I'm a Brooklyn-based writer and reporter covering the intersections of religion, law, gender, labor & workplace issues. I’ve written for The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Progressive, The Nation, New York Magazine, Bloomberg, and Religion & Politics, among other publications.

The Nuns Are Back on the Bus

“Do you know how to floss?” Sister Mary Ellen asks me, deadpan. “Because we do.” The “we” she’s referring to is a group of 10 Catholic nuns traveling the country by bus to spread the gospel of tax reform. And the flossing she’s talking about isn’t dental hygiene; it’s a deceptively difficult dance move. “We just read a tutorial last night and practiced in our chairs, but if you know how to do it for real, we’re looking for some teachers,” Sister Mary Ellen notes. Sister Susan, I’m told, has perfected the dance, and she’s hoping to show me. But we’re in a moving bus. The other sisters warn her, laughing. “Don’t break a hip!” “Don’t fall down!” Susan McCarthy, a steadfast Sister of the Divine Compassion, is undeterred. The 73-year-old stands up in front of me to demonstrate, shaking her hips from side to side while her arms wave in an opposite motion. “Something like that?” she grins at me.

Voting From the Pews

On Sunday mornings in black churches across Georgia this October, congregants will gather like they always to do, to pray and worship together. But in the weeks preceding the November 6 election, they’ll be doing something a little bit different: voting by mail, together. At Pulse Church in downtown Atlanta, pastor Billy M. Honor plans to preach a sermon about civic engagement on October 28. “We’ll be talking about voting, the sacred act of voting, how citizenship is a God-given right,” Honor says. “We best exercise that right when we participate in that project.”

Turning a KKK Bombing Ground Into an Urban Farm

The lot doesn’t look like much: Short stacks of tires line a small rectangle of flattened cardboard boxes, all interspersed with bright green vines of invasive kudzu. To Rev. Majadi Baruti, however, it’s a pumpkin patch and future urban farm. The tires are planters for young Sugar Baby pumpkins, the cardboard will keep weeds down and attract worms to fertilize the soil, and the kudzu will work wonders for compost because of its nitrogen content. Two patches of what looks like empty soil will soon sprout flowers, which will then “bring bees and butterflies,” says Baruti.

Beyond Cake Baking: The Next Discrimination Debate

Nine states allow state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families, if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Some of these laws are facing challenges in the courts. The tension in the resulting cases stems from a fundamental disagreement over who is being discriminated against and who needs protection from the government: the religious agencies providing adoption and foster care services, or the same-sex couples hoping to use them.

Ties that Bind

In the summer of 2016, Adam Merberg was offered a job as a data scientist at AbleTo, a behavioral health care company based in New York City. After he verbally accepted the job offer, a corporate recruiter sent him an email letting him know the company would be running a routine background check. “Also attached is a confidentiality agreement,” the recruiter wrote. “Please review, complete, sign, and return to me as soon as possible.” The agreement included a non-compete clause prohibiting Merberg from working at any of the company’s competitors for twelve months after leaving. Merberg, who had recently completed a Ph.D. in mathematics, didn’t consider how this might later affect him.

Wanna Save Roe v. Wade? Don't Look To The Courts

With the political balance of the Supreme Court now in the hands of anti-choice conservatives, reproductive rights advocates across the United States are bracing for a future without Roe v. Wade. But what if there were another way to protect abortion rights, this time in the Constitution? The Equal Rights Amendment, which would prohibit sex discrimination the way the Constitution currently prohibits discrimination based on race, religion and national origin, could do just that. The ERA would provide the framework for an equality argument: Women’s equality necessarily requires reproductive and bodily autonomy, and without control over our bodies, women cannot participate as full and equal citizens in this country. But ERA advocates are torn between conflicting strategies when it comes to linking the amendment to abortion rights.

Crisis pregnancy centers aren’t the only ones putting limitations on women’s reproductive care

All over the country, crisis pregnancy centers openly lie to patients about what services they offer, often preventing women from making fully informed decisions about their reproductive health. But they’re not the only health-care providers withholding information in this way. Catholic hospitals and affiliated doctors’ offices have long had religious limitations on the reproductive health care they offer — and their patients may have no idea.

Christian Ethicist Says to Trust Women on Abortion

According to Christian ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters, women are continually asked to justify their abortions in response to a default assumption that abortion is morally wrong. This assumption is incorrect, she argues in her new book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice, and it stems from a particular theological framework that values motherhood over the needs, decisions, and desires of individual women. For Peters, the moral status of a fetus is an ethical and theological question that should be asked and answered by women themselves, not by legislators or judges. Her Christian ethic for abortion is not built on Scripture, but rather “a feminist theological perspective that affirms both the goodness and justice of God.” In other words, she’s not interested in telling us what God wants, other than to say that God wants justice, which means moral agency for women.

When Women Veterans Become the Unseen Victims of PTSD

In 2005, Elana Duffy was an Army interrogator deployed to Iraq when her vehicle was hit by an IED. Duffy was knocked out and bled briefly from her ears. She didn’t feel she was badly injured though, and continued on with her mission. “I didn’t want to get pulled off the road,” she tells Playboy. “My job was my job, I wanted to keep on doing it.” When she started experiencing symptoms like bad headaches, Duffy hid them: “I covered up for as long as I possibly could.” Part of the reason she kept quiet, she said, was the fact that she is a woman. Standing at 5’4” and weighing just over 100 pounds, Duffy had worked hard to gain the respect of the infantrymen she served with. “It took initial weeks or months to prove myself to every platoon out there,” she says. Duffy may be part of a small group of women who have received a Purple Heart, but her experience as a female military service member is quite common. The Service Women's Action Network recently convened a set of focus groups to ask women veterans and service members about their mental health experiences. Nearly all of the groups said they had developed resilience while in the military. But when they dug deeper, the women came to agree it was “fake resilience” that didn’t contribute to their mental well-being.

