First Liberty Institute’s 2014 edition of ‘Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America’ now available for FREE via e-book download
Even though the 2014 edition of Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, catalogs 133% more attacks on religious freedom in our nation today (since we released our first survey three years ago), it also has the power to inform and motivate.
We’ve carefully documented each instance of religious hostility and included citations to court cases, links to news articles, or reports from organizations involved in the incidents. And friends and fellow concerned Americans who have read through the thousands of incidents listed in Undeniable have a wide range of responses:
- Thankfulness . . . that the survey shined a light on a growing problem.
- Shock . . . at how much religious persecution occurs in the United States.
- Skepticism and Denial . . . that incidents included in this survey could actually happen.
It’s certainly eye-opening (DOWNLOAD your free e-book copy of Undeniable now), but it’s also the very information that opponents to religious liberty in America—organizations including the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and even our own government—don’t want you to see. Because when you become informed about the unprecedented assault on our First Freedom in America, then you will be equipped to take a stand with us and fight for our freedoms to express and live out our religious beliefs.
MEET THE VICTIMS
In these pages, we bring Americans face to face with hostility to religion, so that the crisis is, as the title says, undeniable. We have found that in light of such irrefutable evidence, more Americans are taking action to stop the hostility.
But awareness is the critical starting point. Undeniable introduces Americans to the victims of religious hostility. Cases include:
- A five-year-old girl ordered by a public school employee to stop praying over her lunch (page 203).
- Heart-broken families of veterans banned by the U.S. government from praying or using religious words at the funerals of their relatives (page 10).
- A church shut out of relocating to a spiritually-needy area by religion-hostile officials (pages 7 and 283).
- A decorated combat veteran relieved of duty because he wouldn’t agree with his “politically-correct” commander that same-sex marriage was okay (page 355).
- High school cheerleaders ordered to remove uplifting Bible verses from their football game banners (pages 4 and 189).
You will also “meet”: A high school valedictorian threatened by a federal judge with jail for mentioning God in her graduation speech (page 144); A property owner ordered to remove her Ten Commandments sign in an open field near a highway (page 70); Veterans struggling to stop the ACLU and related groups from tearing down veterans memorials that include crosses (pages 348, 351).
The good news? In all but two of the above cases, First Liberty Institute stopped the religious hostility dead in its tracks. And in the cases we haven’t won yet, we are confident of victory.
COMPILED BY LEADING EXPERTS
Overseen by an editorial team including First Liberty Institute President & CEO Kelly Shackelford, General Counsel Jeff Mateer, and Senior Counsel & Director of Research and Education Justin Butterfield, the newest edition of Undeniable categorizes almost 1,400 attacks in four key sectors of society:
Attack on Religious Liberty in the Public Arena
This category covers all attacks on exercising religious liberty in public, including challenges to praying in public, challenges to publicly displaying Nativity scenes or menorahs, and challenges to displaying the Ten Commandments. This past year has also seen high-profile attacks on religious liberty in the public arena as the government threatens to shut down any company that refuses to fund abortion-inducing drugs because of religious convictions. Some of the most recent attacks in the public arena include:
- Chevrolet Dealership Challenges Obamacare’s Abortifacient Coverage Mandate – Holland v. U.S. Dep’t. of Health and Human Svcs., No. 2:13-15487 (S.D.W.V. filed Jun. 24, 2013)
Joe Holland Chevrolet is a family-owned Chevrolet dealership whose stated purpose is “to glorify and honor God by being faithful stewards for all that is entrusted to us.” Because of the Holland family’s strong religious beliefs regarding abortion, Joe Holland Chevrolet does not want to fund abortifacient drugs like Plan B (the “day-after pill”) and Ella (the “week-after pill”) as required by Obamacare’s HHS Mandate. First Liberty Institute is working with Joe Holland Chevrolet to fight the government’s requirements that the Holland family’s company fund these abortion-inducing drugs.
- Texas Department of Transportation Bans Private Ten Commandments Sign – http://www.libertyinstitute.org/txdot
Jeanette Golden placed a sign displaying the Ten Commandments on her private property near Hemphill, Texas. When the Texas Department of Transportation (“TXDoT”) learned of the sign, however, they deemed it to be an illegal “outdoor advertising sign” and ordered it removed. After attorneys from First Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to TXDoT on behalf or Ms. Golden, however, TXDoT rescinded their order, changed their rules, and agreed that the sign could remain on Ms. Golden’s property.
