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Must Read Monday: Religious liberty executive order

May 8, 2017

Religious conservatives mixed on Trump’s order targeting birth control, church involvement in politics— USATODAY

On the National Day of Prayer, the President signed an executive order regarding religious liberty, although most religious liberty advocates were not impressed. The executive order focused on loosening enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, an IRS tax code provision which prevents churches or other religious organizations from engaging in political activity while maintaining tax-exempt status. The order also stated it would give relief to organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor, who object to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. But what disappointed many religious liberty advocates was what the order left out. It did not address providing relief to religious objectors like bakers, photographers or florists who have been threatened and sued for refusing to participate in or provide services for same-sex marriages.

For more read:

David French

Ryan T. Anderson, Heritage Foundation

Alliance Defending Freedom

The real tragedy in the shooting of Jordan Edwards— Jemar Tisby, CNN

Jemar Tisby leads the African American Reformed Network. In response to the shooting of 15-year old Jordan Edwards, he writes for CNN about why the Christian worldview sees every death as a tragedy. We do not qualify them based on “worthy” lives lived as straight-A students or varsity athletes. Instead, the Christian worldview flows out of Genesis 1, where God made every human in His image, and so, “Regardless of people’s wealth or race, everyone is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’”

In America, does more education equal less religion? — Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life

The conventional wisdom goes, if you are more religious, you must be less educated. Turns out, the relationship between religion and education is “not so simple,” according to the study. PEW found:

On one hand, among U.S. adults overall, higher levels of education are linked with lower levels of religious commitment by some measures, such as belief in God, how often people pray and how important they say religion is to them. On the other hand, Americans with college degrees report attending religious services as often as Americans with less education.

Tillerson: Pushing human rights abroad ‘creates obstacles’ to US interests— ABC News

Human rights advocates were alarmed when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made this statement to State employees:

“Guiding all our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values — our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated. Those are our values. Those are not our policies.”

“If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value that we’ve come to after a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests,” he said, arguing the U.S. must first ask “what are our national security interests, what are our economic prosperity interests, and then if we can advocate and advance our values, we should.”

Senator John McCain disagreed strongly.

The question is when do human rights become a national security issue? And if this is the policy of the US government, what does that mean for the Church, a global family motivated by an entirely different set of values than government?

Here are some international stories happening right now that might not be immediate national security interests, but certainly deal with human rights:

Venezuela protests and economic crisis: What is going on? —  NBC News

We aren’t accustomed to seeing mass starvation and devastation in our own hemisphere. But this crisis has been bubbling in Venezuela for years now, and it looks like it might bubble over.

It’s not over: Yazidis are still suffering genocide at hands of ISIS— Opinion, The Hill

Despite issuing a genocide declaration over a year ago, Yazidis and other minorities are still being kidnapped, tortured and raped by ISIS.

82 Chibok schoolgirls released in Nigeria— CNN

Terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped 267 girls in Nigeria over two years ago. They recently released 82 more of the girls in exchange for 5 of their fighters.

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