crimes and create real costs for perpetrating them against those who follow Jesus.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, which released its biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World in November, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (i.e., torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world’s Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.

Because most of these crimes are not covered in the media, Save the Persecuted Christians developed a dedicated news aggregator——to capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.

With the recent spate of attacks in France and so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.


To interview a Save the Persecuted Christians representative, contact