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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.




Escaping "America’s Most Hated Family"

Libby Phelps is the granddaughter of the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps. Nicknamed “America’s Most Hated Family”, the church in Kansas became infamous for telling homosexuals they were going to hell and picketing the funerals of US soldiers. But it was after the church rejoiced in the attacks of 11 September, that Libby questioned her faith, packed her bags and left - she escaped from the church. Today she now advocates for the LGBT community, the people she once condemned...


Canis Major

Amidst celebrations of the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dog - cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz seizes the occasion to explore how dogs are (and have been) regarded in religious iconography, texts, rituals and beliefs. In her research in dog cognition she explores the dual nature of the dog: how, while they live by and large co-operatively among humans, loving and loved, they also exist in another dimension as olfactory animals, attuned to a world of smells that we are not....


The Right Thing: Breaking Faith Boundaries in Syria

Carol Cooke Eid grew up a Christian in Lebanon. As a young woman, she felt uneasy about Islam and wanted as little as possible to do with Muslims. Yet when she began to follow a religious path and later became a nun, she found herself making an extraordinary vow: to dedicate her life to her Muslim brothers and sisters. The pledge soon turned into a deeply held love of Islam – but it turned out to be costly; Carol joined Mar Musa, a desert monastery near Damascus within striking distance of...


The Right Thing: Bringing Peace in South Sudan

Daniel Deng Abot was one of Southern Sudan’s ‘Lost Boys’ – one of around 20,000 boys displaced or orphaned during Sudan’s civil war. After spending 15 years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, often in miserable conditions, he and his young family were finally able to resettle in Australia. They were looking forward to a quieter and more settled life – yet Daniel, by then an Anglican priest, soon developed a strong sense that God was calling him to return to newly independent South...


The Right Thing: Life or Death in the DRC

Sasha Chanoff is a humanitarian worker descended from Jewish great-grandparents who fled the early 20th Century pogroms in Russia and settled in the United States. The story of his courageous and resourceful great-grandmother inspired Sasha to work with refugees in war-torn parts of Africa. And it was there, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that he faced a life-or-death choice. Then, in his mid-20s, Sasha was part of a small rescue team deployed to evacuate 112 Tutsi survivors of a...


Finding Shelter In Germany's Cities of Refuge

Germany has gained itself the role as Europe’s great provider of sanctuary for some of the millions of refugees that have fled from the most troubled parts of the world. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fierce criticism over the million plus people who’ve sought asylum over the past two years, leading to her having to fight over the past days to retain her seemingly invincible power. Churches, both Protestant and Catholic are defying the state and public opinion by opening their...


Preaching Across the Divide

Naco Christian Church serves a small but devout congregation, Jesse Wood, its pastor spends hours in his pick-up, driving around meeting and praying with his parishioners. His journey routinely takes him across the US – Mexico border, because his church straddles these two countries Division and misunderstanding are real and potential problems. Pastor Jesse responds by using the gospels to teach that all barriers must be done away with, not by disregarding or destroying boundaries but by...


Iceland's Dark Lullabies

At the darkest time of the year in Iceland scary creatures come out to play. Storyteller Andri Snaer Magnason used to be terrified by his grandmother's Christmas tales of Gryla the 900-year-old child-eating hag and her 13 troll sons - the Yule Lads - who would come down from the mountains looking for naughty children in the warmth of their homes. These dark lullabies partly hark back to a pre-Christian Christmas when the Norse gods dominated peoples’ lives. As Iceland opens up to global...


The Icon Painters of Bethlehem

The lives of young Palestinian Christians are being transformed by this ancient spiritual art. At the heart of Bethlehem's old city sits the Bethlehem Icon Centre, a school training local Palestinian Christians to become icon painters - some of them to a professional standard. Unique in the Middle East, the school is best known for Our Lady of the Wall, a large-scale, striking image of the Virgin Mary painted onto the Israeli security barrier. Its founder is a British icon painter, Ian...


Fighting For Peace In Charlottesville

Charlottesville in the American state of Virginia, was thrust into the limelight in the late summer when white supremacists groups violently clashed with counter demonstrators The city is Jane Little’s home town, and she will find that even before the events of the summer, religious leaders had been long been mobilizing against alt-right groups following two previous demonstrations. The tactics they are taught mirror those used by leaders of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. As the...


