Charleston Shooting Rekindles Gun Control Debate – With Racial Overtones

Published on Jul 17, 2015

The killing of nine worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white gunman last month has rekindled the debate about gun control in America with a new element – race.
Originally published at –…

US Conservatives Criticize Pope’s View of Global Economy

Published on Jul 16, 2015

Pope Francis has won praise from the political left and from environmentalists for saying that globalization is hurting the poor and contributing to climate change. But conservative Catholics in America say his economic thinking is wrong.
Originally published at –…

Obama Delivers Eulogy for Slain State Senator

Published on Jun 27, 2015

President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy on Friday at the funeral of the pastor of an African American church who was killed along with eight of his parishioners by a white gunman who reportedly wanted to start a race war.

Obama Reassures US Jews That Iran Will Not Get Nuke

Published on May 22, 2015

President Barack Obama insists that Iran must not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon “under any circumstances.” He spoke during a visit to a Washington synagogue that is being seen as an effort to reassure American Jews about his commitment to Israel.

Christian-Funded Bible Museum Is Coming to Washington

Published on Apr 22, 2015

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders.

Americans Wonder: Is Islamic State Truly Islamic?

Published on Mar 16, 2015

With militants in the Middle East attacking members of other faiths and destroying museum pieces deemed ‘un-Islamic,’ a heated debate is underway in America over the religious roots of their actions.

Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Murdered

Published on Mar 7, 2015

The man detained for the killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month (February 10) faces a possible death penalty. The shootings came as Muslims across America have felt under siege – partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith.

Former US Muslims Break Silence, Imam Supports Their Choice

Published on Feb 19, 2015

It’s estimated that more than a quarter of Americans have left the faith they were raised in. And while all major faiths have lost adherents, many of those who abandoned Islam face particular hardships.

Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

Published on Jan 28, 2015

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture.

Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

Published on Nov 20, 2014

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population – believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.

Amish Country Bristles at American TV Portrayal

Published on Oct 28, 2014

Reality television has become enormously popular in America, with its celebration of scandal featuring non-actors who don’t follow scripts. And among the most successful shows are those that purport to be about the Amish, a minority religion that avoids the modern world.

US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

Published on Oct 20, 2014

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments.

Critics of US Immigrant Detention Center Go In to Support Detainees

Published on Oct 6, 2014

Around 34,000 undocumented immigrants are being held at detention centers around the U.S. Many have fled violence in Central America and have family here yet still face deportation.

Mindful Movement Becomes a ‘Revolution’ as Stressed Americans Look for Relief

Jul 11, 2014 –It used to be done mainly at spiritual retreats and in yoga centers, but now mindfulness meditation is practiced in offices, schools, prisons and even the U.S. military. Although it’s been around for decades, the mindfulness movement is being called a revolution.

African-born Pastor Brings ‘Holy Laughter’ Revival to Washington

Jul 9, 2014 – A South African-born televangelist based in Florida has brought his ministry to Washington for a three-week event he is calling “Celebrate America.” Rodney Howard-Browne is calling for a religious revival in the United States. But his preaching style is far from mainstream.

US Religious Groups Concerned About Internet Censorship

Jul 9, 2014 – A South African-born televangelist based in Florida has brought his ministry to Washington for a three-week event he is calling “Celebrate America.” Rodney Howard-Browne is calling for a religious revival in the United States. But as VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports, his preaching style is far from mainstream.

US Presbyterian Church Considers Sanctions Against Israel

Jun 16, 2014 – One of America’s oldest Protestant denominations is holding its biennial assembly this week, and high on the agenda is a proposal to divest from companies that do business with Israel. A vote on the measure is set for Friday. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports that if approved, the Presbyterian Church USA would be the largest religious organization in the United States to impose sanctions on Israel.

