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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Veronica Neffinger

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

Republicans not only succeeded in getting their candidate to the White House, they also succeeded in securing a majority in Congress, which will have a great impact on the type of justices appointed not only to the Supreme Court, but to many of the U.S.’s lower courts.

The Hill reports that it is these lower courts where Trump’s election will actually have a more immediate impact.

Only a few years ago, Republicans were worried over President Obama’s leadership, combined with a Democratic majority in Congress. Now, the situation is quite the opposite--and very much in Republicans’ favor.

Not only is a Republican candidate in the White House, but he will likely need only 51 votes in the Senate to confirm the nominees he chooses for the courts. Additionally, he may have as many as 117 judicial vacancies to fill.

Ironically, when they had control of Congress under Obama’s administration, Democrats actually paved the way for the ease of judicial appointment from which Republicans will now benefit.

In 2013, Democrats, led by then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid abolished legislation permitting filibusters for most federally-appointed judicial nominees. Additionaly, instead of needing 60 votes to confirm a nominee, a simple majority vote is now all that is required.

“What goes around comes around,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Hill.

“When you’re short-sighted and you think your majority is going to continue forever then you’re bound to be surprised when voters put you in the minority, so it counsels prudence and a longer view rather than short-term gratification,” he continued.

Many conservatives supported Trump primarily for this reason--the belief that he will appoint conservative judges to the nation’s courts.


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Publication date: December 5, 2016

President Obama’s eight years in office are nearly concluded, and he will soon be stepping down from his position and leaving the White House, along with the rest of his administration, including Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry recently held his last annual conference at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, and according to The Times of Israel, Kerry’s message, though only implied, was clear: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for the continuing lack of stability concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Kerry had to explain the U.S.’s continued failure to achieve a solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and The Times says he looked to shift the blame to Netanyahu, implying that it was the Israeli PM’s lack of leadership that prevented progress from being made.

Although he said that “Bibi and I are friends, we really are,” he offered no other praise of the Israeli PM.

Kerry made note of the steps toward peace taken by a number of Israel’s previous PM’s, including Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres, but Netanyahu’s name was conspicuously left out.

Kerry also stressed how invested the Obama administration has been in securing peace and supporting Israel. Additionally, he praised Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as a leader “committed to nonviolence.”

It remains to be seen what position the Trump administration will take with regards to Israel, and how the new (not yet named) secretary of state will handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Publication date: December 5, 2016

Two Christian business owners in Arizona may face up to six months in jail for refusing to create invitations for a gay wedding.

The Blaze reports that Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski are the owners of a Phoenix-based stationery company that produces wedding invitations and other types of cards. Duka and Koski recently refused to create wedding invitations for a same-sex marriage, citing their religious beliefs.

Duka and Koski are now under fire for violating a Phoenix ordinance protecting gay people from discrimination. They are facing a fine of up to $2,500 as well as six months in prison.

The religious-based law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing the business owners.

ADF lawyer Jonathan Scruggs is optimistic about Duka’s and Koski’s case.

“We fully expect to have a hearing in the next few weeks on our motion for preliminary injunction and to have the Arizona superior court grant our motion and vindicate the free speech and religious liberty rights of our clients,” he told Charisma News. “No American, including artists, should have the government force them to create art against their artistic and religious beliefs.”

Kristen Waggoner, another lawyer representing the two women, added that it is un-American to threaten someone with jail time for their commitment to their religious beliefs.


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Publication date: December 5, 2016