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Sunday Podcast

English, Religious, 1 season, 432 episodes, 6 days, 1 hour, 13 minutes
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A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
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Eurovision; Ukraine; Litany Fashion

Swiss singer Nemo has won the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden, with their song The Code. The contest in Malmo Sweden has been marred by protests about the Israel Gaza conflict threatened to derail the event. Emily Buchanan gets an update rom BBC reporter Sophie Yardley and Dr Paul Jordan, an expert on Eurovision whose thesis, The Eurovision Song Contest: nation branding and nation building, examined the political changes in the competition.For the fifth time, Vladimir Putin took the oath of office and was sworn in as Russia's president for a new six-year term in the Kremlin Palace before being blessed by Patriarch Kirill in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Where he was likened to Alexander Nevsky - known for fighting off raids of Teuton knights. Patriarch Kirill claimed “God himself entrusted the service of Russia to you". How do these events shape the identity of the Russian Orthodox Church? Sunday programme hears from Katharine Kelaidis, Director of Research and Content at the National Hellenic Museum.Litany is a made to measure clothing small business in New York. Driven by their faith, Co-creators Veronica and Olivia started their business to provide women with garments that are worthy of wearing. Emily Buchanan hears from co-founder Veronica, about how her Christian faith inspires her fashion brand.Presenter: Emily Buchanan Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Linda Walker Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Jonathan Hallewell
5/12/202442 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Muslim Vote, Lama Rod Owens, Faith Schools

The way many Muslims have voted in the local elections this week has raised some difficult questions for Labour. We hear from Shaista Aziz one of ten Labour councillors in Oxford who resigned in the autumn over the party's position on the Gaza conflict, and Stephen Fisher, Professor of Political Sociology at Oxford University, on what it could mean for a general election. Lama Rod Owens is one of a new generation of Buddhist teachers centred on living in a just way, with a focus on social change, identity and spiritual wellness - with many of his practises taking place online. He’s currently on tour in the UK and joins us to discuss how his Methodist upbringing in America’s South has helped form his unique practise of Tibetan Buddhism.The government announced this week that it was consulting on whether to lift current rules that mean faith schools can only offer up to 50 percent of their places to pupils on the basis of religious belief. The Catholic Education Service has been lobbying for over a decade and claims it’s previously held back from opening schools because of the restrictions. Sir Edward Leigh MP, Conservative MP and former President of the Catholic Union, and Dr Ruth Wareham, Lecturer in Philosophy of Education at the University of Birmingham, discuss whether we’re likely to soon see more Catholic free schools being established, whether lifting the rules will increase divisions in society, and if high performing faith schools are the result of them being more socially selective.Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Alexa Good & Rosie Dawson Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Tim Pemberton
5/7/202441 minutes, 22 seconds
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Nigerian Pastor; Muslim Drag Queen; Humanism

As the malaria vaccine is rolled out across sub Saharan Africa, medical experts are concerned about the impact of anti vaccine sermons from influential religious figures. An example is Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, a multi-millionaire televangelist in Nigeria whose promotion of anti-vax conspiracy theories risks undercutting the country's efforts to deal with malaria. William Crawley speaks to Julius Ogunro, a media and political consultant in Abuja who's been writing about the pastor's anti-vax views.Lady Bushra has been gracing stages across the UK and America with a drag and comedy act representing South Asian communities, wearing traditional Desi makeup and rocking a Saree. Behind the make-up is the Bradford-born artist and performer Amir Dean, who spoke to William Crawley just before one of his shows in Manchester.As Humanists UK release a book of interviews called ‘What I Believe’, we ask what they do believe, apart from the assertion that there is no God. We hear from Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK and Nichola Raihani, Professor of Evolution and Behaviour at University College London.Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Peter Everett Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Jonathan Hallewell
4/30/202444 minutes, 3 seconds
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Gaza Christians; Trump bible; Easter Island

Parishioner's in Gaza’s only Roman Catholic church are marking Easter Sunday with some extra pomp and pageantry but basically as they do everyday, with prayers for food and a ceasefire. More than 500 people have been sheltering in the Holy Family Church since the outbreak of war. They’re part of the dwindling Christian community in Gaza who’ve stuck together for protection and ignored warnings to leave the northern part of the strip. Producer Catherine Murray has kept in touch with one of their members, George Antone, and tells us how they have communicated over the past six months.Former United States president Donald Trump is selling Bibles during the Easter holiday, encouraging his supporters to "Make America Pray Again". In a three-minute video posted on his Truth Social network on Tuesday, Mr Trump told supporters that "Christians are under siege" as he endorsed a large-print King James Version of the Bible complete with what he called America's "founding father documents." We’ll hear from Theologian Brad Onishi, a professor of religion at The University of San Francisco and co-host of the 'Straight White American Jesus' podcast to get his view on how the move has been received.Polynesia’s Rapa Nui was given the nickname ‘Easter Island,’ after its first-recorded European contact, on Easter Sunday, 1722. Home of the Moai and giant, stone platforms (‘ahus’), masterful feats of construction, still part of ancestral beliefs and practises today, the island is also one earth’s most remote places, with a history long shrouded in false narratives. We speak to philologist Silvia Ferrara about how new research into a wooden tablet, featuring an independent writing system, that pre-dates European influence by at least two centuries, can widen our understanding of historical religious beliefs and practises on the island.Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Linda Walker Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Tim Pemberton
3/31/202439 minutes, 55 seconds
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Integrating refugees; St John Passion; the Value of Religious Education

Faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Vincent Nichols have welcomed a new report which calls for better support for asylum seekers. It comes from a commission set up to consider how refugees might be helped to integrate into society more easily. It makes a series of recommendations and suggests that the current system creates barriers to asylum seekers who want to quickly make good use of their existing skills and qualifications. The government says it's committed to ensuring refugees can take positive steps towards integration as they rebuild their lives in the UK.It's 300 years since J S Bach's setting of the Passion narrative from St John's gospel was first performed on Good Friday at the St Nicholas Church in Leipzig. This week many of the UK's cathedrals and churches will be marking the anniversary by performing it. The composer, conductor and singer, Bob Chilcott celebrates the work and reflects on what is one of the most revered of all musical settings of the Passion. Does religious education at school help young people when they get a job? Lord Karan Bilimoria, a former president of the CBI, thinks it can. He believes RE helps young people to navigate the complexity of modern belief and the diversity of worldviews in the UK today. The businessman, who is from the Zoroastrian tradition, has launched a campaign urging employers to support higher standards in religious education. We hear from Lord Bilimoria, and also from the National Secular Society who feel there are better ways to equip young people for the workforce.Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Alexa Good Editor: Dan Tierney
3/24/202436 minutes, 33 seconds
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17/03/2024

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
3/17/202436 minutes, 55 seconds
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Ramadan in Gaza, Leaving Faith Helpline, Alternative Mothering Sunday

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is normally a time of fasting, family and prayer for Muslims around the world. How can the people of Gaza observe Ramadan in the middle of conflict, displacement and desperate food shortages? Ghada Ouda, a journalist in Rafah in the south of Gaza, tells us about her preparations.The first ever helpline in the UK dedicated to people leaving controlling groups or experiencing religious trauma has just been set up. Terri O'Sullivan, Apostate Services Development Officer, at Humanists UK explains who is using the service.As Christians mark the fourth Sunday in Lent, Mothering Sunday, we ask is it ok to avoid church? Lizzie Lowrie discusses the alternative liturgy she helped create for those who find the day difficult.Editor: Dan Tierney Presenter: Emily Buchanan Producers: Alexa Good and James Leesley Studio Managers: Simon Highfield and Kelly YoungProduction Coordinator: Pete Liggins
3/10/202443 minutes, 44 seconds
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Gaza aid; Brit Awards; UK Islamophobia

More than 100 Palestinians died trying to get food from an aid convoy earlier in the week. We hear from Gaza's small Christian minority, most of whom have been sheltering in two churches, as well as from ICRC's Matt Morris on the challenges aid agencies face in getting aid across to a people on the brink of starvation.The 26-year-old artist claimed a record-breaking six prizes, including Best Artist and Best Album. She also became the first woman to win songwriter of the year. Raye is outspoken about her life as a committed Christian, and has even suggested that God saved her from taking her own life. She's talked about her faith to the BBC music correspondent, Mark Savage. The prime minister's dramatic appearance at the Downing Street lectern on Friday night, warning of extremists "trying to tear us apart", followed days of roiling political turmoil; the row over the now former Tory MP Lee Anderson claiming that the Mayor of London is "controlled" by Islamists, the claim by another Tory MP, Paul Scully, that parts of London and Birmingham are "no-go areas". All these things played into debates about extremism, race and religion. A report by Jasdeep Bahia looks into one of those so-called no-go areas, and Edward Stourton speaks live to Hope Not Hate's Nick Lowles who conducted a poll on Tory Islamophobia, as well as Tory MP Paul Scully.Editor: Tim Pemberton Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Linda Walker Studio Managers: Sue Stonestreet & Mike Smith Production Coordinator: David Baguley
3/3/202443 minutes, 21 seconds
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Vatican secrets; Interfaith row; AI and beyond the grave

Some of the Vatican’s secrets have been revealed in a new book, ”Secretum”, by Massimo Franco. It’s in the form of a series of conversations with Archbishop Sergio Pagano, who has worked in the Vatican archive for 45 years. From stories of Vatican intrigue to a letter written in 1530 by English nobles urging Pope Clement VII to grant Henry VIII an annulment so he could marry Anne Boleyn, Massimo Franco tells Edward about some of the gems in the Archive.The Inter Faith Network (IFN) is to close after the government withdrew funding because one of its trustees is associated with the Muslim Council of Britain. Since 1987 the IFN has worked to promote understanding and good relations between people of different faiths. Edward talks to IFN’s executive director, Dr Harriet Crabtree and to Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain.Increasingly AI is being used to help people maintain a form of relationship after death, to help preserve a legacy or experiences worth remembering. We hear from the AI version of the actor Ed Asner who died in 2021, from Stephen Smith, CEO of StoryFile, who created it and from Dr Nathan Mladin from Theos whose latest report looks at the pros and cons of how AI is being used in the rapidly changing world of grief tech.Producers: Amanda Hancox and James Leesley
2/25/202443 minutes, 46 seconds
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Israel Gaza conflict; Rochdale Labour; Rave in the nave

Israeli troops are set to advance into the Gazan city of Rafah, defying international pleas to reconsider. Some 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering there. The UK House of Bishops is calling for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict. The Sunday programme spoke to Bishop of Worchester Dr John Inge.Sir Keir Starmer has defended his handling of the antisemitism row in his party as a Muslim candidate is withdrawn from the race in Rochdale. William Crawley speaks to Marc Levy - the chief executive of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Mohammed Shafiq, National Executive Committee member of PCS Union and Chief Executive and founding member of the Ramadhan Foundation which is one of the UK's leading Muslim youth organisations.Church buildings have opened their doors and held public events for centuries; Choral Evensong, Classical concerts and in more recent times, Lego building and Crazy Golf. But this year, many cathedrals across the country are taking it a step further and hosting 80s, 90s and 00s themed ‘Silent Discos’. Canterbury Cathedral recently hosted two sold-out nights with an attendance of 3,000 people at £25 per ticket. But not everyone agrees. Some critics have questioned whether this is an ‘appropriate’ use of sacred space, and a petition campaigning against the events has amassed over two thousand signatures. So what is an ‘appropriate’ use of a sacred space? William Crawley speaks to the Dean of St Albans, Jo Kelly-Moore.Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim and Linda Walker Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Tim Pemberton
2/18/202443 minutes, 29 seconds
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Asylum Conversions, the Power of Prayer, 'Sexualised' Jesus

Sunday's interview last week with Weymouth Baptist Church has led to a great deal of debate about whether church leaders are backing fraudulent asylum claims. The home secretary is now investigating how the asylum system deals with migrants who have converted to Christianity. We talk to the Bishop of Chelmsford, Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani on the churches role in asylum.Religious leaders across different faiths united to offer their prayers for King Charles following the announcement of his cancer diagnosis. How is personal faith challenged by a cancer diagnosis and how do different faiths and modern science approach the idea of praying for someone’s health in times of sickness? We hear US neuroscientist Joshua Brown and Kishori Jani, a teacher of Hindu scripture who runs popular social media channels featuring mantra chanting.Spanish artist Salustiano García Cruz's depiction of a handsome, youthful Jesus on a poster in Seville has become the source of controversy. The painting, which shows a young and muscular Jesus in a loincloth, has critics – largely conservatives on social media – calling the image "offensive", "evil", and too "sexualised" for Holy Week. We take a look into how Jesus has been depicted in art over the centuries with Dr Siobhan Jolley, Art and Religion specialist at the National Gallery.PRESENTER: EMILY BUCHANAN PRODUCERS: ALEXA GOOD AND ROSIE DAWSON EDITOR: DAN TIERNEY
2/11/202443 minutes, 48 seconds
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Asylum conversions, Jaz from Traitors on Sikhism, Siobhan McSweeney on St Brigid

The issue of converting asylum seekers to Christianity has been in the headlines this week with accusations that some clergy are naive or too eager to help asylum seekers stay in the country. We talk to a Baptist elder with experience of converting and helping asylum seekers.Jaz from Traitors won the respect of TV audiences with the way he played the gameshow, but he revealed it was his Sikh faith that guided him through the show and helped him be a true Faithful. The film Samsara – which has just reached our cinemas – has attracted some great reviews despite the fact that you are encouraged to watch part of it with your eyes closed. It tells the story of the journey of the soul of an elderly woman in Laos to its reincarnation as goat in Zanzibar. Edward speaks to director Lois Patino and Dechen Pemba from the Tibetan Film Festival who went to see it on our behalf.There was another bust up over same sex blessings in the Church of England this week. A Bishop resigned from the process, and 130 people wrote a letter in protest at what they believe are delays to a trial to test out separate services of blessing. Edward talks to Professor Helen King and Dr Ian Paul, both members of General Synod and hears from a couple waiting for their special day in church.A year of celebrations to mark 1500 years since the death of St Brigid are underway in Ireland. Edward talks to Derry Girls actress Siobhan McSweeney and historian Dr Mary Condren about why she's a feminist saint fit for the 21st century.PRESENTER: EDWARD STOURTON PRODUCERS: CATHERINE MURRAY & JAMES LEESLEY EDITOR:TIM PEMBERTON
2/4/202440 minutes, 6 seconds
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C of E safeguarding concerns, Nicaragua Catholic Church crackdown, Jesus in pop music

The Church of England is facing renewed criticism following its decision to close its own Independent Safeguarding Board last year. At the time, church authorities said they closed the board in order to replace it with a more independent and more effective body. But some victims and survivors of abuse say that decision left them feeling abandoned, silenced and re-traumatised. William Crawley hears from one of those survivors, as well as from David Glasgow, a clinical psychologist who has published his own report into the matter, and from Dr Jamie Harrison, chair of the House of Laity on the Archbishops' Council.In Nicaragua, Catholic universities and charities have been closed or seized by the government because bishops and priests have publicly challenged what they view as the regime's abuse of human rights. Francisco Urrutia, General Secretary of the Association of Jesuit Universities in Latin America, tells the programme that President Daniel Ortega's regime is set on silencing the church's voice in public life.The rapper Lil Nas X is the latest musical artist to cause controversy with his new song, "J-CHRIST", accompanied by a music video in which he's strapped to the cross in place of Jesus. He has apologised insisting he didn't mean to mock Christianity. Delvyn Case, Professor of Music at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, explores the history of pop music's sometimes uncomfortable relationship with Jesus.PRESENTER; William Crawley PRODUCERS: Amanda Hancox and Alexa Good EDITOR: Dan Tierney.
1/28/202442 minutes, 51 seconds
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Cathedral charging; Last Christians in Gaza; Muslim Comedian Ola Labib

Sunday hears from George Antone from Catholic aid agency Caritas, a member of Holy Family Church in Gaza City. He's one of around 400 parishioners taking shelter in the church and tells us about problems finding food and receiving aid to keep going amidst the war.Would an entry fee put you off visiting a cathedral? One in four now charge in England. William hears from listeners as well as the Very Revd Jo Kelly-Moore, Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, and the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester Cathedral, which is free to enter. Muslim comic Ola Labib talks about keeping her standup secret from her parents when she changed careers from pharmacy, and the things she won't do on stage because of her religion.Hear about the beautiful tradition of Gaelic Psalm singing being preserved and presented in a new exhibition touring the Hebrides this year. Dr Frances Wilkins and Magidh Smith talk about Seinn Spioradail.Does it matter if the future King, and therefore the future Supreme Governor of the Church of England, is not particularly "religious"? A line from the new biography of the King speculating on the religious observance of the Prince of Wales has sent the tabloids into a spin. William asks political theologian Dr Jonathan Chaplin - when a head of state is given a constitutional role in an established church, does it matter if he, or she, has little or no personal faith?Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Catherine Murray and Helen Brown Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/21/202443 minutes, 41 seconds
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The ethics of surrogacy

Pope Francis has called for a global ban on surrogacy, saying it is the commercialisation of pregnancy and a threat to human dignity. Edward Stourton hears the experiences of a couple and their surrogate and explores the ethics of surrogacy with Christian ethicist Dr Helen Watt and fertility lawyer Natalie Gamble. The Houthis in Yemen have been carrying out a campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, prompting US and UK air strikes this week. But who are the Houthis? What do they believe? International relations professor Simon Mabon explains the theology and ideology behind this Shia Islamist group.In recent decades, Ireland has seen the most extraordinary decline in Catholicism, with far fewer people regularly attending Mass. There's also a crisis within the clergy as the supply of vocations has dwindled. The average age of Catholic priests in Ireland is 70, for nuns it's over 80. Two new documentaries from the Irish broadcaster, RTE examine the possibility that both professions could be in terminal decline. This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Austrian composer, Anton Bruckner. He became a prominent figure in 19th century music, famous for his sacred works and his symphonies. The writer and composer, Stephen Johnson reflects on how Bruckner's Christian faith inspired his work and how writing music to the glory of God helped Bruckner to manage his mental health problems. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producer: Jonathan Hallewell and Alexa Good Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/14/202437 minutes, 42 seconds
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Does religion do more harm than good?

