Current Event May 23, 2016
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.
Current Event April 21, 2016
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.
Current Event March 31, 2016
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.
Current Event March 29, 2016
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.
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.
Current Event January 12, 2016
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.
Current Event December 14, 2015
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.
Current Event December 7, 2015
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.
Current Event November 17, 2015
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.
Current Event October 26, 2015
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.
Current Event October 19, 2015
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.
Current Event October 9, 2015
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.
Current Event October 2, 2015
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.
Current Event September 21, 2015
Pope Francis, the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church, is visiting New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC this week. He is expected to speak about immigration reform. Many Catholic churches in the U.S. were originally established by European immigrants and are now relying on newer immigrants to America to keep them open. As the number of American born Catholics has dropped, the number of immigrants have increased. More than a quarter of the Catholics in America today were born outside of the U.S. and Hispanics and Asians are keeping Catholic churches vibrant. Listen to hear how the Catholic parishes are being replenished.
Current Event September 10, 2015
A county clerk in Kentucky was briefly jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and requires all clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The Kentucky clerk says she won’t go against her religious beliefs, which condemn same sex relationships. Although the law does not support her decision, she has supporters in Kentucky. She lives in a state where same-sex marriage was banned in 2004.
Current Event August 26, 2015
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) has recently provided detailed explanations for how their scriptures were translated. This is the first time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published images of the seer stone, the stone that founder Joseph Smith used to translate the scriptures in the 1820s. The Mormon Church has said it wants to be more open about the origin of their religion, and is providing full-color photographs of the seer stone. Listen to hear more about these new church documents that were recently released.
Dante Alighieri finished writing the three-part epic poem “Divine Comedy” in 1321. The poem is written in three parts: hell, purgatory, and heaven. It follows one man on his journey through all three places. This great work of Italian literature has survived the ages and remains a classic today. There have been many translations of Dante’s work. This story interviews Clive James, the most recent English translator, as he talks about this epic poem and his translated version of “Divine Comedy.”
Current Event June 17, 2015
As people head out to buy summer clothes a new documentary called “The True Cost” asks people to stop and consider all it takes to create affordable clothing. Clothing is a rare product where the price of a dress or shirt has dropped, but the cost to create it hasn’t. The increased production of clothing and the decreased cost has negatively affected workers across the world. It’s also had an impact on the environment. Listen to learn more about the economics of T-shirts that cost $5.
Current Event April 7, 2015
The Indiana state legislature has been in the harsh spotlight since passing a Religious Freedom Law that would make religious beliefs a valid legal defense against government regulations. This law, backed by the conservative right, was seen as a move to discriminate against or refuse service to gays and lesbians with state approval. Listen to learn how the national media and business community responded by forcing the legislature to pass another bill that does not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.