1. Listen to Women—Except . . .: Feminists try to shout down even female critics of abortion.

By Molly Gurdon, Ms. Gurdon is a former president of Oxford Students for Life, The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2017, Pg. A17, Opinion

Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, the feminist battle cry has been: “Listen to women.” Listen as they tell of sexism and abuse in the workplace. Listen as they accuse men who outrank them. This kind of openness and respect is overdue, but it comes with an asterisk: “Listen to women (unless they’re pro-life).”

Last month, pro-life students at the University of Oxford held a discussion on Ireland’s 2018 abortion referendum. It was disrupted by protesters organized by the Women’s Campaign, a student-union-sponsored group that claims it “advocates for the rights of everyone who identifies as a woman.” The protesters chanted abusive slogans—“pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die”—for 40 minutes, preventing anyone else from being heard.

This intolerance should worry anyone who cares about the future of feminism. When defenders of abortion harass and silence their ideological opponents, they lose not only the moral high ground but also the opportunity to persuade. If they’re confident in the moral and intellectual superiority of their position, what’s so distressing about another woman who wants to think about it for herself?

It’s dishonest to call for society to “listen to women” while shouting down those with different views. Pro-life women represent a variety of backgrounds and experiences. They deserve better than to be censored, insulted and bullied out of jobs. So yes, listen to women—even ones with whom you disagree.


2. Religious Freedom Is for Christians, Too: Why Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans and other minorities root for Masterpiece Cakeshop. 

By Luke W. Goodrich, Mr. Goodrich is deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund and represented Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor. He is a co-author of a new study, “Sex, Drugs, and Eagle Feathers: An Empirical Study of Federal Religious Freedom Cases.”, The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2017, Pg. A19, Opinion

Can the government in America force a Christian baker to design a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding? That’s the question before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday. The dispute in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission comes on the heels of two other high-profile religious-freedom cases involving Christians— Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014), in which the court said a business couldn’t be forced to pay for contraception in violation of its owners’ religious beliefs, and Zubik v. Burwell, which effectively said the same thing about religious nonprofits, including the Roman Catholic order Little Sisters of the Poor.

This cluster of Christian cases has prompted critics on the left to claim we’ve entered a new phase in the pursuit of “religious freedom”—scare quotes required. Gone are the days when religious freedom was primarily a shield for protecting Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans and other religious minorities. Now, these critics claim, “religious freedom” is a sword for imposing Christian values, particularly on matters of sex.

A new study that Rachel Busick and I conducted demonstrates that the truth is precisely the opposite. We examine a comprehensive database of more than 10,000 federal cases decided in the past five years.

Most strikingly, a disproportionate share of religious freedom cases are brought by non-Christian minorities. The proportion of religious-freedom cases brought by Hindus was five times their share of the population in the six states under 10th Circuit jurisdiction. The factor was 10 for Native Americans and 17 for Muslims. The most underrepresented group? Christians, who were involved in only one-fourth as many cases as their share of the population.

That means that religious freedom protections remain especially important for non-Christian minorities. But it also raises a question: Why is there so much hand-wringing about a handful of religious-liberty cases brought by Christians?

This is because the political left applies a double standard. If religious liberty is invoked by a favored minority, it is legitimate. But if it is invoked by a Christian with traditional moral views, it is seen as an excuse for hate. Progressives engage in culture-war bullying when religious liberty would stand in the way of their social views. One of the Colorado state commissioners in Masterpiece Cakeshop called the Christian baker’s religious-freedom claim “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use—to use their religion to hurt others.”

But if religious liberty means anything, it means the right to live according to your beliefs when most people think you are wrong.


3. Pence meets with Iraqi archbishop ahead of Middle East trip.

By Catholic News Agency, December 5, 2017

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil on Monday for a “substantial discussion” on the needs of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

“I updated him on the situation facing our people and expressed our hope that peace would soon come to Nineveh,” Warda said in a statement about the Dec. 4 meeting.

Since 2014, the Islamic State has forced thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee their homes after telling them they must convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant tax, or be killed. Many of these Christians have resettled in or around Erbil.

