Topic: Religion


"Beowulf," Paganism and Christianity

Religion Poetry

"Beowulf" is the oldest surviving long poem in Old English. It tells the story of a 5th century Nordic warrior who defeats monsters and becomes a king. In 2000, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney released a celebrated new translation of the epic poem. In this interview, Heaney discusses “Beowulf” and his approach to translating this famous text. Listen to learn more about “Beowulf’s” lasting appeal, and what the old poem tells us about Nordic pagan and early Christian values.

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Current Event June 9, 2016

Remembering Muhammad Ali

Religion Sports

Boxer Muhammad Ali is being remembered as a great athlete and humanitarian. He was a 3-time Heavyweight World Champion and inspired generations of people. When he became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, he was barred from boxing for over three years. When he converted to Islam, he became an ambassador for his religion. He never apologized for his beliefs, even at great personal cost. Listen to hear more about Ali, who was an example of integrity and self-confidence around the world.

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Current Event May 23, 2016

Religious Freedom Under Threat

Religion Violence

In 2015, worldwide religious freedom deteriorated and in some places, spiraled downward. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that violations included denying health care and voting rights, to imprisoning people of certain religions. In some countries, religious freedom is a matter of life and death, and governments fail to protect people from attacks or violence. The issue of religion can also lead to terrorist violence. The commission did not report on the status of the United States, but these global examples may put religious freedom violations in the United States into perspective.

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Current Event April 21, 2016

Passover Food

Religion Culture

Passover, an important Jewish holiday, begins this Friday night. During the Seder, or Passover meal, Jews remember, retell, and celebrate parts of their religious history. Various foods, such as matzo balls, have a significant and symbolic role in this feast. In this story, a reporter and chef come together to cook matzo balls and discuss how food relates to history. Listen to learn more about Passover traditions.

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Current Event March 31, 2016

Muslims in America

Religion Culture Elementary

Muslims now make up about 1% of the U.S. population, and their numbers are quickly growing. This story interviews a group of young adults about what it is like to grow up Muslim in America, especially after 9/11. They voice their opinions on how wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have impacted young Muslim Americans, and they comment on the dangerous influence of groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Listen to hear how young Muslim Americans are tackling challenges within their communities, while simultaneously celebrating their religion and identity.

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Current Event March 29, 2016

Attacks in Belgium

Politics Religion Violence

A recent bombing in Brussels killed at least 38 people and wounded hundreds. These terrorist attacks were the third major attack claimed by ISIS in Western Europe. There is now a clear link between the Paris attacks and the Brussels attacks. This has uncovered vulnerabilities in the way these countries are gathering and sharing intelligence. The country of Belgium is bitterly divided between French speaking and Dutch speaking citizens, who have different cultural, social and political agendas. There are two intelligence agencies and six police zones in this city of a million people. Listen to hear how these attacks revealed vulnerabilities in the security sharing system.

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Immigrant Experience

Race Education Culture Religion Global

In 2015, the United States resettled nearly 70,000 refugees as wars and political instability continue to drive people from their home countries. Resettlement isn’t easy for the person coming to a new country. One of those people, Barwaqo Mohamed was born and grew up in Somalia, but came to the U.S. as a political refugee in 2006. In this audio story, Barwaqo talks about her experience as an immigrant with a journalist who volunteered to tutor her in English for over four years. Barwaqo describes herself as a natural at learning languages and that helped her fit in. Listen to the interview to learn how that skill has served her since she came to the U.S.

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Current Event January 12, 2016

Saudi Arabia Upsets Middle East Alliances

Politics Religion Middle East

The relationship between two powerhouses in the Middle East is deteriorating. Iran and Saudi Arabia are battling for domination and control of the Middle East. The withdrawal of the United States and the recent collapse of three Arab states has created a void of power. More recently there is also heightened tension between Sunnis and Shiites because Saudi Arabia recently executed a well known Shiite cleric. A mob in Iran then ransacked the Saudi Embassy. Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran and other Gulf states and recalled ambassadors from Shiite Iran. Listen to hear how this affects the United States policies and threatens peace talks in Syria.

