Current Event December 18, 2020
The U.S. Supreme Court has declared certain rules restricting religious gatherings unfair. Some states, including California and New York, had strictly limited the number of people allowed to gather in places of worship during the pandemic. The states said the rules were meant to protect public health, since large indoor gatherings can trigger viral outbreaks. But the Supreme Court decided that these limitations were too strict and unfairly limited freedom to assemble and worship, a right protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Listen to learn more about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling and then debate: Are religious freedom and public safety in conflict?
Current Event December 10, 2020
Jelly donuts are traditionally eaten to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah, but even many Jews are not sure why. The holiday began in ancient times, when a miracle was declared after a small amount of oil burned for eight days. Eating foods fried in oil, such as donuts, reminds Jews of the miracle. But why the jelly? Listen to hear the story behind jelly donuts and how they became a traditional Hanukkah food.
Current Event November 17, 2020
In a recently released documentary, Pope Francis said he approved of civil unions for homosexual couples. A civil union is a legal partnership arrangement, like a marriage, granted by state authorities. The pope’s supportive words gave hope to the LGBTQ community, which has often felt excluded by the church. It also caused confusion, however, since his statement conflicts with official church policy. Listen to learn more about the pope’s unexpected announcement, and hear how Catholics have responded.
Current Event October 27, 2020
The American spiritualist movement was founded on the belief that people can communicate with the dead. It began in the mid-1800s and, at its height, had millions of followers. Many early spiritualists were women, and they often used their voices to support women’s rights. In this audio story, an author describes her trip to a spiritualist community in Maine and what led her there. Listen to learn more about the history of spiritualism, and hear what happened when the author participated in a seance.
Current Event March 2, 2020
The FBI announced it is moving racist violence to the same threat level as foreign terrorism. The change comes in response to a nationwide rise in racially motivated crimes, including attacks on blacks, Jews, Latinos, and other minority groups. To combat the trend, the FBI director instructed his special investigative teams to keep their eyes on domestic terrorism, and they have already arrested seven members of a violent neo-Nazi group. Listen to learn more about the FBI’s crackdown on domestic threats and why some people question whether the move will make a difference.
Current Event February 3, 2020
President Trump is taking steps to remind students and teachers of their right to pray in school. Under the Constitution, students have a right to freely practice their religion. However, the Constitution also says that public schools may not promote any religion. Listen to learn which religious expressions are allowed in public schools and how the law aims to prevent discrimination on the basis of religion.
Current Event September 17, 2019
President Trump recently tweeted that some Congressional representatives should “go back” to “the places from which they came.” These comments sounded familiar to many Americans, who have had others tell them to “go home,” though they were born in the United States. Listen to hear stories of Americans who have been told to “go back” and learn how such remarks have affected them.
Current Event September 16, 2019
India and Pakistan have been arguing for decades over control of the Muslim-majority Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir. Since 1947, the state has officially been a part of India with special status. However, recently, the Prime Minister of India took this special status away by presidential decree. Many Muslim Kashmiris are very upset about this decision and how it was made, but others consider it a positive development. Listen to learn more about the conflict surrounding this change.
Current Event September 12, 2019
Dr. Ayaz Virji moved to Dawson, Minnesota to help fill a need for doctors in rural America. At first, all was well, but during the 2016 election, the climate began to shift. As a Muslim, he no longer felt as welcome in Dawson, and he regularly faced discrimination. Virji decided to take action to help his community and others like it better understand and tolerate his faith and has since written a book about his experiences. Listen to hear Dr. Virji’s story and learn about his plans for the future.
Current Event August 27, 2019
The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian territory that shares a border with Egypt. In the ongoing conflict between Israel and the the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, this region has been subjected to many attacks, blockades, and power struggles. With the economy suffering and violence escalating, many people who live in Gaza want to leave. Listen to hear stories of people who have decided to leave their home and learn how the departure of so many is affecting Gaza.
Current Event May 23, 2019
The holy month of Ramadan has begun. This means that Muslims around the world will be having breakfast before the sun has risen and waiting to have dinner until after the sun has set. While this traditional practice of fasting has been going on for centuries, the global context surrounding it has changed. Listen to hear more about how Muslims celebrate Ramadan and how their experiences are affected by what is happening in the world today.
Current Event May 10, 2019
In 2017, five students who sprayed racist graffiti on a historic African-American schoolhouse received a sentence designed to educate them about how racism has impacted people’s lives throughout history. They were assigned twelve books to read and respond to in writing. Listen to this interview with the state official who devised this unusual sentence and then debate: Can tolerance be taught?
Until the 1500’s, it was understood that the earth was the center of the universe and that all celestial bodies revolved around it. In his book On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres, Nicolaus Copernicus challenged that accepted idea by providing evidence that, in fact, earth, along with the other planets, revolved around the sun. In this audio story, the story of Copernicus and his revolutionary idea is retold. The story delves into how and why Copernicus shared his belief with the world. The story compares the resistance to accepting Copernicus’ belief with modern debates over topics like climate change.