Consumers of conservative news will be more likely than most to believe that religious freedom has been under attack in America for the last three years because most of this news has been shamelessly ignored by the mainstream media. Or, if it is covered at all, it is treated as a “good” thing and conveyed as though the Obama administration and left-wing governments around the country are finally cracking down on mean, discriminatory Christians after years of giving them a free pass.
But is all this just fiction? Is it just a narrative meant to rally the base? Surely in a country where the majority of Americans are Christians, there can’t be any legitimacy to the claim that Christians and others of faith are being oppressed, right? Isn’t that why we have the First Amendment? Naw, this has to just be one of those Fox News things where conservatives are getting all up in arms about an imaginary threat.
The liberal media couldn’t quite understand why evangelical Christians would support a candidate like Donald Trump for president, as he didn’t appear to embody many of Christ’s teachings. It was beyond their bubble, of course. They were oblivious to how strange American Christians were feeling in their own country. How marginalized. How fearful for the future. And if it took someone with questionable virtues and an even more questionable grasp of Christian teachings to be a warrior for the Lord, well, evangelicals are accustomed to the idea that God’s fighters are not always what we imagine them to be.
According to a new report from the Family Research Council, that fighter might have come in the nick of time. In their annual survey, they found that since 2014, there has been a 76% increase in the number of religious freedom violations across the United States.The report comprehensively lists the incidents they found – some of which include:
- Academic staff being charged with criminal contempt due to praying over a meal at a school function.
- A middle-school student in Mississippi being disciplined for including “Jesus” in her poetry assignment (an assignment that was centered around Christmas, no less).
- Christian firefighters in San Diego being threatened with disciplinary action if they chose not to participate in the city’s gay pride parade.
- An Ohio library banning a Christian group from using their facilities to discuss marriage unless the discussion included support of gay weddings.
And the FRC cautions that their survey of threats probably doesn’t even scratch the surface of actual violations, many of which can fly under the radar.
A new president won’t be enough, alone, to turn back the tide. But if state governments are emboldened by the new direction of this administration – and the solidity of a conservative Supreme Court – we can begin to move the needle back to the center.