For The Washington Post, John Fea writes about what he deems as “court evangelicals,” or Christians who seek to influence politics by supporting the president’s administration. Fea writes, “Trump has forced them to embrace a pragmatism that could damage the gospel around the world, and force many Christians to rethink their religious identities and affiliations.” Fea argues, “Trump’s presidency – with its tweets and promises of power – requires evangelical leaders to speak truth to power, not to be seduced by it.”
Mormonism’s Russia Dilemma: How to Grow a Fledgling Faith With Missionaries Who Can’t Do Missionary Workposted on July 18, 2017
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack reports that Mormons have been forced to reduce missions to Russia as a result of the country’s Yarovaya Law, which bans proselytizing. Even before the law’s approval, Mormons in Russia had experienced persecution. “Missionaries routinely were hauled in for questioning by police, constantly threatened with yanking away their visas or deportation for minor offenses,” Fletcher Stack writes. To work within the law, some Mormons in Russia are adopting a “friendship-and-service” missionary model, which promotes humanitarian work and interactions with Russians in everyday life.
Religion News Service’s Lauren Markoe reports, “Vice President Mike Pence told evangelical supporters of Israel that God had a hand in creating the state of Israel and that his support for the country is rooted in his faith.” Speaking at the summit of Christians United for Israel on Monday, Pence said, “Indeed, though Israel was built by human hands it is impossible not to sense that just beneath its history lies the hand of heaven.” Christians United for Israel, led by evangelical megachurch pastor John Hagee, recognizes itself as the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S.
The FADER’s Amos Barshad reports on a 66,000 square foot, multi-million dollar sanctuary in Saranap, California. It was built for Sufism Reoriented, a religious order largely funded by Cheesecake Factory CEO David Overton. Barshad writes that the surrounding community pushed back against the sanctuary for its massive size and contrast to the small, quaint town. Eventually approved 2012 and opened in early 2017, the sanctuary features massive white rooms, archival treasures, and marble floors.
The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ have built a chapel in rural Lancaster County to block the construction of a gas pipeline on their land. The Adorers have 2,000 nuns around the world whose core beliefs include environmental protection and activism. Zauzmer writes, “U.S. appeals court judges have ruled inconsistently on whether federal law protects religious groups from eminent domain in such cases.”
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Salma Abdelaziz, Mark Phillips, and Mehamed Hasan report that former brides of ISIS fighters are struggling to integrate back into society after escaping their past lives. Some of the women, lured to ISIS in hopes of better lives, are now in Syrian jails. Paton Walsh, Abdelaziz, Phillips, and Hasan write, “As US coalition-backed forces tighten the noose on Raqqa, many more women who pledged allegiance to ISIS are sure to flee.”
The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports, “A group of evangelical leaders met with President Trump on Monday and laid their hands on him as he bowed in prayer while meeting in the Oval Office.” The leaders also met with a deputy director and liaison from the White House, Jennifer Korn, to discuss subjects such as the Affordable Care Act, religious freedom, and pending judicial nominees. Some members of the president’s faith advisory council from his campaign were at the meeting, including Florida pastor Paula White and South Carolina pastor Mark Burns.
The New York Times’s Robert Pear profiles Katy Talento and Matthew Bowman, two conservative officials who are part of the Trump administration’s plan to undo birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Talento, a current White House policy aide who used to work for a Republican senator, has insisted erroneously that birth control pills cause cancer and miscarriages. Bowman, who now works for the Department of Health and Human Services, spent years with Alliance for Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy group that represented religious organizations who objected to the contraceptive coverage mandate.
Trump’s Travel Ban Has Just Hit Refugees. Here’s What That Means for Those Hoping for Sanctuary in the U.S.posted on July 13, 2017
The Los Angeles Times’s Alexandra Zavis reports that the Trump administration’s 50,000-person refugee cap for the fiscal year was reached on Wednesday. The limit is part of President Trump’s revised travel ban from six Muslim-majority countries, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect last month after a series of trials. David Murphy, who heads the San Diego office of a refugee resettlement agency, said, “There are about 60,000 refugees that are in the final stages of being vetted that were supposed to come to the United States this year, and now they are left in limbo.”
Religion News Service’s Emily McFarlan Miller reports that a Christian entertainment studio is donating $25,000 to help rebuild the Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas, after it was purposefully destroyed by a motorist. The studio, Pure Flix, produced films including the “God’s Not Dead” series and a film adaptation of “The Case for Christ.” McFarlan Miller writes, “The monument was completed last month after the Arkansas Senate passed an act giving permission for it to be located on Capitol grounds, despite opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and others who argued it violated the separation of church and state.”