1. Inmates with terrorist ties led prayer services, Government prison audit finds shortage of approved chaplains, By Mark A. Kellner, The Washington Times, July 8, 2021, Pg. A1
Inmates “with a known nexus to international or domestic terrorism” are leading worship services in some federal prisons because of a shortage of approved chaplains, according to a Department of Justice inspector general report released Wednesday.

In his report, Mr. Horowitz notes that there are only 236 chaplains to serve more than 160,000 federal inmates and that two-thirds of U.S. Bureau of
Prison facilities are not meeting staffing minimums, forcing some prisons to turn to “alternatives that pose enhanced risks.”

In addition, Mr. Horowitz said his office “found a lack of diversity” in the BOP’s chaplain corps: 84% of chaplains are Protestants, although only 34% of inmates identify as such. He said “at least 16 faith groups” had no chaplains serving BOP facilities, and that Catholic and Muslim clergy “were substantially underrepresented” in the prison bureau.
2. Abbott Takes A Pro-Life Stand, By Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times, July 8, 2021, Pg. A2
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for an “extraordinary” special session of his state’s 87th Legislature that will include consideration of legislation preventing the expansion of chemical abortion drugs in his state by mail or delivery service.
3. South Carolina gov: Abortion order ‘oversteps’ federal power, By Meg Kinnard, Associated Press, July 7, 2021, 4:07 PM
South Carolina’s governor wants a new abortion law to take effect, arguing Wednesday that a judge’s decision to put the whole measure — and not just the parts being challenged in court — on hold during a lawsuit “oversteps the bounds of federal judicial power.”
Gov. Henry McMaster’s brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asks appellate judges to lift a lower court’s injunction on the “ South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act. ” The Republican signed the measure into law earlier this year.
The law requires doctors to perform ultrasounds to check for a heartbeat in the fetus, which can typically be detected about six weeks after conception. If cardiac activity is detected, the abortion can only be performed if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, or the mother’s life was in danger.
4. Pope Francis in Pyongyang? An intelligence chief is working to make it happen, By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency, July 7, 2021
Pope Francis could visit Pyongyang, according to the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, who said that he was working with Church leaders to make a papal trip to North Korea possible.
Park Jie-won, the director of the South Korean central intelligence agency, spoke at a Mass on July 5 celebrating the designation of Sanjeongdong Church in Mokpo, South Korea as a minor basilica.
“The special reason I came here today is that Archbishop Kim Hee-jong [of Gwangju], the Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea Alfred Xuereb, and I are working to organize a papal visit to Pyongyang,” Park said.
“Please pray that the pope will visit Pyongyang and bring peace to our Korean Peninsula.”
5. Supreme Court Championed Religious Freedom in Recent 2020 Term, By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, National Catholic Register, July 7, 2021, Opinion
The Supreme Court ended its term at the beginning of July. Once again, the court championed religious freedom. Let’s take a quick look at some of the court’s most important decisions:
COVID Restrictions Struck Down

Important Precedent on the Free Exercise of Religion
The right to worship freely is just one facet of the free-exercise guarantee found in the First Amendment. In a much-anticipated decision, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the city of Philadelphia’s refusal to renew its contract with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s foster-care placement agency unless it agreed to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the free-exercise guarantee found in the First Amendment…The decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia protects the right of religious Americans to contribute to the needs of their neighbors without having to leave their beliefs at the door. 

Post-Fulton and More
Typically, it takes months or even years to see how much impact a decision will have on future cases. In the case of Fulton, it took less than one month. On July 2, the Supreme Court issued an order granting review and then vacating the lower-court decision. The case, brought by a religious community against their local government, was remanded back in light of Fulton. 

This term, in every case that resulted in an opinion (including those referenced above and others), the Supreme Court has championed religious freedom. Our courts, however, cannot singlehandedly protect religious freedom in America.
The other branches of government at all levels — federal, state and local — must be made up of men and women who understand and respect the limits of their authority. Until this happens, be prepared for more cases to make their way to a Supreme Court with a solid track record in favor of religious freedom.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer is the director of the Conscience Project.

TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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