Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Barbara Bradley Hagerty is the religion correspondent for NPR, reporting on the intersection of faith and politics, law, science and culture. Her New York Times best-selling book, "Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality," was published by Riverhead/Penguin Group in May 2009. Among others, Barb has received the American Women in Radio and Television Award, the Headliners Award and the Religion Newswriters Association Award for radio reporting.

Before covering the religion beat, Barb was NPR's Justice Department correspondent between 1998 and 2003. Her billet included the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, Florida's disputed 2000 election, terrorism, crime, espionage, wrongful convictions and the occasional serial killer. Barbara was the lead correspondent covering the investigation into the September 11 attacks. Her reporting was part of NPR's coverage that earned the network the 2001 George Foster Peabody and Overseas Press Club awards. She has appeared on the PBS programs Washington Week and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Barb came to NPR in 1995, after attending Yale Law School on a one-year Knight Fellowship. From 1982-1993, she worked at The Christian Science Monitor as a newspaper reporter in Washington, as the Asia correspondent based in Tokyo for World Monitor (the Monitor's nightly television program on the Discovery Cable Channel) and finally as senior Washington correspondent for Monitor Radio.

Barb was graduated magna cum laude from Williams College in 1981 with a degree in economics, and has a masters in legal studies from Yale Law School.

Losing Our Religion
10:05 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

After Tragedy, Nonbelievers Find Other Ways To Cope

Carol Fiore's husband, Eric, died after the plane he was test-piloting crashed in Wichita, Kan., 12 years ago. An atheist, Carol felt no comfort when religious people told her Eric was in a better place.
Barbara Bradley Hagerty NPR

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 8:34 am

The Mile High Gliding facility at the Boulder Airport in Colorado is one of Carol Fiore's favorite haunts. And it's a perfect day for flying: clear, breezy and with a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains.

Fiore used to fly gliders regularly, but a few years ago she stopped. Flying them had become painful.

"I felt, in a way, that I was searching for something that wasn't there," Fiore says. "I was looking for that laughter and that incredible time that I had flying with Eric, and he wasn't in the plane with me. I was by myself."

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Around the Nation
11:51 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Finding New Meaning In The Loss Of A Son

Ronan at 2 years old. "I know Ronan's purpose in life was to shed light on this disease," says his mother, Maya Thompson. "This is why I will continue to fight for childhood cancer for the rest of my life."
Courtesy of Maya Thompson

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 1:00 pm

This is a story about loss and meaning. It's the story of a boy who died and a mother who tottered at the precipice of despair. It's about faith — not in God, but in the ability to build from ashes.

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Religion
11:53 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Mormonism: A Scrutinized, Yet Evolving Faith

temple
George Frey Reuters

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 12:58 pm

Mitt Romney refused to mix religion with politics in this year's presidential campaign, but that didn't repress people's curiosity about Mormonism. His candidacy brought the homegrown faith into the spotlight.

Patrick Mason, a professor and chairman of the Mormon Studies program at Claremont Graduate University, says attention paid to his faith has been twofold. On one hand, it's been good for attracting new converts. On the other hand, it's turned Mormonism into something of a cultural punch line.

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It's All Politics
11:37 am
Thu November 8, 2012

For Religious Conservatives, Election Was A 'Disaster'

Attendees pray during The Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit on Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 11:13 am

Many religious conservatives thought this might be the year of an evangelical comeback, when voters would throw President Obama out because of his support of same-sex marriage and abortion, and his health plan's birth control mandate. It didn't work out that way.

"I think this was an evangelical disaster," says Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

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It's All Politics
12:59 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Battleground States Carry Obama To Second Term

President Obama walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia to deliver his victory speech on election night in Chicago.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 1:58 am

Americans elected Barack Obama to a second term Tuesday, with the president capturing or on the verge of winning all of the key states that had been at the center of his hard-fought campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.

"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you," Obama said early Wednesday at a speech before thousands of supporters in Chicago. "I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president.

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It's All Politics
1:58 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Voters To Settle Tight And Turbulent Presidential Battle

Supporters attend a Mitt Romney rally Monday in Columbus, Ohio.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 3:08 am

As Americans go to the polls, one of the closest presidential races in years may be determined by a state in the Midwest and a hurricane named Sandy.

After a campaign that has cost some $6 billion, the two candidates are in the same place they started: with President Obama a smidgen ahead of challenger Mitt Romney, so close that differences are in most cases statistically insignificant.

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Religion
12:21 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Shift In Mormon Age Policy Widens Women's Options

A statue representing womanhood — and women's role in raising children — is seen with the Mormon Temple in the background in Salt Lake City.
Douglas C. Pizac AP

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 6:40 am

Hannon Young was listening with only half an ear during the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints earlier this month when Church President Thomas S. Monson started talking about missionaries. But then Young perked up — and froze, as Monson declared that women no longer have to wait until they are 21 to go on their missions. They can begin at 19, he said.

