An annotated map shows how many churches have been destroyed in France over the last four years.
The map is not just of “destroyed” churches; it shows many types of incident including vandalism, fires, violence, and theft that has occurred in or around churches, as well as attacks on priests, and other incidents the maps’ creators deem as religiously motivated.
A post on Facebook claims that a heavily annotated map of France shows how many churches have been “destroyed” there in the last four years. It has had over 1,700 shares.
The pins on the map don’t just show churches that were “destroyed”; they also include vandalism incidents, like graffiti, as well as theft, violent incidents at churches and religious buildings, plus incidents where priests were attacked or threatened.
The map was created by a website which says it collates incidents of what it deems to be “Christianophobia” in France and the rest of the world. Not all of the incidents took place in churches—some were fires in church halls, car parks or nativities, for example. From what we can see, the map shows incidents since December 2016. The map doesn’t include the recent fire at Notre-Dame, and the Paris public prosecutor has said nothing indicates that fire was started deliberately.
The pins in the map are mostly backed up by reporting of the named incidents from local or national media outlets at the time.
The incidents include fires that destroyed parts of churches, some of which were suspected arson, a fire in the car park of a church, and a nativity scene in a Christmas market that had been burnt down. It’s not clear how many of the incidents were accidental and how many were suspected arson.
Other things marked on the map include people getting attacked in churches, and various incidents the website deems religiously motivated, for example, an incident where an elderly man out Christmas shopping in Paris was assaulted and called an “infidel”.
Another incident marked on the map was sent in by a reader who had taken pictures of what they said was LGBT rights protestors, with a sign saying: “Jesus had two dads and one surrogate mother”. Another was a report of a “pagan ballet” dance performance due to take place in a church that hadn’t been deconsecrated.
There were just under 1,000 recorded acts of defacement of Christian buildings and cemeteries in France in 2018
The French Ministry of the Interior said earlier this year that there had been just over 1,000 anti-Christian acts recorded in France in 2018, which is slightly down from 2017.
French factcheckers CheckNews reported that the Ministry of the Interior said just under a thousand of these were acts of defacement, compared to around 100 violent acts. Of the acts of defacement, two-thirds to three quarters (so roughly between 600 and 800) were to do with religious buildings, with the rest related to cemeteries.
The ministry said there were 878 attacks on Christian buildings and cemeteries, including 252 in cemeteries, and 626 on places of worship in 2017.
This article is part of our work factchecking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as a mixture because the claim is misleading.
The integrity of our elections is in danger, and we need your help
You’re probably here looking for facts. Thank you for that trust. But with the EU parliament elections on the way and more elections a possibility, we need to act now to make sure our elections are protected, before it’s too late.
Could you help protect our elections by becoming a Full Fact donor?
Misinformation isn’t new, but advancements in technology mean it can spread at an unprecedented scale. Our dangerously outdated election laws have not kept up with the digital age, putting our next elections at risk of abuse.
Currently, it’s possible for a candidate to run a thousand different political ads to win the same seat, promising something different to each group it targets. At the same time, there’s no law requiring those who publish online campaigns to disclose who they are or how they are funded. The opportunity for bad actors to manipulate election results is left wide open.
You may already know about our work to make public debate online more honest and transparent. Every day, we call out the most harmful misinformation on social media platforms when and where we see it. But right now, we’re urging the government to overhaul our election laws to make sure political campaigning is held to the same level of scrutiny online as it is offline.
This work all depends on the generosity of hundreds of people who all believe that for democracy to work, we need transparency. Our monthly donors help strengthen our voice, and show our politicians that this really matters. Would you consider joining them?
Become a donor today to make sure our elections are protected.