Americans marked National Religious Freedom Day on Tuesday, pausing to reflect on the fact that people of faith now face a host of threats that seek to undermine the fundamental freedom of religion.
RNC spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, author of the new book The New American Revolution, weighed on the issue with CBN News.
"A survey showed 63 percent of Americans think that Christians haven't been able to express their point of view," she said. "That's up 13 percent from three years ago. So it's been under attack."
— Abigail Robertson (@AbigailCBN) January 16, 2018
Three of the most noteworthy threats to religious freedom in America are:
The LGBTQ Agenda: Which believes that people who hold Biblical views on marriage, sexuality or gender identity should pay a stiff penalty if they decide to follow their religious beliefs and conscience. For example, those who push this agenda believe Christian businesses that refuse to serve gay weddings or bake a cake for a gay couple should be punished for refusing service. The Supreme Court heard heard arguments last month of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, arguing that doing so meant he supported same-sex marriage and would therefore go against his deep Christian beliefs on the Biblical definition of marriage. The couple and their lawyers argue that the baker's first amendment claims are simply a license to discriminate against gays. CBN News has done several stories highlight the ongoing court battle and potential implications this case could have for religious freedom going forward.
Secular Bullies: Groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which calls itself the nation's largest association of atheists and agnostics, are well-known for trying to stop prayer and other Christian activities from taking place in government spaces. Earlier this month, Freedom from Religion Foundation called for a large cross that has stood along Lake Michigan for 60 years, to be removed. Freedom From Religion Foundation argues that the Father Marquette cross in Ludington, Michigan, is unconstitutional. "It's a part of our history and goes way, way back and to have someone try to take that away from us is very wrong," said Elaine Muzzo of Hamlin Township. Even Satanists groups have joined the battle, specifically targeting schools with Christian clubs and trying to shut them down. Despite those attempts, Good News Clubs, sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship, is increasing the number of clubs they have in public schools. "We're looking to start about 4,500 Good News Clubs in public schools across the country," Rachel Hamel, Corporate Communications Manager for Child Evangelism Fellowship, told CBN News last September.
Big Government: Dozens of religious nonprofits say big government programs like the controversial Obamacare mandate, which forces groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees, is just another example of the government trying to force people of faith to engage in behavior that is in violation of their religious beliefs. For nearly six years, private Christian companies like Hobby Lobby, fought hard to get exemptions from the law. In October 2017, the Trump administration released new guidelines which allows any employer to claim religious or moral objections o Obamacare's birth control mandate. But the battle is far from over. Late last month, a federal judge in Pennsylvania, issued an injunction blocking the president from implementing the new rules.
President Trump proclaimed January 16, 2018 "Religious Freedom Day."
"Faith is embedded in the history, spirit, and soul of our Nation," the president noted in his proclamation. "On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate the many faiths that make up our country, and we commemorate the 232nd anniversary of the passing of a state law that has shaped and secured our cherished legacy of religious liberty."
"Our forefathers, seeking refuge from religious persecution, believed in the eternal truth that freedom is not a gift from the government, but a sacred right from Almighty God," he added.
The president went on to warn that government has no place in forcing Americans to choose between their faith and the law.
"Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification," the president said. "These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy."
Trump said the Religious Freedom Day should remind all Americans that "people of all faiths can follow their hearts and worship according to their consciences."
"The free exercise of religion is a source of personal and national stability, and its preservation is essential to protecting human dignity," the president said in the proclamation. "Religious diversity strengthens our communities and promotes tolerance, respect, understanding, and equality."
"Faith breathes life and hope into our world. We must diligently guard, preserve, and cherish this unalienable right," he added.