Catch up on the latest and most important religion freedom headlines around the web.
Taking a Stand: Coach Kennedy on Takeaways with Kirk Cameron
This week, First Liberty client Coach Joe Kennedy was a guest on the Trinity Broadcast Network’s program Takeaways. Coach Joe sat down with Kirk Cameron to talks about his recent Supreme Court victory and why he made the choice to stay true to his faith and kneel in prayer on the 50-yard line. You can watch the episode by clicking here.
Sen. Hawley Probes Pentagon Over ‘Alarming’ Mishandling of Religious Exemptions
Sen. Josh Hawley is demanding the Department of Defense provide information related to its internal investigation into the handling of service members’ religious accommodation requests to the vaccine mandate, Fox News reports.
Hawley, R-Mo., who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to the Pentagon’s Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell Thursday requesting more information about the Pentagon’s internal report. The senator’s letter comes a week after the Pentagon’s watchdog said the DoD is in “potential noncompliance” with standards for reviewing and denying religious accommodations.
Biden Declared the Pandemic Over, But Air Force Pilots Are Still Grounded
Fox News reports that unvaccinated Air Force pilots with religious objections to the vaccine mandate continue to face discrimination in assignments and many are still being prohibited from flying. First Liberty attorney Danielle Runyan explains:
“The Air Force continues to prevent its members with religious objections to taking the vaccine from performing many of their regular duties. The best example is that pilots who are unvaccinated for religious reasons have been grounded while pilots who are unvaccinated for medical reasons are flying.”
Sen. Blackburn Introduces Bill to End Penalties Against Unvaccinated Service Members
Fox News reports that Sen. Marsha Blackburn is introducing a bill that would end any punishment imposed against service members seeking religious accommodation to the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The “Preserving the Readiness of our Armed Forces Act of 2022” is intended to strengthen protections for service members of faith. It would help keep access to pay and benefits for service members while their religious or health accommodations are being considered and end involuntary separations based on vaccination status.
Homeland Security Appoints a New Members to Security Faith Advisory Council
With attacks on houses of worship and religious organizations on the rise, the Department of Homeland Security has announced the appointment of a new, 25-member faith-based advisory council to assist Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in finding ways to protect houses of worship. The council consists of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh clergy plus some law enforcement and nonprofit faith group leaders. The council is expected to help the department evaluate the effectiveness of existing security-related programs and improve coordination and sharing of threat and security-related information.
Religion and Abortion: Groups React to Recent Federal Abortion Ban Bill
Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would prohibit elective abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with few exceptions. Deseret News reports many organizations celebrated Graham’s move, but that “just as religious leaders clashed over the value of June’s Supreme Court ruling, they’re divided over Graham’s abortion bill. Some more liberal groups have described the proposed legislation as an assault on religious freedom.” Graham said he believes the legislation will put America more in line with abortion laws in the rest of the world and would help create “a uniform standard that most Americans will agree on.”
Decline of Religion in America Is A ‘National Health Concern’: Researchers
The Christian Post reports on a study published in the Journal of Religion and Health which indicates that religious organizations are essential to the health and wellbeing of Americans. Researchers noted that “the value of faith-oriented approaches to substance abuse prevention and recovery is indisputable. And, by extension, we also conclude that the decline in religious affiliation in the USA is not only a concern for religious organizations but constitutes a national health concern.”
7 Reasons Not to Freak Out About Decline of American Christianity
The Pew Research Center recently projected that the U.S. population who identify as Christian would decrease from 64 percent in 2020 to between 35-54 in 2070. Sojourners asked faith writers, theologians and activists to reflect on the projections Pew presented. They offered brief reflections on how Christians today might respond to the trends, and what Christianity in 2070 ought to look like, whether in the majority or minority.