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Heart and Soul


Whether examining religious faith or any other belief-system, the programme talks to believers and non-believers, and tries to get beyond superficial notions of spirituality and religion.

Whether examining religious faith or any other belief-system, the programme talks to believers and non-believers, and tries to get beyond superficial notions of spirituality and religion.
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London, United Kingdom




Whether examining religious faith or any other belief-system, the programme talks to believers and non-believers, and tries to get beyond superficial notions of spirituality and religion.




Faith in Freedom

Helen Berhane has the type of voice that you may think could only have come from God. There was a long time though when the only people who could hear her were her captors and the fellow inmates of the shipping container that was her gaol. In fact it was her singing that led to her being imprisoned, beaten and abused in her native Eritrea, after she refused to put a stop to her evangelising. In this first episode of Faith In Freedom, Helen tells John McCarthy about those two years of...


Young Catholics

The BBC’s Nuala McGovern is with an audience and panel of speakers to ask what the next generation of Catholics want from their Church. We are at the Teatro Flaiano in Rome, for Heart and Soul Gathering, as Bishops from all over the world gather with the Pope at the Vatican for a special meeting, or Synod, on Catholicism and the young. In March, over three hundred people aged between 16-29, plus fifteen thousand more on social media, came together in Rome, to say what is important to them...


The Girl Who Witnessed Crystal Night

Ruth Winkelmann, daughter of a Jewish father, was just ten years old when she witnessed what later became known as crystal night: the night of 9th November 1938, when Jewish shops and synagogues all over Germany were smashed up and looted, and many Jews arrested or killed. It marked the beginning of the outright persecution of Germany’s Jews. Now 90, Ruth meets Caroline Wyatt to tell her what she remembers of that frightening night – and how it changed the course of her life. Ruth’s memories...


Dying Whispers

Sahar Zand travels to Belarus to observe one of the world's oldest, strangest spiritual customs: the practice of healing by breathing whispers. This ancient tradition involves a respected elder member of the community, one who is blessed with the "gift" of whispering, offering their friends and neighbours hope and succour where modern medicine and organised religion has apparently failed, or where tradition and superstition still hold sway over contemporary answers to life's tribulations....


Breaking the Seal

Whatever is said in the confessional stays in the confessional; it is a sacred, unyielding law throughout Catholicism, but in Australia it's now being challenged. In certain states laws are being introduced so priests can now be fined if they are found to have withheld information from the confessions of child abusers. Priests across the country have said they won’t adhere to the law, saying it breaks a sacred trust. But the Catholic church in Australia isn’t on steady ground. The law change...


Faith and Feminism in Brazil

Brazil has one of the worst records in the world for violence against women, and to combat these attitudes Nadiedja Souza is leading Brazilian women who are challenging the sexism of Brazil and she’s doing it using her Christian faith. Nadiedja travels from church to church across the state of Pernambuco educating women to challenge long held attitudes towards women, as well as dealing with the physical and psychological violence that often accompanies it. Women across Latin America have...


Heart and Soul Gathering: Birmingham, Alabama

Fifty years after the death of Rev Dr Martin Luther King, and in the era of campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, how are black churches relevant in the fight for social justice today? Two-time Emmy Award winning presenter Sherri Jackson asks a local audience and a panel of speakers about the role of Christianity in America's new civil rights movements. Sherri is joined by the next generation of activists and by those who were part of the original civil rights movement at 16th Street Baptist...


Hebron's Cave of Sacrifice

Abraham of the Old Testament, or Ibrahim of Islam, is a vital figure across Christianity, Islam and Judaism. His prophetic fame, arises from the story of his offering of one of his sons to God, because He commanded him so. God however, spared the son and a sacrificial lamb was offered instead. In the city of Hebron, are the Caves of The Patriarch where Abraham is said to be buried and above them stand a Mosque and Synagogue where Jews and Muslims pray. It is an uneasy understanding between...


The Buddhist of Sri Lanka

Nihal Arthanayake was born into a Sri Lankan Buddhist family. As he grew up, he saw it as a peaceful and thoughtful religion - but now the traditionally peaceful faith has made headlines in Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka with stories of violence and persecution. He returns to Sri Lanka to explore why Buddhists have been violently harassing the Muslim minority there. He witnesses monks in the orange robes recasting their role as peacemakers to defenders of a strident Sinhala-Buddhist...


