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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Four Faiths, Four Perspectives: A Year in, How Trump's Presidency Galvanized People into Action
“I really feel like activism is a form of sharing that love that God has given you,” she said. “Realizing that this world is made for all of us is something that’s transcending, and we have to inspire each other.”
Experts Say Hobby Lobby Should Have Known It Was Illegally Importing Artifacts
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
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
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
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
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’
“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
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
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
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
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.
Can a Cyberattack Trigger a ‘Just War’?
Just war theory can be adapted to address technological innovation, said Rev. Bryan Hehir at a panel in D.C. Monday.
Since Ban, Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses Is ‘Worse Than Ever’
Since the Russian Supreme Court labeled Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist” group, vandals have targeted followers and their banks accounts have been frozen. Stones were thrown at a St. Petersburg assembly hall, and someone tried to burn the Moscow home of a Jehovah’s Witness to the ground, a church spokesman said.
Trump Liberty Commencement Speech: ‘As Long As I Am Your President, No One Is Ever Going to Stop You From Practicing Your Faith’
Donald Trump thanked conservative Christians for their votes, and promised to protect their values in his first commencement address as president, at evangelical stronghold Liberty University.
“In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God,” he said to raucous applause at the graduation, at the nation’s largest Christian university, on March 13, in Lynchburg, Va.
Muslim Births Projected to Outnumber Christian Births Globally by 2035
Within 20 years, the number of Muslim babies being born is expected to surpass Christian births — though there will still be more Christians in the world. Muslims currently account for about 24 percent of the world population, compared to 31 percent for Christians, according to the Pew Research Center.
At U.S. Capitol, Christians Protest Budget Cuts
With ashes on their foreheads, sackcloth draped around their necks, and the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, Christians leaders used the words “evil” and “immoral” to describe the federal budget cuts President Trump has proposed and many Republican lawmakers favor.
“It is a time for lamentation,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, explaining the symbols of grief the clergy brought to Capitol Hill on March 29.
In ‘Turbulent Times,’ 500 Rabbis Look for Ways to Resist and Cope
Anti-Semitic incidents have been rising in the U.S. in the past few years, and many Jews and others fault the Trump administration for only belatedly calling out anti-Semitism, and for failing to explicitly denounce those who have heralded his election as a victory for white people.
And Jewish and Muslim groups have banded together in unprecedented ways, in recent months, as mosques and Jewish institutions have been targeted.
Bomb Threats to Jewish Community Centers May Explain Decline in Preschool Enrollments
Enrollment has dropped at more than a quarter of Jewish Community Center preschools since a wave of threats against JCCs began in early January.
“I’m starting with the most difficult news, which is simply that more JCCs indicated something of a decline — but the majority have not,” said David Posner of the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, sharing the results of the umbrella group’s latest member survey.
167 House Members Ask Trump to Retain Ambassador to Combat Anti-Semitism
Following a report that President Trump is thinking of scrapping the ambassador position assigned to combat global anti-Semitism, a bipartisan group of 167 U.S. House members sent a letter asking him to appoint one soon.
The letter, released on March 13, asks Trump to “maintain and prioritize” the appointment, in a time of rising anti-Semitism.
Bears Ears National Monument, Sacred to Native Tribes, Faces a Challenge to Its Status
Now a tribal coalition, which considers many sites within Bears Ears sacred, fears the Trump administration will take the unprecedented step of stripping a national monument of its designation, and leave their ancestral lands vulnerable.