The Supreme Court’s War Against Workers

Gorsuch’s decision ignores all power imbalances between employers and employees. “Should employees and employers be allowed to agree that any disputes between them will be resolved through one-on-one arbitration?” he writes. “Or should employees always be permitted to bring their claims in class or collective actions, no matter what they agreed with their employers?” The problem with this argument is that it presumes these contracts are drafted up by two teams of lawyers representing parties of equal power, not legal documents created by corporate law departments and shoved under the noses of unwitting employees on their first day of work. Later on, Gorsuch writes of “the parties,” plural, who “proceeded to specify the rules that would govern their arbitrations,” as if every low-wage worker consults a contract lawyer before signing off on their HR paperwork.

Law Students Push Back Against Mandatory Arbitration

To participate in on-campus summer recruiting, law firms will soon need to say if incoming associates will be subject to mandatory arbitration for employment-related disputes, and if so, if those agreements also include non-disclosure provisions. The initiative is the result of grassroots campaigns mounted by students at top U.S. law schools, who believe mandatory arbitration agreements effectively force employees to sign away their rights to go to court if they ever experience illegal treatment in the workplace.

As EIC of Religion News Service is ousted, staff fears loss of editorial control

Early in the morning on Monday, April 23, members and followers of the “God beat” awoke to upsetting news. “I am no longer at @RNS, and that’s about all I can say,” tweeted Jerome Socolovsky, until then the editor in chief of Religion News Service. “It was an honor to lead such a dazzling news team.” His departure—later revealed to be a firing—seemed to come out of nowhere. But current and former staff members say it has, in fact, been a long time coming: the culmination of months of tension between Socolovsky and RNS Publisher Tom Gallagher, whom many believe has taken control over the newsroom.

The Rise of Male Supremacist Groups

Male supremacy is also too often chalked up to the acts of individuals, when these dangerous ideologies, which have not only tolerated but encouraged violence, stem from gender and culture norms that affect everyone. “One of the things that happens when we focus on extreme examples of hate groups online is that we forget the hate groups are just examples of hate that exists broadly,” said Adrienne Shaw, an assistant professor in Temple University whose research focuses on gender and online culture. “When we just point at them and say those groups are bad, we forget that those groups came out of the same society we’re critiquing them from.”

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Is Gone, But Its Effects Still Haunt LGBT Veterans

It’s been just over six years since the military ended its Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual service members to serve without needing to hide their sexual orientation for the first time. For some new recruits, the policy is already a relic, but for veterans who served before it ended, the discrimination they endured still feels fresh. Some of them were discharged because of the policy, while others merely suffered in silence until it ended. Many have shunned the label “veteran” altogether.

This Former 700 Club Producer Wants to "Make Amends to a Whole Generation of Christians"

Earlier this year, Terry Heaton published a book about his time running production at The 700 Club in the 1980s. It’s called The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP. He has been sober for just over 19 years, and he considers the memoir-turned-political exposé to be part of the 9th step of his 12-step program: making amends. Heaton feels responsible for helping create the conservative news bubble that reshaped the American religious right and ushered President Donald Trump into office.

‘Continuum Of Harm’: The Military Has Been Fighting Sexual Assault In Its Ranks For Decades, But Women Say It’s Still Happening

As the military faces scrutiny over sexual assault in its ranks, less attention has been focused on the wide array of behaviors that reinforce a culture in which assault is allowed to occur. The Department of Defense has identified a number of factors that contribute to a “continuum of harm” in which a profusion of seemingly lesser offenses such as sexist jokes and bullying create an environment in which assault not only takes place but is tolerated. These include high levels of workplace hostility, the underrepresentation of females in the workplace, and “an unhealthy enlisted and officer climate with respect to sexual assault.”

How Religious Health Care Hurts Women of Color

According to new research by the Columbia Law School Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, women of color are even more likely to be treated at Catholic hospitals where religious doctrines dictate medical practices. It’s not news that women of color—and black women in particular—face greater barriers to health care across a wide range of services. This so-called health care gap stems from a number of factors, including economic inequality and structural discrimination, which often work in tandem. The impact of Catholic ethics restrictions on women of color should be examined alongside these trends.

How to End the Silence Around Sexual-Harassment Settlements

When the news of Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual predation broke in early October, part of what was so shocking was that many of the women harassed by Weinstein had privately come forward with their claims, only to be paid off by his company in exchange for their silence. To address the harms that confidentiality requirements impose, lawmakers in a handful of states have floated bills to bar nondisclosure provisions in employment contracts and in settlements relating to claims of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. But some advocates warn that barring confidentiality provisions may hurt victims in the process.

How Justice Kennedy Fell for a Right-Wing Meme

Cases like Masterpiece are a symptom of white conservative Christians feeling like they have become outsiders in what they believe is their country. Jack Phillips’s lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom have framed his and other similar cases as efforts to protect Americans who have been caught in the crosshairs of Kennedy’s Obergefell decision and LGBTQ rights advocates. They’re trying to protect themselves against what they perceive to be the new dominant cultural norm.
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