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Links on R&P from around the web

Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School.

posted on May 22, 2017

The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports that a student at a private Christian school was banned from walking at her graduation because she was pregnant. Maddi Runkles, a senior at Heritage Academy in Maryland, was also removed from student council. Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents thousands of Christian schools throughout the country, said, “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

Read at The New York Times

Trump Urges Liberty U Grads to Stand Up to Criticism

posted on May 15, 2017

The Associated Press’ Darlene Superville reports from President Donald Trump’s first commencement address, delivered at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., was one of Trump’s early evangelical supporters. “Drawing parallels to what was widely viewed as a longshot bid by Trump for the presidency, he urged the more than 18,000 graduates to fight for what they believe in and to ‘challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures,'” Superville writes.

Read at Associated Press

Callista Gingrich Set to Be Named Ambassador to the Vatican

posted on May 15, 2017

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Caroline Kenny report, “Callista Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is the preferred nominee to be the next ambassador to the Vatican.” They add, “The White House hopes to announce her nomination before President Donald Trump meets with Pope Francis on May 24 in Rome.”

Read at CNN

The President’s Pastor: Paula White Has Connections and Power. But Where Does She Get Her Money?

posted on May 9, 2017

Heat Street‘s Jillian Kay Melchior reports on the riches of and controversies surrounding Trump religious advisor Paula White. “White rose to this prominent position despite decades-long concerns from Christian leaders, religious watchdogs and journalists,” she writes. “Those critics claim White uses her pulpit to emotionally and spiritually manipulate her congregants, who are mostly black and low- to middle-income, aggressively pressuring them to donate to the church. Congressional investigators have also looked at her lavish lifestyle, which includes million-dollar properties, fancy cars and frequent travel.”

Read at Heat Street

Muslim Ban Language Suddenly Disappears from Trump Campaign Website after Spicer Questioned

posted on May 9, 2017

The Washington Post‘s Fred Barbash reports that language about a Muslim ban was scrubbed from President Trump’s campaign website recently. He writes, “ABC’s Cecilia Vega appears to have been the first to notice. ‘Minutes after we asked the WH why the President’s campaign website still called for a Muslim ban, it appears the statement was deleted,’ she tweeted.” Barbash adds, “That was just hours after judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is reviewing a district-court ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional, questioned administration lawyers about ‘statements of the president on the campaign trail.'”

Read at The Washington Post

Trump’s Religious Liberty Order Slammed as “Pretty Much Nothing”

posted on May 5, 2017

Religion News Service’s David Gibson reports that many social conservatives were disappointed in the scope of President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty. Gibson writes, “Trump’s order also does not go nearly as far as a draft executive order that had circulated shortly after Trump was inaugurated in January.” He adds, “Even the ACLU, which initially vowed to file suit against the order, later reversed course because the order had nothing in it that could be challenged. It was, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said, ‘an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.'”

Read at Religion News Service

Trump to Visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and Vatican in First Foreign Trip

posted on May 4, 2017

POLITICO’s Tara Palmeri and Madeline Conway report that President Trump’s first foreign trip since taking office will take him to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Vatican. He will also visit with the pope. “Trump’s tour will conclude with stops at a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and at the G-7 summit in Sicily the following day,” Palmeri and Conway write. In remarks in the Rose Garden as he signed an executive order on religious liberty, Trump said, “Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the two holiest sites in Islam, and it is there that we will begin to construct a new foundation of cooperation and support with our Muslim allies, to combat extremism, terrorism and violence and to embrace a more just and hopeful future for young Muslims in their countries.”


Trump Signs Order Aimed at Allowing Churches to Engage in More Political Activity

posted on May 4, 2017

The Washington Post‘s John Wagner reports that President Trump signed an executive order on religious freedom on Thursday. The president “said he would direct the Internal Revenue Service to relax enforcement of rules barring tax-exempt churches from participating in politics” and the order “also offers unspecified ‘regulatory relief’ for religious objectors” to Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Wagner writes, “But the sweep of the order — unveiled on a National Day of Prayer — was significantly narrower than a February draft, which had alarmed civil libertarians, gay rights and other liberal advocacy groups and prompted threats of lawsuits.”

Read at The Washington Post

Inside Evangelical Leaders’ Private White House Dinner

posted on May 4, 2017

TIME’s Elizabeth Dias reports that President Trump’s evangelical advisors joined him for a dinner at the White House on the eve of the National Day of Prayer. Guests included Paula White, Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Mark Burns, and Ralph Reed. Evangelical musician Steven Curtis Chapman performed. Dias writes, “The evening, guests say, was more a celebration of their victories so far than a discussion on future policy.”

Read at TIME

White House Aims for Thursday Signing of Religious Liberty Executive Order

posted on May 3, 2017

POLITICO’s Timothy Alberta and Shane Goldmacher report, “President Donald Trump has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday for what they expect will be the ceremonial signing of a long-awaited – and highly controversial – executive order on religious liberty, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.” The original draft of the order, which was leaked in February, contained broad language that would allow individuals and groups to claim religious objections under a wide range of circumstances. Alberta and Goldmacher add that Thursday is both the National Day of Prayer and the Canterbury Medal Gala, which is hosted by a group that advocates for religious freedom.