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have conducted a wide-ranging survey on perceptions of religion and science, which suggests that half the UK population believes that religion does more harm than good. 50% of respondents said religion 'has more negative societal consequences than positive', 30% said it 'has more positive societal consequences' and 20% didn’t know. We discuss the findings and weigh up the religious ‘balance sheet’ with Professor Alice Roberts, anatomist, broadcaster and Vice President of Humanists UK; and Dr Musharraf Hussain, Imam, scientist and charity worker in Nottingham.Also in the programme:This week saw the UK cinema release of ‘One Life’ – a film about the British man Nicholas Winton who, in the months leading up to World War II, rescued 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian children from the Nazis. One of those children, Milena Grenfell-Baines, tells her story.The Church of Scotland is on a five-year mission to close places of worship made unviable by a lack of ministers, falling income and dwindling congregations. Reporter Moira Hickey visits Birnie Kirk, near Elgin in Moray, which recently held its last service after nearly 900 uninterrupted years of Christian worship. Producers: Dan Tierney and Catherine Murray Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editor: Helen Grady
1/7/202443 minutes, 3 seconds
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Tackling the rise in homelessness

Emily Buchanan presents the final edition of Radio 4's Sunday programme of 2023, and brings together a panel of guests from different faiths to discuss the stand out events of the last year and also look forward to the issues and stories they expect everyone will be talking about in 2024.New figures from the charity Shelter indicate a sharp rise in homelessness. More than 300,000 people are thought to have spent this festive season without a proper home. We speak to the Anglican Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, who regards this as a moral scandal. In recent days Russia has intensified its attacks across Ukraine, in a significant escalation of the war. We return to Zhanna Bezpiatchuk, a reporter with the BBC Ukraine Service, who was one of the first people we spoke to after Russia's full scale invasion in February 2022. She reflects on nearly two years of conflict, how it's affected her life and the importance, during wartime, of her personal faith. A spontaneous memorial garden has sprung up close to the Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead. People have been leaving notes and trinkets in memory of friends and family who have died. We hear from Professor Anne Whitehead who’s been documenting the development of this new "shrine". She reflects on how the sculpture has taken on a new and spiritual dimension. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Rajeev Gupta Editor: Tim Pemberton
12/31/202343 minutes, 53 seconds
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Christmas in Bethlehem, 800th anniversary of the nativity scene, The stories behind our favourite carols

Edward Stourton presents a special Christmas Eve edition of Sunday, featuring live carols from Manchester Chamber Choir.On Christmas Eve in 1223, in cave near the cliffside village of Greccio in Italy, St Francis of Assisi created what's thought to be the first nativity scene. It was staged for the local villagers and it was a 'living scene' featuring people and animals. Colm Flynn reports from Greccio, and the art historian Dr Geri Parlby explores the nativity scene’s fascinating story and enduring appeal.There will be no Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem this year. Shaimaa Khalil reports from the birthplace of Jesus. Rev Dr Munther Isaac, Dean of Bethlehem Bible College, has created a nativity scene in his church directly inspired by the suffering endured as a result of the Israel-Gaza conflict. He reflects on it with Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner.Carol singing is another much-loved tradition at this time of year. But how many of us have really thought about where our favourite carols come from? The composer and conductor Andrew Gant traces the weird and wonderful history of our carol tradition in his book "Deck The Hall". He says, “it can be a bit like trying to sweep up all the stray pine needles when you’ve taken down your Christmas tree: there’s always a corner you find you haven’t reached.”Producers: Dan Tierney and Alexa Good Editor: Helen Grady.
12/24/202344 minutes, 8 seconds
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Israel-Gaza latest; C of E same sex blessings; the rights and wrongs of 'Surveillance Santa'

Security corresponent Frank Gardner has the latest from Tel Aviv as Lord Cameron calls for a 'sustainable ceasefire' in the war between Israel and Hamas.In the midst of the Covid inquiry and following the government’s response, last week, to the 2017 Hillsborough report, it seems public inquiries are constantly in the news. But what is their purpose and what are the ethics of inquiry?From today, same-sex couples in the Church of England are able to receive a blessing. We know that private blessing services have been happening for years, below the radar, but the House of Bishops has authorised the use of a new suite of special prayers to be used as part of regular services from today. William talks to Rev Catherine Bond and Rev Jane Pearce being blessed in their parish in Suffolk. It's been called the Vatican 'trial of the century', Crux reporter John Allen has the latest from Rome where Cardinal Becciu , once considered a possible future Pope, has been found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to five and a half years in jail. After the verdict was read, the cardinal's lawyer indicated that he was likely to appeal.Not long til Santa comes down the chimney, but is it ok for parents to frighten kids into good behaviour by saying he's watching them, or that they need to behave to be rewarded with presents? William talks to Catholic columnist Cristina Odone and Canon Ann Easter about whether it works.
12/17/202343 minutes, 52 seconds
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Gaza Christians; American Sikh; Ethics of War

Eight hundred Christians have been sheltering in two churches in Gaza City since the beginning of the war, with warnings that supplies are running low. Nader Abu Amshah from the Middle East Council of Churches has been in regular contact with them.‘American Sikh’ is a short animated film about an ordinary New Yorker who is viewed with suspicion after 9/11 because of his beard and turban. One day as part of his search for acceptance in American society, he decides to wear a Captain America costume, fully turbaned and bearded. It completely transforms the way people interact with him on the streets of New York. After being screened at film festivals ‘American Sikh’ is eligible to be shortlisted for an Oscar, we speak to the film’s main character and director, Vishavjit Singh. The Israel-Gaza conflict involves two of the world's great religious traditions - Judaism and Islam - and each has their own principles for determining when and how war should be fought. To find out what they are, Edward talks to Daniel Greenberg, a lawyer who writes about Jewish ethics, and Audu Bulama Bukarti, an expert on the Islamic rules of war.
12/10/202343 minutes, 5 seconds
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Power of religion at Cop28; Shane McGowan's Catholicism; Near-death experiences

Faith is front and centre at Cop28 this weekend. The Pope may have missed the climate summit because of health problems but for the first time at the gathering , a Faith Pavilion has been erected. Edward looks at the role religions can play in mobilising support for action on climate change.Hear about the near death experience involving bright lights and angelic figures that turned a manual labourer into an artist and composer Edward talks to priest Eugene O'Hagan about the faith of Shane McGowan who died this week at the age of 65. The Pogues's singer described himself as a 'religious fanatic' and a 'free-thinking Catholic'. We'll hear how important his religion was to life and his work. A World Health Organization team in Gaza has described scenes in the hospitals there as “like a horror movie”, even before the bombing started again this week. Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah, a British-Palestinian surgeon who operated on patients at the Anglican-run al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, has now returned to the UK and tells Edward Stourton about his experiences.Edward hears from Rachel Goldberg, whose son Hersh was badly wounded when he was taken hostage by Hamas
12/3/202342 minutes, 39 seconds
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Same sex church blessings; Religion in Dr Who; Antonio Banderas on playing King Herod

As tension builds in the Middle East over the much anticipated truce between Israel and Gaza, we look at the latest in the developing situation. The armed wing of Hamas said on Saturday it was delaying the handover of a second group of hostages as part of a temporary ceasefire deal until Israel “adheres to the terms of the agreement”. We'll also hear from Rachel Goldberg, whose 23-year-old son Hersh Polin Goldberg was taken hostage from the Nova music festival on October 7. This week, Rachel was granted an audience with Pope Francis as one of 12 individuals whose family members are being held hostage by Hamas. For award-winning actor Antonio Banderas, playing the evil King Herod in the nativity musical “Journey to Bethlehem” gave him an opportunity to explore his faith and find the joy of playing the bad guy, we hear about his experience in the film. Jewish groups have criticised Pope Francis over his comments that they saw as accusing both Hamas and Israel of "terrorism". Francis made the comments on Wednesday, we'll look into the comments and the reaction to them. At 5:15pm on 23 November 1963, the first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast on BBC One. Exactly 60 years on, the show is celebrating its diamond anniversary with three new hour-long specials starting this weekend. We'll look behind the Tardis to explore the hidden spiritual meaning behind some of the stories with Dr Andrew Crome is a cultural historian at Manchester Metropolitan University. We return to the continuing row in the Church of England over church blessings for same-sex couples -- and the fears raised by some that the church could be heading for a split, with the Church of England Evangelical Council now seeking to set up its own alternative leadership system for priests opposed to those blessing services. The Christian season of Advent begins next Sunday, which means lots of people will be getting their Advent calendar ready to begin the annual countdown to Christmas. The Church of England is marketing its first ever printed Advent Calendar, complete with a fold-out, stand-up crib, we'll look at how it's set to compete in a very crowded market. Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Linda Walker and Amanda Hancox Editor: Helen Grady Studio Managers: Colin Sutton and Michael Smith
11/26/202343 minutes, 50 seconds
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Same Sex Blessings in the Church of England

This week Church of England leaders voted narrowly to allow special services of blessing for gay couples. At a meeting in London, the church’s General Synod approved the move on a trial basis. It has been a hugely divisive issue and there are fears that it could split the church. Equality campaigners insist that gay Anglicans should be able to marry in church like everyone else. But some conservatives say that the church is straying from scripture, which teaches that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. The Labour Party leadership was hit by a major rebellion this week in the Commons when 56 MPs defied party policy and voted for a ceasefire in Gaza. Eight shadow ministers also resigned their positions in support of an immediate ceasefire. Muslim party members, councillors and MPs have been vociferous in pushing for an end to the violence in Gaza as the death toll has soared. Labour usually enjoys strong support from Muslims, but could this issue lose the party votes, or even seats at the General Election? Why have human beings always been so attracted to stories about the end of the world? Across cultures and history, stories and works of art have reflected ideas of the apocalypse. It's the subject of a new exhibition which includes poems by T. S. Eliot and W. B. Yeats. The exhibition's venue is a Victorian house in Bedford, which once belonged to a now defunct Christian apocalyptic movement, called the Panacea Society. We'll hear the history of this eccentric organisation and also examine the strangely enduring appeal of the apocalypse. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Bara'atu Ibrahim Editor: Helen Grady Studio Managers: Helen Williams and Sue Stonestreet
11/19/202343 minutes
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Interfaith relations and Israel-Hamas war; The Bard and the Bible; Hindu ante-natal rituals

William Crawley talks to interfaith experts about navigating Jewish-Muslim relations against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war. As we celebrate 400 years of the publication of Shakespeare's first folio, Professor Regina Schwartz, an expert in both explains how 'Love thy neighbour' is central to understanding the Bard and the Bible. Hear about the Diwali baskets being made in Birmingham to celebrate the big day. Angry meetings and an intractable issue: The General Synod of the Church of England gets ready to talk same sex blessings this week. Reporter Harry Farley has the details
11/12/202342 minutes, 31 seconds
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Use of scripture in war rhetoric & Church of England same-sex blessings

William Crawley has the latest on events in Israel-Gaza. He’ll also be discussing use of scripture in war rhetoric with two experts after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referenced the Bible earlier this week. Also on the programme, a Sikh man who felt discriminated against when he was barred from doing jury service because of his religious sword. Are bells the soothing sound of Sunday morning or a nuisance for neighbours? New bells are going up at a parish in Devon and it’s caused a bit of a ding dong. Hear from the Canon of St James’s Church in Tiverton as well as critics. The Church of England General Synod meets later this month and one of the issues to be discussed includes same-sex relationships. In February, the Synod voted in favour of allowing blessings in church for LGBT couples, whilst maintaining that there was no change in the church's doctrine of marriage: church weddings would still only be for heterosexual couples. For supporters of same-sex marriage, it didn’t go far enough. The BBC's Linda Pressly met some of those who feel strongly on both sides of this debate. Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Rosie Dawson Editor: Tim Pemberton
11/5/202343 minutes, 48 seconds
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29/10/2023

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
10/29/202341 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Israel-Hamas conflict and its repercussions in the UK

This week's Sunday explores the latest on the conflict in the Middle East, and its repercussions in the UK for Jewish and Muslim communities. The archbishops of Canterbury and Jerusalem unite in a call for peace. As the Metropolitan Police reports a spike in anti-semitic hate incidents, a Jewish woman from London tells the programme how her Muslim friends escorted her to synagogue in an act of solidarity. And we examine the significance of the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is layered in history and meaning for Muslims and Jews alike. Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim and Louise Clark Editor: Dan Tierney.
10/22/202343 minutes, 15 seconds
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15/10/2023

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
10/15/202340 minutes, 19 seconds
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Violence in the Middle East

We report the latest from Israel after a wave of surprise Palestinian attacks. Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, will pay "an unprecedented price" for their offensive across the border. Thousands of rockets were fired from Gaza, with gunmen entering Israel across land and sea. Israeli fighter jets have been striking Gaza in retaliation. It's a momentous week in Rome where the Catholic Synod is taking place for the first time with laymen and women. Seventy of them will have a vote as they consider topics including LGBTQ Catholics and the role of women in the church. It's inspiring hope in those who see an opportunity for change and anger in others. Could it lead to a schism in the church? We hear from two Catholic commentators, theologian Tina Beattie and journalist Edward Pentin. France has banned its athletes from wearing the Muslim hijab headdress at next year's Olympic games in Paris. The Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera says the ban will ensure ‘absolute neutrality’ at the games, a stance rooted in a principle of French law known as laïcité, which legally prohibits state recognition of any religion. Some have protested that it's a restriction on freedom of expression. We hear the arguments on both sides. A new report highlights a culture of elitism within the Church of England and how working class clergy are left feeling marginalised, ignored and misunderstood. Bishop of Barking, the Rev Lynne Cullens, who's from a working class background herself, tells us how the report could help the church to address its problem with class. Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Louise Clarke Editor: Tim Pemberton Studio Managers: Colin Sutton and Phil Booth
10/8/202343 minutes, 13 seconds
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01/10/2023

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
10/1/202343 minutes, 45 seconds
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Pope in Marseille; Khalistan; Definition of Islamophobia

This weekend Pope Francis made an historic visit to Marseille, France; the first papal visit to the port city since Clement VII in 1533. The purpose of the trip is to show solidarity with the migrants as the French government takes a stricter stance amid rising Mediterranean crossings. Edward Stourton speaks to French Christian Journalist, Sophie Lebrun. Relations between Canada and India have become strained after the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau linked the Indian state with the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil. Hardeep Singh Nijjar - a Canadian citizen - is the third prominent Sikh figure to have died unexpectedly in recent months. India strongly denies the allegations and further suspended visa processing for Canadian nationals travelling to India. BBC Monitoring's Nurussanda Garg has the latest on the story and Professor Gurharpal Singh explains the origins of the pro-Khalistan movement. One in seven local authorities in England have adopted a definition of Islamophobia that was rejected by the Government in 2019. While it’s since been adopted by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Scottish Conservatives, free speech campaigners say it’s confusing and in danger of conflating race and religion. Linsay Taylor from Muslim Engagement and Development and Stephen Evans from the National Secular Society discuss whether the term adequately differentiates between the discrimination of Muslims and the right to be able to criticise a religion. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Jonathan Hallewell Editors: Tim Pemberton & Dan Tierney.
9/24/202343 minutes, 59 seconds
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Libya floods, pilgrimage to the city of Uman, racial injustice in the church

The BBC has been told that bodies are still washing up from the sea in Derna, a week after massive flash floods in Libya. Now there are fears for survivors in the city with not enough medicine and clean water for those who have been made homeless. We hear live from Libya the latest on the situation on the ground and also look at the impact on the Muslim community both in Libya and here. Manchester has the largest Libyan population in the UK, we'll hear from Manchester based charity, Wafa Relief and Action for Humanity about their work in the disaster zone. US Presidential Candidate - Vivek Ramaswamy has been annoying rapper Eminem, defending Donald Trump and now answering questions about his Hindu faith on the campaign trail in Iowa. It was the second time he had been questioned about his faith, as the first-time candidate's popularity has continued to rise in the polls. And Pilgrims are travelling to Ukraine against official advice, to celebrate the Jewish New Year. We find out why they're taking the risk? Presenter - Edward Stourton Producers - Catherine Murray & Linda Walker Editor - Tim Pemberton
9/17/202343 minutes, 29 seconds
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British Imams "whitewashing" the actions of the Taliban

Former diplomats and politicians from Afghanistan are among around 900 people who've signed an open letter calling on British authorities to investigate what they call a "propaganda" and "whitewashing" campaign by UK Muslim scholars on behalf of the Taliban. William Crawley speaks to one of the signatories of the letter. Pope Francis is planning to publish a sequel to Laudato Si', his encyclical, or papal teaching letter, on the climate crisis. One of his closest advisers, Cardinal Michael Czerny, explains why. And the extraordinary story of an Irish Catholic priest who, for many years, secretly worked for the IRA, earning himself a place on the UK's most wanted list. Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Dan Tierney and Peter Everett Editor: Helen Grady
9/11/202339 minutes, 13 seconds
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Reconciling sex work with faith

