The Trump administration has promised to defend religious liberty, but a yearly report from the First Liberty Institute shows that’s getting more difficult with 1,200 reported cases of government hostility toward religion last year.
The report, Undeniable, The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, reveals cases of individuals being fined for praying, speaking about their beliefs, or even wearing religious clothing at work.
While the report includes cases of discrimination from past years, it demonstrates “a clear expansion” during 2016. According to First Liberty’s website, attacks on religious freedom in the U.S. tripled between 2011 and 2015, as demonstrated in their annual surveys.
“America is better when people put their faith into action,” Trump recently said in a commencement address at Liberty University. “As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what’s in your heart. We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow His teachings.”
First Liberty’s 2016 survey presents evidence that Trump’s administration can now use to “mount its counter attack” against assaults on religious freedom, in light of Trump’s promises to defend the liberties of religious individuals and institutions, The Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.
The arm of government hostility toward the practice of faith has even reached to the military.
Military cases of attacks on religious liberty include telling bereaved families that they could not have a reference to God in military funerals for their loved ones, the investigation of a Navy Chaplain for providing counseling in accordance with his faith, and “an Air Force master sergeant punished for his Christian beliefs.”
“Hostility to religion in America is rising like floodwaters, as proven by the increased numbers of cases and attacks documented in this report,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, in an introduction to the report. “It is eroding the bedrock on which stand vital American institutions such as government, education, the military, business, houses of worship, and charity. It has the potential to wash away the ground that supports our other rights, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and government by consent of the people.”
“The good news,” Shackelford said, “is that the vast majority of the hostility to religion you will read in this survey is unlawful. It succeeds only because of its own bluff and the passivity of its victims.”
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