In a tweet, Pence said his meeting with Warda was an “(i)mportant dialogue…about (President Trump’s) commitment to directly assist persecuted Christians & religious minorities in Iraq. I’m heading to the Middle East this month to discuss U.S. plans to accelerate funding those impacted in the region.”

Pence’s coming trip to the Middle East is part of a series of conferences he has attended regarding the plight of Christians in the region. In October, Pence addressed In Defense of Christians’ annual Solidarity Dinner for Christians in the Middle East. The vice president said groups such as the Islamic State have singled out Christians for persecution and noted that Christianity could disappear from some parts of the Middle East.

“Let me assure you tonight, President Trump and I see these crimes for what they are – vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for Christians and the Gospel of Christ,” Pence said at the time.


4. For US Catholics Concerned With Religious Liberty, Legal Battles Aren’t Enough: Catholics must do a better job of explaining why the Church and the nation need religious liberty.

By National Catholic Register, December 4, 2017, Editorial

Where do U.S. Catholics stand on the “first freedom,” now that the Trump administration has fulfilled its pledge to deliver a broad religious exemption for the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate? And where should we put our energies as fellow believers continue to face powerful headwinds in the culture and the courts?

The commitment of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the cause of religious liberty remains undiminished. Just weeks before Christmas, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., went to court to defend the local Church’s right to post ads on the city’s subway and bus system that invited riders to take part in the Christmas season, after Metro authorities ruled that the ads violated the transportation system’s policy of barring messages that promote religion. But there are also hints of simmering internal divisions on this issue. And few would question that a robust legal and legislative strategy, while essential, should only constitute one part of a much broader effort to promote religious freedom.

This month, as a Christian baker went to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend his right to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, faith leaders generally registered their support, while civil-rights activists opposed his legal argument as a “license to discriminate.” The baker’s allies have reason to hope that the high court will rule in his favor, just as it issued a legal victory for Hobby Lobby, the for-profit Christian-owned craft-store chain that filed suit against the mandate, and just as it delivered a supportive judgment for the Little Sisters of the Poor. These legal victories confirm that the U.S. bishops were justified in resisting the mandate legally, in addition to morally. In the months and years ahead, the U.S. bishops’ judgment and resolve on this matter will continue to be tested, now that the states of California and Pennsylvania have filed suit to block the Trump administration’s religious exemption for the HHS mandate, prompting the Little Sisters of the Poor to return to court again (see related page-one story).

But legal battles won’t be enough. Catholics must do a better job of explaining why the Church and the nation need religious liberty.

U.S. Catholics, and storied institutions like Notre Dame, need to deepen their own appreciation for the gift of religious liberty and its rich history in the land of the free. We should be able to explain how religious freedom, the foundation of all our civil rights, secures human dignity and the common good. “A society that clamps down on community-based organizations and families is never going to be a just society,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who led the first campaign against the HHS mandate, told the Register. The most sustainable way to build respect for this fundamental right, he said, is to remain vigilant and to evangelize and catechize.


5. Archbishop to UN: Christians are critical to Iraq’s future. 

By Catholic News Agency, December 4, 2017, 8:01 PM

A UN panel met last week to discuss the aftermath of the Islamic State’s occupation in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, saying that the region’s future depends upon the preservation of the practices of pluralism and diversity.

“During ISIS’ occupation of Nineveh, even as it sought to eliminate the religious minorities completely, many from the majority population were also victimized as their rights evaporated,” stated Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus at the event.

“Without minorities, rights often vanish for everyone,” Anderson continued, according to a press release.

The panel was hosted in a joint effort by the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations and the Knights of Columbus, as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The event took place at UN headquarters on Nov. 30 and was titled “Preserving Pluralism and Diversity in the Nineveh Region.” It was also part of the USCCB’s overarching initiative called “Solidarity in Suffering: A Week of Awareness and Education for Persecuted Christians.”

Some of the panelists included Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Edward Clancy, the director of outreach and evangelization for Aid to the Church in Need, USA, Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the UN, and Fr. Salar Kajo, a parish priest from the Nineveh region.