Seventy Years after Holocaust, Poles Work to Revive Judaism

May 9, 2014 –More than three million Jews lived in Poland before World War II. Now, they number in the thousands. Fairly or not, Poland is often accused of having played a role in the Holocaust. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports that non-Jewish Poles are working to bring Judaism back to Krakow, a city near the site of an infamous Nazi death camp.

Polish, American Troops Train Together in Northwest Poland

May 2, 2014 – The United States has sent about 600 soldiers to Poland and the Baltic nations to ease anxieties in the region over the developments in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky went to see a Polish-American training exercise in northwest Poland.

US Supreme Court to Weigh Employer’s vs Employee’s Religious Rights

Mar 19, 2014 –New requirement that contraception be covered – unless the employer is a religious organization – is being challenged in a case that goes before the Supreme Court. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

One Year After Papal Election, ‘Francis Effect’ Is Negligible

Published on Mar 6, 2014

Roman Catholic leaders are excited that Pope Francis’ actions and words over the past year have reportedly brought some former Catholics back into churches around the world. But surveys show this so-called “Francis effect” is negligible in America. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to one parish that is attracting worshippers.

US Passion for Guns Survives the Newtown School Shooting

Dec 13, 2013 – It’s been a year since a gunman shot and killed 20 first graders and six adults at an elementary school in the United States. And while national gun control legislation was expected to be passed, most laws passed since then have actually made it easier for individuals to own weapons. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports on how the U.S. fascination with guns survived the tragedy.

This video is public.Nigerian Church Has Huge Expansion Plans in US

October 25, 2013 – The Redeemed Christian Church of God was founded in 1952 in Nigeria. It had no U.S. presence a few decades ago, but has since planted hundreds of churches across the country. It now aims to harness the explosive growth of African Christianity in re-evangelizing a country where surveys show that one in five people don’t belong to any faith. VOA’s religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky visited the church’s newly expanded headquarters in northern Texas.

Retired Death House Chaplain Campaigns Against Capital Punishment

October 09, 2013 – A number of U.S. states have taken steps to limit the death penalty over fears that innocent people may have already been executed. But not Texas, which has put to death more than 500 people since capital punishment was reinstated there in 1982. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky met the former chaplain of the Huntsville state prison, the busiest execution chamber in the country.

Is Pope Francis Changing Catholicism? (VOA On Assignment Aug

Gay Former Priest Sees Hope in Pope’s Gesture

Aug 2, 2013 – While the Roman Catholic hierarchy is emphasizing that Pope Francis’ recent comment on gays signifies no change in Vatican doctrine, one gay former priest sees hope.

US Evangelicals Call on Congress to Pass Immigration Reform

June 08, 2013 – A broad range of religious groups is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform – among them conservatives who in the past have opposed reform plans. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says evangelical Christians see it as an opportunity to expand their congregations.

Americans Debate Whether Terrorism, Shootings Are Evil

May 9, 2013 – Many people in the United States – including the president – view violent events such as the Boston Marathon bombings and school shootings as part of a struggle between good and evil. This has led to a debate about whether that view helps – or prevents – Americans from understanding why these things happen.

Jefferson’s Bible Sparks Debate over Religion in America

May 2, 2013 – America’s founding fathers broke with the tradition of state-sponsored religion when they separated church and state in the new republic. But religion continues to divide Americans, and one of the key disagreements is over what the early leaders themselves believed. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports on a daring experiment by Thomas Jefferson.

US Holocaust Museum, At 20th Anniversary, Contemplates Future

Apr 29, 2013 – The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum marked its 20th anniversary on Monday with what may be one of the last large gatherings of Holocaust survivors. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged the museum to recommit to preserving the memory of the Nazi genocide after all the survivors are gone. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky was at the ceremony and has this report.

Boston Police Apprehend Suspect Following Unprecedented Lockdown

Apr 20, 2013 – Police in Boston apprehended one of the men suspected of having planted the bombs that exploded earlier this week at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 170. The arrest followed a massive manhunt in which nearly a million people in Boston and neighboring towns were placed under lockdown.

