Press Kits

First Liberty Annual Media Report: 2016

January 11, 2017

First Liberty Annual Media Report: 2016

Over the past year, First Liberty Institute has been hard at work protecting religious freedom in America. As we defended our clients, the media took notice. Here are some of the highlights of how the national media covered our cases from January 1 – December 31, 2016.

Summary of Media Coverage in 2016

  • Our legal team conducted approximately 487 interviews
  • Our cases were mentioned in approximately 3,335 media stories
  • Our organization sent approximately 61 press releases

Outlets Who Covered Our Cases in 2016

Our Top Stories

  • Monifa Sterling, a Marine who was court-martialed for refusing to take a Bible verse down from her work station
  • Coach Joe Kennedy, a football coach suspended for praying after high school football games
  • Alexia Palma, a young Catholic immigrant fired by a health care company for her unwillingness to promote contraception
  • Chabad of Irvine, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue attacked by a special interest group before Yom Kippur
  • 1st Choice Marine, a school sponsor whose business logo was censored for referencing “Jesus”
  • Aaron and Melissa Klein, a couple who lost their bakery when they declined to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding
  • Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial, a memorial under attack because it is in the shape of a cross
  • Cornerstone World Outreach, a church concerned that the government claimed authority to regulate what they taught
  • Dr. Eric Walsh, a health official fired after government officials reviewed sermons he preached on the weekends
  • Mary Anne Sause, a woman who was ordered by the police to stop praying in her own home
  • NASA Employees, who were forbidden from sending email announcements that contained the name “Jesus”
  • Oscar Rodriguez, a thirty-three year Air Force veteran thrown off a military base over a speech that reference “God”
  • Kountze Cheerleaders, who were banned from using Bible verses on cheer banners
  • Cambridge Christian School, who was forbidden from praying over the loudspeaker at the state championship football game
  • Publications by First Liberty Team Members, including surveys, OpEds, law review articles, and more

Media Coverage by Case


A United States Marine, Monifa Sterling was court-martialed for refusing to remove a Bible verse from her desk. Read more.

Washington Post, Marine discharged after refusing to remove a Bible verse taped near her cubicle has her day in court (April 27, 2016)

Daily MailAppeals court hears case of former Marine who was court-martialed for hanging a Bible verse on her desk (April 28, 2016)

National Law Journal, Paul Clement, On Unfamiliar Ground, Makes Religious Freedom Case in Military Court (April 27, 2016), Discharged Marine Heads to Court over Workplace Bible Verse Posting (April 22, 2016)

Special Report with Brett Baier on FOX News, Court-martialed for expressing faith? Court hears ex-Marine’s religious freedom case (April 28, 2016), Marine Discharged Over Bible Verses Petitions Supreme Court (December 27, 2016)

Stars and Stripes, Lawyers petition Supreme Court to look at Marine’s court-martial case (December 27, 2016)

Dallas Morning News, First Liberty Appeals Historic Military Religious Freedom Case To The Supreme Court (December 27, 2016)

coach_kennedy-1COACH JOE KENNEDY

Bremerton School District suspended Coach Joe Kennedy for praying silently after high school football games. Read more.

Bremerton Patriot, Kennedy to receive Rosa Parks Courage Award from conservative organization (March 17, 2016) 

NBC, Football Coach Fired for Praying After Games Sues School District (August 9, 2016)

CBS News, Football coach fired for postgame prayer takes action against school (August 9, 2016)

USA Today, Coach files lawsuit against school district over postgame prayer debate (August 9, 2016)

Seattle Times, Praying football coach Joe Kennedy sues Bremerton School District (August 10, 2016)

NBC News, Steve Largent defends Bremerton coach who prayed with players (November 8, 2016)


A Houston health care company fires a young Catholic immigrant for being unwilling to promote contraception. Read more.

Washington Post, ‘I will always put my faith first’: Catholic health educator fired for refusing to teach birth control (December 21, 2016)

Chicago Tribune, Catholic health educator in Texas fired for refusing to teach birth control (December 21, 2016)

The Stream, Catholic Woman Fights Back Against Health Center for Firing Her for Not Teaching Contraception (December 21, 2016)

The Daily Caller, New Complaint: Teach About Contraceptives or You’re Fired (December 23, 2016)

Religión en Libertad, Karen se negó a dar charlas de anticoncepción en un centro de salud y fue despedida al momento (December 27, 2016)



Special interest group attacks Orthodox Jewish synagogue to prevent them from performing historic religious ceremony. Read more.

LA Times, Federal judge lifts temporary ban on ritual slaughter of chickens, minutes before Yom Kippur (October 11, 2017)

National Review, Religious Freedom? A Judge Bans a Jewish Ritual in California (October 20, 2016)

Fox News, The Latest: Judge rules religious rites trump animal rights (October 11, 2016)

HAARETZ via Associated Press, On Yom Kippur Eve, U.S. Judge Rules Religious Rites Trump Animal Rights – for Now (October 13, 2016)


Texas High School censors “Jesus” from a club sponsor’s logo. Read more.

