Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011.
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At 9/11 Site, Pope Prays with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Hindus
Pope Francis embraced survivors of 9/11 in the footprints of the Twin Towers, then prayed for peace at an interfaith service beside the last column of steel salvaged from the fallen skyscrapers.
Arriving straight from his speech to the United Nations on Sept. 25, Francis met with 10 families from the 9/11 community — people who survived the destruction, rescued others from the inferno, or lost loved ones in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, executed by religious zealots.
5 Faith Facts About Bernie Sanders: Unabashedly Irreligious
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-identified socialist who’s perhaps the most left-leaning member of Congress, is expected to announce this week that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders, 73, was born to Jewish parents and identifies as Jewish — though culturally, not religiously. Most political observers call him a super long shot for the nomination, but he will appeal to Democratic voters who admire his constant exhortations against the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.
1. He is the anti-Bible thumper.
Sanders is the presidential contender most willing to dissociate himself from religion. Though he identifies as Jewish and by Jewish law is Jewish, he has freely acknowledged that he is not a religious person. He scored a solid zero from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition in its most recent scorecard and a 100 from the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Why Stay? A New Book Looks at Feminists Who Refuse to Give Up on Faith
Why stay when a woman can’t be ordained as a priest? When Jewish men in their daily prayers thank God they were not born a woman? When a woman with uncovered hair is considered a bad Muslim?
Many in this diverse group of essayists — including Mormons, immigrants, rabbis, ministers, lawyers, and nurses — confess to having seriously considered chucking faith, or at least their own religious tradition. Some of them actually did leave, only to return.
Gay Marriage Is the Law of the Land: Two Couples, Two Views
In the days before the Supreme Court made it possible for gay couples to marry everywhere in the U.S., we asked two couples of faith — one Jewish who live in a state that forbids gay marriage, and one Christian and opposed to gay marriage — what the decision would mean to them.
Five Faith Facts about George Pataki, a Catholic Who Doesn’t Always Toe the Line
Pataki is Roman Catholic but has frequently taken stances that conflict with Catholic teaching. He supports abortion rights and tried to restore the death penalty in New York state. He doesn’t often invoke his faith and has selectively highlighted his Catholicism. Here are five faith facts about the married father of four.
She’s Black, Gay, and Soon You Can Call Her ‘Rabbi’
Sandra Lawson, a former military police officer turned personal trainer, wasn’t religious about anything, except maybe fitness. She wasn’t looking to convert to Judaism or any other religion.
And she certainly never aspired to be one of the first — if not the first — black, openly lesbian rabbi.
But this spring Lawson finished her fourth year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia with the help of an online GoFundMe campaign. She plans to marry her girlfriend and spend the fall semester in Israel. If all goes according to plan, she will celebrate her ordination in 2018.
Franklin Graham’s Facebook Prayers Target Supreme Court Justices on Gay Marriage
Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse charity, describes Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the subject of his latest post, as the daughter of immigrants who made good on the American dream.
“Unfortunately,” the post continues, “she is also an example of someone who seems to be very misguided on the issue of same-sex marriage. She voted to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2014, and homosexual advocates consider her an ally in their fight to make same-sex marriage the law of the land.”
Orthodox Jewish Commencement Speaker Finds a Shabbat Workaround
When 2,500 students and their families gather on the upstate New York campus for the Watson School of Engineering graduation on Saturday, Greenberg will still take his place at the podium. And on jumbo screens on either side of the stage, he will watch himself deliver the graduation address he taped in the university’s video studio three days earlier.
5 Faith Facts About Bernie Sanders: Unabashedly Irreligious
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a self-identified socialist who’s perhaps the most left-leaning member of Congress, is expected to announce this week that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders, 74, was born to Jewish parents and identifies as Jewish — though culturally, not religiously. Most political observers call him a super long shot for the nomination, but he will appeal to Democratic voters who admire his constant exhortations against the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Activists Demand Obama Appoint Envoy for Persecuted Middle Eastern Christians
Beheadings, enslavement, kidnappings, and rape plague minority religious communities across the Middle East, and it’s time for President Obama to fill a job created to address their plight, a group of prominent evangelicals, scholars, and other religious leaders told the White House.
In the seven months since Congress created a “special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia,” the extreme violence against these groups has only escalated, the religious leaders wrote to Obama on April 20. Nominate someone, they implored.
“The persecution and even eradication of religious minorities in the Middle East right now is the biggest humanitarian and national security crisis that we face,” said Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore, who serves as president of the denomination’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“There is a moral imperative to do everything we can to advocate for imperiled religious minorities.”
The letter, sent under the auspices of the Washington-based International Religious Freedom Roundtable, was signed by Moore and 22 other religious freedom activists, including National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson and the Rev. Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Central Florida. More than 30 groups also signed, including Coptic Solidarity, the Chaldean Community Foundation, International Christian Concern, and the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society.
“The Islamic State’s murderous reach has extended beyond Iraq and Syria,” the letter reads, asking Obama to “swiftly” find a candidate for the envoy job.
“Doing so would signal to beleaguered communities in the Middle East, and beyond, that America stands with them.”
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