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Saturday, June 22, 2019
Weekly briefing: State Dept. religious freedom report, Supreme Court rulings, Rhode Island's abortion expansion

Weekly briefing: State Dept. religious freedom report, Supreme Court rulings, Rhode Island's abortion expansion

A 40-foot cross that honors 49 fallen World War I soldiers from Prince George’s County stands at the busy intersection of Bladensberg and Annapolis roads and Baltimore Avenue in Bladensberg, Maryland, February 28, 2019. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We've compiled the top stories of the week. Here's what you need to know:

U.S. State Department lists countries with worst record of persecution in 2018 

The U.S. State Department released its annual report on international religious freedom on Friday and announced that it will strengthen its office that oversees international religious freedom issues.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the report that serves as a “report card” tracking countries’ progress on religious freedom in 2018. 

“As in previous years, our report exposes a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes, violent extremist groups, and individual citizens. For all those who run roughshod over religious freedom, I’ll just say this: the United States is watching and you will be held to account,” Pompeo said. 

Supreme Court returns case against Christian bakers, upholds Bladensburg Cross

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two religious freedom rulings this week. 

Monday, the Court vacated an appeals court ruling against Aaron and Melissa Klein, a Christian couple from Oregon who lost their bakery and were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2013.

Noting the 7-2 ruling in favor of another Christian baker, Jack Phillips of Colorado, who similarly declined to design a cake in celebration of a gay wedding, the court sent the case back "for further consideration." 

“The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated," said First Liberty Institute President Kelley Shackelford.


Thursday, the court ruled that the Bladensburg Cross, a 40 foot memorial to World War I soldiers on government property in Maryland, does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. 


Religious left event features Democrat presidential candidates 

The Poor People’s Campaign held its three-day Moral Action Congress this week in Washington, D.C., to "call for moral revival." The top presidential candidates were invited, including President Donald Trump, and nine of the Democrats showed up. 

Each candidate gave a four-minute speech then sat for questions. 

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders argued that he could win back the white working class voters that Trump won with this message: “We say to those white workers, ‘You think that African Americans and immigrants are your enemy? Well, you got it backward. Why don’t you take a look at Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies and the military industrial complex.’”

California Senator Kamala Harris said Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan influences her policy views. 

“This is about morality, it is about what are our morals. It is about what is right, what are the teachings of Christ and other leaders who teach us the importance of living a life that is not about ourselves but about service to and for others,” she said. 

Rhode Island governor signs bill legalizing late-term and partial birth abortion 

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Catholic, signed a bill Wednesday that legalizes abortion up to the birth, sparking outrage among pro-life lawmakers and activists.

The Reproductive Privacy Act allows late-term abortions on viable unborn babies, including partial-birth and dismemberment abortions. 

Two Democrat senators spoke out against the bill before the vote.

 "[W]e are all children of God and I tell you, we will all be accountable to God for the position of influence that He has given to all of us,” Sen. Frank Lombardo said, urging members of his party to vote against the bill.

And Democrat Sen. Harold Metts, a Baptist deacon from Providence, said he would never vote for an “ungodly” abortion-rights bill because “we are made in God’s image.”

Pray for

The Nigerians whose loved ones were killed this week in radical Fulani attacks

Christians worldwide who continue to face persecution for their faith

New releases

Movies: 

Now showing in theaters nationwide is the film "Emanuel" based on the tragic 2015 Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.  

Books:

I Know Who I Am: Walking in your true identity in Christ in order to live your best life by Christi Johnston

Marriage After God: Chasing Boldly After God’s Purpose for Your Life Together by Aaron and Jennifer Smith

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