Can you be a sex worker and still follow your faith? Sex work has always challenged religion. Although it’s broadly considered immoral within Christianity, Islam and Judaism, sacred texts carry some mixed messages. We hear from a British woman who grew up as a devout Muslim but now makes adult content for the online service Only Fans. She’s often pictured wearing a hijab. She’s received death threats but believes that expressing her sexuality and making her own choices about her body are empowering. She reflects on the difficulity of reconciling sex work with religious faith. Attendance at Church of England services has fallen sharply in recent decades. A new survey of over a thousand clergy suggests that many are anxious about the future of the church. Nearly a third of those who responded to the poll, by the Times newspaper, felt that the Church could face extinction if the decline continues. Some believe that part of the problem is that church teaching on issues like gay marriage and the role of women is out of touch with public opinion. We hear from several Anglican priests and invite the church to respond to their concerns. Why are nuns such an enduringly popular subject for films? This week, The Nun II, a horror movie, is released in UK cinemas. It's just the latest in a rich seam of nun-themed films, which includes Sister Act, Black Narcissus, Nuns on the Run, and The Sound of Music. A film critic and a Catholic nun discuss the portrayal of nuns in cinema and reflect on the enduring appeal of nuns to film makers. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Bara'atu Ibrahim Editor: Tim Pemberton Studio Managers: Simon Highfield and Sue Stonestreet Production Coordinator: David Baguley
9/3/202342 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Catholic seal of confession

If priests were required by law to report child sex abuse, what would it mean for the Catholic seal of confession? Priests can never disclose anything they hear during the sacrament of confession. But a proposed new law could legally require people to report cases of child sex abuse. If a priest were to hear such evidence during confession, how should he respond? How could he, and the Church reconcile Church teaching with his need to obey the law, and protect the safety of children? We examine the arguments on both sides of the debate. What is it like if you and your partner have different faiths? Almost 300,000 households in the UK contain people of different faiths living under the same roof. It may sound like the stuff of sitcoms, but it can cause friction and division within families. How do you navigate the differences between your beliefs and practices? Is there a way of bringing two faiths together that can enrich your domestic life? We speak to a man who was brought up as an Orthodox Jew and is now married to a practising Christian. Few people say grace before meals these days. But Lincoln’s Inn, the largest of London’s Inns of Court, founded in 1422 and the haunt of senior barristers and judges, still raised a few eyebrows this month when it announced that – for the sake of ‘inclusiveness’ - there would no longer be Christian grace before meals. The writer Quentin Letts takes a dim view of the decision. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Linda Walker Presenter: Emily Buchanan Editor: Helen Grady Studio Managers: Colin Sutton and Sharon Hughes Production co-ordinator: David Baguley
8/20/202343 minutes, 51 seconds
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Hawaii Fires; Jehovah's Witnesses; the Vicar of Moscow

Most of the town of Lahaina, which served as the first capital of the former Kingdom of Hawaii has been destroyed, along with many of the sacred sites of Hawaii's indigenous religion as wildfires ripped through the region. Mokihana Melendez, who teaches aspects of Hawaiian traditional culture, talks to William Crawley about the significance of the religious and cultural heritage that has been lost. St Andrew's looks like a typical Victorian English parish church but it's only 10 minutes from the Kremlin. Rev Malcolm Rogers talks about what like was like living in Russia during the ongoing Ukraine war. After 9 years and a series of legal challenges the Charity Commission has finally published its report into the child protection and safeguarding policies of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain. We hear why a former Elder is "shocked and disappointed". As we mark the second anniversary of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, a group of British Imams and scholars give a different picture of what life in Afghanistan is like - but are they right? Heavy metal and pipe organs are not normally associated together but Mark Deeks, leader of the band 'Arth' and Leeds Diocesan organist David Pipe performed 'Organic Doom'. They told William Crawley how this unusual collaboration came about. Producers: Amanda Hancox and Peter Everett Editor: Tim Pemberton
8/13/202343 minutes, 48 seconds
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06/08/2023

Hundreds of thousands of young people have greeted the Pope for World Youth Day in Lisbon. Find out why it matters to UK Catholics who have travelled there. Hear from the ex-Catholic nun, who cast off her habit to work as a nurse, an author, and finally a stand-up comic. Kelli Dunham has a show at the Edinburgh Fringe that takes in her past lives as well as difficult topics like grief and death. Morocco play France on Tuesday having made it to the last 16 of the Women's World Cup in their debut appearance. Last Sunday, the Moroccan defender Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a hijab at the World Cup. We'll consider some of the challenges facing Muslim women in football. Dr Robert Jones, founder of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington DC explains why Trump's indictment shows no sign of affecting his popularity with white Christian evangelical voters. Last week the Taliban in Afghanistan issued photographs of a giant bonfire of musical instruments. Is their crack-down on music and singing just strictly-applied Islamic principle? Or is it – as some have called it – ‘cultural genocide’? Hear from a British Imam and Afghan musician Elaha Suroor. PRESENTER: William Crawley PRODUCERS: Catherine Murray and Louise Clarke EDITORS: Tim Pemberton and Helen Grady
8/6/202335 minutes, 9 seconds
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30/07/2023

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
7/30/202343 minutes, 46 seconds
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Oppenheimer, Manipur, The Sixth Commandment

J. Robert Oppenheimer had a life-long fascination with Hinduism, and the Hindu sacred text, the Bagavad Gita, which he famously quoted in response to the first Atomic bomb detonations. As 'Oppenheimer' is released in cinemas this week, William Crawley explores the connections between Oppenheimer, the Gita and the Bomb, with Emeritus Professor of History Jim Nijiya and Hindu scholar Acharya Vidyabhaskar. The Indian state of Manipur, has been plunged into what some believe is a state of civil war between its two largest ethnic groups; the majority Meitei, who are mostly Hindu, and the minority Kuki tribe, who are mostly Christian. We speak to a researcher from Open Doors, the charity supporting persecuted Christians. And as the television series ‘The Sixth Commandment’ draws rave reviews, we debate the moral pros and cons of ‘true crime’ drama with journalist Amelia Tait and theologian Canon Angela Tilby. Presenter: William Crawley Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Louise Clarke Studio Managers: Nat Stokes & Sue Stonestreet Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Dan Tierney
7/23/202343 minutes, 34 seconds
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Soul Survivor; 'Our Problematic Father'; White Privilege

The Church of England's National Safeguarding Team has said it will not discipline Soul Survivor's Mike Pilavachi. Pilavachi, who founded Soul Survivor church and its Christian youth festivals resigned four months after more than 100 people alleged inappropriate behaviour that including wrestling with young teenagers. Edward Stourton speaks to David Gate, a former Soul Survivor church member, who shares his first hand experience. The Archbishop of York said last week that addressing God as 'Our Father' might be 'problematic'. We've gathered the opinions of some theologians - Christian, Muslim and Jewish - about the gender of God. A report published this week says many Catholic and Church of England schools are using American-style Critical Race Theory to teach pupils about racial justice, claiming the lessons are divisive and do more harm than good. Edward Stourton is joined by the author of the report, Alka Sehgal-Cuthbert to debate the issue with The Reverend Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Peter Everett Studio Managers: Colin Sutton & Helen Williams Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Tim Pemberton
7/16/202336 minutes, 27 seconds
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The history of 'defrocking' and the story behind a 400-year-old missal

Emily Buchanan travels to Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton to hear about a 400 year-old missal recently bought by the National Trust that belonged to a Catholic priest who saved the life of King Charles II 'Water cremation’ will be available as a funeral option in Britain later this year. It’s said to be an environmentally friendly approach to disintegrating human remains – but is it appropriate for Christians and other believers in the afterlife? This week the Church of England Synod will be invited to approve the reintroduction of ‘defrocking’ as the most severe punishment it can impose on members of the priesthood. But what exactly is ‘defrocking’? Historian of the Anglican clergy, Reverend Fergus Butler-Gallie, explains. And the man who passed on a call from Boris Johnson to answer a call from the Holy Spirit... John Casson took up a role at L'Arche UK during a troubled time for the Christian organisation. He reflects on what working with people with learning disabilities has taught him about leadership. Producers: Catherine Murray and Peter Everett.
7/9/202332 minutes, 5 seconds
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Islamophobia in Ireland; Executed Carmelite nuns; Church closures

Irish lawmakers are currently debating a bill on hate speech. The aim is to update 35 year old legislation that the Irish Justice Minister has called “ineffective”. A spate of anti-immigration protests in the country are said to have a pronounced Islamophobic focus. We speak to an academic to explore Ireland’s relationship with issues of racism and immigration. South African soprano Golda Schultz talks about her role as Madeleine Lidoine in the opera, Dialogues of the Carmelites, which depicts the powerful and moving true story of 16 nuns executed in 1794. It is currently being staged at Glyndebourne. She describes how the role has strengthened her own Catholic faith. The Church of Scotland will have to close hundreds of its churches in the next few years and this isn't just a problem for Scottish Presbyterians, who now have twice as many buildings as they have ministers. Across the UK, six thousand churches and chapels have closed in the past decade. William Crawley speaks to the Reverend David Cameron, Convenor of the Assembly Trustees, and to Sir Philip Rutnam, Chair of the National Churches Trust. Prsenter: William Crawley Editor: Jonathan Hallewell & Tim Pemberton Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Linda Walker Production Coordinator: David Baguley Studio Managers: Sharon Hughes & Simon Highfield
7/2/202341 minutes, 32 seconds
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Church of England safeguarding; Catholic synod; Vicar's pay

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell talks to Sunday, days after the Church of England sacked its Independent Safeguarding Board. William Crawley hears from one of those sacked, Jasvinder Sanghera, and from Jane Chevous from Survivors Voices. How much is your vicar worth? Some Anglican clergy are calling for a pay rise of 9.5% to help them manage the increased cost of living. How does the package for clergy compare with other professions and what is a fair rate of pay in the current climate? This week Britain has been celebrating 75 years since the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, carrying people from the Carribean. They were the first of many people who were invited to Britain to help rebuild the country after the war. Barbara Blake Hannah was among the Windrush Generation. She became the first black TV news reporter in the UK, but suffered racism. The experience led her to return to Jamaica and to take up the Rastafari religion. It's been called the biggest consultation in human history. A global survey of Roman Catholics has generated a diverse range of subjects which will be discussed at the next Synod in Rome. They include LGBTQ+ inclusion, married priests, and female deacons. For the first time, the Synod will include laymen and women, as well as Bishops. We hear why the process is so significant and consider how it could affect the future of the church. Producers: Catherine Murray and Louise Clarke Presenter: William Crawley Editor: Jonathan Hallewell Studio Managers: Helen Williams and Phillip Halliwell
6/25/202340 minutes, 27 seconds
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Hexham and Newcastle safeguarding review; conversion therapy; Franco and the Benedictines

Roman Catholics in the Northeast are welcoming a new Bishop this weekend and digesting a damning report about the previous incumbent. An independent review by the CSSA says that Robert Byrne ignored safeguarding advice which put people at risk. We’ll be hearing from Chair of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency Nazir Afzal. There’s an intense debate in Switzerland over a potential nationwide ban on so-called conversion therapy. The controversial practice is used around the world to try to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Our reporter Claire Jones has been to Switzerland to meet those working to change the law, and those who are against a legislative ban. In the ‘Valley of the Fallen’ near Madrid, forensic scientists have started exhuming bodies to try to identify some of those who died in the Spanish Civil War. Meanwhile the future of the vast monument there – and of the monks who look after it – has become a key issue in the current Spanish general election. We’re looking at the enduring power of a film about Jesus that was made almost 60 years ago but is still a big hit with our listeners. Pasolini’s Gospel according to Matthew is a low budget, black and white, Italian language film. We’ll hear from expert Barth David Schwartz about why it’s stood the test of time. Presenter - Ed Stourton Producer - Amanda Hancox
6/18/202338 minutes, 4 seconds
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Hajj bookings, Ukraine army chaplains, Jewish divorce

Scores of British Muslims have had difficulty booking their Hajj pilgrimages on the new Nusuk app which was designed to manage travel arrangements for pilgrims. The service has been beset by technical glitches, slow customer service and poor communication. We hear about the problems it's caused to Muslims in the UK and speak to the Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi, who has taken up the issue with the Saudi authorities. Ukrainian armed forces have identified spiritual support as essential to their fight, as their counter-offensive against Russian forces gets underway. Ten military chaplains were sent to the UK for a fortnight of training with British Army chaplains, the first ever training of its kind. We hear from Rev Robin Richardson who developed the programme for chaplains working with troops on the front line. We also speak to Ukrainian military chaplain and mother-of-five Kateryna Semenyuk as she sets off to provide support to people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the flood-affected Kherson region. The office of the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue are launching a commission to overcome some of the difficulties Jewish women face in obtaining a divorce. Some Jewish women's groups are concerned that any reforms may not go far enough. Emily Buchanan speaks to Raime Smith, the founder of Gettoutuk, a charity which supports Jewish women seeking a divorce, and Nicola Rosenfelder, a trustee of the United Synagogue. Presenter: Emily Buchanan Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Louise Clarke Editor: Jonathan Hallewell Production Coordinator: Kim Agostino Studio Managers: Helen Williams & Jonathan Esp
6/11/202343 minutes, 56 seconds
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Chinese Muslims; Aid for Uganda, Northern Ireland schools

In China, protesters have clashed with the police over the planned demolition of a mosque's dome in a largely Muslim town in Yunnan, a southern province which is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country. Social media videos showed crowds outside the 13th-century Najiaying Mosque in Nagu town this week and it's reported that the clashes were sparked when the community was told to take down its dome and minarets. Twenty-five years after the Good Friday Agreement, education in Northern Ireland is still more than ninety percent segregated by religion. Now the Westminster government is trying to encourage the creation of integrated schools, but at the same time funding is being cut for "shared education" activities that attempt to bridge the sectarian divide. The Ugandan government has passed legislation that further criminalises gay people with penalties that include imprisonment and even the death penalty for so-called aggravated cases. It has generated an outcry from the international community. Campaigners have suggested that foreign aid to the country should be withdrawn. Is there a moral case for stopping aid to countries that pass laws regarded by others as intolerant and harsh? Producers: Catherine Murray & Peter Everett Production Coordinator: David Baguley Editor: Jonathan Hallewell
6/4/202343 minutes, 20 seconds
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Child abuse, Ron DeSantis, Celebration Day

The government has announced plans to deal with the problem of child sex abuse, but what are the implications for religious organisations? Almost every week, there are news stories about churches or religious groups facing allegations of the abuse of children or vulnerable adults. While the issue exists across society, its prevalence in religious settings has been striking. We explore why this is the case and what churches need to do if they are to tackle it effectively. The Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threw his hat into the US presidential ring this week. He's taking on Donald Trump for the Republican nomination and hopes to capture much of Donald Trump's religious base. DeSantis is a Catholic and often talks about the importance of faith. His policies in Florida have galvanised the Christian Right. We examine the likely importance of religion in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. How do you remember loved ones who have died? In Mexico, there is a celebratory "Day of the Dead". In Japan, a centuries old festival, called Obon. In Britain, there is a new invitation for us to reflect on our memories of friends and family who have died. It's called Celebration Day, and it falls today, May 28th. The idea is that on this day in particular we pause to cherish our memories and keep the lives of those who have died, more present in our minds. Producer: Amanda Hancox Presenter: William Crawley Editor: Jonathan Hallewell
5/28/202341 minutes, 34 seconds
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Church yard allotments, Myanmar cyclone, New caritas boss

As the biggest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in 10 years hits Bangladesh and Myanmar, we explore what this devastation means for the persecuted Rohingya Muslim refugees. Edward Stourton speaks to the Global Advocacy Director for Islamic Reliefs Shahin Ashraf. We speak to the British Catholic who is taking the helm of one of the world’s biggest aid organisations. Alistair Dutton has just been appointed as Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, which does relief and development work in more than 200 countries. He tells Edward Stourton about the challenges of his new role and his hopes for the future of the organisation. Many Christians in western countries have been alarmed that the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Patriarch Kirill have supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The war has already caused the deaths of thousands of Orthodox Christians. We speak to the author of a new book which throws light on this and examines how the war has affected religious life in Ukraine. It's called "Holy Russia, Holy War" and it's by the writer and historian Katherine Kelaidis, Director of Research and Content at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. Editor: Tim Pemberton Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Bara'atu Ibrahim & Catherine Murray Production Coordinator: David Baguley Studio Managers: Carwyn Griffith & Phil Booth
5/21/202343 minutes, 47 seconds
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Turkey election; Established church; St Francis of Assisi

Voters in Turkey go to the polls today in the country’s presidential election. The two main candidates, the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his challenger, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, have set out their visions for the nation's future. We explore the religious differences between the candidates and consider how the outcome of the election could affect life and faith in Turkey and the country's significant international role. The Coronation of King Charles III was a spectacular display of Britishness but also a profoundly religious event. While a number of faiths played a small role, it was overwhelmingly an Anglican ceremony and a powerful statement of the Church of England's central place within the state. But as ever smaller numbers of people go to Anglican services, and the nation's religious life becomes more diverse, does it still have a legitimate right to remain as England's established church? We hear the arguments on both sides. St Francis of Assisi is the Pope's favourite saint. It's why he took the name Francis, and it's why his papacy has placed such a strong emphasis on care for the natural world and a commitment to the poor. Born at the end of the 12th century, St Francis, who renounced his wealth to form a humble order of friars, has been a compelling subject for artists throughout the centuries. Now, the National Gallery in London is hosting the first major UK art exhibition to explore his life and legacy. Producer: Jonathan Hallewell Presenter: Edward Stourton Editor: Tim Pemberton
5/14/202343 minutes, 48 seconds
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Coronation Order of Service, Sudan Archbishop, God & Government report

