New Report: Past 3 Years Have Seen 133-Percent Increase In Attacks on Religion In America

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A new report from the Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, shows that incidents of “religious hostility” have more than doubled in the United States over the past three years.

The report, “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, 2014 Edition,” chronicles a series of more than 1,300 court cases recently handled or monitored by the institute, a nonprofit legal group that represents plaintiffs who feel their religious liberty has been violated.

“The freedom to openly exercise your faith is under intolerant, growing, damaging attack,” reads the opening statement. “If this hostility is not identified, defeated and deemed socially unacceptable, then we will forfeit the benefits of religion and freedom. We will risk watching our freedom and our American way of life destroyed.”

“A lot of people think that this only happens in China or North Korea,” Justin Butterfield, editor-in-chief of the survey, told Catholic News Service. “We published ‘Undeniable’ to get people to realize that religious persecution is something that happens here in the United States.”

The new edition of the report has four main sections: attacks on religious freedom in the public arena, in academic settings, against churches and ministries, and in the military.

“The thing to remember is that not only are these attacks on liberty becoming more numerous, but the types of cases we’re seeing are getting worse,” Butterfield said. “I never would have imagined that a presidential administration would argue in favor of protecting religious belief but not religious action and practice, but that’s exactly what the government did in the Hosanna-Tabor case.”

He was referring to the government’s lawsuit over a Lutheran school’s firing of a teacher. In its 2012 decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the court unanimously rejected the government’s attempt to more narrowly define who is a religious employee and upheld a “ministerial exception” to federal anti-discrimination laws. The case is included in the “churches and ministries” section.

The “public arena” category of the survey describes challenges to praying in public, publicly displaying Nativity scenes or menorahs, and displaying the Ten Commandments. A legal challenge to prayers delivered prior to town council meetings in Greece, N.Y., reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Last May, the court ruled 5-4 that the prayers in Greece did not violate the Constitution.

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SOURCE: Nate Madden
Catholic News Service 

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