Attacks on Religious Liberty in the Schoolhouse
These cases primarily involve school officials prohibiting students or teachers from sharing their faith or exercising their religious free speech rights. Some of the most recent attacks in the schoolhouse include:
- School District Bans Students from Bringing Signs with Religious Message to Sporting Events – Kountze Indep. Sch. Dist. V. Matthews, No. 09-13-00251 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2014)
The Kountze High School (KSH) cheerleaders wanted to display encouraging messages at sporting events. The cheerleaders decided that the best way to encourage the players was to write Bible verses on the “run through” banners. Freedom From Religion Foundation discovered that the cheerleaders were writing Bible verses and sent a letter to Kountze I.S.D. demanding that the school district stop the cheerleaders. The superintendent of Kountze I.S.D. then banned any student group, including the cheerleaders, from bringing signs with religious messages to sporting events. The cheerleaders sued the school district to protect their free speech and religious liberty rights. A state district court judge held that the cheerleaders’ speech is protected and may not be censored by the school district. The case is on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
- Teacher Confiscates Student’s Bible and Calls Parents in Front of Class – http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/05/05/teacher-tells-student-cant-read-bible-in-my-classroom/
A Florida fifth grader had his Bible confiscated during free reading time. After the teacher took the Bible, she called the student’s parents in front of the class to tell them that the student was not allowed to read religious books in her classroom. After First Liberty Institute confronted the school with evidence that they violated their own policies, the school apologized to the boy.
Attacks on Religious Liberty of Churches and Ministries
The past ten years have seen an explosion in cases involving local governments discriminating against churches, particularly in the local governments’ use of zoning laws and granting of permits. Some of the most recent attacks of churches and ministries include:
- Mississippi Town Tries to Stop Church from Moving into Abandoned Downtown Property – Opulent Life Church v. City of Holly Springs, MS, No. 12-60052 (5th Cir. 2012)
Opulent Life Church in Holly Springs, Mississippi, wanted to move into a larger facility as it had nearly outgrown its present meeting place. Once the church found a new property, however, it also discovered that the city would not allow the church to move into the new property without getting permission of sixty percent of all property owners within a one-quarter mile radius of the proposed site—a requirement that applied only to churches and to no other type of organization or business. First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against the City of Holly Springs on behalf of Opulent Life Church for violating the Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. After a precedent setting victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the case settled, allowing the church to move into its new property.
- Christian Ministry Workers Threatened with Jail Time for Serving Local Homeless and Elderly – http://blog.libertyinstitute.org/f2013/11/pennsylvania-christian-ministry.html
For over five years, Isaiah 61 Ministries, a well-established nonprofit Christian ministry in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, served their local community by providing weekly meals, toiletries, clothing, and other forms of assistance to homeless men and women, as well as to the poor and elderly. Then, without warning, the Dauphin County Commissioners threatened to arrest ministry workers and volunteers if they continued their ministry on county property. First Liberty Institute stepped in and sent a demand letter to the Dauphin County officials informing them of their unconstitutional conduct and requesting that the workers be permitted to continue their acts of Christian charity on public property.
Attacks on Religious Liberty in the Military
Religious freedom in the military is protected by the U.S. Constitution, Department of Defense regulations, service branch regulations, and case law. Nevertheless, recent attacks on our service members’ religious freedom ignore this law and tradition. Some of the most recent attacks in the military include:
- MMRF Condemns Government Involvement in National Day of Prayer – http://christiannews.net/2014/04/19/u-s-military-not-backing-down-after-group-urges-withdrawal-from-national-day-of-prayer-event/
Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to the Pentagon demanding that government official abandon all association with the National Day of Prayer. The U.S. Military responded by making clear its intention to continue its participation in the observance.
- Air Force Officials Remove Bible Verse from Cadet’s Whiteboard – http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/12/some-air-force-cadets-so0angry-over-what-happened-with-bible-verses-on-campus-they-have-stage-a-revolt/#
A cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote a Bible verse on the personal whiteboard posted on his door, but official removed the verse after receiving complaints that the mere presence of the verse was offensive. When other cadets rose up in protest by writing Bible verses of their own on their own whiteboards, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MMRF) wrote a letter to the U.S. Air Force Academy demanding that the verses be removed. First Liberty Institute responded by pointing out the cadets’ religious rights.
A TIME TO STAND AGAINST HOSTILITY
While the new 2014 edition of Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America shows that attacks on religious liberty are dramatically increasing in the United States—both in the frequency and in the severity of the attacks—this survey also shows that together, we can make a difference.
When those persons and organizations—like First Liberty Institute—stand up for religious liberty and fight back, we win. When you join with those who value religious liberty and actively engage the cultural and legal battle against secularism, you push back the secularists’ agenda.
Please inform others and help make them aware bysharing the 2014 edition of Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America. DOWNLOAD your free copy of Undeniable now. And please continue to stand with us through your ongoing donations and prayer support. Thank you!
VICTORY! New Jersey Court Dismisses Humanist Lawsuit Challenging the Pledge of Allegiance
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.FirstLiberty.org.