Oct 15: Trump speaks to Values Voters, Christian Hogwarts profiled

Executive Branch

Donald Trump spoke at the conservative Values Voter Summit. He listed the actions he’s taken that align with conservative Christian causes in both domestic and foreign policy, and committed to protect religious freedom.

Judicial Branch

A federal judge ruled that a tax exemption for housing clergy violates the establishment clause. She found that the exemption, passed in 1952, was unconstitutional because it provided a public benefit only available to members of the clergy.

A district court ruled that the US House Chaplain may bar an atheist from giving the congressional invocation. The atheist, who was invited by Mark Pocan (D-Wis), was informed that he did not meet the requirements that he be ordained by a recognized body in a faith he practices, and that the prayer address a higher power.

Other reads

Buzzfeed published an utterly fascinating article about a Bethel Church institution called “the School of Supernatural Ministry”that teaches Christian millennials how to prophesy and perform faith healing.

FiveThirtyEight compiled a summary of research indicating that college attendance does not reduce students’ religiosity.

Feb 26: Muhammad Ali Jr. detained, hate crimes against Jewish communities

Executive Branch

Muhammad Ali’s son was detained at an airport and reportedly questioned at length about his religion, name and nationality. A spokesman maintained that Customs does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity.

Melania Trump began a rally in Florida with a reading of the Lord’s Prayer.

50 States

Hate crimes against Jewish institutions continued. There were more bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers and over 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis were vandalized. President Trump condemned the actions after facing criticism for failing to address the issue when questioned during previous press conferences.

A formerly Muslim, Syrian man lost his suit against the Christian church that baptized him. They published his baptism online after promising not to, which resulted in his kidnapping and torture when he returned to Syria. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in a split decision that the question of a baptism’s publicity is theological and outside the court’s jurisdiction.

Bob Jones University’s federal tax-exempt status was reinstated. The Christian university lost it after a 1983 Supreme Court case penalized it for policies against interracial dating and marriage among students. The case became an important precedent, cited in decisions such as Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized gay marriage.

A group of atheists, humanists and nonbelievers filed suit against the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, saying they have been blocked from giving the invocation that traditionally opens legislative sessions.

Local

A settlement was reached in Sterling, Michigan, where the city was sued in 2015 by the Muslim-American community and the Department of Justice over alleged discrimination in the application of zoning laws to the building of a new mosque. The settlement favors the plaintiffs and will allow the mosque to be built.

Other reads

More discussion of the resurgent sanctuary movement offering refuge to undocumented immigrants in houses of worship.

A review of the fraught historical relationship between the FBI and minority religions in the United States.