Religious Discrimination Incidents Doubled in US Since 1997

Though a country whose First Amendment mandates the freedom of religious practice, the United States of America appears to be suffering from rising religious discrimination in the workplace.

According to statistics compiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious discrimination incidents have doubled over the past 13 years.

In 1997, there were 1,709 religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC. In 2010, the most recent year on record, the number was 3,790.

"We cannot explain why claims of religious discrimination have increased. The EEOC has not conducted any studies and thus cannot provide any explanations for the increase," said Christine Nazer, spokesperson for the EEOC, in an interview with The Christian Post.

Workplace discrimination on the basis of religious belief is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"The law also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee (or applicant), unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the employer," explained Nazer.

Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot does not see the increase in workplace religious discrimination as a surprise, given social trends in American society.

"There is a general increase in the secularization of society, and a correspondingly broadening acceptance of the misguided concept that religion is something that should be kept behind closed doors. Many believe that one's religious beliefs should not affect the workplace at all," said Theriot in an interview with The Christian Post.

Theriot also noted that oftentimes employers do not accommodate individuals who believe their faith should influence the whole of their lives, including work.

"We receive many calls from evangelicals and devout Catholics whose employers either require them not to mention their faith at work at all, or insist that they perform work tasks that conflict with their faith such as affirm homosexual behavior or participate in abortions," said Theriot.

Another possible factor for this increase in religious discrimination may come from what the American Civil Liberties Union described in a 2011 feature as "a disturbing wave of bigotry and outright hostility," particularly toward Muslims.

"From religiously motivated discrimination and attacks on existing and proposed Islamic centers to misguided congressional hearings, Muslims in America are being unfairly targeted simply for exercising their basic constitutional right to religious liberty," reads the feature on their website.

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