Report Documents Religious Hostility
Special Report - August 27, 2012
A new report documents over 600 recent incidents of growing religious hostility toward people of faith in the United States. The report, “The Survey of Religious Hostility in America,” is a joint project of the Family Research Council (FRC) and the Liberty Institute. It was released on August 20 in Tampa, Florida at a joint press conference hosted by FRC president Tony Perkins and Liberty Institute founder and director, Kelly Shackelford. It is the second edition of the report, what was first released in 2004.
“There is really no place you can go in America to avoid these chilling attacksevery community and every age group is affected,” Shackelford said in press release announcing the report. “We have hundreds of examples. It’s more prolific than we’ve ever seen in the history of our country.”
The report documents over 600 cases involving attacks on the religious liberties of Americans, the majority of which have occurred in the last decade. The examples are divided into the following three categories: 1) attacks on religious liberty in the public arena; 2) attacks on religious liberty at the schoolhouse; and 3) attacks against churches and ministries, which the report notes “represent a new front that secularism has opened against religious liberty.”
Examples of the types of cases cited in the 140-page report include:
- “A federal judge threatened ‘incarceration’ to a high school valedictorian unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech.
- City officials prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages or singing gospel songs at a senior activities center.
- A public school official prevented a student from handing out flyers inviting her classmates to an event at her church.
- A public university’s law school banned a Christian organization because it required its officers to adhere to a statement of faith that the university disagreed with.
- The U.S. Department of Justice argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs banned the mention of God from veterans’ funerals, overriding the wishes of the deceased’s families.
- A federal judge held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus.”
A North Carolina case is cited in the report as an example of an attack on religious liberty in the public arena. The report lists the lawsuit, Joyner vs. Forsyth County, as an example of a case involving a challenge to a public invocation. In that case, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State challenged the constitutionality of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ long-standing public invocation policy that allowed prayers to specific deities. The report explains that, “In Marsh v. Chambers, a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court case on legislative prayer, the Court noted that Congress has opened with prayer since the beginning of the country and that Congress hired a chaplain to give these opening prayers the same week it passed the First Amendment. Despite the historical evidence and the Supreme Court’s holding that legislative prayer is constitutional, threats and lawsuits challenging these prayers are growing more frequent.” It notes that Joyner is an example of a federal appellate court case “in which courts of appeals rejected the Supreme Court’s decision in Marsh...” In July 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a district court decision that found Forsyth County’s prayer policy unconstitutional. The Alliance Defending Freedom appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to consider the appeal in January 2012.
North Carolina is mentioned again on the report’s website, www.religioushostility.org, in a list of cases involving “the most severe attacks on our religious liberties.” The incident involves well-known Charlotte-based author and speaker, Frank Turek. “Dr. Frank Turek, a Cisco employee, was fired for his religiously-motivated view that marriage should be between a woman and a man,” the example states. “He had never expressed this view at work, but did express it through a book he authored. Cisco leadership discovered from an Internet search that Dr. Turek had authored the book. Dr. Turek was fired without having been addressed about the issue or given opportunity to speak and despite high regard from other employees and managers.”
Despite the overwhelming examples of religious hostility that are documented in the report, it concludes on a positive note. “The secularist agenda only advances when those who love liberty are apathetic,” the report warns. “Let this be a call to stand for religious liberty in these United States.”
Religious Freedom On Campus - FNC - Summer 2012
Sixth Circuit Defends Religious Liberty - February 1, 2012
New Media Censors Christian Speech - September 23, 2011
Students Fight For Free Speech - May 19, 2011
Groups Fight For Religious Freedom - August 31, 2010
Court Ruling Will Supress Speech - June 28, 2010
UNC System Adopts "Hate-Crime" Policy - March 8, 2010
Stifling Campus Speech - February 22, 2010
Freedom Of Religion Statement Issued - January 20, 2010
Student Free Speech Rights Violated - December 28, 2009
"Free to Speak" Campaign Launched- July 23, 2009
Report Documents Attacks On Religious Freedom - October 25, 2004
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