Two of the nation's predominant conservative Christian advocacy groups have released a report documenting the growing hostility toward religious liberty in the United States. In The Survey of Religious Hostility in America, the Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute have compiled more than 600 documented incidents of hostility to religious faith that have occurred in the U.S. over the past ten years.
Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Institute, said that the America of today “would be unrecognizable to our Founders. 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.”
The published survey grew out of testimony Shackelford, along with a number of Liberty Institute’s clients, provided in 2004 to the U.S. Senate about the growing hostility toward religious freedoms in America. “Because the opposition insisted these select testimonies were simply isolated incidents,” noted the Liberty Institute, “Senators Kennedy and Cornyn asked Liberty Institute to provide additional information, which led to the development of the first hostilities document.” Eight years later, the latest report shows that “hostility against religious liberty has reached an all-time high,” the organization said.
In addition to the survey, the FRC and Liberty Institute have launched a special website, www.religioushostility.org, where many of the most egregious of the 600-plus cases of religious hostility are documented and available for download. “Whether a federal judge threatens a high school valedictorian with incarceration for referring to Jesus in her graduation speech; a city official prohibits senior citizens from praying over their meals; or the U.S. Department of Justice tells churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis they can hire and fire, attacks on Americans' religious freedoms have dramatically increased, both in frequency and in the types of incidents,” the conservative groups noted in a press release about the study. “On the site, the public can view a U.S. map that contains a sampling of the 25 most egregious incidents of religious hostility. There is also a place to share personal stories of religious discrimination, and a photo gallery representing more than a dozen groundbreaking cases.”
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Illustration: "The Pilgrims Going to Church," by George Henry Boughton