"You could hear an audible gasp throughout the whole conference center," says Young, a freshman at Brigham Young University. "It was just this wave of shock."

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Religion
12:31 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Sisters And Vatican II: A Generational Tug Of War

A nun chants while she and her sisters pray together during Vespers at their home near Dumfries, Va. Unlike older sisters shaped by Vatican II, a new generation of women are flocking to more conservative orders.
Barbara Bradley Hagerty NPR

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 12:37 pm

Fifty years ago, Pope John XXIII launched a revolution in the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council opened on Oct. 11, 1962, with the goal of bringing the church into the modern world. Catholics could now hear the Mass in their local language. Laypeople could take leadership roles in the church. And the church opened conversations with other faiths.

For American nuns, Vatican II brought freedoms and controversies that are playing out today.

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U.S.
10:32 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Both Candidates Leave God Off The Campaign Trail

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 8:33 am

Religion used to be everywhere in the presidential elections. George W. Bush courted conservative believers in 2004. In 2008, Sarah Palin excited evangelicals and — unexpectedly — so did Barack Obama.

What a difference a few years make. In 2007, then-candidate Obama used evangelical language to describe his Christian conversion: He was a young, secular community organizer who occasionally visited the local Chicago church, when one day he walked to the front of the sanctuary and knelt before the cross.

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Religion
12:03 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Text Reignites Debate: Did Jesus Have A Wife?

A Harvard researcher says a "new gospel" written on a fragment of papyrus shows some early Christians believed Jesus had a wife. The fragment — which scholars believe was written in the fourth century — is creating a sensation among New Testament experts.

Remembrances
10:00 am
Sun September 2, 2012

Rev. Moon, A 'Savior' To Some, Lived A Big Dream

Moon and his wife are introduced during the Affirmation of Vows part of the Interreligious and International Couple's Blessing and Rededication Ceremony, 2002, at New York's Manhattan Center. Some 500 to 600 couples participated in the New York ceremony, and an estimated 21 million couples participated worldwide via a simulcast to 185 countries.
Stephen Chernin AP

Originally published on Sun September 2, 2012 1:57 pm

Rev. Sun Myung Moon died Sunday at age 92. The controversial founder of the Unification Church was known for attracting young converts in the 1970s and for conducting mass weddings.

Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 to a poor family in what is now North Korea. His life took a dramatic turn on Easter Sunday, 1936, when, he says, Jesus appeared before him. As he told cartoonist and interviewer Al Capp, Moon recognized Jesus from a vision he had had at age 3. Moon said he spoke with Jesus in Korean.

"We carried conversation with mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart," Moon said.

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Law
11:04 am
Fri August 31, 2012

American Taliban Sues For Religious Freedom

John Walker Lindh was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 after fighting with the Taliban.
AP

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 1:39 pm

Should Muslims convicted of terrorism be allowed to gather together in prison to pray? That's the question being raised by John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban.

The U.S. citizen converted to Islam as a teenager. Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Lindh was caught in Afghanistan. He pleaded guilty to aiding the now defunct Taliban government there and to carrying a weapon.

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Presidential Race
10:18 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

The Risks And Rewards Of Romney's Faith Story

Mitt Romney rarely talks about his Mormon faith.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 11:04 pm

Mitt Romney's speech to the Republican National Convention on Thursday will be his chance to tell his story to the world. Perhaps the most unique part of that story is his devout Mormon faith.

Romney comes from a prominent Mormon family. He's held important leadership positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But he rarely talks about his faith. When he does, he seems uncomfortable.

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Election 2012
11:42 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Biden And Ryan Share Faith, But Not Worldview

This composite image shows Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (left) and Vice President Biden. Both men are Catholic, but their worldviews are strikingly different.
Jose Luis Magana/Thanassis Stavrakis AP

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 2:36 pm

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate, Catholics passed a milestone. For the first time in history, both vice presidential candidates, Ryan and Vice President Biden, are Catholic.

But if Biden and Ryan share the same faith, they couldn't be further apart in their cultural and political worldviews. On issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes and Medicaid, they are miles apart.

How can that be?

Reflecting 'The Old And The New'

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Religion
12:06 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

The Most Influential Evangelist You've Never Heard Of

Republican activist David Barton speaks before testifying before the Texas State Board of Education in 2009.
Harry Cabluck AP

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 3:14 pm

David Barton says Americans have been misled about their history. And he aims to change that.

"It's what I would call historical reclamation," Barton explains, in his soft but rapid-fire voice. "We're just trying to get history back to where it's accurate. If you're going to use history, get it right."

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London 2012: The Summer Olympics
10:35 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Olympians' Dilemma: 'Starve My Soul' For Ramadan?

Mohammed Ahmed runs at the NCAA championships in June in Des Moines, Iowa. He's representing Canada at the Olympics and had to decide whether to fast for Ramadan this year.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 3:12 am

Mazen Aziz, representing Egypt in the 2012 Summer Olympics, has trained for the 10,000-meter, open-water swim for years. It's a grueling race that can take upwards of 1 hour and 45 minutes, depending on the waves, current or water temperature.

