Apr 29: Pro-Christian legislation network “Project Blitz,” Muslim conspiracy theories, and more

Executive Branch

Politico examined the politicization of Christian TV and its relationship with the Trump administration. Donald Trump has given more interviews to the Christian Broadcasting Network than any other network, a pattern of exposure for Christian TV that has continued in the White House press corps and with other leading administration officials.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement saying that Donald Trump is responsible for a spike in hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims last year.

The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.

NBC investigated the ties between John Bolton, the new National Security Advisor, and a nonprofit he chaired that promoted anti-Muslim news such as a “jihadist takeover” and a ”Great White Death.”

Legislative Branch

House of Congress Chaplain Father Pat Conroy resigned from his position at the request of Speaker Paul Ryan. Both Democrats and Republicans have vocally objected to the unprecedented request. It’s possible the cause was a prayer Conroy gave before a debate on immigration.

Judicial Branch

Kyle Duncan was confirmed to a seat on the Fifth Circuit after contentious Senate hearings. Duncan was the top attorney at the Becket Fund, which litigates religious liberty cases including the Hobby Lobby challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

A federal jury in New York awarded $5.1 million in damages to former employees of an insurance plan for being forced to engage in spiritual practices called “Onionhead” on the job.

States

Religion Dispatches discovered that many of the conservative Christian bills being proposed in state legislatures are modeled on a packet produced by “Project Blitz,” a pro-Christian network of lawmakers and advocates that also organizes Prayer Caucuses in state houses across the country.

Suggested bills include a “Religion in Legal History Act,” a “Student Prayer Certification Act,” and a “Resolution Establishing Public Policy Favoring Intimate Sexual Relations Only Between Married, Heterosexual Couples.”

A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan presented conspiracy theories about the Democratic candidate, who is Muslim-American. He claimed that the Democrat is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and part of a Muslim plan to infiltrate local governments.

Other news

The Religion News Service, a nonprofit dedicated to non-sectarian coverage of religious news around the world (which I often link to), saw an internal shakeup (implosion?) this week. Newsroom dissatisfaction, publisher involvement in editorial decisions, and allegations of pro-Catholic bias resulted in the firing of the editor-in-chief and subsequent resignations of several staff in protest.

The Washington Post ran a lengthy piece about evolving religious perspectives on in-vitro fertilization, and the looming discussions about more complex editing of embryos’ genomes.