The US Supreme Court will decide this month whether Christian hospitals have to meet federal rules on funding pensions. Since 1980, the government has allowed the hospitals—and other church-affiliated groups like daycares and schools—to claim the same ERISA pension exemptions as churches. But lower courts ruled that three major religiously affiliated health care systems aren’t exempt, because their benefit plans weren’t established by a church. That precedent leaves the courts in the position of making “sensitive determinations” about what constitutes a “church,” argued the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in an amicus brief. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty noted that if the hospitals are ordered to make the billion-dollar back payments, they will have to cut programs for the poor or shut down altogether.
More than 100 prominent Christians, including two who prayed at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, urged Congress to reject Trump’s proposed budget cuts to foreign aid. National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Samuel Rodriguez and Cardinal Timothy Dolan were among the humanitarian experts, denominational leaders, seminary presidents, and artists who signed a public letter asserting that international programs are “instrumental in saving lives, safeguarding religious liberties, and keeping America safe and secure.” One signatory, World Vision president Rich Stearns, issued an additional statement suggesting that cutting programs could halt or undo progress made in eradicating diseases, reducing poverty, and improving education—“wasting ...1