The number of hostile acts against religious freedom in America has doubled in the past three years, according to a new report issued by lawyers at Texas-based First Liberty Institute, an organization founded in 1997.
Entitled "Undeniable: The Survey to Hostility in America," the report documents attempts to suppress or threaten religious liberty. The first section of the report is devoted to how "hostility to religion harms every American."
In the first edition of the survey in 2012, the team of First Liberty analysts found a total of 600 attacks against religion. The latest research indicates the number of attacks has skyrocketed to 1,285, based on events compiled from court cases and press reports.
"The religious liberty of Americans is under attack like never before," Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, said in a statement. "These attacks are coming from all directions, against America's churches, in our school, in the military, and in the public arena."
"The good news is, even though the number of attacks has risen, the Constitution hasn't changed," Shackelford added. "Religious liberty is still our first, foundational freedom. And when Americans stand up for their rights, they can win."
Shackelford said she believes hostility toward religion is eroding the bedrock on which stand vital American institutions, such as government, education, the military, business, houses of worship, and charity. Hostile attacks on religions have the potential to wash away the ground that supports other rights, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and government by consent of the people, she added.
First Liberty Institute representatives believe the loss of religious liberty ruins individuals and families and erodes the foundation of other rights, reports The Daily Caller.
In one of the cases highlighted by the report, Bremerton High School suspended Joe Kennedy, a football coach, for following up the end of a game with a prayer, a practice he had continued for seven years. Other cases counted came from military examples of people trying to suppress religious expression. When Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling refused to take down a Bible verse she had displayed in her workspace, the Marine Corps court-martialed her. First Liberty Institute is involved in the court case to fight the decision. At another high school, cheerleaders were prevented from listing Bible verses on banners to encourage players. The cheerleaders sued and the judge said the school erred and overstepped its authority. The school has since appealed the decision.
"The good news is that the vast majority of the hostility to religion you will read in this survey is unlawful," Shackelford said in the introduction to the report. "It succeeds only because of its own bluff and the passivity of its victims."