1. Restoring religious freedom: Trump would blunt the left’s assault on religious institutions. 

By Anne Hendershott, The Washington Times, February 8, 2017, Pg. B3

Rather than “legalizing discrimination,” the Trump religious freedom order will finally end the current discrimination against religious organizations. 

We are already at a place where the establishment clause has shifted from a legitimate desire to keep the government from entangling itself in the internal affairs of religious organizations to a justification of anti-religious secularism — pushing religion (and people of faith) out of the public square. This threatens all people of faith. 

The leaked draft of Mr. Trump’s executive order maintains that as a matter of policy, “Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their conscience.” It protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that “believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” And it protects all religious institutions by clearly stating, “Religious freedom is not limited to religious exercise that takes place in houses of worship or the home. It is guaranteed to persons of all faiths and extends to all activities of life.”

President Trump has promised to end that discrimination by protecting and defending religious liberty. The draft of his executive order is a great start.


2. Pope repeats ‘bridges not walls’ after Trump travel ban. 

By Associated Press, February 8, 2017, 7:29 AM

Pope Francis repeated his appeal for people to build bridges of understanding, not walls as he marked a feast day of a Sudanese immigrant amid a global uproar over the Trump administration’s attempts to impose a travel ban on seven mostly Muslim countries.

“In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges,” he said. “To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never.

The Vatican has in recent weeks come out strongly and directly to criticize the Trump immigration policy, with a senior official saying the Vatican was indeed concerned and the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, saying the recourse to walls and travel bans was against U.S. economic interests.


3. Sparks fly as Vatican conference challenges China on organs. 

By Nicole Winfield and Maria Cheng, Associated Press, February 7, 2017, 10:45 PM

Participants at a Vatican conference on organ trafficking challenged China on Tuesday to allow independent scrutiny to ensure it is no longer using organs from executed prisoners, saying Chinese assurances aren’t enough to prove the transplant program has been reformed.

Sparks flew in the afternoon session of the meeting as China’s former vice health minister, Dr. Huang Jiefu, sought to assure the international medical community that China was “mending its ways” after declaring an end to the prisoner harvesting program in 2015.

He provided scant data to rebut critics, however, showing only two slides indicating an increased number of living and deceased donors in recent years and China’s recent efforts to crack down on black market transplant activities.

Dr. Jacob Lavee, president of Israel’s transplant society, insisted in response that WHO be allowed to conduct surprise inspections and interview donor relatives in China.

Wang countered that he and Huang spent the past 12 years battling critics inside China and out to reform the sector, and said China shouldn’t be singled out for spot WHO inspections.

The Vatican conference is part of Pope Francis’ efforts to crack down on trafficking in humans and organs. China’s participation also conveniently corresponded with his efforts to engage Beijing in hopes of improving diplomatic relations. 


4. Reflections on the March for Life. 

By Jeanne Mancini, Crux, February 7, 2017

Two weeks ago, America witnessed a historic event. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 44th annual March for Life and heard from the highest ranking White House official to ever grace the March for Life stage – Vice President Mike Pence, along with top-ranking WH official Kellyanne Conway.

The day was a bit of a blur for those of us who were there, but in reflecting back on that historic event two weeks ago, I am reminded of the critical theme that we chose this year for the March for Life – “The Power of One.”

“Even the smallest person can change the course of history” is a powerful line from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and this line truly encapsulates “The Power of One” theme.

Working to build a culture of life can sometimes feel like we are working and living in the darkness. 

I was reminded of that little candle and the power it had to light the entire cathedral. I had to remember that no matter who is President, who is in Congress or what Supreme Court decisions are made – as significant as they are – every single one of us has the power to make a change in this world, and there is always hope. Thus, the theme of this year’s March for Life was born.

The March for Life is made up of tens of thousands of people who have the capacity to be the candle in a world that sometimes feels dark. This is the true power of one – every person has the power to be a light in this often dark world.

We’ve been marching strong for 44 years, and this year, more than ever, there is so much opportunity for change. We will continue to march until a culture of life and respect has been restored in the United States; a culture where abortion is unthinkable and the inherent dignity of the human person is respected from conception to death.

Jeanne Mancini is the President of the March for Life.