The Primate of the Episcopal Church, Archbishop of Sudan, Ezekiel Kondo talks to Emily while barricaded into a church building for safety with 15 others. They are some of the millions who are trapped in the capital Khartoum where there are shortages of food, fuel and water. Gunfire is heard raging in the distance despite the ceasefire. The President of Tibet tells us that the Dalai Lama's recent interaction with a young boy, where he asked him to 'suck his tongue', was misinterpreted. A video filmed at an event at the Dalai Lama's temple in Dharamshala in India in February, also showed the Buddhist leader kissing the boy on the lips. But Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong or President of Tibet, told Emily that while the Dalai Lama has apologised, he was actually asking the boy if he wanted to ‘eat his tongue’, a traditional expression in Tibet which means ‘I have nothing left to give you’. A sweeping review of the government’s relationship with religion was released last week. It is called 'Does Government Do God?' It took 4 years to complete after a call for evidence that had over 21,000 responses from faith leaders, civil society champions and the public. Hear from its author Colin Bloom, the government's faith engagement advisor. Emily gets exclusive access to the Dean of Westminster and access to the Abbey where preparations are taking place for next week's Coronation. Details of the Order of Service have finally been released. Reporter Harry Farley has the latest. Former choirmaster of the Chapel Royal, Andrew Gant, takes you on an atmospheric journey through 350 years of Coronation music. Presenter Emily Buchanan Editor: Tim Pemberton Producers: Catherine Murray and Linda Walker Studio Manager: Amy Brennan and Owain Williams
5/1/202343 minutes, 52 seconds
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Sri Lanka Easter Bombings; University Term Names; Windermere Children

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, when militants inspired by the Islamic State group targeted Catholic churches and hotels in a series of attacks. 269 people were killed and more than 500 were injured. This year, alongside the grief and mourning at commemoration events, there is anger among survivors, human rights groups and the Catholic Church. They accuse the government of not doing enough to investigate the attacks and hold those responsible to account. They're a cornerstone of life at Oxford University, the three academic terms: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. At Cambridge, it's Michaelmas, Lent and Easter. Other universities have also given their terms traditional Christian names.  But Swansea University has just become the latest to rename its terms using secular names instead. They believe the old Christian labels no longer resonate with their students. But it's caused a backlash, with some arguing that there's nothing wrong with recognising Christian roots. We hear the arguments for and against switching to secular names. Part of the history of the holocaust has been rediscovered in the Lake District, where a group of Jewish children stayed to recuperate after being freed from Nazi concentration camps in 1945. Archaeologists from Staffordshire University have found everyday items, such as a tube of toothpaste, from the time when the young people known as the ‘Windermere Children’ stayed in the area. One of the survivors shares his extraordinary story with us. After being rescued from the Nazis, he described his new home in England as “paradise”. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Louise Clarke Presenter: Emily Buchanan Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editors: Tim Pemberton and Helen Grady
4/23/202343 minutes, 44 seconds
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16/04/2023

In the lead up to Eid-al-Fitr Muslims are not eating or drinking water during daylight hours. There are some Muslims who feel they cannot break the fast with their family this Ramadan - many of those identify as LGBTQ+. Some charities and organisations have been holding events to make sure they can share an Iftar with others. We hear from the events' organisers. UN Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, speaks about what its like for ethnic and religious minorities in the country and what plans are to protect people. It's Easter in the Orthodox tradition and people of Russian and Ukrainian heritage will be standing side by side in worship in churches across the UK. The Russian Orthodox Church has allied itself with President Vladimir Putin, echoing Kremlin rhetoric in defending the invasion of Ukraine. However, Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe says that: 'warfare is always a sign of man’s degradation'. BBC Two's Pilgrimage is back on screens. The religious reality TV series sees celebrities take on a spiritual journey through Portugal. One of the contributors is actor Su Pollard, who was raised in the Church of England and will be telling Edward Stourton about the journey. There are renewed tensions in Iran as the government has stepped up its crackdown on women not wearing the hijab. The law is being widely flouted, but in the last week it emerged that surveillance cameras are being used to identify unveiled women. Last year there were nationwide protests after the death in custody of 22 year old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for not wearing her hijab properly. It is now understood that a fresh wave of demonstrations is planned. As well as the hijab issue, there is also growing discontent over levels of poverty in the country. We hear the latest news from Iran and some expert analysis. Jurors who take a religious oath themselves are more likely to find a defendant who doesn't swear by almighty God guilty of an offence, according to a recent study published by Royal Holloway University of London. Should that mean swearing religious oaths in court be abolished or replaced completely with something more secular? There is a discussion with the study's author and an Anglican vicar who has a legal background. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Katy Booth and Catherine Murray Studio Managers: Amy Brennan and Jonathan Esp Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editor: Tim Pemberton
4/16/202343 minutes, 52 seconds
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Muslim Hikers; Good Friday Agreement; Music in Church

Tomorrow marks 25 years since one of the most significant moments in Northern Ireland's history: the Good Friday Agreement. It brought an end to decades of conflict, largely between Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists. But what was the role of churches and faith leaders in restoring peace and then maintaining it? Is music something that draws you to church, or keeps you away? The man in charge of evangelism in the Church of England says it can both attract and repel newcomers. The Rev Stephen Hance wants the church to offer a broader variety of music, to reflect our diverse backgrounds and tastes. He says the quality of music in church is also really important. We hear his thoughts along with those of Karen Gibson, conductor of the Kingdom Choir, a London based Gospel group. Hiking can be physically demanding, but imagine doing it while fasting. Muslim Hikers was set up in the Peak District during lockdown and they're marking the holy month of Ramadan in the great outdoors. Twenty-year-old Sidra Ali takes us along on her overnight retreat, following a route with newly installed wooden signs, pointing in the direction of Mecca. Producer: Jonathan Hallewell Presenter: William Crawley Editor: Tim Pemberton
4/9/202337 minutes, 24 seconds
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Ramadan Recipes; Christian Nudists; Paul O'Grady and The Salvation Army

Following the sudden death of the broadcaster and comedian Paul O’Grady. Emily speaks to his mentor at the Salvation Army, Captain Jo Moir. The two remained close friends after taking part in the BBC documentary series called Paul O’Grady: The Sally Army and Me. We hear about Paul's spiritual journey, how he challenged the Salvation Army on inclusion and how he asked his mentor to "have a word with him upstairs" on his behalf. As the UK government tries to move migrants out of hotel accommodation, they're looking to use more military bases for housing. But a new report by the Jesuit Refugee Service raises serious concerns about these plans. The former military base, Napier Barracks in Kent, is used as contingency or temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. The Jesuit Refugee Service has published a report calling for Napier Barracks to be permanently closed. The Home Office says it does not recognise the findings. Reporter Josie Le Vay has been to Florida’s Pasco County, known as America’s nudist capital, to hear about theological developments around attitudes to the naked body and sin. You can hear her Heart and Soul documentary for BBC World Service on BBC Sounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct4pj6 Scottish Muslims tell us what it means to have Humza Yousaf elected at SNP leader and also the country’s First Minister. He has made history as the first ethnic minority leader of a devolved government and the first Muslim to lead a major UK party. For Muslims the holy month of Ramadan continues, with fasting from sunrise to sunset. The Leicester-based food blogger, Anisa Karolia, has written a Ramadan Cookbook for the times when eating is allowed and she demonstrates some of her mouth-watering dishes. There was relief and emotion as Pope Francis emerged from hospital, after recovering from a respiratory condition. He will be present at Easter services, starting this Palm Sunday. The BBC’s Jenny Hill reports live from St Peter’s Square in Vatican City. PRESENTER: Emily Buchanan PRODUCERS: Katy Booth and Amanda Hancox REPORTER: Josie Le Vay STUDIO MANAGERS: Philip Halliwell, John Cole and Tom Parnell PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR: David Baguley EDITOR: Helen Grady
4/2/202343 minutes, 56 seconds
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A decade of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, Ramadan rules, Jewish housing

We look at a decade of the Church of England under the leadership of Justin Welby. Professor Linda Woodhead and his biographer Dr Andrew Atherstone give their view on his progress so far. Our reporter Vishva Samani looks a new Jewish housing development in Brighton, which contains a Jewish nursery, co-working space, Kosher restaurant, synagogue and resident Rabbi. We hear from residents, locals and a critic who says such projects are likely to increase misunderstanding rather than build bridges with the wider community. We hear from British Sikhs who've have been protesting outside India’s High Commission this week as the search for a hardline Sikh separatist in India’s northern state of Punjab has escalated into a diplomatic clash with the United Kingdom. The BBC’s Surbhi Kaul in Delhi explains what the protests are about, why some Sikhs in the diaspora are campaigning for Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland and how they have led to a diplomatic row. A report into culture and standards into Met Police this week uncovered examples of faith-based bullying; bacon put in a Muslim officer's boots and a Sikh who had his beard trimmed. We talk to two officers, one Muslim and one Sikh about the environment they work in and what needs to happen next. Dating, sex and swimming: three areas that have inspired frank questions about Ramadan in a BBC podcast called 'Not Even Water'. Emily talks to host Mehreen Baig and guest Farah Raja about the do's and don'ts of the holy month .Find out everything you need to know, but didn't dare ask. PRESENTER: Emily Buchanan EDITOR: Tim Pemberton PRODUCERS: Catherine Murray & Jill Collins REPORTER: Vishva Samani STUDIO MANAGERS: Simon Highfield & Sue Stonestreet PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR: David Baguley
3/26/202344 minutes, 2 seconds
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19/03/2023

Pope Francis is cracking down on an old Latin form of the Catholic mass. The Tridentine Rite has become an unexpected battleground in a Catholic culture war over the future direction of the church. Now bishops must seek permission directly from the Vatican before it can be celebrated, those who love the old mass fear it could soon disappear from church life altogether. Reporter Orla O’Brien talks to both sides in this bitter 'liturgy war'. It's 20 years since coalition forces began airstrikes in Iraq. The hostilities damaged many religious and historic sites sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and saw artefacts stolen from the country. Dr Rozhen Kamal Mohammed heads up a team that works alongside religious groups to recover and restore this vital heritage, and she updates us on the work that’s been done and the problems they are encountering. New academic research has uncovered the spiritual lives of some sex workers. Although many spiritual texts represent sex work in a negative way, 11 workers of different religions, interviewed by an academic from Nottingham Trent University, believe their faith is compatible with their spirituality and use their religion in different ways in their work. This month marks three years since the first Covid lockdown. Young people especially found it hard to deal with their mental health during lockdown. Now a documentary called "Young in Covid: Routes to Recovery", explores how a group of young people in Bradford used faith as a means to cope with the effects of the pandemic. Jassa Singh and Marium Zumeer speak to us about handling sickness, bereavement and finding an anchor in their Sikh and Muslim faiths. Presented by William Crawley. Produced by Bara'atu Ibrahim and Julia Paul. Studio managers: Sue Stonestreet and Simon Highfield Production co-ordinator David Baguely Edited by Helen Grady.
3/19/202343 minutes, 56 seconds
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Live from Rome on a decade of Pope Francis

Edward Stourton is live in Rome reflecting on ten years of Pope Francis. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in extraordinary circumstances and his first actions a decade ago marked him out as someone with a different style and priorities to many of his predecessors. It was expected to be a period of great change but how much has he actually achieved? Hear from two men who’ve been training for the priesthood at the Venerable English college in Rome, an institution that has been educating seminarians for hundreds of years. Find out how much Francis influenced their decision to take holy orders, and why they regard him as a great example as a parish priest. The Synod on Synodality has been called ‘the biggest consultation in human history’. It’s Pope Francis’s attenpt to listen to ordinary Catholics across the world and find out what they think of their Church and how it interacts with the world. We follow the process of the Synod starting with Janet Obeney-Williams, who gathered the thoughts of her parish, to the writer Austen Ivereigh who synthesised feedback at a national and global level and finally to Sister Nathalie Becquart, the Undersecretary of the Synod and the only woman who gets to vote on it. And Edward is joined by Vatican experts Sylvia Poggioli, Loup Besmond de Senneville and Gerard O’Connell to look at the road ahead for the church PRESENTER: Edward Stourton EDITOR: Helen Grady PRODUCERS: Catherine Murray, Katy Booth, Louise Rowbotham-Clarke STUDIO MANAGERS: Phil Booth, Jonathan Esp and Simon Highfield PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR: David Baguley
3/12/202343 minutes, 48 seconds
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Windsor Deal; Slave Trade and the Church of England; Oscar Contender

Earlier this week British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, unveiled the Windsor Framework, a deal with the EU to fix post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland. The Democratic Unionist Party, whose support is crucial to restoring the power-sharing government in the Province have yet to deliver their verdict on it. William Crawley assesses what this all means for the future preservation and strengthening of the Good Friday Agreement, twenty-five years after it's creation, with guests Dr. John Kirkpatrick, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; and Donal McKeown, the Roman Catholic bishop of Derry and Apostolic administrator of Down and Connor. One month on from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, we revisit Islamic Relief's deputy director in Turkey, Salah Aboulgasem, for an update. An exhibition at Lambeth Palace reveals how the Church of England profited from investments connected with slavery. Reporter Vishva Samani visits 'Enslavement: Voices from the Archives' and speaks to those who feel it fails to show the full extent of the Church's involvement. William talks to author and senior fellow at Theos, Nicholas Spencer, about his new book Magisteria, in which he suggests that the troubled relationship between science and religion has definitively shaped human history. Stranger at the Gate is the Oscar nominated true story about a former US marine intent on attacking a Mosque, but who ended up converting to Islam. William speaks to Bibi Bahrami, founder of the Islamic Centre of Muncie, about that episode and her subsequent friendship with Richard McKinney. Producers: Jill Collins and Bara'atu Ibrahim Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editors: Tim Pemberton and Helen Grady Photo credit: Chris Vaughan / Church Commissioners for England
3/5/202343 minutes, 37 seconds
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Attacks on refugees; Orthodoxy in Ukraine; school singing project

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been rejected as the ceremonial head of the Anglican communion by a group of conservative primates, over plans to offer blessings to same-sex couples. Archbishops representing 10 of the 42 provinces in the Anglican Communion, part of a group called the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, have signed a statement supporting the move. It's also been supported by the Church of England Evangelical Council. We hear what impact this may have, from religious affairs reporter Harry Farley. What is prompting former Christians to turn their back on the church and convert to traditional African faiths such as ifa? BBC journalist Peter Macjob – himself an ex-Roman Catholic – tells us about his journey. Thousands of school children from all backgrounds will soon have access to the expertise of cathedral choir leaders, thanks to the national Schools Singing Programme. The Programme, which is funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, was set up two years ago, working with Catholic schools. But now it's expanded to include six Anglican cathedrals, which will allow it to reach more than 20,000 children every week. And an exhibition of textile art works, raising awareness about the threats to our natural world, has gone on display at Westminster. The Loving Earth Project was started by the Quaker Arts Network, and features more than 400 textile panels made by people all over the world. Presented by Emily Buchanan. Produced by Julia Paul and Dan Tierney.
2/26/202343 minutes, 32 seconds
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Ukraine's Religious Freedom Watchdog; Black Jesus; Champing

A year on from Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, William speaks to Viktor Yelensky, the new Lead of Ukraine’s Religious Freedom Watchdog, about what the future may now hold for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, given its ties to the Moscow Patriarchate. The 'Champing' or 'camping in a Church' season begins again soon. Created by the Churches Conservation Trust, it helps raise funds towards maintaining both active and redundant Churches within their portfolio. We send our reporter Mark Hutchings to 'Champ' at St. Bartholomew's, Lower Failand, Bristol. As the staggering death toll continues to rise following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, we hear from Franciscan Priest, Father Fadi Azar in Latakia, Syria and Ravi Singh, CEO and Founder of Khalsa Aid, on his return from Turkey, about the impact of this catastrophe both on the community and the supply of aid. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales recently unveiled new artworks depicting Mary and Jesus with different ethnicities. Chine McDonald, Director of Theos and Author of 'God Is Not A White Man' explains why it's important to have such representation in religious iconography. Leanna Hosea reports on the Native Americans forcibly removed from their homes as children and placed in residential schools, stripped of their spiritual beliefs and subjected to emotional and sexual abuse. Leanna's report covers themes that some listeners could find disturbing. Details of organisations - in the UK - offering information and support with child sexual abuse are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline. And the full story is on Heart and Soul: Stripped of my Spirituality, BBC World Service, available now on BBC Sounds. Producers: Jill Collins and Katy Booth Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editor: Helen Grady
2/19/202343 minutes, 40 seconds
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Turkey and Syria Earthquake; Patriarch Kirill & KGB claims; C of E Synod; Prevent review

Mass graves are being dug in Syria and Turkey to bury the thouands of people who died in this week's earthquake. We speak to an Imam in Syria about the devastation he is dealing with Might MPs be able to force the Church of England to change its position on same sex marriage in church? The church’s recent decision to allow priests to bless same sex couples who are already married, but not to allow them to marry in church, has caused huge controversy. Several MPs say that the ban is out of step with public opinion and are considering if Parliament could take action to change the church’s position. More evidence has emerged recently suggesting that the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, was a KGB agent in the 1970's. Declassified documents from Swiss police have strengthened the claims. We look at that and why the Russian Orthodox has not yet been expelled from the World Council of Churches for supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Catherine Murray & Bara'atu Ibrahim Editors: Tim Pemberton & Helen Grady Production Co-ordinators: Paul Holloway & David Baguley
2/12/202343 minutes, 56 seconds
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The 'living saint' and the sex cult; Frank Field's belief; chant music at the Grammys

