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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.”

Read at POLITICO

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.

Read at POLITICO

Pelosi: Democratic Candidates Should Not be Forced to Toe Party Line on Abortion

posted on May 3, 2017

The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty reports, “The Democratic Party should not impose support for abortion rights as a litmus test on its candidates, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday, because it needs a broad and inclusive agenda to win back the socially conservative voters who helped elect President Trump.” On abortion, Pelosi said, “It’s kind of fading as an issue. It really is.” Pelosi’s comments contrast with previously made comments by Democratic National Committee Chairman Thomas Perez, who said that abortion rights are “nonnegotiable” for Democrats.

Read at The Washington Post

Legal Fight Could Make Kentucky Only State With No Abortion Clinic

posted on May 2, 2017

The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports, “As states across the nation enact increasingly aggressive restrictions on abortion, perhaps nowhere has the political climate shifted as much as here in Kentucky, where the E.M.W. Women’s Surgical Center, a squat tan brick building on Market Street, is the state’s sole abortion clinic.” Gov. Matt Bevin has threatened to close the clinic for a lack of licensing, but a judge issued an emergency order blocking the closing as part of an ongoing court battle. Stolberg writes that E.M.W. is guarded by volunteers in orange vests, who escort patients through protesters.

Read at The New York Times

How Two Mississippi College Students Fell in Love and Decided to Join a Terrorist Group

posted on May 2, 2017

The Atlantic’s Emma Green profiles Jaelyn Young and Muhammad Dakhlalla, college students who were dating when they planned a trip to join ISIS. They were apprehended at the airport, and they pleaded guilty to terrorism charges last year. Dakhlalla and Young, a Muslim convert, were allegedly radicalized on the internet, and they spoke to an FBI agent posing as an ISIS recruiter. Green writes, “Details from court documents submitted by the FBI allege Jaelyn and Moe talked about ISIS in disturbingly casual ways—a sign either that they were fully aware of what they were getting themselves into, or that they were living in a total state of unreality.” after talking to an FBI agent posing as an ISIS recruiter

Read at The Atlantic

Why White Evangelicals Are “Splintering” Politically

posted on May 2, 2017

NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben interviews Frances FitzGerald, the author of The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, a new book that explores the history of the evangelical movement. FitzGerald says, “‘Evangelicals’ in a way was made a category by Billy Graham after this split between the liberals and the conservatives, and he divorced himself from the fundamentalists and created the term—or re-created the term ‘evangelical’ to describe conservative protestants who were not fundamentalists.” She adds, “There is now a progressive party within evangelicalism that is, was, and still remains anti-abortion and so forth but is also socially justice-minded in a way, going back to those in the 19th century.”

Read at NPR

Five Men File Sex Abuse Lawsuit against Boy Scouts, Mormon Church

posted on May 2, 2017

For The Salt Lake Tribune, Rebecca Boone reports, “Five men who say they were sexually abused as kids while in the Boy Scouts of America are suing the organization and the Mormon church because they say both groups fraudulently presented the Boy Scouts as a safe, wholesome activity for boys.” The lawsuit alleges that while on a Boy Scouts camping event, which was supported by the Mormon church, one of the plaintiffs was abused by a scoutmaster who was already accused of inappropriate behavior. LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said, “We have only recently learned about this legal action, and will take time to understand it fully and to respond as appropriate.”

Read at The Salt Lake Tribune