Religious liberty has been called rightly America's "first freedom," not only because the right is contained in the First Amendment but also because it predates the U.S. and has its origin in God, not government, and the freedoms he endowed within us. But over the past few decades, that basic freedom has come under assault -- particularly, in recent years, regarding Christianity.
Last week, I discussed how religious liberty in foreign countries is being suppressed. This week, I will begin to address how it has been assaulted right here in the U.S. I will give you roughly 36 examples this week and next.
The assault on religious liberty isn't a matter of opinion or a simple issue of left vs. right or even religious vs. secular. The case is as clear as a blue sky.
Most glaring in recent news is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' mandate forcing, regardless of any moral or religious objections, religious organizations to pay for free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health care plans.
And if you think this is an isolated circumstance, consider that in the past few years alone, the following assaults on religious liberty occurred, as reported by the Family Research Council, the office of Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and various media outlets.
--A social service worker at a Minnesota senior living complex banned an elderly resident, in the Alliance Defending Freedom's words, "from praying, reading her Bible, and discussing her faith in private conversations with other residents in the commons area."
--A New York high-school science teacher who has been with her school district for seven years was threatened with termination by school officials if she didn't take down posters with religious messages, notes with Bible quotes and a "prayer request" box for the school's Bible study club.
--In neighboring New Jersey, the censorship continued, as a substitute teacher was fired for giving a student a Bible.
--An East Texas high school barred its cheerleaders from using banners with Bible verses on them at football games.
--A Pennsylvania school district demanded that a group pay a rental fee to hold a Bible-based after-school program at an elementary school, even though other nonprofits -- including the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the American Legion -- aren't charged for using school facilities.