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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Washington, D.C., Approves 'Death With Dignity Act'
The City Council in the nation’s capital has overwhelmingly voted for a bill that would allow terminally ill people a medically assisted death.
That makes Washington, D.C., the sixth jurisdiction nationwide to approve what opponents often call “physician-assisted suicide.” The bill would legalize it for those who have six months or less to live, who do not suffer from depression, and who request the option several times.
Catholics, the Ultimate Swing Voters, Lean Heavily Toward Clinton
They are many, shift between parties, and typically side with the candidate who ends up winning the White House.
That’s what makes Catholics the ultimate swing voters in the U.S. And this year they are going to throw their weight behind Democrat Hillary Clinton, a panel of political analysts said on Oct. 31.
Smithsonian's Quran Exhibit Dazzles the Eyes, and May Soften the Heart
The exhibit is not intended as commentary on today’s politics, its organizers said. Work started on the project six years ago, before sharp rises in Islamophobic rhetoric and violence in the U.S. and Europe, and before Muslim immigration and culture became a flashpoint in American and European politics.
But the Smithsonian is not sorry for the timing, and hopes the exhibit can help quell fears of Islam and its followers.
Vandals Paint Swastikas Around Home of Indian-American Candidate for Congress
The incident seems like a straightforward hate crime: Swastikas sprayed in and around the New Jersey home of an Indian-American running for Congress earlier this month.
But the vandalism is steeped in religious and ethnic irony.
On Twitter, Jewish Journalists Targeted by a Torrent of Anti-Semitism
A report released on Oct. 19 by the Anti-Defamation League does not directly indict Trump for this upswing in anti-Semitism. But it explicitly connects some of his supporters to the hate speech.
“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election season is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
World Relief Scrambling to Settle More Refugees in U.S.
World Relief, a Christian humanitarian group, resettled twice as many refugees to the U.S. in September as it had in August, an increase that foretells a more robust resettlement pace for the nation in general.
The evangelical nonprofit — one of the nine groups entrusted by the federal government to resettle refugees — found homes for approximately 1,400 people in September. That’s about 14 percent of the total refugees it resettled in the past year.
Remembering Shimon Peres: Religious Leaders Honor 'Visionary' Politician
Peres, who was 93, was the last major surviving founder of Israel, and evolved from a hawkish defender of the Jewish state to a champion of the two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would co-exist in peace.
Religious leaders remember him for reaching out to people he once considered his enemies.
Why Many 'Nones' Won't Show Up on Election Day
A quarter of U.S. adults do not affiliate with any religion, a new study shows — an all-time high in a nation where large swaths of Americans are losing faith.
But while these so-called “nones” outnumber any religious denomination, they are not voting as a bloc, and may have little collective influence on the upcoming presidential election.
The rapid growth of the religiously unaffiliated, charted in a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute on Sept. 22, is raising eyebrows even among those who follow trends in American religiosity.
Texas Evangelist and Philanthropist Howard E. Butt Jr. Dies
Butt was the former head of the H.E. Butt Foundation, which takes as its mission “the renewal of the Church” and runs retreat programs and a Christian camp for children.
He was perhaps best known, though, as the fatherly voice of one-minute radio spots, called “The High Calling of Our Daily Work,” in which he gently preached that people should make Christianity the cornerstone of their life’s work.
Top of the Church Shopper's List: Strong Preaching
Top-notch preaching most attracts people looking for a new place to pray.
That's the conclusion of a new Pew Research Center study, released Aug. 23, which asked 5,000 people about their search for a new church or other house of worship.
Swedish Muslim Takes on Anti-Semitism
Siavosh Derakhti, a young Swedish Muslim honored in Europe and the U.S. for his campaign to counter anti-Semitism, always explains his motivation by invoking David.
After Recent Shootings, White Churches Take Stock on Race
In the wake of a string of racially tinged shootings, majority white churches — even those quiet in past years about racial prejudice — have begun to find their voices.
The latest incidents of police shooting black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, combined with the targeting of white police officers in Dallas, have exposed for many congregations a racial divide in America too wide to ignore.
How Jewish-Asian Marriages Shape Religious Practice
Noah Leavitt and Helen Kiyong Kim’s marriage is one of an increasing number of Jewish-Asian pairings in the U.S., a trend evident in many American synagogues. The two Whitman College professors have just released the first book-length study of Jewish-Asian couples and their offspring.
Though JewAsian is geared toward social scientists, the chapters in which they excerpt and analyze their interviews with 34 Jewish-Asian couples will interest any readers curious about intermarriage in general, and the evolving American-Jewish community in particular.
Grief and Gratitude for Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel’s death is inspiring an outpouring of grief and gratitude from leaders in the religious and political worlds, and ordinary people alike.
New Guide Offers Guidance on How to Defuse Hate
Hoping to make the world safer, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has published a guidebook on countering dangerous speech, authored by a young American who helped quell intertribal conflict in Kenya during its 2013 elections.
Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech , doesn’t reveal exactly how to quell incendiary speech. The nature and context of speech that can lead to violence vary too widely across the globe for any particular prescription to make sense.
A Multifaith Crowd Packs Soap and Toothpaste for Syrian Refugees
The call went out for 600 volunteers to make care packages for Syrian refugees. Nearly 1,000 Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus answered it.
They formed assembly lines June 26 at the historic 69th Regiment Armory in lower Manhattan and stuffed toothpaste, nail clippers, soap, hand towels, condoms, washable menstrual pads, and other personal hygiene products into plastic bags to send to camps in Turkey for refugees of Syria’s civil war.
Anti-Semitic Assaults Spike in U.S.
Violent anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. rose 50 percent last year. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were a total of 56 against Jewish victims.
“And we know that for every incident reported, there’s likely another that goes unreported,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, which produced the study and calls the trend “very concerning.”
Greece and Turkey Spar Over Ramadan Prayers at Hagia Sophia
Turkish authorities have allowed Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage site, to be used for Ramadan prayers, an act that has enraged Orthodox Christians who say the famed former church and mosque is supposed to be off-limits for any religious ritual.
Prayers for the holy Muslim month were first read at the start of Ramadan on June 8, prompting a swift and pointed response.
'Passion of the Christ' Sequel in the Works
Mel Gibson is hoping for a hit with a sequel to his 2004 blockbuster The Passion of the Christ, this time with a film focusing on the resurrection.
Gibson will direct the movie based on a screenplay by Randall Wallace, Wallace confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter June 9.
Holocaust Survivors on Capitol Hill Light Candles to Remember
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.