Survey reveals growing attacks on religious freedom in US
TAMPA, Florida, August 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Hostility against religious liberty has reached an all-time high in America, and the attacks are increasing at an unprecedented rate, say two pro-family groups that track attacks on religious freedom in the U.S.
Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council, two organizations committed to protecting and advancing religious liberty in the U.S., have released the updated edition of their Survey of Religious Hostility in America—a compilation of more than 600 documented incidents of hostility to religion that have occurred in the United States over the last 10 years.
Kelly Shackelford, President & CEO of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, announced the release of the survey on Monday during the platform week of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
“America today would be unrecognizable to our Founders,” said Shackelford in the presentation. “Our First Liberty is facing a relentless onslaught from well-funded and aggressive groups and individuals who are using the courts, Congress, and the vast federal bureaucracy to suppress and limit religious freedom. This radicalized minority is driven by an anti-religious ideology that is turning the First Amendment upside down.”
Mr. Perkins said, “As dark as this survey is, there is much light. The secularists’ agenda only advances when those who love liberty are apathetic. Let this be a call to stand for religious liberty in the United States.”
The introduction to the document explains that the Survey of Religious Hostility in America grew out of testimony that Shackelford, along with a number of Liberty Institute clients, provided to the U.S. Senate in 2004 about the growing religious hostility in America. Because the opposition insisted these select testimonies were simply isolated incidents, Senators Kennedy and Cornyn asked Liberty Institute to provide additional information, which led to the development of the first “hostilities document.”
While the updated survey provides irrefutable evidence of growing numbers and severity of offenses to religious freedom in U.S. churches, schools, and in the public arena, it also shows that those persons and organizations that stand up for religious liberty are winning, the two pro-family leaders said.
The document is divided into three broad categories to aid the reader in understanding how these hundreds of incidents are related: attacks on religious liberty in the public arena, attacks on religious liberty at the schoolhouse, and attacks against churches and ministries.
Examples of the increasing hostility to religion described in this survey include city officials who prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages, or singing gospel songs at a senior activities centre; a federal judge’s threatened “incarceration” of a high school valedictorian unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech; the Affordable Healthcare Act (“ObamaCare”), whereby the federal government is forcing religious organizations to provide insurance for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in direct violation of their religious beliefs; a federal judge who held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus; and the U.S. Department of Justice that argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire.
“Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council have joined forces to take a bold stand to protect and restore religious liberty in America,” Shackelford and Perkins said in their joint statement. “This includes opposing and exposing the escalating efforts by government bureaucrats to regulate religious freedom. So, from the local district courts to the U.S. Supreme Court and in the halls of Congress, we will face each challenge head-on to ensure that our sacred First Amendment rights are protected.”
“As our country enters into one of the most critical elections of our time, we ask that people of all faiths join together and stand with us as we continue the important work of defending our most precious liberty — our freedom of religion,” the two pro-family leaders concluded.
The Survey of Religious Hostility in America is available for download here.