The Trump administration says the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will now give aid directly to persecuted Christians in the Middle East. “We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” announced Vice President Mike Pence. Instead, USAID will work with faith-based and private organizations. Religious freedom experts—including former representative Frank Wolf and Center for Religious Freedom director Nina Shea—welcomed the news, as did some Arab Christian leaders. However, others worry it may spark even more extremist anger.
The US Supreme Court will decide whether crisis pregnancy centers in California have to post notices with contact information for free or low-cost abortion providers and contraception. Pro-life groups argue the notices violate the First Amendment by forcing them to communicate a message that violates their beliefs. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Golden State’s 2015 law, said that informing clients of “family-planning services” does not constitute an endorsement. Similar local ordinances in Maryland, New York, and Texas have been thrown out in the past, while Hawaii has a similar law and Connecticut is considering one. The Supreme Court will assess the case on the basis of free speech, not religious freedom.
Blamed by religious freedom experts for funding Islamist extremism with oil profits, Saudi Arabia has promised to reverse course. Four months ...1
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Gleanings: January/February 2018
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