The pope's tour of DRC Congo and South Sudan culminates with a Mass in Juba, with the archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the Church of Scotland. Sister Orla Treacy and student Sarah Adut tell Emily Buchanan about their nine day walking pilgrimage to join the Pontiff. In our series on Ukraine, one year on from the Russian invasion, we hear from father Sergiy Berezhnoy. The Ukrainian orthodox priest and chaplain to the 42nd Battalion of the Defenders of Kyiv, describes some of the challenges of the past year and his hopes for the future. A new report from L’Arche - the international Christian community bringing together those with and without learning disabilities - reveals it's founder, the late Catholic theologian Jean Vanier, used the community as a cover for a mystical sexual sect. Emily speaks with one of the report's authors, to the community's current CEO and to two of its members, about how it moves on from here. Cross-bench peer Frank Field has spent much of his adult life campaigning against poverty and for social reform. Underpinning his political thinking is his Christian faith, as he explains to Emily on the publication of his memoir Politics, Poverty and Belief. The ancient spiritual practice of chanting is now a category in the music industry's Grammy Awards. Emily speaks to chant musician Sean Johnson, of the Wild Lotus Band, about this genre’s coming of age. As the Church of England's legislative body prepares to meet, Emily asks the bishop of London, the Rt. Revd Sarah Mullally, about the way forward on the most divisive issue, the recommendation from bishops to allow clergy to bless same-sex civil marriages. Producers: Jill Collins and Katy Booth Production co-ordinator: David Baguley Editor: Helen Grady Photo Credit: Lakshmi Grace Designs
2/5/202343 minutes, 49 seconds
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Spiritual Bear; Better Sermons

A teddy bear that was found washed up on a beach has been given a new lease of life and is now providing support to children and people living in care homes. The bear was restored by the Reverend Canon Eleanor Rance and its journey from discarded toy to "therapy bear" generated a global response on social media. The bear, named Sinbad, is used to help people to reflect on issues like brokenness and second chances. Reverend Rance tells us that people have found resonance in how he was washed up on a beach and then given a new start. What's the trick to writing a really inspiring sermon? How can clergy keep their congregation listening? Pope Francis has suggested that Catholic homilies are often a disaster and recently repeated his call for them to be no longer than eight to ten minutes long. Quality is another consideration. Edward Stourton explores the issue with Quentin Letts, parliamentary sketch writer for the Times and drama critic of the Sunday Times and Revd Dr Alycia Timmis, Priest in Charge of the Northleach Benefice in the Anglican Diocese of Gloucester. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Bara'atu Ibrahim Presenter: Edward Stourton
1/30/202337 minutes, 20 seconds
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Same Sex Marriage and the Church of England

It's been a tough week for the Church of England. The announcement that same sex marriages will remain banned in the Church though blessings for civil marriages of same sex couples would be allowed has been criticised by people on both sides of the debate. We hear from the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell who says he will take part in blessing services even though the Archbishop of Canterbury says he won't. The story of Fr Isaac Achi who was burned alive by bandits in his home in Nigeria has reverberated around the world this week and raised the question - how dangerous is it to be a Christian in Northern Nigeria? William talks to Illia Djadi from the missionary charity Open Doors and Abuja based security analyst Dr Kabir Adamu. Music has the power to change a mood, but what about its ability to change your life? Ismael Lea South shares the story of how listening to Hip Hop in the 90s inspired him to convert to Islam. As part of our series on faith in prisons, William speaks to Rachel Treweek, Bishop to Prisons in England and Wales, who believes that the majority of female prisoners shouldn’t actually be locked up. And it's robots v rabbis as we try out a new development in AI technology called Chat GPT that can be used to write sermons and prayers. Producers: Catherine Murray & Jill Collins Production co-ordinator: Liz Poole Editors: Helen Grady and Tim Pemberton
1/22/202343 minutes, 47 seconds
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Catholicism after Benedict. Faith in Prison, Shamanism

How might the death of the former Pope Benedict affect the future direction of the Catholic Church? When Benedict XVI resigned in 2013 citing old age, he became the first Pope in 600 years to step down from the role. For almost a decade there were in effect two popes living at close quarters in the Vatican. Some have regarded Benedict as more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis. We examine how the death of the former Pope could affect the pontificate of Francis and ask if it could lead to change. Government figures show that more than half of adults released from prison in England and Wales go on to reoffend. In the second of our series on religion in prison, we hear about a faith group which is helping offenders to get back on their feet when they’re first released. Staff and clients at the Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy in the English Midlands say drug and alcohol addictions often aren’t tackled in prison, and there's little support for people when they’re freed. The Justice ministry told us that it's improving rehabilitation in prison, and increasing the number of specialised wings to treat drug addiction and keep prisoners substance-free. The data from the last Census released recently revealed a changing religious landscape in England and Wales, with a decline in the number of people identifying as Christian. But there were other interesting changes, including a rise in Shamanism. In 2011, just 650 people described themselves as Shaman, but a decade later, that had risen sharply to 8,000. We explore the appeal of Shamanism and ask why its popularity is increasing. Producer: Jonathan Hallewell Presenter: Emily Buchanan
1/15/202343 minutes, 49 seconds
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Repairing Relationships; Faith in Prisons; Embracing Failure.

Prince Harry wants to reconcile with his family. But how easy is that given the continuing fallout from his interviews and memoir? Sacred texts are full of tales of feuding siblings, so what can they teach the Royals? Imam Qari Asim and Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen share scriptural insights and pastoral advice. If you've already failed to stick to your New Year's resolution, help is at hand. The Rt Revd Dr Emma Ineson has written a book on how to cope with and learn from failure. Cricketer Monty Panesar and Comedian Shazia Mirza also share how faith has helped them deal with failure in their lives. In the last two years, thousands of Hong Kongers have taken advantage of a new Visa scheme to the UK, following China's imposition of a national security law on the former British Colony. Vishva Samani reports from Reading where large numbers have settled, to see how they are integrating within the local faith communities. The life and death of the late American singer Whitney Houston inspired Candice Marie Benbow to become a theologian. As Whitney's story is retold in a new film biopic, Candice tells Emily how the woman she refers to as the ‘ultimate Church girl’ impacted her faith journey and opened up important conversations about how her Church sees women. Overcrowding, drugs, staff shortages and long waits for trial are just some of the issues facing those in the prison system. But what lies behind the headlines? In a new four part series, we'll be taking a closer look at the prison system through the eyes of the religious groups and figures working within it. In this first episode we examine the issue of sentencing, with Bishop James Jones, Chair of the Independent Commission into the Experience of Victims and Long Term Prisoners. Producers: Jill Collins and Catherine Murray Production co-ordinator: Liz Poole Studio managers: Phillip Halliwell, Chris Hardman and Tom Parnell Editor: Helen Grady
1/8/202343 minutes, 46 seconds
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Remembering Pope Benedict XVI

In a special programme to mark the death of Pope Benedict XVI, Edward Stourton and guests discuss the life and legacy of the gentle German academic who became the spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics all over the world. The 95-year-old Pope Emeritus, who stood down almost a decade ago due to his poor health, died at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican, where he had lived during his final years. He led the Catholic Church for fewer than eight years but is considered by many to be one of the most influential religious leaders of modern times. He defended Catholic teaching fearlessly, speaking out against what he called "the dictatorship of relativism", and produced deeply moving spiritual writings. In a special programme, Edward Stourton looks back at his life and pontificate and assesses the impact of his resignation in 2013 - the first by a Pope since Gregory XII in 1415 - and looks ahead to the impact his death will have on his successor Pope Francis. Edward remembers Pope Benedict's UK visit with the screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who helped organise it, and one of the young Catholics who met the Pope when he came to Birmingham. And he assesses Benedict's lasting impact on the Catholic Church and the wider world with an expert panel of British Catholics and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Presented by Edward Stourton. Produced by Julia Paul and Katy Booth. Editor: Helen Grady.
1/1/202343 minutes, 48 seconds
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Jesus Rock; The Morality of Striking; Clemency for Prisoners

What is the case for offering clemency to people in jail? This week, the Pope called on world leaders to make a gesture of clemency to prisoners in the run up to Christmas. For some, it represents an opportunity for healing for both the perpetrator and the victim, but for others it is a step too far. Why shouldn't prisoners simply serve their full sentence? We discuss the issue with former cabinet minister and ex-prisoner, the Rev Jonathan Aitken and former prison governor Brendan O’Friel. The UK is facing a wave of strikes, including action by "key workers" such as nurses and ambulance drivers. What is the moral and religious basis for the "right to strike" and what are its limits, if it seriously disrupts the lives and welfare of others? In a week when the reality of people seeking asylum led to tragic consequences and the Government announced new measures to stop illegal Channel crossings, we speak to Lord Carlile, who is leading an independent commission, exploring ways of improving the current asylum system. As the battle for the Christmas Number One heats up, we speak to the unlikely duo of a Church of Scotland minister Rev Neil Urquhart and Roman Catholic Priest, Father Willie Boyd, aka The Shoes Brothers, about their newly released single ‘Jesus Rock’ and why they hope it will bring communities together. Producer: Jonathan Hallewell Presenter: Emily Buchanan Editor: Helen Grady (Image courtesy of Limelight Media).
12/18/202243 minutes, 53 seconds
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Warm spaces; Iranian protest; Christians in Qatar; Lords reform.

As the UK faces severe weather warnings, there are still predictions that one in four people will not be able to afford their heating bills this year. More than 4,500 religious and community organisations have signed up to the Warm Welcome campaign, offering free, safe, warm spaces for the public. Yesterday Edge Ministries, one of those organisations, held a free Christmas fair and we hear from the organisers. In Iran, the first execution of a demonstrator has taken place. Mohsen Shekari was found guilty by a Revolutionary Court of "enmity against God", according to state media, and then hanged. Activists have described the proceedings as a "show trial without any due process". Protestors against the Iranian regime have been demonstrating since September after the death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman who was held in custody by morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab - or headscarf - "improperly". But there's also now uncertainty over the status of this force, which enforces its dress code, after a senior official suggested that it had been disbanded If you've suffered a bereavement, Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year. But a signposting charity is training hundreds of churches across the UK to offer support courses. AtaLoss, which was set up by Yvonne Tulloch when she lost her husband, has devised The Bereavement Journey course. We hear from Yvonne, and a trainer and a participant on a course in Southport in Merseyside, and get some advice on how to help the bereaved at this time of year. And we're following our exploration of the emotional power of your favourite carols. You may think you know the carol "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night", but think again ! We explore the countless different versions with the folk singer Kate Rusby. Presented by William Crawley. Produced by Julia Paul and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham. Editor: Helen Grady
12/11/202243 minutes, 39 seconds
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The future for Christianity, Benin Bronzes, Otis Williams and Silent Night

The British raid of 1897 on Benin City in the Southern Nigerian State of Edo, saw thousands of looted items end up in galleries and Museums across the UK. One recipient was the Horniman Museum and Gardens in South-East London. Only this week, they returned six out of seventy-two items, to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments. The remainder will remain on loan for now. Among those items returned are two Benin Bronze Plaques from the Royal Palace of Benin. The BBC’s Peter Macjob tells William Crawley about the spiritual significance of these Plaques for the community of Benin. This week’s Census results drew out some surprising revelations including a ten-fold rise in those identifying themselves as Shaman. But one particular statistic which grabbed a lot of media attention was that for the first time, fewer than half of people in England and Wales described themselves as Christian. William asks what determines whether Britain is or is not a Christian country with guests Dr Scot Peterson, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Oxford, and Rt Revd Dr. Helen-Ann Hartly, Bishop of Ripon. All through Advent we are teaming up with BBC Radio 3 Saturday Breakfast to bring you some of the nation’s favourite Christmas Carol’s. This week Presenter Elizabeth Alker meets with one of the original members of The Temptations, Otis Williams, to discuss ‘Silent Night’. And we want to hear from you, what's your favourite Carol and why is it so important to you. Email us at [email protected] Photo: Benin Bronze plaque of Oba Orhogbua (circa 1550-1578) holding a staff representing authority and power and with Iwu, royal tattoos. Photo Credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens Producers: Jill Collins and Helen Lee Editor: Tim Pemberton
12/4/202243 minutes, 52 seconds
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Islamic Art; Faith & Politics; Favourite Carols

Islam has given the world some exquisite and spectacularly beautiful art. Now, modern Islamic Art is being celebrated at Bayt Al Fann, a two-day international digital festival on 28-29 November. The event will showcase contemporary artists from across the world, who have been inspired by the Islamic tradition. It will also explore how Islamic art might evolve in the future. William Crawley meets two of the artists, British-Bahraini poet Taher Adel, who is a spoken word performer and Samira Mian who uses watercolours to paint sacred Islamic geometry. There are more details about the Bayt Al Fann website at https://www.baytalfann.com/ Can faith and politics really mix? William speaks to Tim Farron, the former Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party and sitting MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale about his new book ‘A Mucky Business’ Why Christians Should Get Involved in Politics. What is your favourite Christmas carol, and why do you love it so much? During Advent, we are teaming up with the BBC Radio 3 Saturday Breakfast team to celebrate some of the nation's most popular carols. Today, presenter Elizabeth Alker meets composer and conductor John Rutter, to discuss Once In Royal David's City. Email us and tell us about your favourite carol and why it's important to you: [email protected] Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Louise Clark-Rowbotham Presenter: William Crawley (Image courtesy of Samira Mian)
11/27/202243 minutes, 51 seconds
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Courtney Pine, Qatar and Fifa, New Anglican Denominations

Albania’s Catholic Bishops have raised concerns about the depopulation of their country through migration. Edward Stourton explores the impact of this with Sister Imelda Poole, who works much of the year in Albania and is President of RENATE, an organisation dedicated to combatting human trafficking. Jazz musician Courtney Pine is back on tour across the UK performing material from his new album ‘Spirituality’. He tells the Sunday programme how religion, spirituality and jazz have all come together in this latest work. The National Association of Muslim Police is calling for the word ‘Islamist’ to be dropped from Counter-Terrorism Policing, they say it reflects negatively on Islam in general. Edward explores the nuances with Alexander Gent, Chairman of the National Association of Muslim Police and Dr Stephen Jones from the University of Birmingham Bishop Jude Arogundade, from the Diocese of Ondo in Nigeria, tells Edward of his concerns for the Christian community across the country. Harry Farley reports on ‘ANie’ the breakaway network of churches creating its own formal Anglican denomination, as an alternative for conservative members of the Church of England. Catholic Priest, Father Ray Kelly tells about his ambition to represent Ireland at next year's Eurovision Song Contest. And as the World Cup kicks off in Qatar, we ask whether the FIFA President's claims about the moral hypocrisy of western Journalists in their reporting on the country's human rights record, hold any weight? Our guests Jonty Langley, writer on faith and politics and co-presenter of the Beer Christianity Podcast and journalist Amardeep Bassey, media trainer and consultant. Photo Credit: Alfred Bailey Producers: Jill Collins and Rosie Dawson Editor: Tim Pemberton
11/20/202243 minutes, 39 seconds
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Wayside Pulpits, Leicester Inquiry, Women in Qatar

Back in September violence spread between Hindu and Muslim groups on the streets of Leicester. An inquiry was swiftly set up to look into the unrest, but the academic chosen to lead the review has had to step down just days after being appointed. William Crawley and guests examine the issues. With a week to go until the World Cup kicks off in Qatar, what is life like for women there? BBC presenter Salma El Wardany has been finding out for a World Service documentary, along with Yousra Samir who spent her adolescent years in the Gulf state. Is there a church sign that's caught your eye, with a quotation that made you think, a joke that made you smile, or a pun that made you grimace? We explore the phenomenon of the wayside pulpit. Email us: [email protected] or tweet us @R4Sunday if you’ve seen some particularly good ones! Producers: Dan Tierney and Jonathan Hallewell Editor: Helen Grady.
11/13/202243 minutes, 42 seconds
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Same-Sex Marriage and the Church of England; Meat-Free Fridays; Bellringing for the King

It's an issue which has divided the Church of England for decades, and now the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Dr. Steven Croft has become the most senior cleric in the Church to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage. But will the growing support for the bishop's stance make any difference to the future direction of the church? Ed Stourton explores the issue with Dr Andrew Goddard, he was on the Steering Group for the church's Living and Loving in Faith Project and is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council, and Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour cabinet minister and practicing Anglican who sits on parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee. Could the Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Friday have an impact in tackling climate change? A new study suggests it could potentially reduce carbon emissions. Edward assesses the details with Professor Shaun Lacrom, from the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge, and Bishop John Arnold, the environmental lead for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. 'Ring for the King' is the campaign to recruit and train thousands of new bellringers ahead of next year's Coronation of King Charles on 6 May. Reporter Mark Hutchings joined a team of bellringers to find out what it takes to become expert in pulling the ropes. And as Remembrance weekend draws near, Major Daljinder Singh Virdee from the Defence Sikh Network explains how he was inspired to develop a version of the Nitnem Gutka Sahib, or daily Prayer Book for Sikhs in the military, after seeing an image of a Sikh soldier in the trenches during the Great War. Photo: Bellringers from St. Woolos Cathedral at St. Basil's Church, Newport. Producers: Jill Collins and Fiona Leach Editor: Tim Pemberton
11/6/202243 minutes, 51 seconds
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Hindu PM; Brazil elections; Religious relics; Nasheed choir

We have a new Hindu Prime Minister! It's the first time this has happened in the UK. So how will Rishi Sunak's faith inform his leadership? We find out from two experts. Many are dreading the cost of fuel bills this Winter - but a new faith-led campaign is offering people the chance to use free, safe, warm spaces across the UK. The Warm Welcome campaign, set up by the ChurchWorks Commission, has signed up more 2,200 organisations to the scheme and has an interactive map on its website showing where they are. We hear from one organisation and a young mum who uses it. The trial of Cardinal Zen, the former Catholic bishop of Hong Kong, is re-opening. It comes days after the renewal of the Vatican's provisional agreement with Beijing over the appointment of bishops - a deal which the 90 year old Cardinal has openly criticised. We hear the views of Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, who is himself a Catholic. And, in what's believed to be the first time in the UK, a cathedral has hosted a performance of Islamic nasheeds. The Bradford Nasheed Choir, which is made up of boys aged between six and 14, combines the Islamic tradition of nasheed, sung with one line of harmony, with the Western tradition of polyphony, so that nasheeds are sung in two, three or four-part harmony. Hussnain Hanif, a well-known nasheed artist, joins us to tell us how the performance went. Presented by Emily Buchanan. Produced by Julia Paul and Fiona Leach.
10/30/202244 minutes, 1 second
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Politics and Trust; Sikh Community Kitchens; Poetry and Faith

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its final report. One of the key recommendations is for mandatory reporting of child sex abuse, even if that abuse is disclosed to a priest in a confessional. So, what are the implications for those churches with a confessional tradition where confidentiality is sacrosanct? William speaks to bishop Paul Mason, the lead on safeguarding for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Sikh community kitchens known as ‘Langar’ are coming under pressure in the current cost of living crisis. As energy and fuel prices continue to rise, so does the demand for free food. Our reporter Nina Robinson visited a Gurdwara in Coventry to see how they are coping as they prepare to feed more than five thousand people over Diwali. The theologian, poet and former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams has gathered together one hundred poems from the last one hundred years which explore the themes of faith and belief, in ‘A Century of Poetry’. He discusses with William how can poetry help us in our spiritual journeys. And as the Conservative Party get set to appoint a replacement to Liz Truss as the next prime minister, William considers whether the notion of the common good has been lost in the melee of competitive politics, with Daniel Greenberg, the newly appointed Parliament commissioner for standards, Ann Widdecombe, former MP and Dr Alan Smith, bishop of St. Albans and convenor of the Lords Spiritual Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Helen Grady
10/23/202243 minutes, 46 seconds
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British embassy in Israel; Diwali; Iranian hijab protests.