But Aziz is Muslim, and with the Olympics falling during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the 22-year-old athlete had to make a choice: be in top physical condition or maintain a primary tenet of his faith.

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Religion
12:29 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Evangelicals Fight Over Therapy To 'Cure' Gays

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 11:46 am

Supporters call it "conversion therapy." Critics call it "praying away the gay." Whatever name you use, it's creating a ruckus in Christian circles about whether a person can change his or her sexual orientation. And now the largest "ex-gay ministry" is rejecting the approach.

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Religion
10:32 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Feeling Under Siege, Catholic Leadership Shifts Right

Protesters in Baltimore rally against the kick off to "Fortnight for Freedom," sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops say the effort is a response to government attacks on religious liberty, but critics say the campaign is an attack on the Obama administration.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 9:05 am

The Catholic Church is drawing a line in the sand.

Perceiving its core beliefs to be under threat from popular culture, the White House and even Catholics themselves, the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are pushing back.

In recent months, the church leadership has been cracking down on liberal theologians, disciplining nuns and emphasizing a more orthodox theology.

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Religion
1:23 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Bishops Launch 2-Week Campaign Against Health Law

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, shown speaking at the state Capitol in Hartford, Conn., in 2009, is the head of the U.S. bishops' Fortnight for Freedom campaign.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 4:40 am

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launches what it's calling the "Fortnight for Freedom" on Thursday — two weeks of praying and fasting because the bishops believe the church's religious freedom is being threatened by the Obama administration's health care policies.

"This is the first time that I've felt personally attacked by my government," parishioner Kathleen Burke says after a service at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bethesda, Md.

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Religion
10:13 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Southern Baptists See Their Future In A Black Pastor

The Rev. Fred Luter is running unopposed for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here, he delivers a sermon during Sunday services at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 4:48 am

The Southern Baptist Convention is expected to elect its first black president on Tuesday: Fred Luter, a former street preacher who turned a dying New Orleans church into a powerhouse. His election is a milestone for the 167-year-old denomination at a time when minorities make up a growing share of a shrinking membership.

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Law
1:52 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Court Rules Against Part Of Marriage Act

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 4:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On a Friday, it is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

In a unanimous ruling, a federal appeals court has struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act. The First Circuit Court of Appeals, in Boston, ruled the 1996 law unconstitutional because it denies giving gay couples the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples. As NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports, the ruling sets the stage for a potential battle at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Religion
10:37 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Catholic Abuse Case Going To Jury In Philadelphia

Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia in March.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 12:21 am

In a Philadelphia courtroom, jurors are hearing closing arguments in a historic case involving the Catholic sex abuse scandal. William Lynn, a monsignor in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is the first high-level church official to be tried for his involvement in covering up child abuse, specifically, conspiracy and children endangerment.

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Religion
1:32 am
Sun May 27, 2012

Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Takes Combative Turn

Monsignor William Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia in March. When he finally took to the stand after two months of testimony, the prosecutor called him a liar over and over.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 2:25 pm

A clergy sex-abuse trial is intensifying in a Philadelphia courtroom. One defendant is James Brennan, a priest accused of trying to rape a minor.

What's drawing attention is the second defendant, Monsignor William Lynn. Lynn is the first high-level Catholic official to be criminally prosecuted — not for abusing minors himself, but for failing to protect children from predator priests.

Failure To Protect?

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Election 2012
12:35 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

For Evangelicals, Romney Is The Lesser Of Two Evils

Experts say that in order to win this year's election, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will not just have to satisfy evangelicals — he will have to thrill them.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 1:52 pm

On Saturday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University, the nation's largest evangelical university. The speech will be attended by nearly 35,000 people, and it will give him a chance to win over a huge constituency that, up until recently, has been lukewarm about his campaign.

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Religion
9:52 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Same Bible, Different Verdict On Gay Marriage

While liberal Christians argue the Bible should be interpreted as society changes, conservatives argue for a more literal reading, leading to differences in belief about God and homosexuality.
Jonathan Gibby Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 4:43 am

When President Obama announced he now supports same-sex marriage, he cited his Christian faith.

"The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know — treat others the way you would want to be treated," he said in his interview with ABC News.

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Religion
10:55 am
Mon April 30, 2012

From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith

Teresa MacBain pauses while talking about her ongoing job search. She has been out of work since leaving her position as a Methodist pastor earlier this year.
Colin Hackley for NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 4:02 pm

This is the first in a series of stories on losing faith.

Teresa MacBain has a secret, one she's terrified to reveal.

"I'm currently an active pastor and I'm also an atheist," she says. "I live a double life. I feel pretty good on Monday, but by Thursday — when Sunday's right around the corner — I start having stomachaches, headaches, just knowing that I got to stand up and say things that I no longer believe in and portray myself in a way that's totally false."

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