Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service

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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Holocaust Survivors on Capitol Hill Light Candles to Remember

Image via United States Holocaust Memorial Museum / RNS

At Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Capitol, speakers warned of anti-Semitism as a problem of the millennia, and hate speech as a challenge that threatens present-day America.

Eight elderly survivors of the Holocaust — which took the lives of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million Jewish children — lit six candles at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall on May 5 as a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum official told of the death camps they survived, and of those who had risked their lives to save them.

'Suspicious' Fire Destroys Orthodox Cathedral in New York

Hours after parishioners celebrated Easter, which fell on May 1 in the Orthodox community, a fire gutted their landmark Manhattan cathedral.

“Our church has burned down last night,” read the announcement the next day on the website of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava.

Episcopal Saint Is Namesake of New Yale Residential College

Anna Paulina Murray. Image via Carolina Digital Library and Archives / Yale / RNS

A new residential college at Yale University has been named for an Episcopal saint who was the first African-American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest.

Anna Pauline Murray, known as “Pauli,” was also civil rights activist who helped shape the legal argument for the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. She was the co-founder of the National Organization for Women and received an advanced law degree from Yale in 1965 and an honorary doctorate from Yale Divinity School in 1979.

Muslim Advocacy Groups Say They Were Snubbed by Ted Cruz's Staff

Image via REUTERS/Dave Kaup/RNS

Muslim groups say Sen. Ted Cruz and his Capitol Hill staff refused to see them during an annual lobbying day in which hundreds of Muslim constituents met with their senators and representatives.

On April 18, while Cruz was in New York, campaigning in advance of the April 19 presidential primaries in that state, a group of 14 Muslim Texans marking “National Muslim Advocacy Day” went to the candidate’s Washington office.

Muslim Nations Plan to Call for New Israel-Palestine Peace Process

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

The largest gathering of Muslim leaders in the world kicks off a five-day conference that will call for a new peace process to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other weighty issues at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit include combatting extremism within Muslim nations, countering Islamophobia in the rest of the world, and protecting the Rohingya — a group of Muslims suffering persecution in Myanmar.

Gay Methodist Pastor a Step Closer to Church Trial

Rev. Cynthia Meyer. Screenshot via religionnews1 / Youtube.com

A United Methodist pastor who recently came out as gay may be a step closer to a church trial, just weeks before the United Methodist Church’s General Conference is expected to take up the question of gay clergy and gay unions.

DC Library Officer Who Demanded Woman Remove Hijab Is Back at Work

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A security officer at a Washington, D.C. public library who demanded that a library patron remove her headscarf is back on the job, reports the DCist, an online publication.

2 Young Women, 2 Different Views on Contraception Case

Katie Breslin, left, and Katie Stone, right. Image via Lauren Markoe / RNS

Amid the helium balloons, dance music, chants, and counterchants, Katie Stone and Katie Breslin spelled out their opposing views outside the Supreme Court as the justices inside heard one of the most contentious cases of the year. The two 20-something Christians, both motivated by faith, say the justices’ ruling in Zubik v. Burwell could affirm or weaken the most basic of rights. The case asks whether religious nonprofits must comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, or whether it violates the federal law that sets a high bar for government infringement on religious rights.

A List of Religious Groups Taking Sides in Supreme Court Birth Control Case

One of the most anticipated cases of this Supreme Court season revolves around nuns and birth control.

Zubik v. Burwell, which comes before the justices Wednesday, addresses one of the most contentious parts of the Affordable Care Act: the requirement that employers offer certain types of birth control to their employees — the so-called contraceptive mandate.

Merrick Garland Is Jewish. Does It Matter?

Image via Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/RNS

President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, would be the current court’s fourth Jewish justice if confirmed.

For Jews, who represent about two percent of the population, holding 44 percent of the seats on the court might be a point of pride.

But is it anything more than that?

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