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?
Current Event April 19, 2019
The United States Supreme Court recently faced a case that tested the idea of “separation of church and state” that is a core tenet of American democracy. The case considered whether a giant memorial cross on public land might be unconstitutional. The justices heard a variety of arguments for and against the use of religious imagery in a public memorial. Listen to hear some of those arguments and debate: Can public memorials include religious imagery?
Current Event April 15, 2019
Mental health professionals worry that the trauma of the recent terrorist attacks at New Zealand mosques is not healthy for young Muslims who face intolerance on a daily basis. Muslim teens face racism and prejudice in their everyday lives, especially growing up in the era of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Listen to this story to learn about students’ experiences growing up Muslim in the U.S. today and what people are doing to support healthy identity development.
Current Event March 25, 2019
The recent massacre of worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand was perpetrated by a white nationalist extremist. A counterterrorism expert draws parallels between these right wing extremists and Islamic extremists, explaining how the growing international network of right wing extremists has been engaging in practices that mirror those of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other Islamic extremist groups. Listen to hear about why this former FBI agent believes that more attention must be paid to white nationalist terrorism and the threat it poses worldwide.
Current Event March 11, 2019
A deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, neo-Nazi demonstrations, and other recent events have brought national attention to the issue of anti-Semitism in contemporary America. Recent comments by a new member of Congress have generated debate about what constitutes anti-Semitism and spurred the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance.” Listen to this interview with a Jewish scholar and author who reflects on anti-Semitism in America today.
Current Event March 8, 2019
The motto of the United States of America, “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “Out of Many, One,” represents an ideal as old as the nation. A recent study investigated how people currently feel about living in a pluralistic society, side-by-side with those who are different from them. The study found that large numbers of Americans reported having little contact with people of different religions, races, or political beliefs. Listen to a reporter involved in the study discuss the poll results and then debate: Is pluralism still an American ideal?
Current Event January 18, 2019
Three women in their 40s recently entered a famous Hindu temple in India that for centuries has not allowed females between 10 and 50 years old because they are of childbearing age. The temple was targeted by Indian feminists, who have been protesting gender discrimination, and there has been a political backlash among Hindu nationalists. Listen to learn more about how this incident raises issues of both gender equity and religious freedom, and then debate: Should houses of worship decide who may enter?
Current Event September 11, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled their home country of Myanmar since attacks by soldiers on their ethnic group. Now in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, their lives remain dangerous. Building shelters on the sandy land where the camps are located has proven problematic. Listen to hear about life in these camps and the ongoing challenges facing Rohingya refugees.
Current Event August 14, 2018
Israel recently passed a law that defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Israeli religious minorities, such as Muslims and Christians, feel that this law discriminates against them and fails to recognize their contributions. Some have even begun to protest it, gaining support from important and surprising allies. Listen to find out more about the controversy surrounding the Nation State law.
Current Event June 7, 2018
Ramadan is a month-long Muslim practice during which observers do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Two American Muslim[MB10] women and podcasters recently discussed what it’s like to observe Ramadan in America. They described their coworkers’ reactions to their fasting, their experiences observing Ramadan, and what the holy month means to them. They also provide advice for non-Muslims who want to learn more about the religion from their Muslim friends. Listen to learn more about Ramadan.
Current Event April 4, 2018
Since 1985, women in Iran have been required by the Islamic Republic to wear a headscarf called a hijab in public, regardless of their religious beliefs. Today Iranian women are protesting this mandatory law. Police have arrested 29 women for publicly protesting the veil covering. This silent protest includes women taking off their headscarves and holding them on sticks in silent protest. Listen to hear more about this protest and its effects.
Current Event March 29, 2018
During the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover, observant Jews follow a set of kosher laws. Kosher food refers to the types of food and ways of preparing food that follow Biblical laws. Orthodox Jews follow these religious laws very closely and do not eat or drink what is not kosher. During Passover, observant Jews do not eat leavened products and during the Passover Seder meals, and they drink the ‘fruit of the vine” or grape juice as an important part of the observance. There is currently some competition for Orthodox shoppers in the grape juice business. Listen to hear more about Passover and the market for grape juice.
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.