Study details instances of hostility toward religion

Published: Monday, Aug. 20 2012 6:11 p.m. MDT

An Indian Sikh devotee offers prayers at the Golden Temple, Sikh's holiest shrine in Amritsar, India, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday that he was shocked and saddened by the shooting attack that killed six people at a Sikh house of worship in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Sanjeev Syal)

Sanjeev Syal, AP

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The Family Research Council and the Liberty Institute unveiled a study Monday showing 10 years of hostility toward religion in America's courts, public schools and halls of government.

The two conservative Christian groups are to present the study this week to the Republican National Convention's platform committee, hoping that will raise awareness of the issue, according to OneNewsNow.

"It's something that has gone under the radar, and we want to bring it up and point out that this is an issue and a concern that's affecting more and more Americans each year," Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield told the website that is affiliated with the American Family News Network, a Christian news service.

The survey, which comes a week after a gunman shot a security guard at the FRC headquarters, details more than 600 instances over the past 10 years of "attacks and hostilities" against religion. They range from the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, which requires religious affiliated institutions to provide contraception coverage in their health care plans, to an eight-year-old girl who couldn't sing “Kum Ba Yah” at a Boys & Girls Club talent show because the lyrics contained the words, "Oh, my Lord."

Most of the instances cited in the survey are court cases or decisions by government. And the majority involve Christian faiths.

But recent events show hostility toward religion goes beyond a single faith and are more violent than rulings from executive and judicial branches of governments.

A report on CNN's Belief Blog over the weekend detailed how attacks against U.S. Muslims spiked during the month of Ramadan.

At least seven mosques and one cemetery were attacked in the U.S. during Ramadan, according to groups that track such incidents, according to the report. "This is unprecedented in its scale and scope," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the civil rights and advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The most high-profile attack against a religion was on Aug. 5, when a man entered a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and fatally shot six people and injured four others before police shot him. He then took his own life.

In the ongoing reaction to that deadly shooting, Valarie Kaur argues in the Washington Post for Sikhs to be included in the FBI database of hate crimes and not inaccurately group them under "Muslim or those perceived to be Muslim."

The most recent FBI hate-crimes report showed that 18.9 percent of the hate crimes committed in 2010 were motivated by the offender’s bias against religion. Nearly half the hate crimes were motivated by a bias against race.

In a breakdown of the religion bias cases, 67 percent involved an anti-Jewish bias, and nearly 13 percent were an anti-Islamic bias.

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