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.
Posts By This Author
A Battle with Islamophobia
This wave of Islamophobia has hit hard. Anti-Muslim sentiment was never absent from America. From the time Muslims first came as slaves in the 1600s, there have been times when anti-Muslim attitudes have bubbled over. This is one of those times.
Senators Propose $20 Million Bill to Protect Jewish Centers
Their bill would allot an additional $20 million to improve security at these centers — whether they are Jewish or affiliated with another faith — through an existing Department of Homeland Security grant program.
The funds are not designated for synagogues, mosques, or churches, though attacks against houses of worship and religiously affiliated cemeteries have spiked in recent months — from the burning of mosques to a bullet shot through an Indiana synagogue.
Trump Attempts to Reach Out to Ethnic and Religious Minorities
President Trump, long-chided for failing to address a surge in hate crimes, began his first address to Congress by invoking Black History Month, and condemning recent threats against Jewish institutions and the shooting of Indian men in Kansas City.
Trump ‘Finally’ Speaks Against Anti-Semitism, but ‘Too Little, Too Late’
The condemnation came too little, too late, Jewish groups said.
On Feb. 21, President Trump condemned anti-Semitism, as Jewish leaders had been asking him to do for months.
“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Anti-Semitism that has infected his own Administration,” said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, in a statement on Feb. 21 after Trump called anti-Semitism “horrible.”
Scientists Ponder How to Talk to the Faithful About Climate Change
After sessions on gravitational waves, nuclear forensics, and artificial intelligence, one of the world’s largest general science conferences invited attendees to hear from an Episcopal priest.
The Rev. Fletcher Harper preached on climate change, and how to get a vast segment of the world’s population to pay better attention to what scientists know but many others doubt: that the problem is worsening and portends disaster.
“My entreaty for scientists is to be able to speak publicly about why you care,” said Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, an interfaith nonprofit that aims to galvanize religious people to safeguard the environment.
Jewish Groups Dismayed by Trump’s Response to Anti-Semitism Question
The reporter asked President Trump about the rise of anti-Semitism in America. His answer — or seeming lack of one — angered many prominent Jewish Americans.
“Donald Trump’s inability to simply condemn antisemitism boggles the mind,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action.
Trump Retains LGBT State Department Official, Frustrating Christian Conservatives
Conservative Christians in particular cheered [Trump's] nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and his promised “fix” for the Johnson Amendment, which restricts pastors' ability to politick in the pulpit.
But, for the second time since his inauguration, Trump has decided to retain an Obama-era initiative to protect sexual minorities.
Does Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Disregard the Law?
True, the executive order, which includes a restriction on travel to the U.S. for nationals of seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days, does not directly refer to followers of Islam. But that doesn’t mean it’s not aimed at them, critics say.
At the Women's March, People of Faith Among Those Resisting Trump
Their signs spoke of support for abortion rights, immigrants, Black Lives Matter, and science — and of their disgust with newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.
Politics drew hundreds of thousands to the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. But many said they were also compelled by their faith.
Sanctuary Congregations Have Doubled Since Trump Election, Say Faith Leaders
More than 800 congregations have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants, about double the number since Election Day.
Leaders of the sanctuary movement say the pace of churches, and other houses of worship, declaring themselves sanctuaries has quickened, in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20.
Did God Choose Trump? What It Means to Believe in Divine Intervention
“God raised up, I believe, Donald Trump,” said former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann after he won the GOP nomination. “God showed up,” the Rev. Franklin Graham said to cheers at a post-election rally. “God came to me, in a dream last night, and said that Trump is his chosen candidate,” said the televangelist Creflo Dollar.
For those who share this view, Trump’s victory was nothing short of miraculous, especially given that he beat out 16 other in the Republican primaries — some of them evangelical Christians with long political resumes.
Bomb Threats Called Into 16 Jewish Community Centers in One Day
At least 16 Jewish community centers received bomb threats on Jan. 9, in an apparent attempt to rattle American Jews, who have seen a spike in anti-Semitism incidents in the past year.
The threats — some by live callers, some by robocall — were made to JCCs in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, and at least four other states.
Gay Couple Will Pastor Historic Baptist Church in Washington
Calvary Baptist Church, a progressive Baptist landmark in the heart of downtown Washington, has named a gay couple as co-pastors.
Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen were presented to the congregation during worship services on Jan. 8 and will begin their new jobs on Feb. 26.
Many Muslim Voters Don't Appear in Results of Exit Polls
“The picture is mixed,” said Besheer Mohamed, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center who specializes in religion.
“On the one hand, its seems clear that Muslims are a pretty small part of the population. On the other hand, they are concentrated in some states and metro areas that might increase their voting powers in those specific areas.”
Religious Groups to Obama: Dismantle Immigration Registry's Framework
Nearly 200 religious and civil rights groups are petitioning President Obama to dismantle the regulatory framework behind a Homeland Security program critics say discriminates against Muslims and Arabs.
President-elect Donald Trump has appointed one of the architects of the program, Kris Kobach, to his transition team. That, and Trump’s own calls on the campaign trail for “extreme vetting” of immigrants, have led some to believe that he will revive the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System.
Minority Groups Brace for Battle in Case Trump Makes Good on His Promises
The American Civil Liberties Union collected more than $11 million and 150,000 new members. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Twitter account gained 9,000 followers. And the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and other bigotries, saw donations increase fiftyfold.
In the days since Donald Trump won the presidency, these spikes, in support for groups that defend religious and other minorities, speak to a fear that the president-elect will trample on their rights — or at least empower those who would.
FBI Reports Spikes in Anti-Muslim, Anti-Semitic Incidents
Though Jews remain the most frequent victims in America of hate crimes based on religion, the number of incidents against Muslims surged in 2015, according to newly released data from the FBI.
Hate crimes against Muslims spiked 67 percent from 2014 to 2015. That represents 257 anti-Muslim incidents.
Robert McCaw, government affairs director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the jump in anti-Muslim incidents continues to rise and even accelerated after the Nov. 8 election.
Jewish-Muslim Alliance Formed Against Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia
The day after President-elect Donald Trump appointed a man accused of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as his chief strategist, two of the nation’s largest Jewish and Muslim advocacy groups formed an unprecedented partnership to fight bigotry.
The American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America, on Nov. 14, launched the new national group: The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. Though Jewish and Muslim groups have cooperated before, the size and influence of these two particular groups — and the prominence of the people who have joined the council — marks a milestone in Jewish-Muslim relations.
Religious Environmentalists Gird Themselves for a Trump Presidency
Trump has deemed climate change a “hoax.” He said he wants to ignore the Paris climate accords. And he has indicated that he would roll back President Obama’s efforts to reduce methane, carbon and other pollutants.
“As a religious environmentalist I am dismayed and scared for what this means for the poor, for Creation and for all of our descendants, the grandchildren of Republicans and Democrats alike,” said Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, chair of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.
Post-Election Church Services Aim to Reconcile Christian Voters
The idea for an Election Day church service came to the pastor as he was pouring juice into little plastic cups.
Mark Schloneger was preparing for Communion that day in 2008, in the kitchen of Waynesboro Mennonite Church in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The phone rang. It was a robocall from Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee that year. She was imploring Christians to go to the polls, vote for her party, and take back the country.