Religious liberty is a bedrock American principle. Whether we belong to a particular faith or not persecution of anyone for their faith is a hallmark of tyranny and a deadly threat to us all.

Here in the United States our religious conflicts are largely (though sadly not entirely) limited to legal battles over separation of church and state. Certainly, those battles persist throughout the year, as we’ve witnessed repeatedly in various school choice cases in the states.

But during the Christmas season we are especially reminded of the importance of our First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

Phyllis Schlafly drives this point home in her Eagle Forum article yesterday:

There are 250 million Christians in America today, but most seem to be oblivious of the fact that they and their religion are under steady attack from those who apparently hate Christianity, or at least want to expunge Christianity from any public place or mention. That hatred seems to extend to all sorts of evidences of Christianity in our society such as Christmas, which is a federal holiday.

Schlafly recounts, for example, how the PTA at the Butler Elementary School in Belmont, Massachusetts, tried to kill the school’s traditional field trip to see a performance of the Nutcracker ballet. The annual Christmas parade in the small Appalachian Mountains foothill town of Piedmont, Alabama, became a target when the parade committee selected “Keep Christ in Christmas" as this year’s theme.

Elsewhere in the world, religious intolerance culminates in widespread persecution. For example, according to Open Doors, a non-denominational organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians worldwide, reports that globally each month:

  • 322 Christians are killed for their faith
  • 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed
  • 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (including beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages)

According to main findings from the Religious Freedom in the World 2014 Report, Christians remain the most persecuted religious minority based on their numbers and being geographically widespread, but religious persecution isn't limited to one faith:

However, Muslims are also experiencing a serious degree of persecution and discrimination, both at the hands of other Muslims and from authoritarian governments. Jews in Western Europe are subject to violence and other abuse that is generally low-level. However, such problems have grown, prompting increased emigration to Israel.

Authoritarian regimes without the rule of law and religious extremism are the leading drivers of such persecution.

As Americans, we should be grateful for the many blessings of liberty we enjoy—and be willing to fight for them. Today, as many of us celebrate Christmas, the following comes to mind from 1 Corinthians 12:26:

And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it: or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.

On this day of celebration, may all Americans share in the blessings of liberty now and always and continue working to help others worldwide enjoy those blessings as well.