In the past three years, incidents of religious persecution in America have gone up 76 percent, a new report has found.
“The recent spike in government-driven religious hostility is sadly not surprising, especially considering the Obama administration’s antagonism toward biblical Christianity,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), said in a statement June 29 about his organization’s new findings.
The report examines the “hostility to religion” in America.
“Many of the first European settlers on American shores sought freedom from religious persecution … The Founders affirmed that allegiance to God precedes allegiance to the state, and that our rights come from our Creator, not the government,” the June 2017 report noted.
The report lists 69 cases since 2014 in which Americans’ religious freedoms were violated.
“The report underscores the legitimacy of the actions taken by the Trump administration to end the policies and practices in federal agencies that fan the flames of this religious intolerance,” said Perkins. “The increase in reported cases not only reflects the growing hostility, but also the growing courage of Christians, especially young Christians, to defend both their faith and their freedoms.”
“It’s hard to believe American teenagers could be arrested for delivering a prayer, but that’s the kind of nation we live in — a nation that was fundamentally transformed by the previous presidential administration,” commentator Todd Starnes wrote in a piece for Fox News.
Below are seven incidents highlighted in FRC’s report:
1.) The government targeted churches for views on a traditional, biblical definition of marriage.
2.) A football coach was criticized for hosting devotionals and Bible studies.
3.) Christian school members were prohibited from praying before board meetings in California.
4.) In several states, an atheist group targeted police departments for having “In God We Trust” bumper stickers on patrol cars.
5.) Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland lectured Russell Vought — President Trump’s nominee to be deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget — about his Christian beliefs. “Even though Article VI of the Constitution precludes religious tests for candidates for public office, both senators appear[ed] to be engaging in such a test,” the Family Research Council report states.
6.) An elementary school teacher told a second grader in Texas not to bring her Bible back to school for reading during silent reading time. “The girl’s parents, who were afraid to go public with the story, turned to First Liberty Institute for help,” the report notes. “When its attorneys raised concerns with school officials, a school spokesman released a statement distancing itself from the teacher’s intolerance and explained that students can read any book as long as it is deemed appropriate by the school.”
7.) Transgender individuals sued religious hospitals in New Jersey and California for not performing gender reassignment surgery on patients.
“While every section of the report shows an increase in the suppression of religious freedom, the area … dealing with human sexuality showed the greatest increase in the level of hostility to religious beliefs,” Travis Weber, Family Research Council’s director of the Center for Religious Liberty, said in a statement. “This trend was apparent in the last report [last year], and following the Supreme Court’s decision redefining marriage, is even clearer now.”
The report details many more cases similar to these in which Americans’ religious freedoms were apparently violated.
“These numbers are also conservative estimates; some incidents contain more than one person or entity affected by the religious freedom violation, yet we only counted it as one incident,” the report noted. “Thus, the actual figures are likely much higher. In a society like ours, we must be the guardians of our own freedom.”
President Trump has vowed to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights. On May 4, the president issued an executive order to ensure the enforcement of protections already in place.
“The first step to recovery from any problem is to stop denying a problem exists,” Roger Severino — the head of the Health and Human Services Department’s office for civil rights — told The Daily Signal last year, addressing a similar “religious hostility” report put out by First Liberty Institute in 2016.
“First Liberty Institute’s report shatters the myth that the Left is on the side of tolerance by documenting countless examples of progressives using the power of government to target people of faith for hostility and exclusion because of their beliefs,” Severino said of that previous study.
From - FaithZette - by Leah Jessen