Although the Middle East may not currently be high on the prime minister's list of priorities, faith leaders have increasingly been speaking out about her controversial proposal to move the British Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and it’s one of the most sensitive issues in their long running conflict. As the BBC's religion reporter Harry Farley explains, if the British Embassy was relocated, it would break with decades of UK foreign policy, which until this point has been that the divided city should host consulates, rather than embassies, until a final peace agreement is reached. Thousands of Ukrainians who fled the war and came to live in the UK with host families for six months are now having to find somewhere new to live. For many host families, it's been a positive experience, but others have found it really difficult sharing their home with their Ukrainian guests. We hear from one refugee who now has to find a new home, and the charity that's helping. In Iran the authorities are doing everything they can to suppress the protests that have blown up since a young woman died after being arrested for - allegedly - violating the law on hijab-wearing. But it hasn't worked. We discuss what the continuing protests mean for the Iranian regime. And across the UK, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains are busy preparing for the festival of Diwali which is just over a week away now. Diwali means 'a row of lights' in Sanskrit and symbolises good over evil and inner light over spiritual darkness. We hear a selection of musicians who will be featured on Radio 3 as part of a special celebration of the festival. Presented by Edward Stourton. Produced by Julia Paul and Amanda Hancox.
10/16/202243 minutes, 45 seconds
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Themed weddings; Muslims and mental health; Jake Thackray

Photos emerged this week of a couple renewing their marriage vows in a Star Wars-themed ceremony in Wales. William Crawley explores the implications of themed weddings in churches. A new research project will investigate why some Muslims find it hard to access mental health services, and how more could get the help they need. We consider some of the barriers to effective treatment. The poet-singer Jake Thackray rose to fame on prime time Saturday night TV in the 1960s and 1970s with his unique style of funny, wry and bitter-sweet songs. 20 years after his death, his first full biography reveals how his working-class Catholic roots shaped the themes of social justice in his parable-like songwriting. Producers: Dan Tierney and Jill Collins Editor: Helen Grady.
10/9/202240 minutes, 37 seconds
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Iran and the Hijab; Faith in the reign of King Charles; Rural Church Monuments

For the first time in Northern Ireland’s one hundred and one year history, Census figures reveal there are more people from a Catholic background than there are Protestants. Emily Buchanan looks at what this moment means for the future of the Province. How do you engage post-millennials in the subject of Theology? Two of the finalists in this year’s ‘Theology Slam’, a competition to find new voices who think theologically about the modern world, enlighten us. The death in custody of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini has sparked waves of protest across Iran. Mahsa was arrested by the country's morality police for the way she wore her hijab. We explore how the country's strict dress code for women is igniting calls for change. C.B. Newham spent the last twenty five years documenting and photographing the contents of more than nine thousand rural Parish Churches. He explains how shifts on the world stage from politics to war to religion, helped shape the fashion for those sculptures. Leicester’s Muslim and Hindu Community Leaders are calling for peace after weeks of unrest amongst mainly young men from both faiths. We look at what’s behind the tensions in the City, usually noted for it's strong sense of interfaith harmony. In a recent meeting with a group of Faith Leaders, King Charles confirmed his commitment to the Christian faith and described Britain as a ‘community of communities’. Guests from different faith denominations discuss what the Monarch’s future relationship with religion could look like. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Dan Tierney *Photograph courtesy of C.B. Newham, author of 'Country Church Monuments'.
10/7/202243 minutes, 57 seconds
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Elvis's Faith; Black British Muslims; Cathedral Music

Elvis Presley was many things to many people, but few see him as a religious figure. He recorded several songs with religious themes, including Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art, but rarely spoke publicly about his beliefs. Now, his step-brother, Billy Stanley has co-written a book, The Faith of Elvis, telling the story of the singer's interest in religion and in particular his love of the Bible. He shares his personal memories of Elvis, and how his songs were often inspired by his Christian faith. About 10% of British Muslims are black and some have experienced racism from other Muslims. The Muslim Council of Britain has acknowledged that as a "minority within a minority" they have often been marginalised, even within Muslim communities. They have just published a report examining what life is like for black British Muslims. It brings together around 40 essays from Black, African and Afro-Caribbean Muslims in the UK. We ask what needs to change to allow black Muslims to be more widely embraced and their contribution recognised in the UK. The tradition of music making in Britain's cathedrals goes back centuries. Today, the choral music produced at many cathedrals is of the highest quality. But a report from the Cathedral Music Trust suggests it is facing a crisis. In recent times, two UK cathedrals have dissolved their choirs. Others are facing severe financial pressures. The Trust suggests that churches should invest in music as a core part of the service they provide to the community. But is it reasonable to expect churches to prioritise supporting music, when there are so many other demands on their funds? Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Presenter: William Crawley
10/3/202236 minutes, 52 seconds
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State funeral; Radical generosity; Folk songs in church

The State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be the biggest ceremonial event held in the UK in recent times. It will be the first state funeral since that of Winston Churchill in 1965. It will be attended by political leaders, royals and heads of state from across the world. We consider the history of state and royal funerals, and the extent to which they have adapted to reflect the country’s changing religious and cultural landscape. There has been a call for a spirit of "radical generosity" from the British people, to help reduce the number of deaths caused by the cost of living crisis. Is it enough to rely on the government to limit the effects of inflation, or do we all have a personal moral obligation to take action in supporting others who are struggling? In Islam, Zakat is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria to donate a certain portion of their wealth to charitable causes. We hear about the work of a foodbank run by Muslim volunteers and speak to the National Zakat Foundation about their work in supporting people in need. This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams. He was an enthusiastic collector of traditional English folk tunes, many of which found their way into his works. But he also turned some of them into well known hymns. Over the next few months, a group of musicians will be touring cathedrals in England and Wales with a celebration of the folk tunes he loved so much. It's called From Pub to Pulpit, and will demonstrate how folk tunes, heard in fields, workplaces and pubs, were passed down the generations, and then turned into hymns by Vaughan Williams. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Rosie Dawson Presenter: Edward Stourton
9/20/202243 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Queen and Faith

In this special edition of Sunday, Edward Stourton reflects on the late Queen Elizabeth II's relationship to faith, explores how she stood for continuity amid so much change and hears from leaders of some of the many religious groups that flourished as never before in the second Elizabethan era. Producers: Jill Collins and Julia Paul Editor: Dan Tierney
9/11/202243 minutes, 25 seconds
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Pope John Paul I; Pakistan floods; Disability at church

His was the shortest papacy in modern times. The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, after a pontificate of just 33 days, shocked the world and generated a host of conspiracy theories. As his beatification this weekend takes him one stage closer to becoming a saint, we speak to a man who was invited by the Vatican to investigate his death, John Cornwell, author of ‘A Thief in the Night: Life and Death in the Vatican'. The devastating floods in Pakistan have left millions of people homeless and destroyed buildings, bridges and roads. Vast swathes of the country are now under water. More than a thousand people have died, and more have been injured. Many British Muslims have joined the efforts to provide relief in the country. We hear from the Nottingham based charity, Muslim Hands, which is working in Pakistan, about the help that's needed and how people can offer support. In India, after decades of many unborn girls being aborted, new research suggests the country's sex ratio at birth is beginning to normalise. The Pew Research Center suggests that "son bias" has declined sharply. Edward Stourton asks Professor Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Professor of Sikh Studies at Birmingham University, why attitudes are changing and daughters are now more often being celebrated. A new book brings together the stories of Christians who feel their disability prevents them from playing a full part in church life. This year's Church of England General Synod unanimously backed a motion committing to the removal of barriers that prevent disabled people from engaging. But personal stories in the book suggest that the problem is not simply with access to church, but with theology too. Producer: Jonathan Hallewell Presenter: Edward Stourton
9/4/202243 minutes, 26 seconds
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Liverpool shooting; Great cathedrals; Russian Jews

Churches in Liverpool are today opening their doors to members of the community still struggling to come to terms with the shooting of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel. Olivia was killed as her mother struggled with a gunman at the door of their home on Monday. The Right Reverend Beverley Mason is the acting Bishop of Liverpool and also Bishop of Warrington. She tells William Crawley about the support they can offer. An astonishing 20,500 of Russia's estimated 165,000 Jews have left Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. According to the Jewish Agency, which helps Jews move to Israel, at least one in eight Jews has now left the country - including the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt. Many have gone to Israel, but thousands more have moved to other countries. Anna Shternshis, Professor of Yiddish Studies and a Specialist in Russian Jewish history at the University of Toronto, tells us why. One of the UK’s oldest church-based youth organisations may be about to split. The Northern Ireland section of the Boy's Brigade, which has been mostly linked to the conservative-leaning Presbyterian Church in Ireland, is about to poll its leaders on a motion to separate from the national organisation. The Boys' Brigade has historically been one organisation across the British Isles, so this would be a major departure. One third of members are based in Northern Ireland. And what's your favourite cathedral? A new book celebrates the lives, legacies and extraordinary histories of some of the world's greatest cathedrals. Author and architectural historian Emma Wells tells us where her research took her. Presented by William Crawley. produced by Julia Paul and Jill Collins.
8/28/202243 minutes, 50 seconds
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William Shatner, Bahá’is in Iran, Class in the Church of England

How do we preserve memories of loved ones after their death? An innovative new technology has been developed that allows people to interact virtually with someone who has recorded answers to a series of questions before their death. We discuss the moral implications and hear from the actor William Shatner who has documented his own life in a video for future generations. In Iran, there are reports that authorities have arrested several leaders from the Bahá’i community and demolished homes. William Crawley speaks to Oxford law professor Dr Nazila Ghanea, who was recently appointed the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and Iqan Shahidi, a Baha'i from Iran, who was imprisoned for 5 years for campaigning for the right of Baha’is to a university education. Does the Church of England have a class problem? We ask bricklayer turned curate, Revd Luke Larner, and Dr Liz Graveling who has recently commissioned a study on the experience of working class clergy. Producers: Katharine Longworth and Dan Tierney.
8/21/202243 minutes, 47 seconds
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14/08/2022

The stabbing of author Salman Rushdie has again ignited the debate around freedom of speech and religious sensibilities. At this stage it's not known why the 75-year-old was attacked. The broadcaster and journalist Mobeen Azhar, who produced the podcast Fatwa, joins us to talk about the background to the threats made against Salman Rushdie after the publication of his book "The Satanic Verses" in 1988. It is already a whole year since the Taliban took over again in Afghanistan. Thousands of refugees were able to come to the UK - but a year on, up to 10,000 are still living in cramped hotels, while for those left in Afghanistan, life is even more precarious. Marzia Babakarkhail, who was a judge in Kabul, came to the UK in 2008 after the Taliban tried to assassinate her twice. She arrived with no English, but joins us to explain how now she works for the Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams on immigration and asylum seeker cases - and earlier this year ran to be a local councillor. We've talked before about the cost of living crisis, but as prices continue to rise, now religious buildings are also facing huge bills. One Methodist minister tells us that in the last year, his monthly electricity bill has risen from £70 to £1000 a month. New research from the Theos think tank finds many religious organisations are having to make difficult decisions about the services they will still be able to offer. And with many of us overwhelmed by constant stories of environmental or economic crisis, not to mention worries about physical or mental health, the Medicine Festival in Berkshire next weekend sounds like the perfect antidote. Its aim is to envision a more enlightened, peaceful and sustainable world and provides a platform for so called 'indigenous wisdom keepers' to share their teachings, ceremonies and traditional technologies. Presented by Emily Buchanan. Produced by Amanda Hancox and Julia Paul.
8/14/202240 minutes, 31 seconds
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Beyoncé and Faith, Gordon Brown and Pastor Mick; Lambeth Conference

The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is calling for an emergency budget to support the poorest through the autumn and winter, as the cost of living rises. He’s commissioned a report, co-signed by more than 60 faith groups and charities, which says there is a “growing gap between need and current provision” for the lowest income families. Edward Stourton is joined by Gordon Brown and Pastor Mick Fleming who runs ‘Church on the Street’, an anti-poverty charity in Burnley. The Lambeth Conference draws to a close with the dominant issue of the week being the Anglican Church’s stance on homosexuality. Two bishops with very different perspectives reflect on this and on the wider purpose of the global Anglican Communion. The singer Beyoncé's new album 'Renaissance' has gone straight to the top of the charts. Her music has often incorporated religious themes and imagery, which has made her both an empowering and controversial figure. Two fans talk about what Beyoncé means to them as black Christian women. Producers: Dan Tierney and Jill Collins Editor: Helen Grady.
8/7/202242 minutes, 57 seconds
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31/07/2022

The UK is being pressured to explain why changes were made to an official statement on gender equality, including removing commitments to abortion and sexual health rights, following the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief, held in London earlier this month. Norway and Denmark have approached the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to protest against the changes, and an open letter to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss from more than 20 human rights, pro-choice, and international aid groups has demanded the government reverse the deletions immediately and explain why they were made. Caroline Nokes MP, who chairs the women and equalities select committee, has also written to the foreign secretary. She tells us why she's concerned. More than 650 Anglican Bishops from around the world have arrived in Canterbury for the first Lambeth conference since 2008. The conference offers an opportunity for worship, discussion and - once again, it seems - a falling out over sex. The Church is declining in the West and growing in the Global south. Harry Farley reports on what this means for the nature and leadership of the Anglican communion. The archive used in his report was supplied by Pathe News. The Scottish Highlands and islands are criss-crossed with ‘coffin roads’, the paths along which bodies were carried for burial. Many are now popular walking and cycling routes. But their history reminds us of a time when death was a more public and ritualistic practice. Professor Ian Bradley, whose book on this has just been published, tells us what the distinctive West Highland and Hebridean approach to dying and mourning can offer us today. Presented by Edward Stourton. Produced by Julia Paul and Amanda Hancox.
7/31/202243 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Pope in Canada, faith groups at the Commonwealth games, the theology of Stranger Things

Birmingham is gearing up for the Commonwealth Games and faith communities across the West Midlands are involved in the preparations, including Ranjit and Manpreet from Wolverhampton Wrestling Club who will both be taking part in The Queen’s Baton Relay. William speaks to them about Wolverhampton, wrestling and what it means to be a Sikh on the mat. Conservative party members are preparing to vote for their new leader and our next Prime Minister. As they decide between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, we discuss the candidates' religious hinterland and ask what bearing, if any, religious questions might have on the leadership race. The smash Netflix hit, Stranger Things, has just aired its fourth series. Some religious commentators say the success of Stranger Things is down to the fact that, at its heart, is the age-old battle between good and evil. In the latest series there seems to be no let up on the religious iconography. Culture writer Sophie Caledecott decodes some of the deeper, spiritual meanings at work in the series. Pope Francis flies to Canada this week where he’s expected to apologise for the abuse of Indigenous children in church-run residential schools. William hears from Dark Cloud, who was adopted by a British family as a child after being forcibly taken in what is known as The Sixties Scoop. Joy Spearchief-Morris, Indigenous Black Canadian writer and advocate tells us the situation in Canada and the BBC's Religion Editor, Aleem Maqbool highlights what we can expect from the Papal visit. As East Africa faces the worst drought in 40 years, William speaks to Elizabeth Myendo, Tearfund's Disaster Management Lead for East and Southern Africa live from Nairobi with an account of the impact on people living in countries like Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The 15th Lambeth Conference is to be held in Canterbury from 26 July to 8 August. The bishops will issue affirmations and “calls” from the conference based on their discussions around mission, the environment, safe church, interfaith relations and Anglican identity but there are some notable absences. Church leaders from Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda are boycotting the conference in protest at what they see as a liberalisation of teaching on human sexuality. The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, is chair of the Lambeth design group and speaks to William Crawley about the boycott. And Daniel Mullhall, Ireland's ambassador to the United States, tells us about religion in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
7/24/202243 minutes, 50 seconds
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Faith and Tory Leadership Contest; Krishna Das and his Spiritual Journey; Stories marking 50 years of Uganda Asians in the UK

