Last week, I gave 12 examples of how religious liberty has been assaulted in just the past two years in the U.S. Here are about two dozen more instances just for good measure, as reported by the Family Research Council, the office of Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and various media outlets.
—The following public institutions recently have joined the growing ranks of those that have banned the use of the word "Easter" in order to diminish or eliminate references to religion: East Meadow School District in New York, Prospect Heights Public Library in Illinois, Heritage Elementary School in Alabama, Manhattan Beach Unified School District in California, Flat Rock Elementary School in South Carolina and West Shore School District in Pennsylvania.
—The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the state's annual Day of Prayer proclamations violated the state constitution.
—Officials in Buhler, Kan., are removing a cross from the city's seal, which was placed on it four decades ago to represent the city's founders, who were immigrants fleeing religious persecution.
—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that crosses placed on Utah roadsides to honor fallen state troopers violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
—A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that a cross displayed as part of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego was unconstitutional.
—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that a North Carolina board of commissioners' prayer policy was unconstitutional because the prayers mentioned Jesus too frequently.
—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that a Florida city commission's practice of offering an invocation at the beginning of each meeting was unconstitutional.
—For decades, the Sussex County Council in Delaware had opened meetings with the Lord's Prayer, but after a yearlong court battle challenging the practice, the council agreed to replace it with a recitation of Psalm 23.
—Other lawsuits by activist groups targeting the tradition of city and county council prayer are sweeping the nation. Here are a few more recent headlines. In North Carolina: "Prayer in public meetings debated in Greenville" (journalists Kristen Hunter and Jonathan Rodriguez). In New Jersey: "New Invocation Policy Includes Indemnification Waiver for All Council Members" (GallowayTwpNews.com). In California: "Rialto City Council defends public prayers before meetings" (The Sun). In Michigan: "Prayer at Oakland Twp. meeting draws ACLU's attention" (The Associated Press). In Georgia: "Cave Spring rethinking Lord's Prayer issue" (Rome News-Tribune). In Washington: "'Christ' ban signals apparent end to Longview council meeting invocation" (The Daily News).
—Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services denied funding for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' successful program for sex trafficking victims because of the church's teaching on human life.
—In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many New York synagogues and other houses of worship discovered that they were ineligible for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
—Presidential administration officials refused to intervene in the closing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
—Walter Reed National Military Medical Center drafted a policy that prohibited individuals from using or distributing religious items during visits to the hospital.
—Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a Delta Force war hero, couldn't speak at West Point because of his Christian faith.
—The Air Force Academy apologized for merely announcing Operation Christmas Child — a Christian-based charity and relief program designed to send Christmas gifts to impoverished children around the world.
—The Marine Corps considered tearing down a Camp Pendleton cross meant to honor fallen heroes.
—The Navy relocated a live Nativity scene at a base in Bahrain to the chapel area.
—Air Force officials suspended a 20-year-old course on war theory because of its religious aspects.
—Yet, as reported in the Los Angeles Times in November 2011, the Air Force is building "an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship center" for followers of "Earth-based" religions, including "pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths."
—The Department of Veterans Affairs censored references to God and Jesus during prayers at Houston National Cemetery.
—The Pentagon released new regulations forcing chaplains to perform same-sex weddings despite their religious objections. However, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus worked tirelessly to ensure that the final version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act included key religious freedom protections for service members generally and chaplains specifically (Section 533).
—The Pentagon revoked approval to use the logo of each service branch on the covers of Bibles sold in military exchange stores.
What is going on in the U.S. military? Apparently, the military's urge for neutrality is officially and fundamentally transforming into hostility toward faith.
What is so difficult for the feds to understand about the free exercise clause in the First Amendment, which says they "shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise" of religion?
Long gone are the days when the commander in chief wrote the prologue to the Gideons Bibles given to service members, encouraging them to find strength and courage from the contents. That's what President Franklin D. Roosevelt did before the start of World War II: "As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul."
The only fight left is for we the people to defend our First Amendment's freedom of religion, not espouse or enable the freedom from religion. Start in your own town, and take the battle all the way to Washington.
Write or call your representatives and then the White House to voice your opinion about the assault on religious liberty occurring across our land and what you think should be done about it. You can reach the White House by calling 202-456-1111 or by visiting http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments.
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