First Liberty Institute, formerly the Liberty Institute, recently compiled a study they started in 2012 to take note of cases and incidents where Christians, Jews, and Catholics were targeted for their faith. The study is entitled Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, 2016 edition, and was spearheaded by a constitutional attorney who graduated from Harvard. The researchers noticed that the targets represented vital areas of American society, including the business sector, churches, parachurch ministries, schools, the military, and the public arena.
The study’s chairman, Kelly Shackleford, states in the introduction that such attacks are a downer for the US and should concern us in three major ways:
- Individuals and families are being hurt.
- The attacks injure us all.
- Freedom of religion is foundational to all other freedoms.
Shackleford mentions that the perpetrators are a small part of society, but are powerful enough to wield a lot of influence that has led to such things as “[g]ood employees are being unlawfully fired, and productive businesses recklessly harmed; [v]aluable public servants are being aggressively driven from their fields; [m]inistries, churches, and chaplains are being threatened or restricted from fulfilling their spiritual callings.” Additionally, the hostility “is curtailing help for students, the elderly, the sick, the poor, orphans, addicts, and the homeless. It is even endangering efforts to show compassion and comfort to current and former members of our military, jeopardizing morale and thus our national security.”
Shackleford goes on to explain how the erosion of the fundamental freedom of religion can, if unchecked, lead to the erosion of other freedoms by giving the government too much power and no accountability. On the plus side, the study points out that most of these hostilities are against the law and can be thwarted if those who are targeted are bold enough to stand up for their rights in court.
The study gives a cumulative list, but not an exhaustive one, of 1200 religious liberty cases dating back to the 1980s up to 2015 and goes beyond cases where Christians, Catholics, and Jews were defendants. Among those listed are the case of the female Marine who was reprimanded for posting a Bible verse in her workspace, the football coach who was suspended for praying after football games, and the Texas cheerleaders who were told not to display banners with Bible verses at high school games.
Source: Jonah Bennett, In Just Three Years, Hostile Attacks Against Religion In America Have Doubled, The Daily Caller, February 22, 2016.