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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.




Malta: The island where abortion is a crime

Malta is the last country in Europe to still criminalise abortion. A majority Catholic country, prior to Covid-19 Malta was due a visit from the Pope. While a pro-choice movement is increasingly emerging in the country, the Maltese political sphere on virtually all sides is anti-abortion. Doctors for Choice, a group of pro-choice medical professionals, was set up last year and they have received major criticism in the country – with hundreds of doctors writing a letter in response in support...


To Santa from Shanghai

In the far north of Finland, 6km south of the Artic Circle, the town of Rovaniemi is the “official home" of Santa Claus - the location where any letter addressed to Santa (over 500,000 every year) will arrive. St Nicholas may have roots in 3rd Century Turkey - but this one-time logging town is now the centre of a vast Santa industry. In 2019, more than half a million people came to Rovaniemi’s Santa Village – including 60,000 from China. Dignitaries such as Chinese President Xi Jinping have...


Black Jesus

The identity and colour of Jesus – and why it matters - has taken on a new significance in this year of protest and change. Seeing Jesus as a darker skinned Palestinian rather than blonde European is both historically accurate and theologically important, but it’s not a new idea. James Cone, the influential US theologian released ‘A Black Theology of Liberation’ 50 years ago this year – and formally developed a radical new way of exploring the message of Christianity. While people often say...


Jonestown: From socialism to slaughter - Part two

In 1978, over 900 US citizens died at Jonestown, a remote settlement in Guyana. The vast majority were members of a community run by the charismatic Rev Jim Jones, taking their own lives with poison under armed guard on his orders. But how did a church known for racial integration and practical help for the poor come to such a destructive end? How could one man’s increasing paranoia have driven so many people, who had built a mission community from nothing in four years, into a seemingly...


Jonestown: From socialism to slaughter - Part one

In 1978, over 900 US citizens died at Jonestown, a remote settlement in Guyana. The vast majority were members of a community run by the charismatic Rev Jim Jones, taking their own lives under armed guard on his orders. But how did a church known for racial integration and practical help for the poor come to such a destructive end? How could one man’s increasing paranoia have driven so many people, who had built a mission community from nothing in four years, into a seemingly pointless...


The Canadian Uighurs

Experts say China has detained as many as one million Uighurs and Muslims in "re-education" camps in Xinjiang province. Survivors have shared stories of countless alleged abuses including mass surveillance, forced labour and forced sterilization. Uighur activist Rukiye Turdush said she feels helpless in Canada knowing Uighurs back home are being forced to learn Chinese, renounce their faith and abandon their culture. "We said never again after World War Two, but it's happening again in the...


Converts amongst the conflict in Belarus

Protests against the Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko have carried on for months. 80% of the country calls themselves Orthodox Christian. The church has stood squarely behind their President but not all of the faithful agree with them. Alina Isachenka is from Belarus and speaks to some of the Orthodox worshippers who have converted and become Catholic. The church has become a symbol of resistance and a haven for reformers. Why have these converts stepped away from the official church...


Catholic women and the US elections

As the campaign in the 2020 US Election went on it became clearer that America’s Catholics were crucial to the result. Here are two candidates, the Democrat Joe Biden, a practising Catholic, who represents a social justice interpretation of the faith, and the Republican, Donald Trump, with who now describes himself as ‘a non-denominational Christian’ but who appeals to the socially conservative Catholic pro-life agenda. It is a fascinating dynamic. The rival campaigns targeted Catholics with...


The living water

Elizabeth Alker loves to feel the cold water as she slides into it from the river bank or steps nervously from the lake side. She is a Christian, used to the euphoric feeling that worship also brings her, and swimming in the open gives her a similar, immersive sensation - as soon as she leaves the water she immediately craves it again. She sets outs to find out why so many people have that same craving, discovering tranquility and spirituality in the icy water. From there she moves on to...


Is this Egypt’s #metoo moment?

Egypt is currently in the midst of a growing movement calling out the culture of sexual assault that’s rife in the country. A UN study showed 99.3% of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment or violence, and although women’s rights activists have been campaigning for years, there continues to be victim blaming surrounding women and a lack of prosecutions. However, a recent high profile case of one man who allegedly sexually assaulted and blackmailed several women was brought to the...


