1. Iraqi Christians Are Still Waiting, Mr. Pence, In October he said help would be on the way. So where is it? 

By Robert McFarlane and Chris Smith, Mr. McFarlane was President Reagan’s national security adviser, 1983-85. Mr. Smith, a New Jersey Republican, is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that oversees international organizations, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2018, Pg. A15, Opinion

Before 2003, some 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq. Today nearly 9 in 10 are gone, thanks to chaos in the region and the murderous reign of Islamic State. The number of Yazidis, another ancient religious minority, has plummeted as well.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump rightly railed against the Obama administration for not doing enough to help. Speaking at a dinner last October, Vice President Mike Pence said change was already on the way.


“While faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests,” Mr. Pence said last year. “My friends, those days are over.”

Except those days aren’t over. Career staff at USAID have ignored Mr. Pence’s words and thwarted the clear intent of the Trump administration. As a result, the light of Iraqi Christianity could be permanently extinguished.

USAID must use whatever creativity is necessary to complete its mission and keep Mr. Pence’s pledge to Iraq’s religious minorities. The Senate should swiftly pass bipartisan legislation to authorize funding for these victimized communities. Such a bill, written by one of this op-ed’s authors, passed the House last summer and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last fall. Yet it still awaits a full Senate vote.

To ensure the survival of these beleaguered communities, to uphold U.S. national security, and to keep the Trump administration’s promise, the federal government must act—and soon—to help the Christians and Yazidis of Iraq.


2. The Supreme Court Let Me Live My Faith Again, The justices affirmed that I don’t have to violate my beliefs to work as a cake artist. 

By Jack Phillips, Mr. Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2018, Pg. A15

The Supreme Court’s ruling this Monday on my case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, helped determine that people of faith remain free to pursue our chosen vocations.

My work at the cake shop is more than a way to make a living. Designing each wedding cake is an expressive act, as I create an artistic centerpiece that announces a couple’s union as a marriage and tells part of their story. My perspective and beliefs are inseparable from the work I create.

But after decades of developing my craft, my home state took it away from me. My case started in 2012 when I was asked to design a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. I politely declined that request because of my religious beliefs about marriage. But I told the customers that I would sell them anything else in my shop, or create a cake for them for a different event.

To understand my decision, you must understand my faith. I’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ for most of my adult life.

This means that when I operate my business, I am always mindful of whether God is pleased with what I create. That’s why even though I serve all people, I can’t design cakes that celebrate events or express messages that conflict with my faith. It’s also why I’ve declined requests to create cakes that celebrate Halloween or memorialize a divorce.

In deciding my case, the Supreme Court ruled that the government was wrong to punish me for living out my faith. It also made clear that the government must respect my religious beliefs about marriage.

How the issue plays out for others, we’ll have to wait and see. But given the court’s ruling in my case, I’m optimistic.


3. Exxon to Show Its Green Side in Meeting with Pope Francis. 

By Bradley Olson, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2018, 5:30 AM

Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM 1.00% , the oil giant long derided by environmentalists, is trying to give itself a green facelift.

Chief Executive Darren Woods has called for Exxon to become “part of the solution” on climate change, a point he is expected to make Saturday as he and other oil and gas executives meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss the issue.

It is part of an evolving shift by Exxon under Mr. Woods, after some of his predecessors adopted a more adversarial stance on climate and environmental issues with governments and activists.

Exxon faces many challenges as it seeks to shift the narrative on its climate record. For one, it isn’t really changing its business model.

So far, Exxon’s technology investments are largely wagers on the future of fossil fuels.


4. Religion’s uncertain future in the public realm. 

By Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, June 8, 2018, Pg. A25

Sometimes a movement can be sabotaged by its victories.

Such is the case with the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. The decision properly smacked down the anti-religious bigotry of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which wanted not only to compel baker Jack Phillips to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding but also to sneer at him in the process. The broader question — could Phillips be compelled by a non-bigoted state authority? — was left for another day.

But a focus on commercial services is ultimately unhelpful for advocates of religious liberty.

No, the real religious-liberty issue is not discrimination in commercial settings. It is the right of religious institutions to maintain their identity — including their views on sexuality — when they interact with the public realm. Can students receive Pell Grants when they attend a religious college that regards homosexual sex as immoral? Can the government work with a religious adoption agency that places children only with a mother and father?

Here the issue is not whether you agree with such views. Rather: Does the constitutional order make a place — within limits — for institutions that don’t share the broader social consensus?

Some conservatives are too pessimistic about the future of pluralism; they think all of America is on the verge of having the enforced political correctness of Evergreen State College. This is simply false. Conservatives, however, are correct about one thing. Liberals of the first, more overbearing sort may view themselves as neutral arbiters of law, but they seek to impose a set of beliefs that is no less sectarian for being secular.

