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Empty LDS conference center

LDS General Authority Excommunicated, First in Decades

August 11, 2017

A mid-level Mormon church official was removed from his post and excommunicated from the church Tuesday—the first excommunication of an LDS leader in almost three decades.

59-year-old James J. Hamula had served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy—a body of leadership just below the church’s First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles—since 2008. This body of top officials, together called General Authorities, are the only leaders that work for the church full-time, leaving behind their former careers. Hamula had previously worked as a lawyer.

The

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Gay vet supporting trans rights

Trump’s Twitter Policymaking Jeopardizes Transgender Troops

July 28, 2017

On Wednesday, President Trump announced in a series of three tweets that the United States military will no longer allow transgender people to serve “in any capacity” on the grounds that transgender troops cause the military to “be burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Transgender people have only been allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces since last year, when the Obama administration

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Same-sex wedding cake topper

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Baker Refusing Same-Sex Couple

July 5, 2017

Last Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of a Colorado baker who holds that his refusal to make a same-sex wedding cake was not discrimination, but rather an expression of his freedom of speech.

The case centers around a 2012 encounter between baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, and couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig. Because same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado, Mullins and Craig were planning to marry in Massachusetts but to celebrate the union in Colorado. When they asked Phillips of Masterpiece

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Sri Lankan Muslim woman looks at camera in scorched building

Sri Lankan Authorities Arrest Policeman, Monk for Violence Against Muslims

June 22, 2017

After ongoing accusations of inaction, Sri Lankan authorities have arrested four Buddhists for promoting and perpetuating violence against Muslims.

For years, Muslim Sri Lankans—who make up nearly 10 percent of the country’s population—have been targeted in spates of religious violence. In 2014, a series of anti-Muslim riots on Muslim homes, shops, and places of worship displaced more than 10,000 people. More recently, Muslims in Sri Lanka have reported at least 16 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims since April 16.

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Donald Trump

Trump Thanks Evangelical Supporters at Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference

June 16, 2017

Last week, as former FBI director James Comey sat for a highly-publicized testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Donald Trump was across the street delivering a speech to a group of over 1,000 evangelical Christians about his commitment to religious freedom.

The annual Faith and Freedom Coalition conference—headed by conservative activist Ralph Reed—convened for a weekend

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Donald Trump

Widespread Condemnation from Faith Groups After Trump Announces Paris Accord Withdrawal

June 9, 2017

On Thursday, June 1, Donald Trump announced his plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, a 2015 global accord designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The long-term goal of the agreement is to keep global warming from exceeding the “tipping point” of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

During his announcement speech, Trump said that the accord placed a disproportionate burden on the United States.

“The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris agreement. They went wild. They were so happy,” Trump

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Trump sits with King Hamed bin Issa

In Riyadh Speech, Shift in Trump’s Tone on Islam

June 6, 2017

May 21, during his first trip abroad as US president, Donald Trump spoke to Saudi Arabian leaders about their shared burden of rooting out “Islamic extremism.” Many watching anxiously awaited to see what terminology the president would use to refer to religiously-motivated terrorism. Trump had previously criticized President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for their refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” but declined to use the term

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Up-close shot of couple holding hands during wedding ceremony

Christie Strikes Child Marriage Bill, Cites Religious Freedom

May 18, 2017

Last week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill banning child marriage without exception—a bill which would have been the first of its kind in the United States. Christie cited religious freedom as a key reason for his refusal to sign the bill.

Although the legal marriage age is 18 across the U.S., every state has options for underage youth to wed. In New Jersey, children 15 and under need judicial approval to marry, while children ages 16 and 17 need only a parent’s

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Protesters gather with signs at March for Science

At March for Science, Debate Over Anti-Evolutionists

April 27, 2017

Last Saturday, tens of thousands gathered in cities around the world to advocate for the value and ongoing necessity of science for human progress.

With the largest group congregating on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., March for Science protesters had a decidedly political aim: to speak out against “policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world.”

Protesters particularly targeted the current administration with criticism. Signs decried President Trump’s

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White man and black man talk at microphone

Survey Shows American Pastors Open to Preaching on Racial Reconciliation

April 20, 2017

According to a new survey conducted by evangelical research firm LifeWay, American Protestants support preaching on racial reconciliation but are hesitant to get involved in other work toward that goal.

The study, released at the end of March, surveyed 1,000 Protestant pastors about how their congregations are addressing issues of race. 90 percent of pastors agreed that their congregation would likely “welcome a sermon on racial reconciliation.” Despite anticipating

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