Dallas Morning News, Flower Mound school changes course after rejecting ‘It’s all about Jesus’ logo on jerseys (October 26, 2016)

The Stream, North Texas High School Backtracks on Censorship of ‘Jesus’ (October 21, 2016)

CBN News, Texas High School Reverses Policy Censoring ‘Jesus’ Logo (October 20, 2016)

Houston Chronicle, Texas high school jersey that reads ‘It’s all about Jesus’ causes controversy (October 24, 2016)


The Kleins lost their bakery and were issued a $135,000 penalty when they declined to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. Read More.

The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly, Christian Bakers Who Refused to Make Cake for Same-Sex Wedding Speak Out (February 26, 2016)

The Oregonian, Sweet Cakes owners have a new lawyer: George H.W. Bush’s counsel (February 23, 2016)

The Daily Signal, Oregon Bakers Get New Legal Representation From Former H.W. Bush White House Counsel (February 23, 2016)

Christian Post, Oregon bakery owners press fight for their religious beliefs, take case to appeals court (March 1, 2016)

PJ Media, Oregon Baker Religious Freedom Case ‘Ideal’ for Supreme Court, Lawyer Says (April 26, 2016)

Portland Business Journal, 5 things to know for Wednesday, and a Presidential advisor helps reignite the Sweet Cakes dustup (April 27, 2016)


A humanist association sued to have the ninety-year old cross-shaped Bladensburg Veterans Memorial torn down. Read more.

Associated Press, 25 states urge appeals court to uphold Md. Cross ruling (April 13, 2016), Group Fights for WWI Veterans Cross (April 11, 2016)

MSN, Could moving a giant cross or cutting off its arms resolve a 1st Amendment case? (December 8, 2016)

Washington Post, Let the Peace Cross stand (December 10, 2016)


The State of Iowa claimed the authority to regulate what the church taught and how they operated. Read more.

The Associated PressChurch sues Iowa to stop application of transgender rules (July 5, 2016)

The Des Moines RegisterChurches challenge state on gender identity law(July 5, 2016)

The FederalistIowa Bureaucrats Force Trans Bathrooms on Churches, Forbid Non-PC Preaching (July 6, 2016)

WORLD MagazineIowa commission to clarify public accommodations guidelines for churches (July 8, 2016)



The State of Georgia fired Dr. Walsh after investigating sermons he preached on the weekend. Read more.

FOX and Friends, Fired for Faith? (April 24, 2016)

Fox News OpinionFired for preaching: Georgia dumps doctor over church sermons (April 20, 2016)

National Review, Georgia Bureaucrats Listened to a Doctor’s Sermons, and Then Fired Him (April 20, 2016)

The Daily Signal, The ‘Chilling’ Reason This Doctor Says Georgia Fired Him (April 20, 2016)

Fox News Opinion, State of Georgia demands pastor turn over sermons (October 26, 2016)

Yahoo News, State of Georgia Demands Pastor Hand Over His Sermon Notes And Transcripts (October 26, 2016)

Fox News Atlanta, Was a state health official fired over his faith? (October 26, 2016)


Police officers order a Catholic woman to stop praying in her own home. Read more.

The Kansas City Star, Police tell Louisburg woman she cannot pray in her home, threaten her with arrest (September 30, 2016)

Fox News, Kansas woman who claimed police told her to stop praying in her home fights court ruling (October 5, 2016)

The Gospel Herald, First Liberty Institute Continues to Defend Elderly Catholic Woman Told by Police Not to Pray in Her Own Home (December 16, 2016)

CBN News, Woman Nearly Arrested for Praying in Her Own Home (October 1, 2016)


NASA refused to allow employees to send email announcements that contained the name “Jesus.”  Read More.

The Hill, NASA accused of ‘censoring’ its Christian employees (February 8, 2016)

Catholic News, ‘You can’t have Jesus’: NASA accused of censoring use of Christ’s name (February 11, 2016)

Fox News, NASA bans the word ‘Jesus’ (February 8, 2016)

Independent Journal ReviewNASA is Under Fire for ‘Religious Discrimination’ of Christians, But They Have Something to Say About it (February 9, 2016)


A thirty-three year Air Force veteran was thrown off a military base over a speech that reference “God.” Read More.

FOX & FriendsVet Thrown Out of Air Force Ceremony Over Speech Referencing God (June 20, 2016)

The Washington TimesAir Force vet dragged from flag-folding ceremony for speech referencing ‘God’(June 20, 2016)

Breitbart, Exclusive Video: Veteran Forcibly Dragged From Air Force Ceremony For Mentioning God (June 20, 2016)

Military.comRetired Airman May Sue Air Force for Being Booted From Ceremony (June 21, 2016)

Air Force Times, Air Force revising rules to allow religious speech during retirements  (June 28, 2016)



Cheerleaders in a small Texas town were banned from using Bible verses on cheer banners. Read More.