In 1992 Pope John Paul II beatified just 17 individuals out of nearly 460 whose names were put forward as dying for the faith during the religious and political upheavals of 16th and 17th century Ireland. So what made these individuals stand out from the rest during this period? Former President of Ireland, Dr Mary McAleese chats to Edward Stourton about the stories she uncovered in her new book ‘The 17 Irish Martyrs’. 50 years ago, Idi Amin, then President of Uganda, ordered the expulsion of his country’s Asian minority. Around 60,000 individuals were given just 90 days to leave. Many went to Canada, India, Kenya or Pakistan. Around 28,000 came to the UK. The majority settled in Leicester where a new exhibition ‘Rebuilding Lives’ has just opened at the Museum and Art Gallery. Edward speaks to Nisha Popat, the exhibition's project leader and Mina Patel who has a personal family connection to one of the exhibits on display. Krishna Das, formerly known as Jeffery Kagel, is a Grammy-nominated vocalist who performs Indian devotional singing known as Kirtan. He took time out during the UK leg of his European tour to tell us how his spiritual journey began. As the Conservative Leadership contest enters the final stages, the majority of talk has been around tax and the cost of living. But what about religion, could that also play a role in deciding who our next Prime Minister will be? Edward discusses the contenders with Tim Montgomerie, Co-founder of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and Creator of Conservativehome.com and Dr. Ekaterina Kolpinskaya, from the University of Exeter who is researching religion and the voting habits of Conservatives. Photo Credit: Perry Julien Producers: Jill Collins and Rosie Dawson Editor: Tim Pemberton
7/17/202243 minutes, 35 seconds
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10/07/2022

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
7/10/202243 minutes, 34 seconds
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Hajj Pilgrimage Bookings Chaos, Racial Justice in the Church of England, Wedding Fees

'Racism is a gaping wound in the body of Christ' - so said the former Labour cabinet minister Paul Boateng. He is chairing the Archbishops' Commission for Racial Justice, and this week he produced the first of several papers on what needs to be done to heal that wound. We hear from him and the Reverend Arun Arora about how the work is going. Next week sees the start of the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London. 600 delegates from 60 countries will take part. The Tory MP Fiona Bruce will be in the chair - she's the Prime Minister's special envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief. It's the fourth such conference and we ask her what's been achieved so far. The Church of England diocese of Blackburn wants parishes to drop wedding fees because they are 'economically unjust'. It's passed its own motion on the matter and will be proposing the plan when the General Synod gathers next weekend. The fee for a C of E wedding is usually between 512 and 560 pounds. We hear what that's meant to some parishioners and why the diocese is taking the action. And Hajj begins next week, but this year's pilgrimage has been marked by widespread complaints about a new booking system for traveling to Mecca. The Saudi authorities have launched their own booking portal this year. But the Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Hajj and Umrah, tells us that for many would-be pilgrims it has proved chaotic. Presented By Edward Stourton. Produced by Julia Paul and Rebecca Maxted.
7/3/202243 minutes, 53 seconds
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Hong Kong and faith; Traveller theology; Qawwali for a modern age.

The traditional Sufi devotional music known as Qawwali had its origins in the 13th Century, now the ensemble known as The Orchestral Qawwali Project are breathing new life into this ancient art. We caught up with them at the Bradford Literature Festival. And we journey to another part of the country to find out how music and spirituality go hand in hand at Glastonbury. From baptisms to wedding blessings to providing safe spaces, Reverend Chris North, Chair of the Church at Glastonbury reveals what it is like to minister to festival-goers. We continue our series of conversations to mark Pride month with Richard Kirker, a Founder Member of Lesbian and Gay Christians and Saima Razzaq, a Lesbian and Muslim, who is part of Birmingham Pride. As the US Supreme Court overturns Roe V Wade, Emily finds out what the ruling means for Shawn Carney, CEO and Founder of 40 Days For Life and Rachel Laser, President and CEO of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. At the heart of many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities there is a deep religious conviction, it’s something that Theologian Dr Steven Horne, himself of Romany heritage, explores in his new book ‘Gypsies and Jesus’. Later this week Hong Kong will see a new Government sworn in and the former colony will also mark twenty-five years since the handover to China. Author and Foreign Correspondent, Michael Sheridan, examines what another Catholic leader in the form of John Lee will mean for Hong Kong and what the next twenty-five years may look like for Hong Kong’s faith communities. Producers: Jill Collins and Katharine Longworth Editor: Tim Pemberton Picture credit: Gaelle Berri
6/26/202243 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Church of England and slavery; Ukrainian military chaplains; Should the Lords Spiritual be scrapped?

Should the Lords Spiritual be scrapped? Currently 26 bishops sit in the Lords. But it's been reported that some cabinet ministers want that to end after the Church of England criticised the government's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. We debate the issues with the former attorney general Dominic Grieve - a practising Anglican and former Conservative MP - and Dr Jonathan Chaplin from the Divinity Faculty at the University of Cambridge. In Ukraine, the focus of the fighting has shifted to the Donbas region, but it is as fierce as ever. A senior government official has told the BBC that Ukraine is losing between one and two hundred troops every day. Military chaplain Father Sergiy Berezhnoy, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest and a chaplain to the 42nd Battalion of Defenders of Kyiv tells Edward how Ukrainian soldiers are bearing up in the latest battle. The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised after research showed the Church of England's investment fund has links to the slave trade. Justin Welby said he is 'deeply sorry' for the links. But are apologies enough? We speak to Robert Beckford, Professor of Climate and Social Justice at the University of Winchester, who's recently been to Barbados to explore the legacy of the link between Anglicanism and slavery. As devoted yogis prepare to mark International Yoga Day, we speak to Heather Mason from the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance, which trains people to use yoga to prevent health conditions and we ask the Indian cultural minister for the UK, Amish Tripathi, how he feels about yoga being detached from its spiritual roots. Plus an Anglican church leader in Rwanda responds to his English counterparts' attack on the UK Government's new asylum policy. Presented by Edward Stourton Produced by Rebecca Maxted and Julia Paul Editor: Helen Grady
6/19/202243 minutes, 43 seconds
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Rwanda Asylum Scheme; Bible Readings and Prime Ministers; Musician Jim Seals and his Bahai faith.

Musician Jim Seals was the man behind 1970’s classics like Diamond Girl and Summer Breeze. Jim who passed away this week at the age of 80, was also an adherent of the Baha’i faith. Fellow Bahaist, Jack Lenz, the Canadian composer and friend, pays his own tribute. National celebrations or commemorations often include a keynote Bible reading from the Prime Minister of the day, but perhaps inadvertently they can also invite commentary on political leadership. It’s something Prime Minister Boris Johnson fell prey to at the recent Platinum Jubilee Thanksgiving Service, when he read a passage from the New Testament, focussing on the theme of integrity. Edward discusses the pitfalls with the Reverends George Pitcher and Fergus Butler Gallie. Nigeria’s government is facing increasing criticism for failing to tackle widespread insecurity in the country. Now for the first time, the authorities are blaming a militant Islamic State group for the recent attack on Christian worshippers in the town of Owo, in the South West of the country, in which more than forty people were killed and dozens more injured. The BBC’s Samuel Murunga explains the complex picture of religious tensions in the country. Throughout Pride month we are listening in on conversations between LGBTQ people of faith. This week we hear Jude Rose and Joel Rosen navigate their lives around Orthodox Judaism. And as the row escalates over the Government’s scheme to send would-be asylum seekers to Rwanda, Edward explores both sides of the argument with Ann Widdecombe, former Home Office Minister and Shadow Home Secretary and Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality. Producers: Jill Collins and Rosie Dawson Editor: Tim Pemberton
6/12/202243 minutes, 44 seconds
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05/06/2022

It’s the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and Sunday is joining in the day’s celebrations. Her Majesty the Queen has always had a strong Christian faith, but how has that become more evident to the public throughout her reign? We hear from two experts in the field. What does the Jubilee mean to people of other faiths? We join the Muslim organisers of one event in London, bringing together dozens of different nationalities and faiths, as well as refugees, at a food bank in London. Across the country, more than 60,000 people have registered to host Big Jubilee Lunches. There’s a battle in the music charts as several different versions of “God Save the Queen” compete for the number 1 spot. But choirs across the country will be singing the Jubilee anthem – Rise Up and Serve – which was composed especially for this weekend. The war in Ukraine has increased the tensions between the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, which comes under the authority of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Now the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate has also declared its independence. We hear about the fallout for both churches. And it's the start of Pride month, and in a new series, we bring together LGBT people of faith. This week two Catholics talk about their experiences. George White is a 28-year-old transgender man and an RE teacher at a Catholic secondary school. Claire Jenkins is 73, and was also a teacher, but felt she had no option but to leave the profession when she transitioned from male to female in the 90s. Presented by William Crawley. Produced by Julia Paul and Katharine Longworth. Photo credit Georgina Poullais.
6/5/202243 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Archbishop of Canterbury on Reconciliation; Religion and social care; US Christians divided over gun law reform.

As the population over 65 becomes more ethnically diverse, how ready are care providers to help meet their religious and spiritual needs? It’s a question which has inspired Maaha Suleiman to come up with an App designed to help Care Agencies and Councils match people based on religious and cultural understanding. Our reporter Vishva Samani looks at how it works in practice. The official celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday will include a special Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s. The Dean, the Very Revd. Dr. David Ison, shares some of the plans the Cathedral has in store. Following the Church of Scotland's vote to allow clergy to conduct same-sex marriages, we ask what it means for the future of the Church and its wider Protestant family. We hear from those right at the heart of the issue, the Rev Prof Andrew McGowan and the Rev. Scott M Rennie. The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, tells us about the power of reconciliation, the theme of his latest book. And in the wake of the massacres at Buffalo and now Ulvade in the United States, we ask why some Christians oppose gun law reform. We hear from the Rev. Jim Wallis, Director of the Centre on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University and a former Pastor John Correia, Founder and Owner of Active Self Protection, a self-defence and firearms training company. Photograph: Karuna Manor Care Home Producers: Jill Collins and Rebecca Maxted
5/29/202243 minutes, 35 seconds
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'Replacement theory' and Christian nationalism in the US; the Sufi Muslim pacifist who turned British resistance agent

We explore how different religious groups in the United States regard 'replacement theory'. This is the idea that politicians are attempting to wipe out White Americans by 'replacing' them with non-White immigrants and Jewish people and is often associated with Christian nationalism. This 'theory' was referenced by the 18-year-old who is alleged to have shot 10 people dead in a supermarket in a mainly black area of Buffalo. Thirty years ago a group of students from different parts of the UK set about carving out dedicated spaces for Hindu young people at universities. The National Hindu Students Forum is now the largest Hindu student organisation outside of India, representing 10,000 students at Hindu societies across the UK. They marked their 30 year anniversary with a celebration at the House of Lords this week. Edwards speaks to Janhavi Dadarkar who was one of the founding members of the Forum in the early nineties, and Dhruvisha Joshi who’s a Hindu student at Loughborough University. And the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is encouraging us to remember the people of different faiths who contributed to the world wars. We hear about Noor Inayat Khan, the Sufi Muslim pacifist who turned British resistance agent during the second world war. Noor was executed by the Nazis and cremated at Dachau. She was later awarded the George Cross in 1949. Picture of Noor Inayat Khan courtesy of Shrabani Basu. Producers: Julia Paul and Rosie Dawson. Presenter: Edward Stourton
5/22/202243 minutes, 56 seconds
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The arrest of Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen; The history of black nuns; A Russian Quaker

Generations of black women and girls who took up the call to religious life in America found themselves subjected to racism, sexism and exclusion from within their own Roman Catholic communities. Edward Stourton explores this hidden history with Dr Shannon Dee Williams, from the University of Dayton in Ohio and author of ‘Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle’ and Dr Patricia Grey, a former nun and the Founding President of the National Black Sisters Conference. The war in Ukraine has prompted many countries to review their military strategies. But one religious group believes the way to bring peace is for individuals to build bridges. The Quakers in Britain are suggesting people contact individual Russians, emphasising our common humanity and shared values. They call it Citizen Diplomacy, and hundreds of Quakers have been using social media to reach people in Russia, or making cards to send. One Russian supporter of the Quakers, who now lives in the UK, has been reaching out to people in his homeland through his own initiative - a Russian language podcast called Human Rights in Russia. Sergei Nikitin talks of building bridges of peace through personal relationships. Earlier this week an outspoken supporter of democracy and former leader of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen, was arrested and then released on bail. Edward Stourton asks Lord Chris Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong for his reaction to the news and his fears for the future of religious freedom in Hong Kong. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Jill Collins Presenter: Edward Stourton
5/16/202243 minutes, 53 seconds
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The Bible on Screen; Religious Clashes In India; A Quaker Approach To School Behaviour

What's your favourite Bible film? And can a movie really offer a new perspective on the text? This weekend Sunday is discussing movies from Pasolini's Gospel according to St Matthew to The Ten Commandments and Jesus Christ Superstar with Matthew Page author of a new @BFI book. Tell us which are your favourites - email [email protected]. Police used batons this week to break up a clash between Hindus and Muslims after Eid prayers in the city of Jodhpur in India. Edward discusses the escalating tensions between the groups with London School of Economics Professor Mukulika Banerjee, a social anthropologist who has lived and worked in rural India for more than 20 years. And he hears how South Asian communities in the UK are affected by and responding to the violence from Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra - an Imam from Leicester who is of Gujarati Indian heritage and the Hindu author and philosopher Satish Sharma. And could empathy and questions be the best way to get good behaviour in schools? Edward talks to Ellis Brooks from Quakers in Britain about their 30-year-old "Peacemaker Project" which they believe can tackle poor behaviour and be an alternative to escalating school exclusions. And asks executive headteacher Rukhsana Ahmed, who believes in rules and discipline, if such an approach would work for the persistent bad behaviour she's seen in her career.
5/8/202243 minutes, 49 seconds
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Ukrainian refugee visa delays; Eid prayers at Blackburn Rovers; On the frontline of the cost of living crisis.

For the fist time, Muslims in Blackburn will be able to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr at their local football ground. Blackburn Rovers will be hosting Eid prayers on their Ewood Park pitch. The town has a growing Muslim population and, as he tells our presenter William Crawley, the club's Integration and Development Manager Yasir Sufi hopes this new initiative will inspire a new generation of fans to be a part of the Rovers FC family. With food prices continuing to rise, we hear about the stark realities of providing for those in need, with Helen Carroll, Foodbank Manager for the multi-faith charity 'Spirit of Springburn' in Glasgow and Reverend Dean Roberts who runs the Parish Trust, an independent Christian charity in Caerphilly, South Wales. We also hear from the Bishop of Durham the Rt. Rev Paul Butler, Leader for the Lords Spiritual on Welfare Reform, who's calling for the Government to strengthen the social security system, to keep up with the true cost of living. Religious groups here and in Poland are frustrated by visa delays for Ukrainian refugees. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg is one of many British Jews who's sponsored Ukrainian refugees only to find they've been stranded by bureaucracy. As Ripon Cathedral celebrates its 1350 year anniversary, reporter Andrew Fletcher explores the life of its founder, St Wilfrid, and discovers why he remains so relevant today. And we ask - are Science and Religion incompatible ? More than five thousand adults think so, according to a recent survey. So why does this perception persist ? William looks for answers with Dr Stephen Jones, Lecturer in Sociology of Science and Religion at the University of Birmingham. Producers: Jill Collins and Dan Tierney Editor: Helen Grady
5/1/202243 minutes, 51 seconds
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French election; Ukrainian refugees; Abuse within the church

Today voters in France go to the polls in the final round of the country's presidential election. The incumbent Emmanuel Macron is being challenged by Marine Le Pen. As in previous elections, immigration and religion have been among the campaign issues. We consider how important public attitudes to Islam have been in the campaign and how the candidates have negotiated the issue. After many weeks of war in Ukraine and people flooding over the borders into neighbouring European countries, Ukrainian refugees are now arriving in the UK. We hear from a trainee Anglican cleric about how her faith inspired her to provide a home to a young man who fled from Ukraine. She has hosted refugees before and finds it really rewarding. For her, opening her home to a stranger is an expression of her Christian faith. It's 18 months since the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its highly critical investigation into the Church of England. It described the church as a place where abusers could hide and described an environment in which alleged perpetrators received more support than victims. Now, Andrew Graystone, an advocate for survivors of abuse, has written an essay in which he suggests the church is still failing survivors of abuse. We hear his views and a response from Bishop Julie Conalty, who has recently been appointed as the deputy lead Bishop on safeguarding issues. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Julia Paul.
4/24/202243 minutes, 25 seconds
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Sikh scripture rescue, Patriarch Kirill profile, Muslim footballers during Ramadan

Following last week’s dramatic tale of how some sacred Sikh scriptures were rescued from a gurdwara in Ukraine, Emily Buchanan went to see them in their new home at the National Sikh Museum in Derby. Patriarch Kirill is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church who is backing President Putin and supporting the war in Ukraine. He reportedly has historic KGB links and a liking for expensive watches, but what do we really know about him? There are an estimated 180 Muslim footballers in the Premier League. How are football clubs catering for Muslim players who are fasting during the month of Ramadan? Presenter: Emily Buchanan Producers: Dan Tierney and Julia Paul Editor: Helen Grady.
4/10/202243 minutes, 48 seconds
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Sikh scriptures; The church in wartime; Interfaith dialogue during Ramadan

