Victims Blow Whistle on US Religious Persecution
WASHINGTON -- This past weekend at the same hotel where the Values Voter Summit was happening, an alarm was sounding about the flood of attacks on religious liberty across the country.
Defenders of religious freedom, like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and the Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford, brought real life examples to Washington of Americans attacked for their faith.
"The media likes to say the persecution of religious liberty, it's not real, it doesn't exist. They belittle it; they mock it," Cruz said as he stood before these examples at a news conference.
But there was Navy Chaplain Wes Modder who for months faced getting booted out of the Navy and losing his pension. He was charged with giving biblical answers while counseling sailors about premarital sex and homosexuality at his naval station in Charleston, South Carolina.
"Frankly, it was very devastating for me, very emotional," Modder said of the struggle. "I'm still a bit raw. I didn't know what the future was going to entail. I didn't know if I was going to have a job."
Shackelford's Liberty Institute defended Modder.
"If chaplains can't answer biblical questions with biblical answers, we don't have chaplains," the attorney said during the news conference.
Liz Loverde also attended. She was recently told by her Long Island, New York, public high school she couldn't have a Bible club at school.
"I was denied because my principal said it was a Christian club and that it was illegal," Loverde stated.
"The only club that was denied was when she asked for a Christian club," Shackelford explained. "There was a gay and lesbian club. There were all kinds of clubs."
"These cases are happening all over the country. They are growing dramatically," Cruz said.
Shackelford quantified it, stating, "In the last two years alone, there's been an over 133 percent increase in attacks on religious freedom in the United States."
But he said if people will stand and fight, they'll usually win. For instance, Loverde's school relented and the club formed. And in Modder's case, the Navy cleared the chaplain, while the commander who attacked him is out.
"We need to stand for religious liberty, for everyone," Modder said. "It's everyone's right to have that in our country. So I'm honored to have done my duty in holding the line."