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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Experts Say Hobby Lobby Should Have Known It Was Illegally Importing Artifacts

Photo courtesy of RNS/the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

 

According to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern Division of New York, which brought the civil complaint against Hobby Lobby, the company in 2010 imported thousands of artifacts that originated in Iraq and were smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Longtime Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls Dies at 80

Image via RNS/Tony Gentile/Reuters

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who transformed the Vatican’s press office into a modern media operation, has died.

The former Vatican spokesman, 80, was a Spaniard and the first layperson and journalist to hold the job, when he was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1984. Navarro-Valls served as the papal spokesman for 22 years, embracing technology and holding regular, colorful briefings.

New Travel Ban Rules Decried As Illogical

Image via Dustin Pearlman/RNS

On Monday, the Supreme Court said it would rule on the executive order in its next term; in the meantime, the order could go into effect — with exceptions. Federal officials could not keep out of the country people who had been accepted to a U.S. school, offered a job by an employer, or enjoy a “bona fide relationship” with a person in the United States.

Supreme Court Sides with Trinity Lutheran in Major Church-State Case

Image via RNS/Sally Morrow

The Supreme Court has ruled for a Missouri church that claimed religious discrimination after it was refused state funds to improve its playground.

Ruling 7-2, the court on June 26 determined that the state had unfairly denied funds for Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.

Barry Lynn Looks Back on 25 Years of Separating Church and State

Image via RNS/AU

After a quarter-century, the Rev. Barry Lynn is retiring as head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In court, in congressional hearings, and on cable television, Lynn has led the fight against school-sponsored prayer, religious symbols on public property, and any law that allows government to privilege people of faith.

As Comey Testified, Trump Addressed Crowd of Conservative Christians: ‘We’re Under Siege’

President Trump addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s "Road to Majority" conference in Washington, D.C., on June 8. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

“I want to know, who are the 19 percent?” Trump quipped, referring to those evangelicals who didn’t vote for him.  “Where did they come from?

Pence Defends Trump as a Champion of Catholic Values

Image via RNS/Reuters/Evan Vucci/Pool

Vice President Mike Pence — a onetime altar boy who became an evangelical Protestant — proclaimed President Donald Trump a faithful supporter of Catholic values at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an event that sought to set aside any friction between the president and the pope.

“Let me promise all of you, this administration hears you. This president stands with you,” Pence said to the 1,300 gathered.

Religiously Affiliated Hospitals Win Supreme Court Pension Case

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Duncan Lock

The 8-0 ruling reverses lower court decisions that sided with hospital workers who argued that the exemption from pension laws should not extend to hospitals affiliated with churches.

Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia Intensifies and Targets Children

Image via RNS/Jehovah's Witnesses

Since the Russian Supreme Court on April 20 declared the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist group, its members have faced increasing harassment from both authorities and suspicious neighbors.

And last week, for the first time since the decision, a Jehovah’s Witness has been not only detained by police, but jailed by a judge.

N.J. Mosque Wins $3.25 Million in Settlement of Discrimination Case

Image via RNS/Becket

The settlement, announced by the Justice Department on May 30, was reached after the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge sued Bernards Township, about an hour’s drive west of New York City. The township, which held 39 hearings on the planned mosque — hearings which subjected mosque members to anti-Muslim tirades — had refused to issue buildings permits.

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