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Heart and Soul


Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.

Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.


London, United Kingdom




Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.




Should I take the knee?

Since the murder of George Floyd in 2020, taking the knee has become a prominent sight at protests and sports events, signifying opposition to racism and discrimination. But with some fans booing players for kneeling and some black players refusing to take the knee – has this anti-racist gesture now lost its potency? For rapper and football fan Guvna B taking the knee has an added significance. He is a committed Christian, and knows the religious significance of kneeling. To mark the start...


The Uighur Poets

Uighur poetry is and has been for centuries a fundamental part of the culture and members of the community write poetry and often recite part poems that have been passed down the generations and learn off by heart. As the community face widespread persecution by the Chinese authorities and at a time of great despair and fear for them, Uighurs speak to us about the ways in which poetry offers ways of support, succour and resistance. The programme features the voices and works of Uighurs,...


Doping, diving and God

In the run up to the Tokyo Olympics professor Robert Beckford explores how cheating in sport conflicts with Christian principles. He asks how can an Olympic champion stand on the podium with a gold medal and then thank God in an interview if they have taken performance enhancing drugs? Can a footballer celebrate the penalty he has ‘won’ and then point to the sky in honour of God?In this edition of Heart and Soul, featuring Olympic medallist Ben Johnson, Robert explores what the Christianity...


Sex, Christianity and purity

Where does God fit into your sex life? Decades after signing up to remain ‘pure’ until marriage, many Evangelical Christian Millennials are still confused by that question – and some are turning to counselling for help. In the 1990s a sexual abstinence movement became popular in the US and eventually spread to the UK. This ‘purity culture’ recruited young people to wait until marriage before having sex, and wear a silver ring to advertise their pledge. But what effect did it have on the...


Finding my Hinduism

Colourful temples, bells , incense and a multitude of deities and festivals - journalist Nalini Sivathasan grew up immersed in her parents’ religion, Hinduism. But as she has grown older, she has found it harder to connect with her faith and speaking to her friends, she finds she is not alone. Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture nor commonly agreed set of teachings – which for some, can make it tricky to navigate. On her journey to discover ‘her...


Ministering behind bars

Can the prison be a “citizen factory” where the rebellious soul goes in and comes out as a demure, indoctrinated model citizen? Is the God of Punishment the same as the God of Salvation? How do priests, imams and rabbis work with inmates who wish to return to faith? Lipika Pelham examines whether the Foucauldian phrase “soul is the prison of the body” offers a guideline to the modern criminal system for its rehabilitation programme. Traditionally, religious beliefs have inclined to the...


The schools that chain boys

For 18 months reporter Fateh al-Rahman al-Hamdani filmed inside 23 Islamic schools, or khalwas, across Sudan for a BBC News Arabic investigation. He uncovered systemic child abuse, with boys as young as five years old routinely chained, shackled and beaten by the “sheikhs”, or religious men in charge of the schools. The investigation also found evidence of sexual abuse. We visit some of the nearly 30,000 Sudanese khalwas, where children are taught to memorise the Koran. The schools receive...


George Floyd: One year on

A year after George Floyd's death, what positives and negatives can Black Christians take away from the tragic series of events that unfolded? In the year since, many black Christian groups have been at the forefront of large protests across the US. Leaders, the media and people from all communities have engaged in conversations about the future of race relations in United States. In addition, churches and church leaders began to work together to understand, to learn, and instigate change....


Bob Dylan: Born again

Bob Dylan was brought up in a Jewish household in the American Midwest, but kept his faith away from the spotlight of his professional counter-culture persona. That was until the late 1970s when he converted to evangelical Christianity and released an album that shared his born again beliefs with the world. We join his childhood friend, Louie Kemp, as we delve into why the boy he met at a Jewish summer camp turned to Christianity. We hear from Regina McCray, his backing singer from the time,...


Cardinal Pell

He was once the third most powerful Catholic in the world, overseeing financial reform at the Vatican. But for Cardinal George Pell, the fall from grace was hard when he was accused, convicted, and imprisoned for sexual abuse in his home country of Australia. It was a huge blow for the Catholic church across Australia. Abuse victim groups celebrated his conviction, however not everyone was convinced, and a debate began to rage as to the credibility of the accusations levied against him, as...


