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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Many Muslim Voters Don't Appear in Results of Exit Polls

Image via RNS/Reuters/Darren Ornitz

“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

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Blake

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

Image via RNS/Reuters/Brittany Greeson

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

Ilyas Wadood, right, of the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix talks with a demonstrator during the "Freedom of Speech Rally Round II" on May 29, 2015.  Photo courtesy of Reuters/Nancy Wiechec

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

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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

Image via RNS/REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.

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

Image via RNS/Election Day Communion 2016

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.

Washington, D.C., Approves 'Death With Dignity Act'

Image via Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

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

Image via RNS/Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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

Image via RNS/Smithsonian

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.

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