Survey: 133 Percent Rise in Attacks on Religion Since 2011

Attacks on Religion

According to a new survey by Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, cases related to religious hostility have more than doubled in America over the last three years. The survey, titled Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, 2014 Edition, takes into account over 1,300 court cases that were tackled by Liberty Institute, which is a nonprofit law firm that represents plaintiffs who believe their religious liberty have been infringed upon.

“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.”

Justin Butterfield, the survey’s editor-in-chief, explained how most people imagine such things happen only in North Korea or China, which is why he decided to publish this particular survey that to educate people about religious persecution that takes place in the United States. The survey has been divided into four main sections – namely, religious freedom in the public arena, religious freedom in the academic setting, religious freedom in churches and ministries, and religious freedom 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,” said Butterfield.

The first section of the survey discusses challenges faced by Americans to pray in public spaces, display nativity scenes or menorahs or the Ten Commandments as well as the federal requirement that compels most employers to cover contraceptive costs for their employees. The second section of the survey discusses restrictions upon students that keep them from carrying or uttering any religious message in school. The third and fourth sections of the survey discuss problems faced by people in churches or the military once they have shared their views about marriage or sexuality that do not necessarily conform with the conventional definitions of those phenomena. The survey includes several examples in each section to make clear the trend that Liberty Institute believes needs to be considered with urgency.

According to George Yancey, professor of sociology at University of North Texas, a wide array of reasons has contributed to the increase of religious hostility across America.

“My research suggests a certain willingness of Americans to dehumanize conservative Christians. Yet many of these individuals also espouse a desire for religious neutrality,” he said. “So how do we reconcile these two concepts? I discovered in my research that these individuals, who tend to be white, male, wealthy, highly educated, politically 'progressive' and nonreligious, tend to use mechanisms that can be justified for nonreligious reasons but have a disparate impact upon Christians.”

Butterfield however believes that religious hostility stems from a flawed understanding of the First Amendment.

“What people need to understand is that the First Amendment has two parts, saying that the government cannot prohibit free exercise of religion, nor can it establish a state religion. … People have confused the two clauses and created clauses about church and state that aren't even in the Constitution. … This is another reason we started publishing this survey, not only to educate people about hostility toward religion, but also educate employers, school officials, and government officials about what the Constitution actually does say in regard to religious liberty,” he explained.

The summary of the survey suggests there is still some hope for religious freedom to resurface in the United States.

“When those who value religious liberty actively engage in the cultural and legal battle against secularism, they push back the secularists' agenda,” it reads. “Those organizations that have pushed back in the HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate cases have stopped the government from forcing businesses to decide between abandoning their religious beliefs or going out of business.”

Liberty Institute CEO and President Kelly Shackelford sent an open letter to Americans along with the 393-page document, urging them to make the restoration of religious liberty a top priority at both personal as well as national levels.

Photo Credits: Good News Journal

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.