Nov 25: Attorney General transition, the SPLC, and more

Executive Branch

Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at Donald Trump’s request. Sessions was hotly criticized by religious conservatives, despite being one himself. Sessions’ replacement, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, has previously said he would only support federal judges if they had a biblical and not a secular view of justice.

Several members of Donald Trump’s informal evangelical advisory board met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The international community has criticized the prince for the execution of Washington Post columnist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules allowing private companies not to cover birth control for their employees if they have a religious objection. HHS is looking into providing government-funded birth control for those whose employers decline to cover it.

The FBI released its hate crime statistics for 2017. The number of reported hate crimes overall increased, but so did the number of law enforcement agencies that report these statistics.

Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case from Maryland that asks if a 40-foot cross in commemoration of World War I casualties is a government endorsement of religion.

States

This election saw a national pattern of attack ads where Jewish candidates were pictured holding large quantities of cash, which some observers deemed anti-Semitic.

Alabama passed a constitutional amendment as a ballot initiative that allows the government to display the Ten Commandments on public property.

New York state issued new requirements for schools that receive public funding, which may restrict the money that goes to ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools called yeshivas.

Community

A North Carolina county with an unusually high number of students claiming religious exemptions to vaccination requirements was hit with a serious chickenpox outbreak.

A Muslim man in California won his wrongful termination suit against a hospital and was awarded $3.2 million in damages for religious harassment.

A Catholic school teacher who was fired for getting pregnant while not married won $3.5 million for wrongful termination.

Other reads

A growing number of black millennial women are leaving Christianity to practice witchcraft.

The Washington Post investigated the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups, which includes some conservative think tanks and Christian legal funds focused on religious freedom.