Faith-based Organizations Taking Lead to Counter Hate Speech Need Collaboration

April 5, 2022
By Magdalena Wernefeldt

There is an emerging trend that faith-based organizations are taking the lead to counter hate speech. According to a recently released research paper, better knowledge-sharing and collaboration in a wider European context would serve the wide range of educational programmes well.

Photo: Dan Edge Unsplash

“Using Education to Counter Anti-refugee and Migrant Hate Speech in Europe” is the title of a research paper by Olivia Quinn, recently released by Kaiciid, King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.  In the study Oliva Quinn has assessed fifteen faith-based organizations in different regions of Europe, one being A World of Neighbours, their educational methodology, training delivery mode and the target audience.

Olivia Quinn points out that many of the initiatives have developed organically, often based on a perceived need within a community. Few have matured to a point where their programming and demarcating of their target audiences is based on analysis and date derived from the drives and root cause for hate speech.

the tug of war over the “moveable middle”

Ouinn notices a serious deficit in programmes that address and consider hate groups, far-right movements, supremacy groups, religious extremist and political parties:

“These groups and individuals are often the most vocal online and within the public space, therefore their influence can normalize hate and negative stereotyping amongst the same ‘movable middle’ that the majority  of current education programmes engage.”

Another finding that needs to be considered by the FBOs is that only a few focused on bringing the voices of refugees and migrants into their programming, and none cited measuring whether their programme resulted in perceived improvements for the refugees and migrants as part of the evaluation.

offers chance refine efforts against hate speech

In the semi-structured interviews with representatives of all fifteen FBOs, Olivia Quinn noted that the “interviewees were extremely interested and motivated by learning about the work of other and sharing best practices as an outcome of this undertaking.”

Released timely, this study offers a chance for the faith-based organizations to sharpen the tools in the mission to counter hate speech, make efforts to deepen the understanding of drivers of hate and reflect on why or why not a certain audience is targeted. The question is who will follow up on the findings, and invite the FBOs to strategize, drawing on everyones experience, making the work more nimble and effective?

Using Education to Counter Anti-refugee and Migrant Hate Speech in Europe

The study was conducted between April and June 2021 and covers work from 2015 to 2021. It was commissioned to explore methods, reach and approaches of different educational programmes and to provide both a resource and usable set of considerations to support policymakers, FBOs, civil society organizations and religious leaders/communities seeking to counter hate speech.

Download report.

Organizations being interviewed:

MEERU, Portugal

Nahla, Bosnia and Herzagovina + Serbia

Schools for All, Greece

Caritas, Pan European

Ouaker Council for European Affairs Human Rights Programme

Facing Facts by CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to An Inclusive Europe

Change – Jesuit Refugee Service Europe

Apostoli – Church of Athens

Equal Society – Muslim Association of Greece 

Evangelical Church of Germany and the Lutheran University of Nuremberg

The Programme Social Sustainablity, Church of Sweden

Dialogue Pilots, Church of Norway

Lutheran World Federation