The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson, Loveday Morris, and Carol Morello report, “The United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, Vice President Pence said Monday, accelerating plans after the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.” Israeli Arab lawmakers staged a walkout prior to Pence’s announcement, which was made in an address to the Israeli Parliament. Johnson, Morris, and Morello note that the Trump administration and Pence’s strong ties to evangelicals have influenced these changes in U.S. policy, as evangelicals strongly support Israel.
Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Petersen reports on the lives of ex-FLDS members, many of whom suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in the Short Creek FLDS enclave. For ex-FLDS women, transitioning to life outside Short Creek has been difficult. Petersen writes, “FLDS women are never introduced to the concept of consent, especially as it relates to sex. Those who’ve left the church struggle to figure out how to say not no unwanted advances: That option, and that language, was never available to them.”
NPR’s Sarah McCammon and Amita Kelly report on President Trump’s speech to the 45th annual March for Life. Trump was the first president to address March for Life via a live video feed. (Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush spoke to the participants by phone.) Trump has become a vocal advocate for the anti-abortion movement. McCammon and Kelly write, “As president, he has continued to align himself with the movement through a series of executive orders, administration appointees and nominations to the courts—most notably the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.”
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer profiles the Rev. Rey Pineda, a DACA recipient and priest at Atlanta’s Cathedral of Christ the King. Pineda’s parish is composed of both Hispanic immigrants and conservative white Southerners. Many of the latter group voted for Trump, but are now conflicted as their own priest may face deportation. Zauzmer writes, “It’s a conflict about principles, such as fairness and culture, and welcome and security, and forgiveness. But it’s also a conflict about what should become of their priest.”
The Atlantic‘s Emma Green reports, “The Department of Health and Human Services announced a new office dedicated to investigating conscience objections and religious-freedom concerns in health care on Thursday.” The office, in part, seeks to protect healthcare workers who object to providing certain medical treatments, such as abortions, on religious grounds. Green writes, “Thursday’s announcement is not so much a change in policy as a reorientation of the federal bureaucracy—a signal, like so many of the administration’s moves over the last year, of who the government will side with in conflicts over religious rights.”
The Washington Post‘s Michelle Boorstein reports that several members of President Trump’s evangelical advisory group met with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday “to create a united public front in support of protecting ‘dreamers’ from deportation.” The press conference that followed was broadcast on Pelosi’s website. The evangelical leaders included “the Rev. Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the conference; Sergio De La Mora, founding pastor of Cornerstone Church of San Diego and head of the conference’s megachurch association; Bishop Harry Jackson, a Pentecostal leader based in Maryland; and Jay Strack, a leadership speaker and Florida pastor.”
The Associated Press’ Rachel Zoll writes, “Donald Trump’s vulgar remarks questioning why the U.S. should admit immigrants from Haiti and Africa have spotlighted the bitter divide among American evangelicals about his presidency.” While some evangelical leaders such as the Rev. Robert Jeffress continued to express support, others have reacted negatively to Trump’s recent comments. Zoll notes that American connections with Christians overseas have grown in recent years through church mission projects. “As its numbers shrink in North America and Western Europe, the Christian population is exploding in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, creating ties across borders,” she writes.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack, David Noyce, and Bob Mims report that 93-year-old Russell M. Nelson has been ordained as the 17th president of the LDS Church. The former heart surgeon has shuffled church leadership, dropping Dieter Uchtdorf as a counselor in favor of Dallin Oaks. Fletcher, Noyce, and Mims write, “The church’s all-male priesthood precludes women from holding governing offices in the faith—and the new leaders offered no signs of that changing.”
The Associated Press’ Peter Prengaman and Nicole Winfield report on Pope Francis’ three-day visit to Chile, where he directly addressed sexual abuse scandals that have caused turmoil in the country and around the world. Prengaman and Winfield write, “Pope Francis met on Tuesday with survivors of priests who sexually abused them, wept with them, and apologized for the ‘irreparable damage’ they suffered, his spokesman said.” The pope’s visit has encountered controversy in the wake of the church’s cover up in Chile of a pedophile priest, who was not removed from the ministry until 2011.
NBC News’ Chris Fuchs reports, “A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by a Muslim police officer who alleged that the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) former no-beard policy was unconstitutional.” Officer Masood Syed, a Sunni Muslim, had been suspended without pay in June 2016 for refusing to trim his beard to 1 millimeter. The NYPD has since updated its policies to allow religious accommodation for beards and religious headwear. Fuchs writes, “The settlement also calls for an 18-month review period to monitor the religious accommodation process for facial hair.”