KGOU

Tom Gjelten

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that has long held a disputed position in Middle Eastern politics, is now a focus of controversy in the United States.

Known in Arabic as the Ikhwan and founded nearly a century ago in Egypt, it advocates the application of Islamic principles in public life. The movement has so far pushed that agenda only in Muslim-majority countries, but some critics now claim — without evidence — that it is doing the same in the United States.

The collision of two core American values — freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination — is prompting a showdown in legislatures and courts across the country.

For some conservatives, religious freedom means the right to act on their opposition to same-sex marriage and other practices that go against their beliefs. LGBT advocates and their allies, meanwhile, say no one in the United States should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

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During his campaign, Donald Trump criticized President Obama for his reluctance to use the words "radical Islamic extremism."

One of Obama's key anti-terrorism programs was just called "Countering Violent Extremism," with no reference to Islam. The Trump administration may now want to refocus that program exclusively on Muslim extremists.

The Obama program made no reference to Islam largely because it didn't want to suggest that terrorism, even by Muslim extremists, had its roots in religion.

In his address to the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Trump vowed to "get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution."

Some conservative Christian groups will welcome the promise, but many Americans may wonder what Trump was talking about. Here are five basic questions that we can answer.

1. What is the Johnson Amendment?

The Johnson Amendment regulates what tax-exempt organizations such as churches can do in the political arena.

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President Trump is promising to give priority to Christians fleeing persecution — yet some of the strongest criticism of his executive order is coming from Christian leaders themselves.

Some say the temporary ban on admitting refugees challenges the Christian ethic of welcoming the stranger. Others worry that favoring Christians over other immigrants could actually backfire.

President Trump's temporary ban on the admission of refugees is not going over well with the churches and religious organizations that handle most refugee resettlements in the United States.

"The faith groups are going to kick and scream and object to every aspect of this disgusting, vile executive order," says Mark Hetfield, president of HIAS, a Jewish refugee society. "[It] makes America out to be something that it is not. We are a country that welcomes refugees."

The Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia has seen its share of attention. Two of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks prayed there, and jihadi propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki served as an imam at the mosque before heading off to Yemen to join al-Qaida.

Now, with a U.S. president-elect who has suggested he will take a hard line with Muslim-Americans, the worshipers at Dar al-Hijrah again are bracing for scrutiny and looking for reassurance.

The six faith leaders President-elect Donald Trump has invited to pray at his inauguration come from diverse backgrounds, but they have something in common: All have personal ties to Trump or his family or have in some way signaled their approval of him, his politics or his wealth.

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A prominent evangelical leader who harshly criticized Donald Trump during the presidential campaign now faces a backlash from fellow evangelicals who backed Trump.

Russell Moore, who presides over the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, called Trump "an awful candidate" and criticized "the old-guard religious right political establishment" for supporting him, notwithstanding Trump's "serious moral problems" and a Southern Baptist tradition of opposing politicians whose personal behavior is considered un-Christian.

Opus Dei, the powerful but somewhat controversial Roman Catholic organization, faces a transition to new leadership following the death of its prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarría.

Echevarría, who died Monday at the age of 84, was the last link to the first generation of the group's leadership, having served as a personal secretary for more than 20 years to Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá.

To Donald Trump, one of President Obama's major failings was his refusal to identify "radical Islam" specifically as America's top adversary.

"Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country," Trump told a crowd in Ohio in August. "Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, oppression and violence of radical Islam lacks the moral clarity to serve as our president."

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Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at age 90, according to Cuban state media, confirms NPR.

Castro, who took power in the Cuban Revolution in 1959, led his country for nearly 50 years.

After undergoing intestinal surgery, Castro had ceded power in July 2006 to his younger brother Raul, who announced his death late Friday on Cuban state television.

Under Fidel Castro's direction, Cuba became the one and only communist state in the Western Hemisphere.

When Donald Trump shared his views on U.S.-Israel policy with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last March, one line in his speech was greeted with thundering applause.

"We will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem!" he shouted.

Previous presidential candidates have made the same promise, but none have kept it, having been warned by their security advisers that it would complicate Middle East negotiations and anger key allies.

Five centuries ago, Christians in Europe who hoped to go to heaven knew they might first have to spend a few thousand years in a fiery purgatory, where they would be purified of their outstanding sins.

It was not a pleasant thought, but the Catholic Church offered some hope: A cash offering to the local priest could buy an "indulgence" certificate, entitling the believer to a shorter purgatory sentence.

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