March: Donald Trump promotes a Jexodus, West Virginia sues the Catholic Church, and more

Executive Branch

A man espousing white supremacy murdered 50 people at mosques in New Zealand. Donald Trump’s response was criticized for being generic and tepid, in contrast to his responses when a Muslim commits acts of violence.

Trump expressed enthusiasm for a conservative “Jexodus” movement encouraging Jewish voters to leave the Democratic party because of allegations of anti-Semitism.

The term was coined by an Instagram model who has now started a nonprofit to promote it, prompting protests that there’s no evidence of Jews switching political allegiances.

The Department of Education said that it will stop enforcing a law requiring education contractors to be unaffiliated with religious organizations. It stated that the provision is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling on Trinity Lutheran v. Comer.

Legislative Branch

The Democrats’ dispute over Israeli policy and anti-Semitism continued, with closed-door meetings attempting to resolve the issues by speaking about personal histories and experiences.

Fox pundit Jeanine Pirro was taken off the air after questioning Representative Ilhan Omar’s patriotism because she wears a hijab. She drew criticism and support from various camps.

Senate Republicans took up the cause in trying to take advantage of Democrats internal divisions by passing resolutions condemning anti-Semitism.

Judicial Branch

The Senate confirmed a federal judicial nominee who interned for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative religious freedom litigation group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has controversially labeled as a hate group. Other critics argue that, at 37 and with no judicial background, she’s too inexperienced. The National Review took up her defense.

A federal appeals court ruled that tax-deductible clergy housing allowances are constitutional.

A group of Muslim men sued ICE after being detained and not given religious accommodations.

States

West Virginia’s Attorney General took a novel approach to litigating Catholic clergy sex abuse coverups by arguing their knowing employment of pedophiles constituted a violation of consumer protection laws.

Michigan stopped funding adoption agencies that don’t work with prospective parents who are LGBT.

Virginia passed a bill requiring clergy to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It has exceptions for religions that doctrinally require such information to remain confidential or if it is exempted from court testimony (like in a confession).

North Dakota legalized the sale of goods on Sunday mornings.

Community

A New Jersey firefighter filed a lawsuit after he was told he had to shave his beard or be suspended. His beard is part of his born-again Christianity, but the department says it is a safety risk.

Other reads

Politico profiled the founders of Telos, a “pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian” group trying to change American evangelicals’ minds about unconditional support for Israel.

The Washington Post analyzed the argument the Islam is not a religion.

A new study reported that a third of Catholic hospitals in the US don’t clarify what religious restrictions they place on patient care (for example, procedures related to family planning or gender expression).