Bostonians Struggle to Return to Normal

Apr 19, 2013 -Bostonians are trying to return to normal several days after the double bombings at their city’s marathon. But some are finding it difficult amid a heavy presence of security forces and the knowledge that whoever perpetrated the attack is still at large.

Americans Take Terrorism More in Stride

Apr 18, 2013 – Before the attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans mostly thought of terrorism as something that happened overseas. But the response to the Boston marathon attack – and to recent mass shootings – suggests the feeling of safety has been punctured.

US Clergy Speak Out For – and Against – Gun Control

Apr 11, 2013 – As Congress wrangles over demands for tighter gun control in the wake of recent shooting rampages, American faith leaders are speaking out on both sides of the issue.

Catholicism in Africa Seen As Success Story

Mar 13, 2013 – In the past century, Roman Catholicism has grown faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world, leading to calls during recent papal transitions for an African to head the church as pope. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky went to a seminary in Rome where many Africans study, and reports there are different ways of seeing that success.

Some Abuse Victims Skeptical about a New Pope

Mar 11, 2013 –Roman Catholic cardinals on Tuesday begin a conclave at the Vatican. One of the issues as they cast ballots for the next pope will be the ongoing controversy over clerical sex abuse. Some victims of that abuse say the church has tried to avoid responsibility, and they’re skeptical that the next pope will make major changes. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky met one American victim and heard her story.

Catholic Activists Press for Female Priests

Mar 5, 2013 – As Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world gather for a conclave in Rome, and pilgrims watch for the white smoke that heralds a new pope, some Catholics are pushing for more progressive actions, such as allowing women into the priesthood. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from St. Peter’s Square.

Analysts: Benedict Departure Will Leave Little Room for Change

Feb 13, 2013 -The announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign on Feb. 28 shocked Catholics and non-Catholics alike. But after the conservatism of his papacy and that of his predecessor John Paul II, analysts say Benedict’s successor is unlikely to bring major change to a church shaken by scandal and declining faith.

Archeologist: Mayans Did Not Predict Apocalypse

December 19, 2012 – The Internet has been abuzz with rumors that the world will end – or at least be transformed – on Friday, December 21, when a 5,125-year-old Mayan calendar comes to a close. But archeologists say the rumors are wrong: the ancient Mayans did not predict an apocalypse. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky went to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology in Philadelphia, which decided to have a little fun with the rumors.

Watch extended interview with Penn Museum archeologist Loa Traxler

Synagogue Lures Young Adults With Happy Hour

Dec 11, 2012 – America has an abundance of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. But they are all financed by members, and polls suggest that young Americans nowadays feel little obligation to join. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky went to see what one Jewish synagogue in Washington is doing about it.

American Churches Try to Help Stressed Parents

Nov 26, 2012 – A generation ago, many churches in the United States were sustained by stay-at-home mothers who worked as volunteers. Now their daughters struggle to balance work and children. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from Washington that church leaders are realizing that stressed out families are not good for the future of American religious institutions.

Republican Gaffes Helped Obama Win Women’s Vote

Nov 10, 2012 – Around 55 percent of American women chose President Obama in this week’s U.S. presidential election, putting them into a coalition with young and minority voters that was decisive in his re-election victory. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky tells us about one woman who thinks Mitt Romney’s Republican Party favored policies that would have set women back.

Religious Vote Loses Strength in US Elections

Nov 8, 2012 – Religious values took a back seat to the economy in this election. Neither candidate spoke much about faith. But researchers say young voters, including young religious voters averse to mixing religion and politics, were key to re-electing President Barack Obama.

Political Cartoonists Worried About Future

Oct 3, 2012 – The pen may be mightier than the sword, and editorial cartoonists have skewered many a politician with one. But with the newspaper industry shrinking, it is getting harder to make a living doing it.

