Christians rally to show support of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace near Alto Pass, Ill. Atheists objected to the use of taxpayer money to pay for rehabbing the 11-foot cross. (AP)
President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, is behind the new report claiming that religious hostility is on the rise.REUTERS
A new report by the Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute claims that there's been a rising pattern of hostility toward Christians in America over the past decade.
The 140-page "Survey of Religious Hostility in America," prepared by the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council, highlighted more than 600 examples illustrating what it characterized as religious animosity shown by judges, government bureaucrats, schools and secular groups. From ObamaCare mandates that force religious entities to pay for contraception, to children being punished for uttering prayers in school, the report's findings shocked even those who commissioned it.
"It's way beyond anything we had imagined. It's so much more prolific than it's ever been before."
- Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Institute
“It’s a conflict of world views," Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, told FoxNews.com. "These groups want people to check their faith at the door of the public square.”
Among the examples listed in the survey:
- Matthew Reynolds, valedictorian for HLV Junior-Senior High School in Victor, Iowa, was told he had to give a 'secular' speech after he wished to attribute his success to his faith in Jesus Christ during his graduation speech.
- A cross was removed from a veterans' memorial in San Diego, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that the memorial was unconstitutional.
- .Dr. Frank Turek, a Cisco employee, was fired for expressing his views on traditional marriage in his book, even though he never voiced his religious opinions at work.
- Samantha Schulz, 8, was barred from singing "Kum Ba Yah" at a Boys and Girls Club in Port Charlotte, Fla., because the song included the words "Oh, Lord."
- Catherina Lorena Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at Manhattan's Mount Sinai Hospital, was forced to participate in a late-term abortion against her religious convictions, and was threatened with job termination and loss of license.
The goal of the report is to raise awareness of these incidents to promote the appointment of judges "who are sensitive to the Constitution," said Kelly Shackelford, president of the Plano, Texas-based Liberty Institute. The report was presented in Tampa just ahead of next week's Republican National Convention.
According to Shackelford, the hostility can lead to violence, as in the case of the Aug.15 shooting at the Family Research Council headquarters, in which a gunman allegedly said he disagreed with the group's beliefs before shooting an employee in the arm. He also cited the Aug. 5 shooting deaths of six people at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee.
"It's way beyond anything we had imagined," Shackelford told FoxNews.com."It's so much more prolific than it's ever been before."
One critic said the report is guilty of blurring the line between attacking religion and upholding the Constitution. A.J. Johnson, development director of American Atheists, Inc., said no one condones hate crimes such as the FRC shooting. But many other examples cited are simply cases in which advocates called for the separation of church and state," Johnson said.
"The Family Research Council distorts court cases upholding the First Amendment as examples of "religious hostility," she said. "In reality, they are imposing their beliefs onto others and claiming to be victims of religious persecution when they do not get unique Christian privilege."
But Perkins said the secular nation that groups like Johnson's seek was never envisioned by the Founding Fathers, and will not come to be.
"That's not the future of our country," Perkins said.