As Religious Persecution Rises in the West, America Must Remain a Beacon of Hope

February 2, 2024
Insider | World Prayer

by Mia Gradick and Jorge Gomez • 4 min read

Religious freedom violations are rising at an alarming rate, according to Family Research Council’s 2024 report titled “The Intensifying Intolerance Toward Christians in the West.”

Their findings show that over the past four years, most violations of religious liberty in the Western world took place in the United States. See below:

Attacks In The West 2024 Findings | First Liberty Insider

Open Doors, an international religious freedom watchdog, also found that religious persecution around the world is at an all-time high. The group recently released its annual “World Watch List,” which ranks the 50 countries where Christians in particular face the most extreme persecution.

This year the report documented that more than 365 million Christians around the world are suffering high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. That’s 1 in every 7 Christians suffering persecution. This is also an increase of 5 million people facing heinous religious oppression just since last year.

We often think religious persecution and oppression happen in faraway nations. But some of the worst offenders are America’s neighbors. Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, and Nicaragua—all here in the Western hemisphere—made the list.

Americans who value religious freedom can’t ignore or bury their heads in the sand. Persecution isn’t just happening in neighboring countries. It’s happening on our shores. It’s reminder that no nation is immune to tyranny.

This should spur us as Americans to continue defending religious liberty as the bedrock on which our nation is built.

From its inception, the U.S. has always striven to be a safe haven to those who experience persecution. When the Puritans set sail for America, they understood what it was like to be a religious minority fleeing an oppressive state. So, they vowed to create a culture where religious expression thrived. The first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, envisioned America as a beacon of light for religious freedom. “The eyes of all people are upon us,” he wrote. “We shall be as a city upon a hill.”

Religious freedom is a pillar of our Republic. Being grounded in this founding principle is more crucial now than ever before, especially considering global trends.

But there is good news. Support for religious freedom is at a record-breaking high in the U.S. According to a recent report:

  • Nearly 70% of Americans support the right to a religious education for families of faith.
  • Nearly 60% are regaining their faith in religion as part of a solution
  • Nearly 60% of younger Americans are more accepting of faith in the workplace.
  • Nearly 90% favor the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says that the federal government cannot burden religious freedom without a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means.

We can also point to the many legal victories for religious liberty in recent years. Those, of course, include First Liberty’s four landmark wins in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, Carson v. Makin, American Legion v. American Humanist Association and Groff v. DeJoy. Those historic rulings—combined with multiple other favorable Supreme Court decisions—have completely changed the landscape of religious freedom law in our country. We’re now experiencing more religious liberty than at any point in the last 50 years.

Even though there are many positive trends for religious freedom in America, there are still many dangers and attacks happening on this freedom. The fight for religious liberty in the Land of the Free is far from over. Protecting this freedom requires constant vigilance on our end.

Religious freedom is in America’s DNA. It was a priority for the Pilgrims, and the First Freedom that the Founders enshrined in the Bill of Rights. This is a crucial moment when every American must renew our commitment to safeguard our country’s historic promise of religious freedom for all. The future of religious freedom is in our hands.

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