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Series exploring the place and nature of faith in today's world




Religious Polls

The first Gallup national poll into religion was carried out in 1935. Ever since - but especially with the arrival of the internet - pollsters have fed a hungry media the latest statistics about belief in God and church attendance. How important is the polling industry to our understanding of religion? What can the polls not tell us? What is their relationship to academic social sciences? Professor Robert Wuthnow from Princeton University argues that polling on religion is a huge waste of...

Duration: 00:28:26


It is said that behind every great man there is a great woman. The Prophet Muhammad was married many times; but for 25 formative years, he remained faithful to one woman, Khadijah. She is widely recognised as the First Muslim and her story may be surprising to many non-Muslims. She was a successful business woman. She was considerably older than Muhammad, and it was she who proposed to him. She must have been a formidable presence. There are many debates about the place of women in the...

Duration: 00:29:12


Is it a religious duty to give to beggars? If you go into the centre of a city like Yangon or Bangkok, you will also come across people begging. Among them will be fine robed Buddhist monks with their begging bowls. They're highly respected members of society, following the tradition of religious mendicancy. What differentiates them from what we know as street beggars? What should inform our decision on whether or not to give? Joining Ernie to discuss religious and moral attitudes to...

Duration: 00:29:24


Is the sermon dead? In a digital age when the ten second soundbite is the favoured means of communication, it is too much to expect people to sit through a ten or twenty minute talk with no means of interaction? Joining me to discuss The Sermon are the Rev Dr Joe Aldred, Bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy: Reform Rabbi Barbara Borts,Newcastle; and Dr Bex Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Producer. Rosie Dawson.

Duration: 00:29:06


Ernie Rea and guests discuss B.R. Ambedkar's role in forming modern India. It's 70 years since the new country of Pakistan was born ; followed the next day by an independent India. There can be few who are unaware of the seminal role played by Mahtama Gandhi in the struggle for independence. Much less known is Dr B.R Ambedkar. Many would argue that his contribution was every bit as important. Ambedkar was the country's first Law Minister and he was the chief architect of the Indian...

Duration: 00:28:17

Public Grief

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Duration: 00:27:44

Religion and Hip Hop

What's the relationship between religion and hip hop? Since its emergence from the south Bronx in New York in the mid-1970s, hip hop culture has radically transformed music and the arts in America, and across the world. Hip hop is more than rap music; it is a style, a philosophy and a political worldview. In recent months, the artist, Stormzy has re-ignited discussion of the relationship between religion and hip hop. Is religion a superficial embellishment or is it fundamental to the...

Duration: 00:27:59

The Moon

The Moon has been venerated since the dawn of religion. Has Space exploration diminished its allure? Ernie Rea's guests are Professor Ronald Hutton from Bristol University, Professor Monica Grady from the Open University, Edgar Mark Williams, author of "The Moon, Nature and Culture" and the Associate Director of the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, Tim O'Brien. Producer Rosie Dawson.

Duration: 00:28:28

Jane Austen

In the 200th anniversary year of the death of one of Britain's finest novelists, Ernie Rea considers the religious world of Jane Austen and how it is reflected in her novels. Ernie is joined by novelist and priest Marie-Elsa Bragg, the social and architectural historian William Whyte, Oxford University lecturer Freya Johnston and Rev Paula Hollingsworth, author of "The Spirituality of Jane Austen." Producer Rosie Dawson.

Duration: 00:27:46


Who do we think we are? Ernie Rea and guests discuss our fascination with our ancestors. Is there a contemporary spiritual need that finds an answer in tracing our roots? Ernie is joined by Else Churchill, from the Society of Genealogists: Julian Thomas, Professor of Archaeology at Manchester University; and Douglas Davies, Professor in the Department of Religion and Theology at the University of Durham. Producer Rosie Dawson.

Duration: 00:28:18

Saudi Arabia

The UK's ties with Saudi Arabia have come under growing strain in recent months over how to balance human rights concerns with the government's desire to promote a crucial trade and investment relationship. The Arab state sits on more than a quarter of the world's known oil reserves, making it one of the richest countries in the Middle East and a vital strategic partner to many Western nations. It is also home to the birthplace of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and the cradle of Islam. Its...

Duration: 00:27:46

New Religious Communities

Of all the career choices open to young people, entering a religious community must come fairly near the bottom of the list. Yet the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has set up a new community based at Lambeth Palace for young Christian people from all over the world. About 500 started the application and 16 have been chosen. They will have the opportunity to live in the Palace for a year, experiencing a daily round of prayer, silence and work. They will be supported by another 20...

Duration: 00:27:39


A hundred years ago the trenches had been dug and British and German soldiers were engaged in bloody combat in Flanders and Gallipoli. Faced by the scale of the slaughter, many people turned to pacifism, the idea that all resistance to evil should be non-violent. It was not a new idea; some Eastern religions adopt it as their default position. But the deadly potency of weapons of mass destruction have reopened the debate in the West. Is pacifism a viable option in a world of nuclear...

Duration: 00:27:44


Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Duration: 00:27:44


The luxury hotels in the beach resorts of Tunisia which were once packed with tourists now lie nearly empty. The slaughter on the beach at Sousse on June 26th has added Tunisia to a growing list of no-go areas for Western tourists. Tunisia is 99% Muslim but was considered an oasis of secularism in the Arab World. Its revolution in 2011 marked the beginning of The Arab Spring, bringing democratic government in place of a dictatorship. But all those hopes now appear to have turned to dust....

Duration: 00:27:38

Religion and Debt

The Greek Debt Crisis has highlighted in the most dramatic way just how much our economic systems depend on borrowed money. The figures of international debt are mind boggling. In the economies of wealthy countries like the United States and the UK, around 97-98% of the money is debt. It is money whose value rests not on something that exists in the present but on something that might exist in the future. We are all living with debt. People in the UK owed £1.436 trillion at the end of May...

Duration: 00:27:34


To Muslims, Muhammed is the most important person who ever lived. He is the Seal or the last of all the prophets, the one chosen by God to receive his final revelation. To insult the memory of the Prophet is a blasphemy and a body blow to the Muslim believer. It can carry terrible consequences as the staff of Charlie Hebdo discovered when they published cartoons which were thought by Muslims to be demeaning their Prophet. The Qur'an tells us very little about Muhammed. What we do know...

Duration: 00:27:40


The very public failures of the Mid Staffordshire National Health Service Foundation Trust raised serious questions about the standard of care in some hospitals. Two Enquiries agreed that there had been "appalling" emergency care with deficiencies at "virtually every stage." What would have prevented such a humanitarian failure? Some said that an obsession with targets and bureaucracy had been allowed to obscure the needs of patients. Others suggested that nurses in particular had lost the...

Duration: 00:27:40


In January Alexis Tsipras became Prime Minister of Greece and formed a coalition government with the nationalist Independent Greek Party. Tsipras is a radical, committed to ending austerity. He is also an atheist who publicly declared that he wants to move Greece in a secular direction. That would be a radical move, for Greek Orthodoxy is the only legally recognised religion and may command the loyalty of up to 97% of the Greek people. Tsipras did not take a religious oath on taking...

Duration: 00:27:54

Religion and Earthquakes

Kathmandu was a city of temples. Now it is a city of tents." That was the comment of one observer after the two recent earthquakes which struck Nepal. Thousands have died; many more made homeless in one of the world's poorest countries. Nepal is overwhelmingly Hindu; central to the Hindu belief is karma, the conviction that every action produces an equal reaction; that suffering in this life is a consequence of your actions in a previous life. How do such beliefs sit alongside an...

Duration: 00:27:49

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