Those of us who are concerned about and study separation of church and state issues, here in the US, know that complaints by Christians about religious persecution are, for the most part, fits of fantasy by people on the right. Claims of persecution seem to increase when there are large cultural shifts like we see in acceptance of same-sex marriage. It’s always good to have a list of points showing that religious persecution of Christians is in fact a fantasy.
Rob Boston, Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, wrote “Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do” where he points out how much the religious believer is favored in the US and are not persecuted:
Far from being persecuted, houses of worship and the religious denominations that sponsor them enjoy great liberty in America. Their activities are subjected to very little government regulation. They are often exempt from laws that other groups must follow. The government bends over backward to avoid interfering in the internal matters of religious groups and does so only in the most extreme cases.
Religious groups enjoy complete tax exemption, a very powerful and sought-after benefit. Religious groups enjoy a loud and robust public voice. They own television and radio stations all over the country (all tax exempt, by the way). They own publishing arms, and they maintain various outreach sites on the Internet. The ability of religious groups to proselytize and spread their theology is limited only by the imaginations of their leaders. Across the country, religious groups own a network of hospitals, secondary schools, colleges, social-service agencies, and other entities that often enjoy a cozy relationship with the government. Many of these institutions are subsidized directly with tax funds—even though they may promote religion. In recent years, religious groups that sponsor charitable services have seen themselves open to a host of new taxpayer assistance through the so-called faith-based initiative. Religious groups are often treated with special deference in cases of suspected law breaking. Anyone who doubts this need not look beyond the experience of the Roman Catholic Church during the pedophilia scandal. A secular corporation that engaged in such a massive cover-up and acts of deception would have found its top leaders behind bars. Yet in that scandal, only a handful of relatively low-level clergy were held accountable.
From an excerpt of “Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do” published on Salon
I’ve saved the whole list and will keep on file for those times when a religious conservative complains about their religious freedom being challenged.