Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs

 – September 13, 2017

Attacks on religious liberty have increased 133 percent since 2011, according to a new report.

Government agencies, businesses, and the military are cracking down on the devout through zoning laws, restrictive policies against expressing religious sentiments, and punishing employees or citizens who publicly live out their faith, according to First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit group that provides pro-bono legal aid to victims of religious discrimination.

The group recorded more than 1,400 acts of religious discrimination in 2016, up 15 percent from 2015 and 133 percent since 2011. Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford called the trend disturbing and a radical departure from First Amendment protections for the freedom of religion.

“We were shocked by how pervasive the hostility to religion was,” he said in a Tuesday press call. “Unfortunately, it’s not one particular area where it’s growing—it’s across the board.”

EXCLUSIVE: First Liberty Institute Seeks Justice for Air Force Colonel Targeted for His Faith

Penny Starr – March 29,   2017

First Liberty Institute, a national law firm committed to protecting religious liberty, is taking up the case of Air Force Col. Michael Madrid. He has been targeted by his commanding officer for reprimand involving a closed investigation that cleared the colonel of false claims by a court-marshaled soldier that Madrid had made disparaging remarks about his homosexuality.

Two years after the case was closed and Madrid had continued his exemplary military career, including the promotion to colonel, he was placed under a new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy. McCoy accessed the report and without any new evidence decided that Madrid was guilty and issued a letter of reprimand —  crippling, if not ending, his chance for future promotions.

On Wednesday, the institute sent a demand letter to the U.S. Air Force stating that Madrid had been denied due process and that the Letter of Admonishment should be rescinded. If not, the letter said the institute is prepared to take legal action.

Jew and Sikh rally around Christian Marine who posted Bible verse

Bob Unruh – February 21, 2017

A Sikh and a Jew have filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of a Christian, urging the justices to overturn a lower court’s ruling that judges can determine whether or not a religious practice is “important” enough to be protected.

WND reported in 2016 when the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services affirmed the dismissal of former Marine Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling, who posted the Bible verse “No weapons formed against me shall prosper” at her work station and declined to take it down when a supervisor objected to the “tone.”

The supervisor then took the verses down at the end of the duty day. Sterling reprinted and re-posted the messages, but she found them in the trash the next morning. She was then court-martialed, according to the complaint.

The legal team working on Sterling’s behalf, from First Liberty Institute, then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The court’s majority decided it could strip a Marine of her constitutional rights just because it didn’t think her beliefs were important enough to be protected,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty. “If they can court-martial a Marine over a Bible verse, what’s to stop them from punishing service members for reading the Bible, talking about their faith, or praying?”

Military’s claim it can decide what’s ‘religious’ challenged


Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling

Bob Unruh – August 19, 2016

A military court’s stunning determination that it is qualified to decide whether or not a particular religious practice is “important” enough to be protected will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

WND reported the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services ruling in a dispute prompted by the military’s dismissal of a member who had posted an excerpt from a Bible verse, “No weapons formed against me shall prosper,” at her work station and declined to take it down when a supervisor objected to the “tone.”

The defense of Marine LCpl. Monifa Sterling was coordinated by First Liberty Institute.