HHS makes changes to strengthen “conscience protections”

WASHINGTON — The United States department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued two announcements last week concerning “conscience protections” for health-care workers and state programs. These announcements are the latest in the Trump administration’s attempts to bring religious freedom rhetoric to the forefront within a deeply-divided political climate. On Jan. 18, the HHS announced that it has formed a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). According to the announcement, the division’s purpose is “to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.” OCR director Roger Severino said, “Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced.”

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. Climate Progress reports on efforts by an alliance of Native American nations, activists, and environmental groups, to stop the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline through Lakota land. Quote: “In the wake of the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statementfor the Keystone XL pipeline which sparked nearly 300 protest vigils across the country, a group of Native American communities have added their voices to the calls to reject Keystone XL. In a joint statement — No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands — Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred announced their intention to peacefully resist the construction of the pipeline slated to cut through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.” You can read the full statement, here.