Black Jewish Lives Matter

The death of George Floyd Jr in May 2020 started a wave of unforeseen protests. As these protests consumed the United States, groups of people from various beliefs, backgrounds and origins came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which started in 2014. A year later, under a new US president, the US still faces the same challenges even though police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty with murder, many still believe that they are still fighting against institutionalised...


France and its faltering relationship with Islam

France is on its way to passing The Bill Comforting the Respect of Republican Principles, one of the most controversial laws of President Macron’s presidency. It aims to fight back against what Emmanuel Macron and his ministers are calling “Islamist separatism”, what he says is an assault by Islamist extremists on the values of the French Republic. John Laurenson meets people on both sides of this fractious debate. He visits a closed-down Paris school that its head teacher says is an early...


Prince belong Vanuatu

Villagers believe Prince Philip is returning to his ancestral home on their Pacific island. In a handful of villages on the island of Tanna, in Vanuatu, he has been revered as an ancestral spirit and son of their mountain god, and they have been waiting for him to return to them, either in person during his lifetime or in spirit form after his death. The prince never visited the island of Tanna, but letters, photographs and gifts were exchanged over the years and the prince met a delegation...


Modern Midrash

For thousands of years Jews have sought to understand the Bible, with all its inconsistencies and contradictions, through “midrash”. Midrash is a combination of interpretation and teaching based on the written texts of the Old Testament that tell the story of the ancient Hebrews, from the creation of the world, through God making his covenant with Abraham, the Exodus from Egypt, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple and the exile to Babylon. As what it means to be Jewish has changed over...


Pope Francis in Iraq: The historic pilgrimage

The world watched on as Pope Francis embarked on what he called a pilgrimage to the Middle East, a journey that could possibly be the Holy Father's legacy. Despite worries of the Covid pandemic and the real threat of a terrorist attack, Pope Francis became the first pontiff in history to visit Iraq. Standing among rubble and ruins in the devastated city of Mosul where ISIS took root and threatened to behead him, Pope Francis proclaimed "hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more...


Creating life after death

Everyone tells five-year-old Shira Malka she looks just like her dad. She has his green eyes. But she’s never met him, because he died seven years before she was born. Shira was conceived through posthumous reproduction, where a child is created from the frozen sperm or eggs of a person who has died. The practice is banned in some places, tightly restricted in others. But Israel - a country that leads the world in assisted reproduction - is testing the boundaries on allowing this new method...


Eighteen years in hell

In 1971, Aziz BineBine – a junior officer in the Moroccan army – was ordered to take part in a military exercise. Unbeknown to him, the attack on King Hassan’s summer palace near Casablanca was in fact a coup attempt. The coup failed – and Aziz, who had never fired a shot, was accused of being part of the plot. He found himself publicly disowned by his father, a devout Islam scholar and close associate of the King. Sentenced to 10 years in jail, Aziz was soon transferred to the dungeon of a...


The Right Thing: A life worth living?

Mike Wooldridge explores another story of faith and hard decisions. When American Beth Ball was pregnant with her first child, she found out that the baby had Down’s syndrome. Upon receiving the diagnosis, she says she was shocked at the heavy hints that she should terminate the pregnancy, and outdated information made available. For Beth and her husband Stephen, both Christians, the next months were a struggle, emotionally and spiritually. At one point, Beth prayed that if she was unable to...


The Right Thing: Saving the man who shot me

Mike Wooldridge tells the story of Rais Bhuiyan, who In his 20s, traded a job in the Bangladeshi Air Force for a life in the US. He was working at a petrol station. A man with baseball cap walked in and pointed a double-barrelled shotgun at him. Rais offered all the money in the till to him, but the attacker asked him where he was from. Rais was confused, and said ‘Excuse me?’, but as he spoke, he was shot. He said it felt like a million bees stinging his face. He fell to the floor and...


Three months to save my son's life

Veer is four years old. He has a genetic disorder called Fanconi Anaemia affecting his bone marrow. In 2019, his parents were told they would need to find a lifesaving stem cell donor for him. Doctors estimated that Veer could expect to live for between two to five years before needing a transplant, depending on how quickly his bone marrow depletes. However, after one of Veer’s recent general check-ups, the Doctors said things were deteriorating faster than expected and Veer was only three...