An increasing number of Americans think that Christians face growing intolerance in the United States. A 2015 LifeWay Research poll shows 63 percent of Americans somewhat and strongly think that Christians face "intolerance" or "persecution" in their own country, reports Christian Today.
In 2013, only 50 percent of respondents answered similarly in a survey.
At the same time, more Americans feel that religious freedom is declining in their country. The percent of Americans that perceive a threat to religious liberty grew to 60 percent, from 54 percent in 2013.
Greg Jao, director of campus engagement and vice president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said that the poll likely reflects increased perception of intolerance rather than an actual rise in persecution.
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“Because of the high media attention on a couple of key cases, I think Christians are more aware and feel more persecuted or less tolerated than they did before,” said Jao.
Jao noted that many Christians at his university feel excluded from campus activities.
Jao explains, “A couple of decades ago, for instance, universities were delighted when we started a chapter, because were were considered a moral and calming influence on campus excess.” He added, “Now, of course, Christians are no longer considered to be morally virtuous additions to a community. I think Christians are actually considered moral problems to solve, particularly because of human sexuality issues.”
Jao also noted that the perception of intolerance by some Christians comes as the U.S. is “re-evaluating the privileged place that religion had in its past.”
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A California judge ruled on April 7 that Los Angeles County could not legally restore a Christian cross on its official seal, reports KNBC. The cross was initially removed from the county seal in 2004, and put back on in 2014.
U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder wrote that the cross “carries with it an aura of prestige, authority, and approval. By singling out the cross for addition to the seal, the county necessarily lends its prestige and approval to a depiction of one faith’s sectarian imagery.”
Still, some Christians feel that their religious freedom is increasingly constrained.
"We’re seeing language that changes 'free exercise,' which is the Constitution, to 'freedom of religion,' which means you can do what you want within the four walls of your church, but you can’t bring it out," said Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer.