Current Event February 15, 2018
In Spain, Catholics remember the patron saint of animals, San Anton, with a festival that celebrates pets. Dogs, cats, birds, and sheep are walked down the streets in the arms of their owners. The pet owners travel to church so that their pets can be blessed. Many have looked to San Anton to help with their animals, and many believe it is important to have a day celebrating this saint. Listen to learn about the variety of animals involved and how they react to the pet blessing.
Current Event February 9, 2018
In Thailand, female monks, known as bhikkhunis, are not allowed. Many believe that there is corruption among the male monks and villagers have come to welcome the female monks. They believe an increase in female monks would create a fairer system with more respect for the role. Listen to learn how ordained female monks see themselves compared to male monks and then debate: Should women be allowed to be religious leaders in any faith?
ELA High School
In 1630s New England, English Puritans came to the colonies to start a new life. This is a few decades before the Salem witch trials, and it’s hard to imagine living in this time and in this very particular culture. One writer made a movie that describes this experience, following one family that was struggling to survive in the New England wilderness. Learn about the social norms and unconscious fears that film explores. Listen to hear more about the inspiration for this movie and what might really scare us.
Current Event December 21, 2017
The holiday known as Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage and culture and is observed for seven days, ending on January 1. The holiday includes lights, a feast, and gift-giving, and surrounds the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. Kwanzaa was created within the last century and has gone through changes in who celebrates it and how it is observed. Now, more religions are celebrating the holiday than initially intended. Listen to learn about how Kwanzaa began and how it has changed.
Current Event December 19, 2017
Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Religious leaders from all these traditions have strong feelings about this holy land. In an historic move, President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and is moving the U.S. Embassy there. This issue has long been debated by religious leaders in Palestine, and all around the world. The announcement led to violence between Israel and Palestine and may undermine the peace process. Listen to how religious leaders from various faiths are reacting to the President’s decision.
Current Event December 11, 2017
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum recently opened with the help of former Texas Senator, Florence Shapiro. Shaprio is a first-generation American whose family faced tragedy throughout the Holocaust. As she grew up, Shapiro continued to hear more stories about her relatives who lived in Berlin throughout the 1930s. She has made an effort to share this history with her children. Listen to hear how opening the museum carries on her father’s legacy and has allowed Shapiro to educate people of all ages about the Holocaust.
Current Event November 28, 2017
India's most famous monument, the Taj Mahal, is an example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. Now it is at the center of a bitter controversy. Hindu nationalists say the Muslim emperor who built India's iconic monument was a "traitor." The construction of the mausoleum was completed in the 1640s as a mausoleum for Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. Listen to hear about how India’s national pride along with religious ideas are contributing to this controversy.
Current Event November 20, 2017
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled from their homes in Myanmar, also known as Burma, into Bangladesh since the end of August to escape the violence from the Burmese military. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in a majority Buddhist country, and the violence has been called “ethnic cleansing” by some. The Burmese government’s stance is that their actions are in response to the attacks by an armed group of Rohingya against the Burmese police. Listen to hear about this crisis and what the Burmese government and United States government are doing to help the Rohingya.
Current Event October 30, 2017
Raqqa is a city in northeastern Syria. ISIS leaders made Raqqa its operations hub and training ground more than three years ago, claiming it as an Islamic caliphate. Recently, after four months of airstrikes, ISIS no longer controls Raqqa. Syrian Democratic Forces, the American-backed militia group made up of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, took control of the city. Many of the people who joined ISIS were attracted by the idea of a physical Islamic state, and without this territory, ISIS may go back to being an underground terrorist organization. Listen to hear more about what might be next for the Islamic State.
ELA Middle School
Author Marjane Satrapi created the graphic novel “Persepolis”—later adapted as a movie—about her experience growing up during the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Satrapi was a rebellious teenager, fighting to maintain her beliefs and individuality while living under a government that dictated how its people should live—for example, mandating that women must wear veils. Listen to hear about the Iranian government’s reaction to the movie and how others reacted to it.
