May 27: Muslim immigrants denied waivers, congressman endorses housing discrimination, and more

Executive Branch

The Washington Post investigated potential Muslim immigrants who have been denied waivers to the travel ban.

Legislative Branch

A Republican congressman running for reelection in California faced criticism after telling a realtor’s association that Christians have the right to not sell their homes to same-sex couples.

Paul Ryan and Sam Brownback, among others, spoke at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this week.


Louisiana passed a bill on school prayer that was a less significant version than the original legislation. The final language merely allows teachers to bow their heads during student-led prayer.


Santa Fe, Texas, has responded to the school shooting there with increased displays of religiosity. The school lost a Texas Supreme Court case decades ago that restricted prayers at school facilities.

The New York Times reported on custody decisions when one parent leaves Orthodox Judaism and no longer follows the faith’s behavior code when with their children.

Other reads

The sons of Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon have connected the religion to the second amendment, with doctrine now saying every member should own an AR-15.

Provocative number-crunching indicated that across almost every stratum, frequent church attendees more were more likely to vote for Donald Trump.

May 20: Anti-semitism, adoption via Catholic services, USCIRF appointment and more

Executive Branch

The director of Obama’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships argued that Donald Trump’s most recent executive order on religious freedom actually limits freedom. Among other things, the order eliminated the requirement that an Orthodox Jew be referred to another organization if she objects to her job program being held in a church.

The Washington Post discussed the fine line between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, particularly in light of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem and recent state laws prohibiting government contracts with organizations that boycott Israel.

Tony Perkins, the controversial head of the Family Research Council, was appointed to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Trump released a message to mark the beginning of Ramadan, which said that Muslims add to the richness of American religious life.

Judicial Branch

Catholic Social Services sued the city of Philadelphia in federal court over new rules that would stop the city from using their services for foster care, because they don’t place children with same-sex couples.


Reports from the Oregon Department of Education showed systemic discrimination and hostility against LGBT students in a high school in North Bend. Punishments for these students included reading passages from the Bible.

The Texas Tribune investigated a former FBI agent who trained law enforcement on the “Jihadi Threat to America,” and who said Islam is evil.


A Catholic therapist sued the hospital that fired her for refusing to counsel a gay couple.

An Oregon high school decided to change its mascot from The Quaker after determining it was offensive to Quakers.

A Louisiana school district settled a federal lawsuit for violations of the establishment clause. The district agreed to stop student-led prayers over the intercom and proselytizing by teachers.

Other reads

The Economics explored atheist “churches” that meet weekly to discuss morality, sometimes holding Sunday School and other events traditionally associated with Christianity.

May 13: UVA stopped public Bible reading, ritual design, and more


Oklahoma passed legislation covering places of worship as part of a “stand your ground” law that allows deadly force to be used against violent intruders.

Higher Education

A University of Virginia called the police on an alumnus who deliberately violated the school’s rules on protected speech by reading the bible aloud on campus. UVA designed new rules limiting speech and gatherings by unaffiliated persons after the white nationalist rallies there last year.

A survey of student newspaper editors at Christian Colleges shows a high level of control by administrations over what is printed. 70% reported that their advisor could prevent a story from being printed.

UCLA’s ROTC was criticized for training exercises where cadets were pitted against enemy fighters wearing traditionally Muslim clothing.

Community ran an in-depth, balanced article about a legal conflict between Cleveland Clinic doctors who want to treat a 14-year-old for brain cancer and her parents, who religiously identify as Moors and only use natural remedies for healing.

Other reads

The Atlantic covered the growing movement of ritual design, which is mostly secular but has spillover in religious arenas. The Stanford Ritual Design Lab has several ongoing projects, one of which is to create public spaces for prayer.

May 6: Oklahoma and Kansas pass adoption legislation, Trump creates org for faith-based coordination, and more

Executive Branch

May 3 was the National Day of Prayer, celebrated at the White House and across the country.

Donald Trump announced an executive order creating the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative to consult with religious leaders and make recommendations to the President. It is similar to offices in the Bush and Obama administrations.

Trump also declared May as Jewish American Heritage Month.

Legislative Branch

The US House chaplain was reinstated. House Speaker Paul Ryan asked for and received his resignation last month, but after strong bipartisan objections were voiced Reverend Patrick Conroy rescinded his resignation and Ryan acquiesced. The Washington Post explains the history of the House Chaplain.

Four congressional representatives formed the Congressional Freethought Caucus to advocate for the interests of citizens who don’t believe in God. It is the first of its kind in Congress.

Judicial Branch

A federal court granted three Muslim men standing to sue the FBI for placing them on a no-fly list after they refused to become informants. They are making a religious freedom claim.


Kansas passed legislation to allow faith-based adoption agencies to continue receiving state funding if they decline to place children with families who don’t meet religious requirements, like same-sex couples. The two state-designated contractors that handle most adoptions, however, are required to serve all prospective parents.

Oklahoma passed similar legislation, preventing sanctions of religious adoption agencies for avoiding activities that would contradict their espoused beliefs. Proponents say it allows faith-based organizations to consider serving children without violating their moral convictions, while opponents say it legalizes discrimination against same-sex couples.

Oklahoma also approved a bill allowing government buildings to display historically significant documents, in particular the 10 Commandments.


An official in the DC city government is under fire for statements alleging global Jewish conspiracies.

Other reads

The Christian Science Monitor reported on new models of higher education being designed for political and religiously conservative students, who often feel alienated or threatened at mainstream colleges.

A PRRI survey showed growing support for same-sex marriage across American demographic groups, including across religious affiliations. It also asked about support for religiously-based service refusal, which is only supported by a majority of white evangelical Protestants and Mormons. Other questions covered protections of LGBT people from housing and employment discrimination.