Hostility toward religion in America has expanded dramatically in recent years, with florists targeted, bakers punished, nuns coerced and even retail companies facing discrimination for their faith, according to a new report from First Liberty Institute.

The new report, titled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America,” reveals a list that admittedly is not exhaustive but still totals 1,285 cases at the start of this year.

“These cases … show a clear expansion during this past year,” the report said. “Quantitatively and qualitatively, the hostility is undeniable. And it is dangerous.”

Kelly Shackelford, the chief counsel for First Liberty, explained that “hostility to religion in America is rising like floodwaters.”

“This flood is engulfing ordinary citizens who simply try to live normal lives according to their faith and conscience. 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.”

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As 2012 closed, at the end of Barack Obama’s first term, the organization documented 600 cases.

The list now is more than twice as long as candidates fight this year to replace Obama.

The tabulation divides the attacks into four categories: attacks in the public arena, attacks in the schoolhouse, attacks against churches and ministries and attacks in the military.

In one case, in the last category, “Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, a 19-year Air Force veteran at Lackland Air Froce Base in San Antonio, Texas, returned from deployment and found that he had a new commander who was an open lesbian,” the report explained.

“Sergeant Monk’s commander asked Sergeant Monk what he thought about same-sex ‘marriage.’ Sergeant Monk initially refused to answer, stating that his views on same-sex ‘marrage’ were irrelevant to his job. When Sergeant Monk’s commander insisted that he tell her … Monk affirmed that he believed in the biblical view of marriage.”

She then relieved him of his duties and had him reassigned, the report said, and he later was charged by officials with making false official statements.

“The attacks … are sweeping away small businesses, careers and ministries. Behind the legalities are tears, anguish and the denial of basic human tolerance, compassion and common decency,” Shackelford wrote.

“It’s time for a national rejection of politically correct cruelty based on discrimination against traditional American forms of faith.”

He cited a “relatively small but powerful sector of society composed of influential people and organizations who consider active faith as irrelevant at best, and dangerous to essential social progress at worst.”

“One must ask: Is America prepared to sacrifice the benefits of open religious activity on the altar of modern political correctness? Noted social historian Dr. Rodney Stark of Baylor University undertook a comprehensive analysis of the positive impact of religion in the United States in reducing crime, improving education, bettering mental and physical health, increasing employment and reducing welfare,” Shackelford wrote.

“He conservatively estimated the benefit to be at least $2.67 trillion per year. Other scholars confirm this overall assertion. Can we afford to ignore such research and toss away the blessings of free religious exercise?” he asked.

Further, freedom of religion supports other freedoms.

“Without the concept of a higher authority to make government accountable to unchanging principles of justice, all other freedoms are at risk of being violated, redefined or revoked by government,” he warned.

He said the “good news” is that such attacks on faith generally remain illegal.

“Hostility to religion can be defeated in the legal system – but only if challenged by Americans like you,” he said.

Among attacks cited in the report are those including the federal government’s orders that organizations of faith violate their stated beliefs and provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.

That fight remains ongoing, including at the Supreme Court, with more than 100 lawsuits filed.

Also, Ten Commandments displays in Texas, Kentucky and Oklahoma have been attacked, invocations at public events that mention a faith have been targeted and in some cases, state officials have been disciplined for what they have done on their own time and at their own church.

In schools, there was the football coach suspended for after-game prayers – by himself, a teacher dismissed for answering a question from a student about the Bible and handing him a Bible to see, cheerleaders who were banned from quoting the Bible on their own banners, and more.

Involving churches and faith organizations, the nearly 400-page report said, a small Orthodox Jewish congregation in Dallas was sued for meeting in a home in their own neighborhood.

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Attacks in the military are abundant, including the case involving Monk and others, the report said.

The report authors were led by a Harvard-trained constitutional attorney.

“Each incident of hostility is cited to a court case, news article, or report from an organization involved in the incident,” the organization explained.

“The religious liberty of Americans is under attack like never before,” said Shackelford, “These attacks are coming from all directions, against America’s churches, in our school, in the military, and in the public arena.”

He continued, “The good news is, even though the number of attacks has risen, the Constitution hasn’t changed. Religious liberty is still our first, foundational freedom. And when Americans stand up for their rights, they can win.”


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