The Atlantic, Cheerleaders for Christ (April 5, 2016)

Forbes, Christians Fight Back in School Sports Prayer Battles (February 8, 2016)

Law 360, Texas High Court Revives Cheerleaders’ Free Speech Case (February 1, 2016)

Texas Lawyer, Cheerleaders, ‘The Lion King’ Reference Together in Justice’s Opinion (February 1, 2016)

Dallas Morning News, Court: Southeast Texas cheerleaders’ Bible signs not threatened (January 29, 2016)

FOX and FriendsTexas Supreme Court rules cheerleaders can display Bible verses on banners (January 30, 2016)


cambridgechristianphoto1CAMBRIDGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Two Christians schools who made it to the state championship football game were forbidden from praying over the loudspeaker. Read More.

CBS, Christian school tackles right to pray over loudspeaker (January 26, 2016)

FOX & Friends, Florida: Christian schools can’t pray at championship game (January 26, 2016)

FOX News, Tampa Christian school asked not to pray before championship files legal action (January 26, 2016)

ABC, Fight brews over loudspeaker prayer denial at high school football game (January 26, 2016)

Fox News, Christian school goes to court to defend a 30-second pregame prayer (September 29, 2016)

Tampa Bay Times, Cambridge Christian tackles public prayer before games (January 26, 2016)

Trump meeting


TIMEInside Donald Trump’s Private Meeting With Evangelicals (June 20, 2016)

The HillTrump gets mixed response from religious conservatives (June 21, 2016)

USA TodayTrump to evangelicals: Pray for people to vote for me (June 21, 2016)

NPRInside Trump’s Closed-Door Meeting Held to Reassure ‘The Evangelicals’ (June 21, 2016)

Fox News Politics, Trump’s First 100 Days: His Supreme Court choice could have a lifetime impact (December 6, 2016)

CNN, Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court legacy (October 22, 2016)

Associated Press, Trump win resets culture war debate on abortion, LGBT rights (November 13, 2016)

The Atlantic, The Religious-Liberty Showdowns Coming in 2017 (December 28, 2016)


WORLD Magazine, On the front lines defending religious liberty: Q&A with Kelly Shackelford (September 5, 2016)

Dallas Morning News, First Liberty Awarded “Robert Miller Nonprofit Communicator of the Year” (December 2, 2016)

American Statesman, Will Mississippi ruling against religion law deter Texas Republicans? (July 1, 2016)


Texas Review of Law and PoliticsA Text-Based Interpretation of Title VII’s Religious-Employer Exemption by Stephanie Phillips (Spring 2016)

National Review, The Supreme Court Must Restore Religious Liberty to Military Members by Kelly Shackelford (August 24, 2016)

Real Clear Religion, OpEd: Hostility to Religion Harms Everyone by Kelly Shackelford (March 10, 2016)

Des Moines Register, OpEd: Branstad’s Bible proclamation is sound by Kelly Shackelford and Stephanie Phillips (June 6, 2016)

FOX News Opinion, OpEd: Ronald Reagan: Remembering the champion of religious liberty on his birthday by Kelly Shackelford (February 6, 2016)

Washington Times, How the lawyers plan to stifle speech and faith by Edwin Meese III and Kelly J. Shackelford (August 17, 2016)

The Hill, OpEd: 5 steps President Trump can take to advance religious freedom by Kelly Shackelford (November 21, 2016)

FOX News Opinion, OpEd: Memorial Day 2016: In defense of memorials to our military heroes by Mike Berry (May 30, 3016)

The Hill, OpEd: Why military chaplains need the Russell Amendment by Mike Berry (May 16, 2016)

New York Daily News, OpEd: The Constitution protects women-only swim hours for Orthodox Jewish women (and others) by Jeremy Dys and Stephanie Phillips

FOX News Opinion, OpEd: Fourth of July: The other American freedoms we should never forget by Jeremy Dys (July 4, 2016)

Daily CallerThe Police Tell An Elderly Catholic Woman She Can’t Pray – In Her Own Home by Jeremy Dys (October 26, 2016)

FaithZette, Students: Have Faith Without Fear by Jeremy Dys (September 7, 2016)

Breitbart, Supreme Court to Hear Cases on Religious Liberty, Public Corruption by Ken Klukowski (January 16, 2016)

Breitbart, Supreme Court Punts on Little Sisters’ Obamacare Case Until After 2016 Election by Ken Klukowski (May 16, 2016)

Conservative Review, OpEd: Preserving the First Amendment in Education by Abigail Doty (May 10, 2016)

JURIST, Lemon’s Latest Victim: Felix Shows Why Lemon Must Go by Roger Byron (November 30, 2016)

Daily Signal, The Bill of Rights Just Turned 225. Here’s What it Can Still Teach Us About Religious Freedom by Abigail Doty and Stephanie Taub (December 14, 2016)

Public Discourse, OpEd: Moral Complicity at Court: Who Decides? by Matthew Kacsmaryk (April 6, 2016)

First Things, Defending Conscience Rights At Hacksaw Ridge and in the HHS Case by Matthew Kacsmaryk (November 11, 2016)

Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America (2016 Edition)

In this exclusive annual publication from First Liberty, we carefully document instances of religious hostility in America, citing court cases, news articles, and more.

Learn More About First Liberty

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