The Associated Press’s Steve Peoples reports that President Donald Trump announced on Twitter plans to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military on Wednesday. He writes, “The announcement signals a reversal from President Barack Obama’s decision to open the armed services to transgender people, a policy that also required the Pentagon to pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy.” Peoples adds, “For Christian conservatives across middle America who make up much of Trump’s base, Wednesday’s announcement served as a powerful reminder that he remains committed to their values”
For Religion News Service, John Hanna reports, “The White House on Wednesday (July 26) announced that President Donald Trump plans to nominate Brownback to serve as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll run the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.” Brownback, a Catholic and the current Republican governor of Kansas, is supported by many conservative Christians for his stances against abortion and same-sex marriage.
The Atlantic’s Emma Green reports on new data from a Pew Research Center survey of American Muslims, in which 75 percent of the group said there is “a lot” of discrimination against them in the United States. Green writes, “Half of Americans say Islam is not part of ‘mainstream American society,’” and a significant portion of the bias against Muslims comes from Republicans and white evangelicals. She adds, “It’s not clear from this report that concrete experiences of discrimination have become more common under Trump.”
Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnutt reports that a larger percentage of white millennial evangelical women voted for Donald Trump than their male counterparts. Shellnutt writes, “In last year’s election, 73 percent of white evangelical women under 35 voted for Trump compared to 60 percent of white evangelical men of the same age.” His anti-abortion stance and hard-line national security policies were two possible factors for his support among young white evangelical women. By contrast, LifeWay Research found that evangelicals of color before the election supported Hillary Clinton “sided with Hillary Clinton (62%) nearly as strongly as white evangelicals sided with Trump (65%).”
BuzzFeed’s Aram Roston and Joel Anderson profile the elusive, white supremacist William Regnery II, who has funded various white power organizations, laying the groundwork for the so-called alt-right. In 2005, Regnery helped start the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank now directed by Richard Spencer, an outspoken leader of the alt-right. Until the rise of Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, white nationalists were a fringe group: “I think Trump was a legitimatizer,” Regnery said.
“It’s Just Like God to Use a Young Jewish Couple to Help Christians:” Trump’s Evangelical Advisers Defend Kushnerposted on July 25, 2017
The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports, “Ten evangelical leaders issued statements of support for President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, many of them lauding his character and dismissing stories of his alleged ties to Russia on the eve of his closed-door testimony Monday before Senate investigators about his contacts with Russian officials.” The statements were released to the public by former Liberty University chaplain Johnnie Moore. Southern Baptist pastor David Jeremiah said, “It’s just like God to use a young Jewish couple to help Christians in the United States, defend their rights, and secure their religious freedom for now, and for subsequent generations.”
The New York Times’s Isabel Kershner reports, “After days of violent protests, bloodshed and a diplomatic crisis with Jordan over the placement of metal detectors at the entrances to the Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Israeli government said early Tuesday it would remove them.” The metal detectors were installed after three Arab Israelis shot two Israeli Druze police officers guarding the compound on July 14. Kershner writes, “The metal detectors became the latest symbol of the broader struggle over ownership and control of the sacred site.”
CBS News’s Anna Werner reports that protesters from a Christian fundamentalist group called Operation Save America are mobilizing this week to shut down Kentucky’s last abortion clinic, which the state has threatened to close for a lack of licensing. A judge ordered a temporary “buffer zone” around the entrance of EMW Women’s Surgical Center that protesters cannot cross, after several people were arrested for blocking the entrance in May. Werner writes, “In September, a judge will hear arguments on whether the clinic can stay open under state licensing rules.”
The Washington Post’s Max Bearak reports on the battle against the Islamic State in Khorasan, Afghanistan, also known as ISIS-K. The U.S. military has targeted the offshoot of ISIS with sustained bombings and drone strikes, one of which killed Abu Sayed, ISIS-K’s leader. Bearak writes, “Over the past three years, ISIS-K has succeeded in carrying out ghastly attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. But as Islamic State territory in Iraq and Syria is whittled away, coalition forces here are worried that Afghanistan’s notoriously ungovernable eastern provinces could become a safe haven for fleeing fighters and a new staging ground for attacks on the West.”
POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss profiles Abdul El-Sayed, a progressive Muslim Democrat who is currently the youngest and least politically experienced candidate running for governor of Michigan. Thirty-two-year-old El-Sayed, who has never held elected office, earned a medical degree at Columbia before working as Detroit’s executive director of the health department. Strauss writes, “El-Sayed is trying to walk an especially precise balancing act – offering specific liberal policy positions to tap into liberal grass-roots energy without alienating more conservative potential voters outside the party.”