Watch extended interview with Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker

Americans Say Curbing Anti-Muslim Speech Would Be ‘Slippery Slope’

The constitutional right to freedom of expression, less restricted in America than in most other countries, has allowed what followers of major religions consider to be blasphemy.   Click here to read more.

Reality of Mormon Life More Complex Than Romney Image

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has avoided mentioning his religion for much of the presidential campaign. But now he is emphasizing the close-knit nature of Mormon families and communities — in the hope that it will help both him and his faith. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky went to Utah to find out more about how Mormons live.

Evangelical Christians Reconcile Anti-Mormonism with Romney Choice

Evangelical Christians have long regarded Mormonism with suspicion. But as VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports, many evangelicals are now trying to reconcile supporting a Mormon candidate for president while rejecting the teachings of his faith’s 19th century American prophet, Joseph Smith Jr.

Romney’s Mormon Faith Enters Spotlight

Mitt Romney is the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be nominated for president by a major party. But Mormonism, as the faith is commonly called, is a mystery to many Americans. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky met a politician in majority-Mormon Utah who is also a Romney relative.

Click for exapanded web story

American Sikhs Mourn A Tragedy Many Feared

Across the U.S., Sikhs are holding vigils for the victims of Sunday’s massacre that killed six and injured three others at a temple in Wisconsin. Many say they feared such a tragedy. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from a Sikh religious center in Rockville, Maryland. Read more…

Conservative Christian Approach to AIDS Evolves Toward Compassion

When the AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s, some Christian leaders saw it as God’s punishment for homosexuality. But attitudes have evolved since then, in no small part because of clergy who found themselves with the virus that causes AIDS. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports. Read more ..

Baha’is Mark Centenary of Visit to America by Religious Leader

Baha’is are celebrating the 100-year anniversary of a visit to the United States by Abdu’l Baha, the son of their founding prophet. The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran, but its adherents believe America has a special spiritual destiny. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky has more.  Read more…

US Nuns ‘Stunned’ by Vatican Reprimand

The Vatican panel that enforces Catholic orthodoxy criticized American nuns recently for not doing enough to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith appointed a bishop to overhaul the umbrella organization that represents the majority of the 55,000 nuns in the United States. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky tells us about one sister who devotes her life to helping the homeless in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring. Read more …

Cuba Reforms Economy in Effort to Preserve Political System

President Barack Obama faced criticism from other leaders at the April 15 Summit of the Americas in Colombia for insisting on democratic reforms in Cuba before the United States will lift its 50-year-old embargo against the island nation. But as VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports, Cuba is pushing through economic reforms in the hope of preserving the political status quo.  Read more …

Silenced During Papal Visit, Young Cuban Dissidents Speak Out

Not much was heard from dissidents during the pope’s recent visit to Cuba. They say that is because the government mounted a campaign of arrests and harassment to silence them. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky was there when the country’s best known Internet blogger and other critics of the regime met to discuss their experiences. Read more …

Pope to Mark 400th Anniversary of Cuban Shrine

Pope Benedict XVI arrives/arrived in Cuba Monday. His first stop will be near the eastern city of Santiago to mark the 400th anniversary of a religious icon there. The Virgin of Charity of El Cobre is venerated by many Cubans, regardless of their faith. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from Santiago that the icon is central to the Roman Catholic Church’s strategy for a country where religious restrictions have been easing.

Episcopal Church, Breakaway Anglicans Fight over Property

The U.S. Episcopal Church, founded after the American Revolution, has historically been a religion of the elite, producing more U.S. presidents than any other Christian denomination. But membership is at a record low following a controversy over gay clergy and battles with breakaway congregations. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky visited one former Episcopal congregation that faces eviction from a landmark church. Read more …

US National Prayer Breakfast Draws Criticism

On Thursday, President Barack Obama will host the annual National Prayer Breakfast. It is only one of the regular displays of faith that recent U.S. presidents have engaged in. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky in Washington reports that although many Americans want a president who prays, some critics say the prayer breakfast is about hypocrisy.

