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for and received his resignation last month, but after strong bipartisan objections were voiced Reverend Patrick Conroy rescinded his resignation and Ryan acquiesced.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.

States

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.

Community

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.