Russia's persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses

There are hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia who are being prosecuted for their faith. Some of them say they have been tortured and their testimonies were never investigated. Others have to hide their prayers as they fear the secret services are spying on them through undercover agents. The wave of arrests started in 2017 after the Russian Supreme Court declared Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation as extremist and banned all Jehovah’s Witnesses registered groups throughout the country....


Testifying against a Neo-Nazi

On the 9th of October, 2019, Mollie S. a Baltimore native, was observing the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur in the city of Halle, Germany. She decided to take a short break and go for a walk during the proceedings. Moments later a then 27 year old neo-Nazi named Stephan Balliet attempted to bomb the Synagogue and later on a Kebab Shop. Mollie returned to the Synagogue shortly after and saw a body wrapped on the street outside. On this day, Amie Liebowitz received an...


The US elections: A faith perspective

Religiosity has always been a key factor of who takes charge in the White House. US presidents have been invoking faith and God ever since George Washington expressed his “fervent pleas to this Almighty Being who rules the universe” in his 1789 inaugural address. This year, more than ever eyes are on who the religious voting banks will decide as their candidate of choice for the upcoming presidential election. Does Trump remain the choice of evangelicals or has some of his statements and...


Father Joe

Just over a year ago, 29 year old Lyra McKee was shot dead in Northern Ireland. The day after she was murdered, the parish priest in the part of Londonderry where she was shot was angry and deeply upset, and he spoke out against those who pulled the trigger. Father Joe Gormley knew it could be dangerous to be so vocal but nevertheless he said: "Our parish is full of so many good people and these people come into our area and use us to carry out such vile acts. How dare they. How dare they."...


The lives of female Qur'an reciters

Around the world, there are differing attitudes to recitation of the Qur'an and the female voice in Islam. For some, female reciters should be restricted to female-only spaces, reciting verses in female prayer circles or Islamic lectures, for fear that the voice in public arenas with mixed audiences can bring about sin. But in many cultures it is permissible and encouraged to platform female reciters, and there is growing appetite from women online to bring more women into the field. Nusaiba...


Faith versus the virus: Pakistan’s struggle

Pakistan’s relationship with religion is the most distinct element of its identity. Be it politics or any other aspect of social & cultural life, religion is the main guiding force. The country was created in the name of Islam almost a quarter century ago, where the clergy still enjoys the tremendous power. Even during the pandemic, when the holiest mosques & shrines in Saudi Arabia, Iran & Turkey were closed, the clerics in Pakistan refused to shut down the mosques in Ramadan. The former...


Fruit of thy womb

In many religions child bearing is revered. Giving birth can be a way of honouring your deity and strengthening your community. In contrast, infertility can be seen as a punishment. So what impact does that have on the faith of women who find they’re unable, or unwilling, to conceive? This Heart and Soul hears how this experience has transformed the spiritual lives of four different women - Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew. The Fruit of Thy Womb is produced by Julia Paul.


Will God protect me?

What does it mean to ask "God to keep you safe" in the time of a pandemic? What is the meaning and scope of divine protection? The belief in divine protection is a significant feature of the Christian response to the pandemic particularly within some of the African and Caribbean Churches in the UK. On the one hand, all churches offered prayers for divine protection over individuals and the nation. On the other, some Christian groups, went further than offering prayers and promoting the sale...


Zoroastrianism and death

By day Dr Jamasp JamaspAsa, works in the UK as a cancer surgeon, but now, due to the passing of his father he has a new role, the High Priest of the Zoroastrian faith in a Mumbai Fire Temple. Lipika Pelham meets the High Priest as Zoroastrians, or Parsees, celebrate the most auspicious days in their calendar. The “All Souls Festival” is when they believe ancestors visit them. She is curious whether his medical skills as a doctor make him a 'holy warrior', fighting to stop the work of evil,...


Will coronavirus change my faith?

Community is one of main features of religion - but coronavirus has disrupted that. Religious institutions are going through significant changes in response to the coronavirus. But what of these changes will remain and what will organised religion look like post pandemic? Could the virus change the future of worship? Sodaba Haidare looks at how different faiths will change post pandemic and asks is there still a place for religious buildings and congregational prayer? Produced by: Athar...