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National Religious Freedom Day: 5 Religious Freedom Cases to Watch in 2017

Melissa Klein decorating a cake. The Oregon government penalized Melissa and her husband Aaron $135,000, bankrupted them, and ordered them not to speak about their beliefs on marriage after the couple declined to create a cake for a same sex wedding.
Melissa Klein decorating a cake. The Oregon government penalized Melissa and her husband Aaron $135,000, bankrupted them, and ordered them not to speak about their beliefs on marriage after the couple declined to create a cake for a same sex wedding.

The president of a leading religious liberty law firm shared which cases to keep an eye on and how people can pray for them.

What lies ahead for religious freedom in 2017?

As The Stream recently reported, attacks against religious liberty increased last year. The International Christian Concern even included the United States in its annual “Hall of Shame Report,” partly because “Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through the law.”

Several of these legal battles are carrying over into 2017, a year that promises to produce impassioned debate over the intersection of religious freedom and an increasingly secular society.

The Stream asked Kelly Shackelford, president of the non-profit religious freedom law firm First Liberty Institute, which legal battles Americans should keep an eye on, and how they can pray for them. Here’s what he said.

1. LCpl Monifa Sterling

This case involves a Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling, a Marine who was convicted at a court-martial for not removing a scripture verse from her work area.

“This case affects every person who serves in the military and their religious freedom — that’s millions people who serve our country,” Shackelford said. “It would be a travesty to strip away their freedoms when they are standing for ours.”

Sterling’s case has been appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

2. Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial

In this case, the American Humanist Association is suing to tear down the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial. The memorial stands in the shape of a cross and was built over 90 years ago to honor local men who fought in WWI.

“A decision to tear this down will impact every veterans memorial with religious imagery in every community in every state of this country,” Shackelford said. “If that happens, we will be going straight to the Supreme Court. We need a strong precedent stopping all of these attacks on veterans memorials across the country.”

A U.S. district court ruled in favor of the memorial in 2015, but the American Humanist Association has appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Read more at Stream.org…

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