The Pope and a New Catholic Ireland

When Pope John Paul II came to Ireland in 1979, half the population turned out to see him, the BBC World Service presenter Nuala McGovern was amongst them. When Pope Francis arrives for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, he will find a changed country and a Catholic Church rocked by the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. Nuala returns to her home city of Dublin, to find out if the “Francis Factor” can turn the tide of a Catholic Church whose once mighty hold on this country is has been...


Ibtihaj Muhammed: A Journey Bigger than Me

Ibtihaj Muhammad has had many firsts in her career in fencing. An African American Muslim woman, she was the first athlete from the U.S. to compete at the Olympics. Her team won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But at the same time, the U.S. presidential campaign back home was revealing a strong anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim in the very country she was representing. Muhammad tells David McGuire about what drives her fighting spirit, and the place of Islam in her success. Photo: Fencer Ibtihaj...


Fighting Prejudice in Eudy’s Name

Warning: Listeners may find some of the material in this programme upsetting. A grieving mother, Mally Simelane, is fighting to change her community’s view on homosexuality. Mally lives in the Kwa-Thema township near Johannesburg, where several gay women, including her daughter Eudy, have been murdered. Audrey Brown meets Mally, as well as her Pastor Smadz Matsepe, who have united to use their faith to fight cultural homophobia. South Africa was the first country in Africa to allow same sex...


Unearthing the Past in Srebrenica

On July the 11th every year, the bodies of those who Sasa helped to identify over the past 12 months are re-buried in a Muslim service and Anna will witness the ceremony at the sprawling Potocari Cemetery and meet the families on a pilgrimage to honour the ones they loved and lost. Anna Holligan has listened to the details of unspeakable terror as the BBC’s correspondent in The Hague and will travel to the scenes of Mladic’s crimes to meet the Muslim families still haunted by the war of 25...


Stepping on Bones - Solovki and Russia's Past

Founded in the 15th century on a remote archipelago in the White Sea, Solovetsky monastery (or “Solovki”) was once one of Russia’s most religious sites. But in the 20th century Solovki gained notoriety as the “Mother of Gulags” – the first and most brutal of the concentration camps of the Soviet time, a stark embodiment of repression. With the fall of the communism in the early 1990's, the monastery was re-established though and a small group of monks were allowed to settle. Monks and...


God's Word at the World's Borders

At the end of a week when President Donald Trump visited European countries, immigration was one of the many issues which has made the headlines The President used his visit to say that immigration has "changed the fabric of Europe" and that "allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad.” Across the globe the faithful are divided in their view on immigrants and both sides use scripture to defend their positions. The Pope has used the word ‘immoral’ in...


Uzbekistan: The Country of a Hundred Shrines

Uzbekistan - the most populous country in Central Asia is, is sometimes called the country of a hundred shrines or the “second Mecca”. It is home to hundreds of well-preserved mosques, madrasas, bazaars and mausoleums, dating largely from the 9th to the 17th centuries, almost untarnished by the time. In fact, many shrines find their roots in pre-Islamic and pagan times. The strict Soviet anti-religion stance couldn’t stop believers from paying respect their holy sites of pilgrimage. Neither...


Faith Based Farms

Across the United States communities are growing of people choosing to live, work and worship together. Colm Flynn takes to the farms and fields to meet the Muslims, Christians and even a Druid who want to show their faith through a shared love of farming. He travels to the states of New Jersey, Wisconsin and Michigan to meet the diverse groups who express their faith through getting their hands dirty. In the summer heat as they celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, Trinka tells Colm how she...


Uluru: Reclaiming Creation Stories

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program contains images and voices of people who have died. From next year tourists will not be allowed to climb Uluru in the Australian outback. It comes after years of campaigning by the owners of the site, the Anangu Aborigines. The Anangu date their origins back 60,000 years and claim a deep and ancient link between the rock and their spirituality. Climbing has violated that, they say; it's like tourists...


Building Anatevka

The community of Anatevka near the Ukrainian capital Kiev has been created to especially welcome Jews from war-torn Eastern Ukraine. Construction started in 2015, and it was named after a hometown of Tevye the Dairyman, from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof". There is no requirement for the refugees who settle in Anatevka to be observant Jews. Many of them had no chance to practice their religion in what was then the atheistic Soviet Union. Olga Smirnova follows them as they observe Jewish...


Canada's Search for a Papal Apology

This is a story of a community trying to heal, but a warning; there are descriptions of abuse in this programme that may be upsetting. Pope Francis is refusing to bow to pressure to apologise to Canada's indigenous people for the Catholic church's abuse of thousands of children For more than 100 years First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to these church-run boarding schools. Many were beaten, starved and sexually abused. They were forbidden...