1. Blinken ends Trump rights plan promoting conservative agenda, By Matthew Lee, Associated Press, March 31, 2021
In a sharp rebuke to Trump-era policies, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday formally scrapped a blueprint championed by his predecessor to limit U.S. promotion of human rights abroad to causes favored by conservatives like religious freedom and property matters while dismissing reproductive and LGBTQ rights.
Blinken said a report prepared for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that sought to pare down the number of freedoms prioritized in U.S. foreign policy was “unbalanced,” did not reflect Biden administration policies and would not guide them. The report from Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights had been harshly criticized by human rights groups.
“One of the core principles of human rights is that they are universal. All people are entitled to these rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe, whom they love, or any other characteristic,” Blinken said. “Human rights are also co-equal; there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others.”
2. The Equality Act Is at War With Reality, Every child knows the difference between mom and dad. Congress seeks to outlaw the distinction, By Margaret Harper McCarthy, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2021, Pg. A19, Opinion
At stake in the so-called Equality Act, currently before the Senate, is neither women’s sports nor bathrooms, at least not ultimately. At stake is the freedom of rational human beings to use a common vocabulary when speaking about what all can see. Also at stake are the countless vulnerable souls falling prey to the tyrannizing “gender identity” ideology and the medical atrocities that go with it. That is why religious freedom is also at stake. Religion is the last bastion of sanity.

What goes unnoticed—or at least unsaid—in the current debates invoking religious freedom is that the “beliefs” in question are not beliefs at all. The Equality Act doesn’t concern such invisible mysteries as the Holy Trinity, for example. That is a matter of belief in the strict sense, though it isn’t irrational or private. Rather, the Equality Act concerns things everyone can see and understand. Infants don’t need instruction to know that their mothers are the ones who are nursing them, and their fathers are the ones who are not. Sexual difference is obvious to anyone with eyes to see.
When people defend the obvious, though, they make claims not only for themselves but for everyone. When you say “two plus two equals four,” you are saying something about the nature of things. This holds true for manifest truths about the human body, which now, by and large, only religious people “believe.” This point is not lost on opponents of religious freedom. They understand, rightly, that a claim is being made about the way things are everywhere and for everyone. This is why they object.
Mrs. McCarthy is a professor at the John Paul II Institute and editor of Humanum Review.
3. North Dakota House approves Ten Commandments school bill, By James MacPherson, Associated Press, March 31, 2021
North Dakota’s Republican-led House overwhelmingly endorsed legislation Tuesday that’s aimed at shielding schools and teachers from lawsuits arising from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms.
The 76-16 vote came despite warnings from attorneys and school officials that the legislation would result in costly and unwinnable legal fights.
The GOP-controlled Senate approved the measure 34-13 last month. Hoping to fend off legal challenges, the House amended the bill with a requirement that the Ten Commandments be included in a display with other historical documents.
4. Survey: Two-thirds of Catholics say Biden should be able to receive Communion, By Catholic News Agency, March 31, 2021, 4:00 AM
Two-thirds of U.S. Catholics say that President Joe Biden, who has contradicted Church teaching on abortion, marriage, and gender ideology, should be allowed to receive Communion.
According to a Pew Research Center survey released on Tuesday, 67% of U.S. Catholics say that Biden should be allowed to receive Communion at Mass, while fewer than one-third (29%) believe he should not be allowed to receive.
Beliefs on Communion fell somewhat along party lines, with 55% of Catholic Republicans – or those who lean Republican – saying that Biden should be denied Communion, while only 11% of Democrats or those leaning Democrat saying he should be denied Communion.
5. Pronouns and the Philosophy Professor, A Christian teacher, a transgender student, and two years in court, By The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2021, 6:15 PM, Editorial
Can a Christian professor be disciplined or fired for refusing to call a transgender student by a preferred pronoun? We may find out. The professor’s lawsuit was initially dismissed, but last week a federal appeals court reinstated the case, citing plausible violation of his First Amendment rights.
Nicholas Meriwether has taught philosophy for years at Shawnee State University, a public school with about 3,500 students in southern Ohio. As the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals tells the story, in an opinion by Judge Amul Thapar, Mr. Meriwether’s pedagogical method is to hold Socratic discussions, while addressing students as “Mr.” or “Ms.” to create an atmosphere of seriousness.
After a class in early 2018, a student whom Mr. Meriwether had called “sir” approached and requested to be addressed with feminine pronouns.

Mr. Meriwether’s dean suggested a way forward: He could simply quit using all sex-based references, including basic pronouns like “he” and “she.” The professor objected that trying to speak like this would be impossible, but he began calling the transgender student by last name only. Complaining to administrators, the student threatened to hire a lawyer.

Thus Mr. Meriwether’s case grinds forward, as the philosophy of “live and let live” dies a little more. Students deserve to be treated with respect. So do religious beliefs. Assuming Mr. Meriwether acted in good faith, why isn’t mutual accommodation the answer? According to the Sixth Circuit, the student kept coming to class and won a high grade, reflecting “very good work” and “frequent participation.” Yet going on three years later, this is still a federal case.
6. U.S. Restores Reproductive Rights Report in Global Survey, State Department’s annual human-rights report also provided a detailed accounting of abuses committed in China, By Jessica Donati, The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2021, 7:04 PM
The Biden administration is resuming the practice of evaluating women’s reproductive rights in various countries as part of the State Department’s annual survey of global human rights, reversing a decision by the Trump administration.
The State Department released its annual human-rights report on Tuesday. The report said an addendum to be added later this year will cover previously dropped topics, including maternal mortality, access to contraception and reproductive healthcare. Those topics were last reported upon in 2016.
“Women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, are human rights,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Tuesday.
7. Virginia Education Department sued over guidelines to protect transgender students, By Hannah Natanson, The Washington Post, March 30, 2021, 7:36 PM
Two conservative groups are suing the Virginia Department of Education over its new policy on transgender children, which requires school districts to accept students’ gender identities and allow students access to facilities and opportunities according to those identities.

The department’s adopted guidelines, which fill 26 pages, specifically mandate that schools allow students to access “restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities” that conform to their gender identities. The guidelines also stipulate schools should let students participate in gender-specific programs or activities — such as physical education, overnight field trips and intramural sports — according to their gender identities.

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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