A new report by a constitutional attorney has found that, since 2012, the number of attacks on religious people and organizations has doubled.
First Liberty Institute, a legal group advocating for religious freedom, released the report, which in 2012 documented 600 cases where religious freedoms were being impinged upon, and in 2016 recorded a total of 1,285, the Daily Caller reports. The data was compiled from police reports and court records.
Kelly Shackelford, First Liberty's president and CEO, said that American's religious freedoms are under attack "like never before."
"These attacks are coming from all directions, against America’s churches, in our school, in the military, and in the public arena," said Shackelfordl.
One case described by the report was that of Joe Kennedy, a football coach at Bremerton High School, for ending football games with a prayer. The report describes how Kennedy would wait until the players had left the field and then say his prayer, a tradition he kept for several years. This practice came under scrutiny from the school, however, when students and other faculty began to join Kennedy in his prayers.
First Liberty has also recently taken on a controversial new client - the group has taken up the cause of bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, NewsWire reports. The Kleins were called homophobic for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, saying their religious beliefs would not allow them to be involved with a gay marriage. The Oregon government ordered that the Kleins give Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, the couple that the Kleins refused to serve, $135,000 for discrimination and emotional damages. When the Kleins started a GoFundMe to pay the fine, their crowdfunding attempt was shut down by the website, which claimed that the Kleins were raising money for an illegal purpose, according to Crowdfund Insider.
"Satan is really at work," Melissa Klein said in a Facebook post after the couple's crowdfunding effort was shut down. "But I know our God has a plan and wins in the end!"
In the new report, Shackelford continues to stress his point that religious freedom in America is under attack. “Religious liberty is still our first, foundational freedom. And when Americans stand up for their rights, they can win.”