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.
The Amish are a Christian religious group who are known for their isolation and rejection of modern technology. Popular culture has shaped our understanding of the Amish community, from the Harrison Ford movie Witness to TLC’s show Breaking Amish. But this lens on the Amish doesn’t show the complexities of their religious culture. Listen to learn more about the Amish and their complicated but thoughtful relationship with technology.
Current Event March 13, 2015
The First Amendment protects freedom of religion and freedom of expression, but what about religious expression? The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case where religious expression and company policy clash. When a 17-year-old Muslim woman applied to work at Abercrombie and Fitch, her applicant score was downgraded because she wore a headscarf to her interview. Abercrombie argues that wearing caps is against their “Look Policy” and that Samantha Elauf should have asked for an accommodation. Elauf argues that Abercrombie broke the law banning religious discrimination in employment. Listen to learn more about this First Amendment debate.
Update: The Supreme Court ruled in an 8-to-1 decision in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job because of her headscarf.
Current Event February 27, 2015
When Voltaire wrote Treatise on Tolerance in 1763, it was an important and relevant work. The work’s message of religious tolerance is experiencing a resurgence over 250 years later in modern day France. After attacks by religious extremists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, people in France who are looking for answers and a denunciation of violence in the name of religion are finding it in Voltaire. Listen to learn what inspired this 18th century book and why people are turning to it today.
Current Event February 4, 2015
The militant group ISIS has displaced Christians from Northwestern Iraq in their quest to create an Islamic state. This displacement has threatened the community and its ancient heritage. A group of monks in Iraq have saved a library of ancient Christian manuscripts from destruction. Listen to learn more about this community and their rescue mission.
Current Event January 20, 2015
Islamic extremists in the Middle East and France have dominated the news. But they’ve also attacked innocent civilians in Nigeria. A group known as Boko Haram kidnapped young school girls in April of last year. Most recently they appear to be behind brutal attacks and killings in the lawless north of Nigeria. The Nigerian government seems powerless to stop their attacks. What is Boko Haram and are they connected with other Islamic militant groups? Share this story with students to help them understand this growing threat.
Current Event December 16, 2014
Today marks the first night of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights. Hanukkah comes with many traditions both ancient and modern. This story explores the historic origins of foil wrapped chocolate coins given during Hanukkah, known as gelt. Listen to hear how migration to urban areas to and to America changed the traditions of Hanukkah.
The novel The Book Thief is narrated by Death. He tells the story of a young German girl saving books from Nazi bonfires to read to the Jewish man hiding in her home. Listen to this audio story to hear an interview with author Markus Zusak, who explains his choice of Death as the narrator and the message he hopes teenage readers get from the novel.
Current Event November 20, 2014
In 1967, a brief war between Israeli and Palestinian forces led Israel to capture the Old City of Jerusalem, which included the holy of sites in both Jewish and Muslim religions. The Temple Mount has become a point of tension among Israeli and Palestinian communities. From who can visit and pray there to who controls the space, this is igniting conflict as right wing Jewish politicians fight for more control and access to the site.
Current Event October 2, 2014
The United States and its allies are currently bombing terrorist strongholds in Iraq and Syria after the group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, stepped up its violence against non-Sunni muslim Iraqis and Western hostages. ISIS now controls territory in both Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group is moving towards the goal of creating a unified Islamic State. This public radio story helps explain who this group is, what their goals are and how they are different from al-Qaida.