April 2019: Supreme Court changes mind on ministers at executions, Muslim congresswoman receives death threats, and more

Judicial Branch

After not allowing an imam to accompany an Alabama man to his execution, the Supreme Court permitted a Buddhist minister to accompany a Texas man to his execution. NPR and the New York Times reported on the seemingly inconsistent decisions.

Texas ultimately decided not to allow any religious ministers or chaplains to accompany a condemned prisoner to their execution.

A federal court upheld Philadelphia’s 2018 decision to drop Catholic Charities as a foster care agency. The city ended the contract after complaints from a same-sex couple complained that they were denied services by religious foster care agencies.

Legislative Branch

A man was arrested and charged with threatening to kill Muslim House Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

A federal court ruled that the US House Chaplain can prevent atheists from giving the invocation to a house session.

Executive Branch

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney spoke at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. His remarks made the case that Trump administration policies are faith-based.

The IRS officially designated the Satanic Temple as a tax-exempt religious organization.

Presidential Race

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg spoke out about his Christian faith and criticized Vice President Mike Pence for supporting Donald Trump. Conservatives responded by saying that Buttigieg’s marriage to another man disqualifies him from opining about Christianity.


The Texas GOP is in a “civil war” over some party officials who are Muslim and have faced hate mail and internal opposition to their positions.

A faith-based adoption agency in Michigan has updated its policy to allow children to be placed with same-sex couples after losing its contracts and a legal settlement.

Utah passed a new hate crimes bill that allows more severe sentences for any crimes that expressed hatred of a protected class. Religion is one of over a dozen protected classes included.


Yale Law School implemented new policies preventing students from accessing certain funding sources and loan forgiveness if they work for organizations that have religious hiring policies after graduating. Yale responded to allegations of discrimination after Ted Cruz opened a senatorial investigation into the policy.

Orthodox Jewish Schools in New York City (yeshivas) were ordered to ban students who have not been vaccinated, amid a growing measles outbreak in Brooklyn. Parents said they will sue for discrimination. The Washington Post explains why some Orthodox Jews don’t get vaccinated.

A judge voided an earlier NYC policy requiring the yeshivas to teach secular subjects like English and math.

A man got a $75,000 judgment after being fired for refusing a flu shot on the basis of his religious beliefs.

Other reads

New research visualizes the religious makeup of Republicans and Democrats since 1978. Most striking is the rise to dominance of “nones” in the Democratic party and the decline of mainline Protestants in the Republican party.