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President Trump isn’t much of a churchgoer. During his time in the White House, his church visits have largely been limited to Christmas and Easter services. When asked for his favorite Bible verse during the 2016 presidential campaign, he replied that he “didn’t want to get into specifics.” He has a habit of autographing Bibles at campaign stops.
But Sunday was different. Surprising reporters and pastors, Mr. Trump decided to pop in for a 15-minute stop at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia after a round of golf that afternoon. The timing was unusual — most churches conduct Sunday services in the morning — and so was his look, which consisted of golf shoes, a baseball hat and a new slicked-back hairstyle that nabbed most of the headlines.
Aides said the president made the stop to pray for the victims of the Virginia Beach shooting. But Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times’s ace national religion correspondent, alerted me to something else that was going on.
About a week ago, the evangelical leader Franklin Graham, along with several hundred Christian leaders, called for this past Sunday to be a “special day of prayer” for Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence participated at Sanibel Community Church. So did the Rev. David Platt at McLean Bible Church, who said he was given barely any notice of the president’s visit — and suspected it would divide his congregation.
“Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t see coming, and we’re faced with a decision in a moment when we don’t have the liberty of deliberation, so we do our best to glorify God,” he said in a statement on the church’s website. “Today, I found myself in one of those situations.”
The victims of the shooting, and even the shooting itself, went unmentioned during the visit.
So what do we make of Mr. Trump’s decision to find a bit of religion?
Over the past two and half years, Washington, the country and the world have had to acclimate to the unpredictable and often unpolitic style of the president. It’s clear that people who want things from the White House have learned one lesson quite well: If you want to curry favor with Mr. Trump, make it about Mr. Trump.
We saw that last week, when Japanese officials rolled out the red carpet for Mr. Trump, serving cheeseburgers and even letting him award a 70-pound, eagle-topped President’s Cup to the winner of a sumo wrestling match. We’ll most likely see it this week during his state visit to Britain, where officials are expected to lavish him with ceremony, even as Labour Party leaders boycott the visit.
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A new investigation from our Climate team found 84 environmental rules and regulations that the Trump administration was trying to eliminate. We asked one of the reporters behind the effort, Kendra Pierre-Louis, to tell us more:
When President Trump took office, he did so promising that he would cut regulations. But that’s a broad pledge — it didn’t actually make clear which rules would be changed. To gain some clarity, about a year and a half ago the Climate desk began tracking the environmental regulations that the Trump administration was undoing.
For a number of reasons, the definition of a rollback that we settled on focuses on regulatory changes. What this means, for example, is that the E.P.A.’s move to reject a ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that can lead to developmental delays in children, is on our list. The administration’s decision to halt funding for research centers that focus on the risks to children from toxic chemicals, however, is not.
Here are a few changes that stood out:
• Proposed weakening Obama-era fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks. (The proposal also challenges California’s right to set its own more stringent standards.)
• Loosened offshore drilling safety regulations put in effect by the Obama administration after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010.
• Revoked President Barack Obama’s executive order that set a goal of cutting the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 10 years.
The list is agnostic. It makes no distinction as to whether a rollback is good or bad. But many of the rollbacks, such as the ones that eliminated limits and reporting requirements on methane releases, will delay meaningful action on climate change. And the experts say, when it comes to climate change, we’re quickly running out of time to act.
Read the full story here: 84 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump
Gun control and tragedy
Our colleague Reid Epstein sent us this note today, on the unique circumstances of an article he recently wrote about gun control:
I’ve written about the politics of gun control since 2012, when the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School again thrust the issue into the national spotlight. But never before have I had an article about gun politics come hours before a mass shooting.
On Friday morning, The Times published my article detailing how, for the first time in a generation, Democratic presidential candidates were debating the best way to combat gun violence. And as some contenders are pushing the political discussion beyond universal background checks, grass-roots groups are calling for a more aggressive approach than is being advocated by the major gun control organizations.
On Friday afternoon, a gunman killed a dozen people at a municipal building in Virginia Beach.
The 2020 candidates immediately weighed in on Twitter, calling for action. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey used his speech at the California Democratic Party convention on Saturday afternoon to denounce “the normalization of mass murder in our country.”
“Our children, getting drills on how to hide underneath desks because children are being murdered in our schools, and we do nothing,” Mr. Booker said. “It is time for us as a nation not to normalize the violence and the carnage of gun violence.”
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