Sessions announces Religious Liberty Task Force
by Les Sillars
Posted 7/30/18, 01:33 pm
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force to ensure the Department of Justice implements the Trump administration’s approach to religious liberty: “that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square.” He added, according to his prepared remarks for the DOJ’s Religious Liberty Summit in Washington, “A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. … It must be confronted and defeated.” Sessions said the task force will ensure the department upholds the 20 “fundamental principles” he issued last fall to ensure the government accommodates people of faith. He also cited the department’s participation in religious liberty cases, including those involving the contraceptive and abortifacient mandate, arson and other attacks against houses of worship (including mosques), and Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. “The federal government is not just reacting—we are actively seeking, carefully, thoughtfully and lawfully, to accommodate people of faith,” he said. “Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought.”
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Coptic bishop found dead in Egyptian monastery
INTERNATIONAL | Bishop Epiphanius was regarded as a ‘towering figure of the Coptic Church’
by Mindy Belz
Posted 7/30/18, 02:17 pm
EGYPT: Coptic Orthodox Bishop Epiphanius was found dead Sunday morning, lying in a pool of blood and apparently murdered in a corridor of the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Wadi El Natrun, where he served as abbot. Monastic life dates to the fourth century in Wadi El Natrun, and Epiphanius was “a towering figure of the Coptic Church, a serious scholar and a loving father,” said Egyptian scholar and Hoover Institution senior fellow Samuel Tadros.
RWANDA: A national governance board has closed more than 8,000 churches since Rwanda enacted strict new rules on houses of worship. The rules ostensibly govern health and safety but follow a general crackdown this year in a country that’s 90 percent Christian.
VATICAN: Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, formerly the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and one of the most influential Roman Catholic prelates. McCarrick is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to be removed over accusations of sexual abuse, involving decades of inappropriate behavior toward minors and adults resulting in past settlements paid by at least two New Jersey dioceses.
SAUDI ARABIA: King Salman, appearing to overrule Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said the kingdom will not endorse any U.S. peace plan for Israel that does not include a Palestinian state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.
UNITED STATES: Almost 80 percent of the global population experiences “severe limitations” on the right to religious freedom, reads the Potomac Declaration, which was delivered at the conclusion of last week’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the State Department in Washington, D.C. The State Department also published six statements signed by an array of the 80-plus nations in attendance highlighting specific areas of concern: blasphemy laws, counterterrorism, Burma, China, and Iran.
RUSSIA: Prehistoric nematodes have been brought to life out of the Siberian permafrost—“the first data demonstrating the capability of multicellular organisms for longterm cryobiosis in permafrost deposits of the Arctic,” scientists report.
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