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One of the most difficult challenges currently facing the United States is managing the tension between individual freedoms on the one hand, and beliefs formed from religious doctrine on the other. In a country in which over three quarters of citizens ascribe to some form of Christianity and many people believe that divergent views are morally wrong, finding a way to respect the beliefs of individuals while allowing all citizens to publicly express their differing convictions is of utmost importance. The study of diverse religious belief in the United States has enriched my understanding of the moral and ethical convictions that motivate individual voting behavior and contribute to the formation of public policy.

As a student at Harvard Divinity School, my studies focused on religion, ethics, and politics, with courses that explore the influence of religion on American public life, the development of public morality, and how religious belief effects the development of public policy regarding contraception, abortion, sex-ed, and same-sex marriage. I view my study of religion as vital to understanding why people hold the beliefs they do regarding these controversial topics.


My name is Miriam Lazewatsky, and I am currently looking for employment with non-profit, legal, or government agencies or organizations. I believe that my understanding of religion, particularly as it relates to the United States, gives me important insight into how individuals and governments think about and respond to human and civil rights issues.

I’m a 2010 graduate of Harvard Divinity School with a Master’s in Theological Studies. I’m fascinated by the influence of religious belief on public opinion and voting patterns in the United States, particularly in relation to human rights. I’m a feminist and believe strongly in women’s rights, reproductive choice, and personal agency. I also consider myself an ally to the cause of LGBTQ rights.

I did my undergraduate studies at Scripps, the women’s college of the Claremont Colleges, and majored in religious studies. My senior thesis, which won the Scripps College Senior Thesis Award in Religious Studies, focused on Supreme Court jurisprudence in the second half of the twentieth century. I used a case study approach to evaluate the merits of popular methods of jurisprudence, including Originalism as well as that of so-called “activist judges.”

I’ve written about secularization, sexuality and the rise of the religious right as a political force, the problem of personal bias in Supreme Court Constitutional interpretation, and how religion fits into secular educational models. As a graduate research assistant at several universities I have researched and written a fact sheet on women’s participation in Massachusetts municipal politics, done field research on the influence of summer camp leadership on Jewish identity, and assisted in running a study that looked at individual decision-making processes under uncertain circumstances.


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