Eritrea to Huddersfield

Pastor Daniel Habteys journey to becoming a church leader in the north of England has taken him through the toughest of tests. In 2002 he fled persecution and imprisonment in his native Eritrea because of his Christian faith. After spending a fortnight crossing the Sahara Desert in the back of a pick-up truck, he, his wife and their baby daughter almost lost their lives while making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean to Italy. Now, he leads English and Eritrean worship at his...


New Life with Old Belief

Old Belief communities formed as a result of Russian Orthodox Church theological reforms of the 17th century. After a period of torture and mass executions and unrecognised by the state, Old Believers were forced to go underground or move to unreachable parts of this vast country, where they lived independent of state and official church. The Revolution of 1917 led to a further exodus – even as far as Latin America. In the last decade, the population decline led the Russian government to...


Being Muslim in Manchester - One Love?

Baktash Noori is a 23-year-old practising Muslim Mancunian YouTube vlogger. He lives just five minutes drive from the Manchester Arena where, six months ago, 22 people were killed by suicide bomber. In the days after the attack his parents were warning him to stay off the streets, worried that the colour of his skin and his faith would make him a target for attack. Instead Baktash took to the Manchester streets, blindfolded, with a cardboard sign inviting people to give him a hug. Scared...


Jesus Lived in the Townships

Audrey Brown is in South Africa to meet Pastor Xola Skosana. After nearly 20 years of ministering to a congregation impoverished by the legacy of apartheid he has rejected his Christian faith. It is a controversial message and uncomfortable for many Christians, but it is a message which has tapped into a bigger narrative in this troubled country. We hear how Xola struggled with his faith, and why he no longer sees his faith in the white Jesus of the established church.


Africa’s Mother

Mercy Amba-Oduoye is a true reformer; in fact in her native Ghana she embodies the phrase. She is called the Mother of African Feminist Christian Theology and is globally recognised as the leader of a movement that has constantly challenged the male preconception of being ‘a good girl’ a phrase in Africa which means not questioning the established role and place of young women. In the third programme in the special season on Heart and Soul focussing on reforming faith, Anne Soy travels to...


An Equal Partnership?

Dotted around London, in the concentrated areas where Orthodox Jews have made their home, groups of believers meet to pray and share their faith Nothing unusual in that, but what make these gatherings significant are that women are leading the prayers, and they are sharing their celebration with men, These prayer groups are called Partnership Minyans, and have become a symbol of a major shift in Judaism making many traditional believers extremely uncomfortable With a panel in London, Emma...


Are Muslims ready for a female Imam like Seyran Ates?

To mark the 500th anniversary idea of Reformation which spilt Christianity, Heart and Soul investigates the role of women in disrupting the status quo and challenging the traditions in three of the main religions that have been preserved, in many cases, for centuries. In this first programme, Samira Ahmed is in Copenhagen, Denmark to explore whether Islam will ever properly embrace the idea that women can become Imams, prayer leaders, give sermons and offer guidance to both men and women....


Underground Islam in Italy

Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam is not recognised in Italy. There are only eight officially recognised mosques and that is despite being home to the fourth largest Muslim population in Europe. The recent government crackdown on the estimated 2,000 makeshift ‘garage’ mosques across Italy has led to mass protests. The government have introduced a new ‘National Pact for an Italian Islam' but Muslims in Italy argue it’s not enough, the government though claims, it is a step forward in...


Fighting for Their Forest Faith

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. There are hundreds of indigenous faiths, practised for centuries. They are not recognised by the State and are viewed as unbelievers. Rebecca Henschke travels through some of the world’s last remaining rainforest to meet the Orang Rimba – people of the jungle. She meets those who are trying to preserve their nomadic way of life and those who, after losing their forest, are being forced by the state to convert. (Photo: Children from the Orang...


A Square Dance in Heaven

For Martin Luther, music, with its power to move emotions, was an “inexpressible miracle” second only to Theology. When people engage in music, said Luther, singing in four or five parts, it is like a “square dance in heaven.” For Heart and Soul, The Rev Lucy Winkett, Anglican priest, singer and Bach enthusiast, takes a musical tour of the Reformation. The programme opens in the Georgenkirche in Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was baptised and both Luther and he were choirboys, separated by...


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