Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Report documents freedom of religion replaced by freedom of 'worship'

Christian company owners have been ordered by Barack Obama to fund abortions for employees, the federal government has insisted it has a right to set qualifications for ministers churches hire, and eliminating any public references to faith appears to be a national priority.

What has happened in America since John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”?

A new report recently released by the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute confirms that anti-Christian hostility is rising across the nation’s public square, in schools and in government.

“America today would be unrecognizable to our founders. Our first freedom is facing a relentless onslaught from well-funded and aggressive groups and individuals who are using the courts, Congress, and the vast federal bureaucracy to suppress and limit religious freedom,” said a summary of the report from Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, and Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute.

In fact, “The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only ‘freedom of worship.’ This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional, and limited.

“As some have said, it is a freedom ‘only within four walls.’ That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church, or synagogue, but when you enter the public square the message is, ‘leave your religion at home,’” the report said.

“President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly echoed this same message in international forums, acknowledging only a right to the ‘freedom of worship.’ This is no accident and it has huge ramifications.”

The report lists the results of “the radical shift in our culture’s worldview that started with the rise of secularism following World War II and has accelerated with each passing year of the 21st century.”

The assessment is not exhaustive, but presents “over 600 incidents of religious attacks and hostility in the United States – most of which occurred within the past 10 years,” the report said.

The report documents cases, for example:

  • Of a federal judge who threatened “incarceration” for a high school valedictorian unless she censored references to Jesus in her graduation speech
  • A city prohibition to seniors who wanted to pray before meals
  • A judge’s opinion that prayers before a state legislative meeting could reference Allah, but not Jesus
  • A state attempt to regulate what religious seminaries could teach
  • The Obama administration argument before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches which pastors it can hire or fire
  • A ban from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to references to Jesus in veterans’ funeral ceremonies

“These examples – indeed, all of the examples presented in this survey – are but a few of the innumerable acts of hostility to religion occurring in the United States each year,” the report said.

The report compiles incidents into related categories, including attacks on religious liberty in the public arena, attacks on religious liberty at school and attacks against churches and ministries.

Cited in the 140 pages of the report are cases in all categories. In the first, the report noted that in the Barton v. City of Balch Springs case, “city officials told senior citizens at a senior center that they could not pray before their meals, listen to religious messages, or sing gospel songs because religion is banned in public buildings. After the senior citizens filed a lawsuit, government officials told the senior citizens that if they won the lawsuit their meals would be taken away because praying over government-funded meals violates the ‘separation of church and state.’”

Into the second category falls the Barrow v. Greenville School case. There, “a public school district denied Karen Jo Barrow an assistant principal position because she refused to remove her children from a private Christian school.”

And in the third category was the HEB Ministries v. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, where “the state fined Tyndale Seminary $173,000 for using the word ‘seminary’ and issuing theological degrees without government approval.”

The survey revealed that “religious hostility in the United States is dramatically increasing, both in frequency and in type of cases,” but it also showed that when organizations “stand up for religious liberty,” they are winning the fights.

The question at issue isn’t really complicated, the survey confirms.

“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s practice of his or her religion,” the report explains. “Our Founding Fathers considered religious liberty our ‘first freedom,’ and the bedrock upon which all the other freedoms rest. They understood that one’s right to worship God and follow his conscience according to the principles of his religious faith was foundational to civic tranquility.”