Wednesday, 5 July 2017

US Christians face surge in hostility for views on sexuality, study says

Christians in the US have seen a 'growing threat' to their religious liberty in recent years, according to a conservative Christian study that found a '114 per cent' spike in hostility toward the views of the faith group on sexuality.

The claim comes from June 2017 report 'Hostility to Religion: The Growing Threat to Religious Liberty in the United States', by the Family Research Council (FRC), a DC-based conservative Christian lobbying group.

The study claims that in the past three years there has been a 76 per cent rise in violations of religious freedom, while in the same period hostility toward conservative Christian views on sexuality have reportedly surged by 114 per cent.

The extensive report divides its case studies into four sections: 'Attacks on Religious Expression in the Public Square,' 'Attacks on Religious Expression in Schools and Universities,' 'Censure of Religious Viewpoints Regarding Sexuality,' and 'Suppression of Religious Viewpoints on Sexuality Using Nondiscrimination Laws.'

'When the first edition of this report was released in July 2014, religious freedom violations across the United States were already significantly high. Since that date, the number of incidents has only increased,' the study's introduction reads.

The FRC has become known for its staunchly conservative stance on social ethics, and has been accused of being a 'hate group' for its opposition to LGBTQ rights.

The study said that a trend toward the suppression of religious freedom was 'even clearer now', following Obergefell v Hodges, the Supreme Court decision that legalised same-sex marriage.

The FRC's introduction warned: 'Militant atheists and progressives continue to target longexisting crosses and historical markers of America's religious heritage in public places. Teachers tell young school-children they can't read their Bible in school. Private citizens and the government alike are attacking religious expression by other citizens.

'Whether it's a media backlash to merely expressing a faith position on sexuality, or the use of nondiscrimination laws to punish religious business owners for their decisions, threats to free speech and free exercise are heating up both in the courts and the public square.'

The FRC highlighted cases such as that of Russell Vought, the Trump administration nominee who was questioned by Senator Bernie Sanders about the exclusivity of his Christian faith and his capacity to serve in office. Sanders was accused of creating a 'religious test' for political office.

The report added: 'Liberty does not maintain itself, and in a democracy, many voices are constantly clamoring for desired protections and privileges to be enshrined in law. As we become more fully conscious of and engaged on the issue of hostility toward religion, we can more successfully defend civil liberties and restore religious liberty to its proper place in American society.'

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