Barry Lynn

A religiously intriguing lawyer joins Trump defense team as a key adversary exits  

A religiously intriguing lawyer joins Trump defense team as a key adversary exits  

The addition of controversial attorney Jay Sekulow to President Donald Trump’s defense team is a wide-open invitation for journalistic personality stories. By all accounts, Sekulow, 61, is among America’s most zealous -- and effective -- religious litigators. He also hosts a daily radio show and has become an omnipresent Trump advocate on other media. 

Early coverage on his appointment left unexplored territory on the religion aspects of the sort noted by The Forward, the venerable liberal Jewish newspaper whose print and online editions reach a broad readership. Then The Washington Post published a June 27 jaw-dropper on Sekulowian finances.

More on money in a moment. If The Forward’s treatment seemed harsh, that’s certainly predictable. Sekulow has been in the middle of many social issues that are considered “conservative” while the paper has traditionally embraced socialists and liberal Democrats.

Moreover, Sekulow was raised in Reform Judaism, but became a “Messianic Jew” (that is, an evangelical Protestant of Jewish ethnicity) during college years at Mercer University, where he later earned his law degree. After work as a trial attorney for the IRS and a business lawyer in Atlanta, in 1990 he became chief counsel for the new American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson.  

Like Trump’s top lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, Sekulow is no expert in the Washington, D.C., quicksand the President finds himself in. But he’s battle-hardened, having argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in his religion specialization. Early on, Sekulow grasped that federal judges are less than ardent supporters of religious freedom claims and switched to a civil liberties strategy exploiting other Bill of Rights guarantees, winning for instance a 1987 Supreme Court OK for airport pamphlet distribution by Jews for Jesus.

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Mirror-image time again: So Hillary Clinton went to church and won some endorsements?

Mirror-image time again: So Hillary Clinton went to church and won some endorsements?

It is time for another mirror-image journalism case study here at GetReligion. The URL for this one came from a friend of this blog who is a church-state issues professional in DC Beltway land. Let's just leave it at that.

Let me stress that the following is not a commentary on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

It is also not intended as a commentary on the tricky issue of religious LEADERS, as opposed to non-profit religious ministries, endorsing political candidates (as opposed to religious leaders and institutions making statements on moral and religious issues that may be linked to political campaigns). To tell you the truth, I am not sure where I would draw the free-speech line on this issue of endorsements by religious leaders, especially in the context of worship rites in their own sanctuaries. Yes, think Donald Trump at Liberty University, if you wish.

My goal is to discuss a journalism issue. So here is the top of the recent Associated Press report to which our friend pointed us. Read carefully:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Hillary Clinton is making a big final push in Kentucky, where rival Bernie Sanders hopes to extend his winning streak and further delay her clinching the Democratic presidential nomination.
Big-name surrogates have been sent, television ads are playing and Clinton is touring the state in advance of Tuesday’s voting. On Sunday, the former secretary of state dropped in at Louisville churches and held rallies in Louisville and Fort Mitchell. Sanders on Sunday made a swing through Kentucky as well.

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Hey, you put your opinion in my news!

One of the many products offered by Religion News Service is its daily round-up of news items, a chatty summary that is almost always infused with opinion. Here’s an example from earlier this month:

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