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Current Event December 14, 2015

Trump's Plan on Muslims

Politics Religion Democracy

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, recently called for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. In making this announcement, he cited polls as evidence that large segments of Muslims hate Americans. This has prompted very strong criticism, including from some of his fellow Republican candidates and state party leaders. Trump announced this a day after President Obama urged Americans to reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. Listen to hear about the reactions to Trump’s idea.

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Current Event December 7, 2015

History of Hanukkah

Religion Ancient Middle East

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is celebrated this week. It is eight days long, and is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah. According to the legend, Jews rebelled against Greek-Syrian oppressors during the second century B.C. and rededicated a Temple in Jerusalem. At that time, Jews were living in an ancient Greek civilization and were trying to stay true to their religion while living in another culture. The story has been rewritten for political reasons. The rabbis declared this holiday unofficial, and created a story of national liberation to be celebrated. Listen to hear more about the political history of Hanukkah.

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Current Event November 17, 2015

Diwali Celebrates Family


Oil lamps light up hundreds of millions of Indian homes during Diwali, a festival celebrating the victory of good over evil and “finding the light within.” This religious celebration is a public holiday in many countries. There are prayers invoking the Hindu goddesses and stories are told of Hindu gods fighting between good and evil, symbolizing every person's struggle. Families decorate with colorful decorations and lights, and perform ritual prayers. Listen to learn more about this holiday from a family that celebrates this tradition in the United States.

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Current Event October 26, 2015

Religious Diversity Under Threat

Religion Middle East

Religious diversity is under threat in the Middle East according to a new report by the U.S. State Department. The threat is coming mainly from ISIS. The report recounts the ways ISIS, or the Islamic State, is threatening and attacking Christians and other minority groups. The State Department says these groups are being targeted, sold into slavery or killed. Some want the US. to call these attacks genocide. The U.S. has a special team working on this, acknowledging there is no magic button to fix these issues. Listen to hear about these increased attacks on religious diversity and what it means for the future of the Middle East.

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Current Event October 19, 2015

Israeli Palestinian Conflict Goes Back Centuries

Religion Protest Middle East

Israelis and Palestinians have had conflicts for centuries. Recently the violence and death toll on both sides has dramatically increased. The focus of the dispute is on one site in the Holy Land that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. It’s known as Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. According to an agreement in 1967, Muslim religious authorities administer the site, Israel controls security, and non-Muslims are not allowed to pray there. Jewish activists have recently decided that this is a holy place where Jews should pray, and their mass visits have caused protests. Listen to hear how control over Temple Mount has led to violence and threatens stability in the country.

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Current Event October 9, 2015

Debate: Pros and Cons of Physician-Assisted Suicide

Health Religion

Since the Governor of California signed the End-Of-Life Option Act, there are now five states that allow physician-assisted suicide. Advocates believe this allows death with dignity for terminally ill people citizens. This bill is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and disability rights groups. They want to see more safeguards to protect cases of elderly and disabled people who might not have control over their medical decisions. What do you think? Should people have the right to choose when their own life ends? Listen to this interview with an activist in support of assisted suicide and debate the pros and cons of physician-assisted suicide.

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Current Event October 2, 2015

Debate: What Role Should Religious Leaders Play in Politics?

Politics Civics/Government Religion

During his visit to the United States, Pope Francis delivered a speech before a joint meeting of Congress. The Pope’s message, “Remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others what you would have them do to you.” The Pope addressed immigration, protecting human life and climate change- all issues that Congress is divided about. He supported the position of Democrats on some issues and the position of Republicans on others. According to the First Amendment, there should be a separation of church and state, and the government cannot promote a particular religion. Are the Pope’s statements about controversial topics promoting religion in Congress? Should the Pope’s opinion influence U.S. policy? What role do religious leaders in general play in influencing politics? Discuss these issues and debate the role of religious leaders in politics.

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