Current Event April 11, 2017
In Jerusalem, a team has restored the shrine that is believed to hold the tomb of Jesus Christ. The team cleaned and reinforced the shrine, called the Edicule, located in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe that the Edicule houses the cave where Jesus was buried and then was resurrected. Listen to learn more about the Edicule and the effort to restore it.
Current Event March 22, 2017
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has jumped from 30 to over 100 in the last year, with many new anti-Muslim groups. Now, some Muslim Americans are running for elected office in order to fight back against Islamophobia. Although these candidates face strong resistance, non-profit organizations, such as Jetpac and New American Leaders Project, are supporting their campaigns and training them on how to respond to anti-Muslim rhetoric. Listen to learn more about the rise in anti-Muslim hate groups and how some Muslim-Americans are turning to politics to push back.
Current Event March 6, 2017
In recent weeks, Jewish schools and community centers in at least a dozen states have received bomb threats. In addition, Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania and Missouri have been vandalized. Although it is unclear if these threats and attacks are the work of a few isolated individuals, the Jewish community believes they indicate a growing anti-Jewish sentiment. President Donald Trump has condemned the threats and vandalism, but so far there has been no direct government response. Listen to hear more about what the Jewish community is facing and the response they are hoping to see from law enforcement.
Current Event February 13, 2017
President Trump’s travel ban has already affected tens of thousands of people traveling to and from the United States. Among the affected groups are scientists. Scientific discovery often depends on the ability to communicate and collaborate with experts from around the world. However, with the travel ban in place, many are forgoing the trip to the United States entirely. Listen to learn more about specific examples of affected scientists and the impact the travel ban is having on the scientific community of the United States.
Current Event February 6, 2017
Last week President Trump issued an executive order banning refugees for from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for a 90 day period. The order also prevents all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. Some experts fear this policy will have a strongly negative impact on foreign affairs, sending the message that the United States is at war with Islam and willing to restrict immigration based on religious beliefs. Listen to learn more about Trump’s refugee ban and its potential foreign policy consequences.
Current Event January 24, 2017
Parents in France who want to prevent their kids from joining militant groups like ISIS now have some support. A French Muslim anthropologist, Dounia Bouzar, has written a book to help parents identify and defend against recruiters who "set out to break every emotional, social and historical tie in the kids' lives." She travels the country training psychologists, police and experts to deal with homegrown radicalization. One of the keys is reestablishing connections for the radicalized youth with their former lives. Listen to hear more about this woman’s method of diffusing the pull of radical Islam.
Current Event January 4, 2017
Five centuries ago, a German monk named Martin Luther protested the practice of indulgences. Christians who hoped to go to heaven and escape purgatory could make a cash offering to buy an “indulgence” certificate. The money often supported corrupt church officials and politics. Martin Luther presented 95 “theses” against the sale of indulgences, and sparked the Protestant Reformation. These ideas were circulated widely due to the recent invention of the printing press. Listen to hear more about how this technology changed religious ideas.
Current Event December 21, 2016
During the Christmas season, people of other faiths, such as Jews and Muslims, spend the holiday in different ways. Muslims and Christians both believe that Jesus is a prophet and Mary is a saint. One chapter in the Quran is titled ‘Mary' and retells the story of Christ’s birth, which point to similarities between religions. Listen to hear from Muslims about what new traditions come out of spending Christmas in the United States.
Current Event December 14, 2016
The alt-right movement, which has been associated with white nationalism, is receiving more attention since the U.S. Presidential election. There is a debate about the best term to describe this movement. Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” states that this is a movement of consciousness and identity for European people in the 21st century. Leaders of this movement reject the suggestion that the movement is either racist or white supremacist, although Spencer ended a speech with “Hail, Trump!” while supporters made the Nazi salute. Listen to hear more about this group and the debate around it.