Particularly on the issue of gay rights, this is unnecessary. The social consensus — not least among younger religious believers — is shifting rapidly in favor of inclusion. We are headed toward an accommodation in which the majority culture accepts homosexuality but some small communities stay out of that consensus. Attempting to pressure and compel those communities is the one thing that could make an accommodation more difficult and bitter.


5. GOP lawmakers call for Planned Parenthood investigation. 

By Bradford Richardson, The Washington Times, June 8, 2018, Pg. A3

Republican lawmakers are calling for a federal investigation into whether Planned Parenthood has failed to report suspected sexual abuse against minors.

In a letter Thursday to the Department of Health and Human Services, 54 representatives and two senators accused Planned Parenthood of routinely performing abortions “on children as young as 12 and 13 years old,” and then returning the children to their abusers without notifying authorities.

The letter cites a report recently released by Live Action that found Planned Parenthood has an unwritten “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to minors seeking abortions.

One of the signers, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, said Planned Parenthood has engaged in an “unconscionable, inhumane cover-up of child sex abuse.”

The letter also was signed by Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Mark Walker of North Carolina, as well as Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and James Lankford of Oklahoma.

The demand for an investigation comes as HHS considers a new rule that would strengthen federal law requiring Title X recipients to comply with state reporting standards.

Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of Title X dollars, which are earmarked for family planning services, at about $60 million per year.


6. Activists urge oil executives to heed pope at Vatican energy conference. 

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, June 8, 2018, 8:27 AM

Environmentalists and aid agencies urged executives of the world’s top oil companies attending a Vatican conference on climate change on Friday to heed Pope Francis’s warnings about global warming.

Pope Francis, who wrote a major document on protecting the environment from global warming in 2015, will address the some 40 participants – including leading oil and gas executives and major industry investors – on Saturday.

The Vatican has been tight-lipped about the closed-door event. But a Vatican source said the heads or senior executives of companies including ExxonMobil, Eni, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Equinor and Pemex were expected.


7. Vatican document suggests role for married priests, women in the Amazon. 

By Philip Pullella, Reuters, June 8, 2018, 5:41 AM

A document for a meeting of Catholic bishops from the Amazon, expected to evaluate ordaining elderly married men as priests for the vast region, says the Church should make “daring proposals”.

A preparatory document released on Friday also says the meeting, known as a synod, taking place in October 2019, should consider conferring on women in the area some “type of official ministry”.

The synod will include bishops and other representatives from the nine countries of the Amazon basin, including indigenous peoples.

The synod is expected to discuss the possibility of ordaining “viri probati” – Latin for men of proven character – to deal with the shortage of priests. Such men would be elderly, outstanding members of the local Catholic community and with grown-up families.


8. Congressmen call for investigation into Planned Parenthood abuse cover-ups. 

By Christine Rousselle, Catholic News Agency, June 8, 2018

Several members of Congress have asked the federal government to investigate allegations that Planned Parenthood has covered-up acts of sexual abuse.

At a press conference held Thursday outside the Capitol Building, the members of Congress, along with pro-life group Live Action, asked the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate Planned Parenthood and other Title X fund recipients to determine if there is a widespread practice of covering up sexual abuse.

Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of Title X family planning funds, and is required by law to report any suspected abuse.

Last week, Live Action released the first videos of its ongoing docuseries “Aiding Abusers: Planned Parenthood’s Cover-Up of Child Sexual Abuse,” as well as a report containing decades worth of examples of Planned Parenthood acting negligently in failing to report sexual abuse. Many of the stories detailed in the report were re-told on Thursday by members of Congress


9. Abuse survivors launch global bishop accountability effort.

By Associated Press, June 7, 2018, 12:13 PM

Some of the most prominent figures in the fight against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are joining forces in a new international effort to end abuse and the impunity of bishops and religious superiors who enable it.

The multinational initiative, End Clergy Abuse, was announced Thursday at a press conference in Geneva. One after another, more than a dozen members held up their national flags and denounced an individual bishop who had mishandled a case, from the Americas to Africa and Europe in between.

They demanded Pope Francis revise his ditched plan to create a Vatican tribunal to hold negligent bishops accountable, and vowed to help victims around the world find justice.

The group was in Geneva this week to meet with officials from the United Nations and received an invitation to meet with the head of the U.N. General Assembly later this year, suggesting their collective authority as abuse survivors and advocates had caught attention in the corridors of power. The U.N. committee that monitors implementation of the treaty protecting the rights of the child excoriated the Holy See in 2014 for its mishandling of abuse cases.