Despite Romney Candidacy, US Mormons Say They Are Misunderstood

With the Republican candidate Mitt Romney gaining momentum, many Mormons are excited by the prospect of a president from their faith. But they also recognize that many Americans have misgivings about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon church is officially known. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports on a new survey of Mormons in the United States.

A Decade Later, Fight Goes On Over Faith-Based Partnership

Churches and other religious institutions in the United States receive hundreds of millions of dollars a year in taxpayer money to provide social services such as feeding the poor. This cooperation between government and religion is known as the Faith-Based Initative, and it has grown in the decade since President George W. Bush set up federal offices to promote it. But critics are still fighting the initiative, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from a suburb of Philadelphia.

US Faith-Based Organizations Increasingly Care for Poor, Elderly

Government cutbacks and a worsening economy have led the U.S. government to rely increasingly on faith-based organizations to take care of the poor and the elderly. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from a suburb of Philadelphia.

New Memorial Honors Jewish Chaplains in Time for Veterans Day

On Nov. 11, the United States will honor those who have served in the military, with Veterans Day cermonies around the country — including a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns near Washington D.C.. Not far from the Tomb, there’s now a new memorial — recently unveiled to honor 14 rabbis who have died while serving as Jewish military chaplains.

Muslim-American Children Make Mock Pilgrimage to Mecca

More than 1.5 million Muslims from around the world have gathered in Mecca for the Hajj – the annual pilgrimage – which begins later this week. At a Washington area mosque, American Muslim children learn about this pillar of their faith in a fun way.

Multi-Site Megachurches Multiply in America

Many young Evangelical Protestant Christians shun the expansive form of worship that drew their parents to so-called megachurches and opt instead for a more intimate religious experience. But one congregation may have found a way to have both size and intimacy. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from Durham, North Carolina, on the rise of the multi-site church.

Anti-Wall Street Protest Spreads To Washington

The anti-capitalist protests that began near Wall Street in New York are spreading to other cities. Unlike the Tea Party movement, which blames big government for America’s economic problems, the so-called Occupy movement holds big business responsible. Our reporter went to its first rally in Washington, DC.

US Religious Diversity Prompts Increase in Interfaith Marriage

Religion researchers estimate that one third to one half of all marriages in the United States are between people of different faiths. Interfaith marriage can present a particular challenge for Jews, who are already inter-marrying at a higher rate than other faiths. As Jews prepare to observe Yom Kippur, their holiest day of the year, on October 8, our reporter went to an interfaith congregation in a suburb of Washington.

Cairo Protesters In Jubilant Mood

A sea of jubilant protesters filled the vast Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo on Friday. They sang protest songs, and chanted that it is time for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go. Most of them are young and euphoric at their growing power.

Young Egyptians Risk their Lives for Political Change

The uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is being called a “revolution of the young,” with many Egyptians risking their lives to transform their country. Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Egypt Protest Leveling Playing Field for Women

The anti-government protesters who have been occupying Cairo’s Tahrir Square for more than two weeks now want to turn Egypt into a modern, progressive nation, including equal rights for men and women. One of their heroes is the renowned secular feminist Nawal El Saadawi. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky met up with her in Cairo.

Young Evangelicals Find Faith in Emerging Church Movement

In the 1980s and 1990s, Evangelical Protestants flocked to “megachurches” for large congregational worship and their social and political conservatism. Now, a new generation of Evangelical and other Christians are seeking a more personal experience with a different political tone. And they are meeting in more intimate settings, like the corner cafe. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky went to one service in suburban Washington.

U.S. Comedians Hold Rally on National Mall

Three days before the midterm elections, a crowd of mostly young Americans swarmed onto the National Mall for a rally hosted by two comedians. The gathering was jokingly called “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” – and it drew people who said they are disillusioned by the tone of America’s political debate. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports from Washington.