How should religious leaders respond in times of war? The primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill has been severely criticised for endorsing his country's invasion of Ukraine. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, a leading scholar of eastern Christianity, tells us how he feels about Kirill's failure to even call for a ceasefire. Also, it's forty years since the Falkland Islands were occupied by Argentina, sparking a war with Britain in the south Atlantic. We reflect on whether church leaders at the time got the tone right, when they publicly called for prayers for the families of Argentinian as well as British servicemen who died in the conflict. The holy month of Ramadan is just beginning, when Muslims fast during daylight hours. In spite of recent tensions between some members of the Jewish and Muslim communities, a London synagogue is hosting Muslims and sharing in their "iftar" or fast breaking. The idea is to promote friendship between the two faith groups. We hear from Rabbi Hannah Kingston and Muslim, Julie Siddiqui, who is an interfaith campaigner. Holy scriptures have been rescued from the Sikh temple in Odessa, Ukraine to keep them safe from possible Russian attacks. They were removed from the city's Gurdwara and brought to the UK, where they will be temporarily displayed in the National Sikh Museum, in Derby. Simran Singh Stuelpnagel tells William Crawley about his journey across Europe, and his mission to safeguard the scriptures. Producers: Rahila Bano and Jonathan Hallewell Presenter: William Crawley Editor: Tim Pemberton
4/3/202244 minutes, 3 seconds
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'Good versus evil' in Ukraine, Taliban U-turn on girls' education, The Merchant of Venice

Perhaps not since the Second World War has a conflict been so readily characterised as ‘good vs evil’. Is that helpful? What do we mean by 'evil' and how might we view it in the context of the Ukraine war? Girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan were due to open last week but the Taliban reversed its decision at the last minute, saying a ruling is still to be made on the uniforms that girls must wear. What is the longer-term significance of this U-turn? Many theatre directors are reluctant to put on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice because of the prominence of antisemitism in the play. A new version, directed by a Jewish woman, Abigail Graham, seeks to explore how antisemitism manifests itself in society. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Dan Tierney and Amanda Hancox Editor: Helen Grady.
3/27/202244 minutes
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Religious images in wartime; Inviting a refugee into your home; Russian Orthodox Christians split over war

There is a long history of religious images being used during wartime, to support propaganda. During the current conflict in Ukraine one image, created to help raise money for the country, has gone viral. Mary Magdalene is depicted clutching an anti-tank missile. Her halo and gown are in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag. The image, known as "St Javelin" has been widely circulated on social media as a representation of Ukraine's strength and defiance. We examine the power of images like this to stir us, and in this case, encourage us to donate money. Russky Mir or ‘Russian World’ is cited as the ideology behind Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Reporter Harry Farley and producer Orla O’Brien unpack the mixture of theology and nationalism behind this idea and ask why so many Orthodox leaders are rejecting it. They discover the implications both for Ukraine’s churches and also its people. Thousands of people in the UK have already expressed an interest in providing a home for refugees from Ukraine. Many have felt moved by images of people forced to flee their homes and seek a safe haven in another country. People are keen to help, but there is also anxiety. What if it all goes wrong? What if we don't get on? What are the risks? Two people with long experience of providing a home to refugees tell us what it is like, and how their faith led them to help. Presenter: Edward Stourton Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Rahila Bano Editor: Helen Grady Saint Javelin Image – Courtesy Christian Borys
3/20/202243 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Pope's envoy to Ukraine; The Point of Prayer; Shorter organists' battle for adjustable benches

The Vatican lead on refugees and migrants, Cardinal Michael Czerny, tells us why Pope Francis sent him to Hungary and Ukraine to meet people fleeing war. Presenter William Crawley asks why why the Pope has not denounced the Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Vatican analyst Christopher Lamb gives an insight into the faith diplomacy going on behind the scenes. While faith leaders around the world have called for prayers of peace in Ukraine, some will wonder - what is the point of prayer in times like these? We finds out how prayer has been used in previous conflicts as William seeks answers with Canon Professor Michael Snape, an Historian of Christianity and Conflict at Durham University and Ecumenical Lay Canon at Durham Cathedral. As the Government lay out its plans to help refugees from Ukraine come to the UK, we hear from some of those responding to a plea from Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romaine MBE, from the Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, to offer a 'Ukraine transport' and open their homes to provide sanctuary for those fleeing from the conflict. And William asks the Rt. Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, whether the Government plans go far enough. And how do you play a church organ when your feet don't reach the pedals? The Society of Women Organists wants churches to fit adjustable benches to make playing the organ more accessible for women, children and shorter men. Organist Marion Lees-McPherson, from Stockbridge Parish Church in Edinburgh, shows William the perils of perching on a stool that is just too high. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Helen Grady
3/13/202243 minutes, 37 seconds
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Russian Orthodox response to Putin; Ukraine's Chief Rabbi in exile; The Christian radio station broadcasting defiantly from Kyiv

There are growing calls for the Russian Orthodox Church, led by the Moscow Patriarch Kirill, to condemn the Russian President Vladimir Putin for his decision to invade Ukraine. Earlier this week, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called on Patriarch Kirill to urge the leaders of the Russian Federation to ‘immediately cease the hostilities that threaten to turn into a world war’. And Russian Orthodox priests around the world are speaking out against the invasion. We hear from one in Durham and Edward Stourton speaks to Father Stephen Platt, Secretary for Inter-Christian Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland. We will also hear from Ukrainian refugees in Poland on their plight and the welcome they've received from Polish churches and the Jesuit Refugee Service. Tetiana Stawnychy, president of Caritas Ukraine, tell us what aid is needed now. And we find out about the Christian radio station broadcasting defiantly from Kyiv, offering spiritual and practical support as the city is surrounded by war. There's some good news too as we return to Barmston in Yorkshire, where back in January curate Richard Townend tweeted a picture of his empty church after no one turned up for his Sunday service. After hearing his story on the programme, 14 people showed up the following week - including some new to church-going. And now villagers have launched a "bums on pews" campaign to save the church.
3/6/202243 minutes, 43 seconds
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Special programme on the faith response to Ukraine

As Russia invades Ukraine and the country’s government and citizens weigh up the value of continuing resistance, we’ll ask whether Just War theory can offer them any guidance. We speak to church leaders including the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who joins us to discuss the unfolding crisis as well as Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, who is the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in this country. Ukraine also has a significant Jewish minority and a deep history in Ukraine and Europe. We speak to Volodymyr Vysotsky, from the Jewish Ukrainian Social Initiative who is in Kyiv and providing humanitarian aid to the Jewish community. We also speak to Paul Anticoni, the Chief Executive of World Jewish Relief about the the humanitarian aid that he and other faith organisations are delivering to those in need. Produced by: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham and Jill Collins
2/27/202243 minutes, 50 seconds
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Media nuns, Empty churches, Jewish internment

A pair of media-savvy nuns in Boston, USA, have attracted over 15 million views to the videos they’ve posted on social media. The Daughters of St Paul have more than 156,000 followers on TikTok. Their posts give an entertaining insight into life in a convent, depicting dance routines, pranks and funny takes on popular culture. They’re an unusual comedy duo, but the sisters tell our presenter Emily Buchanan, that their real objective is simply to bring Jesus into people’s lives. The number of people regularly attending Christian churches in the UK has fallen sharply in recent decades. We hear from one clergyman who arrived at church to find that nobody at all had arrived to hear his service. Why is it that fewer people choose to go to church these days, and what’s the secret behind those churches that are growing? Tens of thousands of German-speaking Jews were placed in camps during the war in Britain, because it was feared that they might be spies. In fact, many had fled Nazi Germany and sought refuge in the UK, only to find themselves behind bars. Emily hears the story of Bertha Bracey, a Quaker who worked tirelessly to improve conditions in the camps and helped some people to be freed. Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Carmel Lonergan Editor: Helen Grady
2/20/202244 minutes
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President Putin and the Orthodox Church; Liberated Slaves; Religious Matchmakers

On this weekend’s Sunday programme, our Presenter Edward Stourton explores President Putin’s ambitions towards Ukraine and whether religion plays a significant role, with Marat Shterin, Professor of Religion at King’s College London and Co-Editor of the Routledge Journal ‘Religion, State and Society’. Islanders from the British Overseas Territory of St Helena in the Southern Atlantic Ocean are making plans to give more than 300 liberated slaves a respectful reinterment, after their bodies were exhumed for construction work on the Island. The Rt. Revd Dale Bowers, Bishop of St. Helena and Helena Bennett, Chair of the Liberated African Advisory Committee told Edward about the details. Six months after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan for a second time, Edward asks what life is like now for the people of Afghanistan, with BBC Presenter and International Correspondent, Yalda Hakim and Dr Obaidullah Baheer, Lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan And on the eve of St. Valentine’s day, we look at the role of Matchmakers in religious tradition and explore whether they really can help people find true love, with Dassy Miller who runs a service for Orthodox Jews and Naseem Mohammed who runs a service for Muslims. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Tim Pemberton
2/13/202243 minutes, 55 seconds
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Licoricia Jewish statue unveiled; Hong Kong Christians and Forgiveness

A new statue has been created honouring a medieval Jewish businesswoman thought to have been a victim of 13th century hate crime. Licoricia of Winchester was a money lender whose wealth contributed to the building of Westminster Abbey and helped bankroll three English kings. She was murdered at a time of widespread anti-Semitism and campaigners hope a new statue in her hometown will serve as a powerful reminder of the history of prejudices that still exist today. Hundreds of churches in the UK are preparing to welcome Christians who are moving to this country from Hong Kong. The Home Office expects as many as 300,000 to make the journey in the next year. They're making the difficult decision to leave Hong Kong after the introduction of a controversial new National Security Law, which critics say is eroding freedoms. Danny Vincent reports from Hong Kong. Michael Gove has called for "Christian forgiveness" to be shown to anyone who shows contrition for attending Downing Street parties during lockdown. Forgiveness is central to the Christian faith, but what does it mean to forgive someone and how is our individual forgiveness affected by the nature, or indeed sincerity, of the apology? Does forgiveness require repentance? Edward Stourton explores the theology and mechanics of forgiveness with Rev George Pitcher, visiting fellow at LSE and Anglican vicar and Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers from Edgeware and Hendon Reform Synagogue Photo Copyright - Ian Rank Broadley, Producers: Carmel Lonergan Jonathan Hallewell Editor: Tim Pemberton
2/6/202243 minutes, 36 seconds
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Painting icons, Bloody Sunday, and religion in the Metaverse

As tensions rise in Ukraine we explore the religious context and find out how far the split in the Orthodox church in Ukraine reflects the current political crisis. We hear about a plan to change how the Archbishop of Canterbury is selected and we take you to visit an exhibition of icon artists. How does an artist create a piece of work that's both an image and a prayer? The social media and tech companies have plans for us all to work and socialise in a virtual reality world and it's been given a name, the metaverse. So what is the metaverse and what practical applications does it have for religion? On the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday we bring together two bishops who have played an important role in peacemaking in the city. We reflect on how the event was pivotal for both communities and on the efforts to rebuilt trust. Producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Producer: Jill Collins Editor: Helen Grady Image copyright Dr Irina Bradley
1/30/202243 minutes, 35 seconds
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Mary Beard's Forbidden Art; The Mormons and Tonga; Gordon Brown

What is the purpose of religious images and why have some of them caused controversy over the centuries? These are two of the questions addressed by the classics scholar Professor Mary Beard in a two part BBC2 series called ‘Mary Beard on Forbidden Art’. Mary joins Dr Fozia Bora, Associate Professor of Islamic History at the University of Leeds, to discuss some of the themes and ideas in her new documentary. The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has put his weight behind a campaign to get aid flowing to Afghanistan. Along with Save the Children and a group of faith leaders, he is launching an online petition to persuade the British government to convene an aid conference so that the country’s needs are met. He joins Edward Stourton to discuss the desperate situation in Afghanistan. In 1942, a Jewish woman in Vienna called Kamilla wrote a long letter to her children who had escaped Nazi-occupied Europe and were living in Britain. It was the last letter they got from her. Not long after she wrote it, she was deported and eventually murdered at Auschwitz. 80 years later the letter has become the inspiration for an musical way of marking Holocaust Memorial Day, which falls on Thursday this coming week. The album 'Letter to Kamilla' is the work of the composer Benjamin Till in collaboration with Michael Etherton, the Musical Director of a Jewish male vocal ensemble called Mosaic Voices and also Kamilla’s great grandson. Michael and Benjamin are in studio to talk about Kamilla and the music her letter has inspired. Producers: Helen Lee Carmel Lonergan Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/23/202243 minutes, 46 seconds
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Joe Biden's First Year Report; Chaplaincy; Where Do We Draw Our Moral Compass From?

As the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill continues its passage through Parliament, our Presenter Edward Stourton explores why the proposals on Protest are such a contentious issue, with Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain. Chaplains are appointed to work in all kinds of places outside the normal life of the Church, from hospitals to care homes, to schools, we hear from some of them on how they've dealt with the pressures of the past two years. One year on from the Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Edward discusses how Joe Biden’s Catholic faith has shaped his Presidency so far, with Professor Anthea Butler, Chair of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Christopher White, Vatican Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. China is set to impose restrictions on the sharing of any religious content online, without a special permit from the Government. Mervyn Thomas, Founder President of the Christian Human Rights Organisation CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) outlines his concerns to Edward. As we await the Government investigation into the Number 10 gatherings, led by civil servant Sue Gray, Edward asks where should we draw our moral compass from ? Joining Edward in the discussion are Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Principal Rabbi of the Manchester Reform Synagogue, Imam Rakin Niass, a Secondary School Head of RE, Philosophy and Ethics and The Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. Producers: Jill Collins, Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/16/202243 minutes, 48 seconds
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Faith-inspired public art; 100th online church service; Pagan extremism

What kinds of faith-inspired statues, sculptures and murals might we see in the future on Britain’s streets and public spaces? Faith groups are among those that have been encouraged to apply for part of a £1 million ‘untold stories’ grant from the Mayor of London which closes on Wednesday and aims to better represent the capital’s communities. The funding follows heated debate in the last few years over which statues should remain standing in the UK. Our reporter Vishva Samani’s been finding out more. The Church of England is live streaming its 100th online service since the pandemic began on the 9th January. Sunday spoke to worshippers who are part of the online community - and Emily Buchanan talks with Amaris Cole head of digital for the Church of England and asks will we be seeing more online services? We saw it in the images from the attack on the US Capitol a year ago - the co-option of pagan symbols by far right extremists in support of their ideologies. The phenomenon isn't confined to the States - in this country police officers who are themselves pagan are involved in training counterterrorism agencies to help them recognise and deal with the problem. So what is the appeal of pagan symbols and ideas to far-right and how can the co-option be resisted? Sergeant Andy Pardy from the Police Pagan Association explains. Producers Carmel Lonergan Rosie Dawson Editor Tim Pemberton
1/9/202243 minutes, 52 seconds
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Archbishop Desmond Tutu's life and legacy, It's a Wonderful Life, Volunteering

Following the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop David Walker remembers the life and legacy of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who helped end apartheid in South Africa. Actor and activist Michael Sheen tells William about the transformative encounters that led him to give away a large chunk of his earnings and turn himself into a social enterprise - a not-for-profit actor. Champion baker David Atherton shares his recipe for Florentines and talks candidly about growing up gay in a conservative evangelical Church. He tells William how winning the Great British Bake Off connected him to others struggling to reconcile their sexuality with their strict Christian upbringing. As the Christmas film classic It's A Wonderful Life turns 75, we hear about its religious meaning and how it's taken on the power of a modern-day myth. And we meet the faith groups plugging gaps in local services by providing an army of volunteers - from stewards at vaccination centres to cooks at homeless shelters and shelf-stackers at food banks. Volunteers tell us what motivates them to help their local community. And, with government finances under more pressure than ever, we find out how the relationship between faith groups and the state is changing. Producers: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham and Carmel Lonergan Editor: Helen Grady Christmas Florentines Ingredients • 1 egg white (approx. 40g) • 50g icing sugar • ½ tsp vanilla extract • ½ tsp mixed spice • Zest of an orange • 100g flaked almonds • 30g dried fruit and seeds (your choice) Method 1. Preheat oven 160C. 2. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat, or greaseproof paper (and rub in 1 tsp of vegetable oil). 3. Mix the egg white, icing sugar, vanilla, spice and orange zest until smooth. 4. Mix through the almonds and your dried fruit/seeds. 5. Put a 10cm biscuit cutter onto your tray and add a spoon of the mixture. Press this around and remove the cutter so you’re left with a perfect disc. Continue until you’ve used up your mixture. 6. Bake for 12-14mins until golden brown then allow to cool before lifting gently. 7. You can add melted dark chocolate as a decoration if you wish.
12/30/202143 minutes, 38 seconds
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Angels, Churches and Omicron and Dorothy Day

This week Sunday hears from churches how they’re adjusting to the Government’s Plan B in light of rising cases of Omicron. Carol concerts are cancelled, Christmas services face restrictions, and clergy are becoming frazzled and weary. Buddhists at a monastery in Scotland say their silent retreats are being disturbed by gunfire. The Samye Ling Tibetan Centre at Eskdalemuir in Scotland is the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in western Europe and they are objecting to a planning application asking for six military grade training grounds to be built on surrounding land. Amina Ahmed talks to us about her husband, Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association in Nigeria and a human rights activist. He was arrested last year in Northern Nigeria and accused of blasphemy but, after 19 months in detention, he is still awaiting trial. A centuries old way of life for Gypsies and Travellers is under threat of being criminalised under proposals in the Government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently making its way through Parliament. Dorothy Day the campaigning journalist, socialistl activist and advocate for the poor moved one step closer to Sainthood this month as the diocese of New York sent evidence of her good works off to the Vatican. We explore who she was and why, in life, she hated being described as a saint. And do you believe in Angels? They’ve become a symbol of hope during the past year and perhaps we all need one in our corner right now. This week Sunday asks what angels look like. Do they resemble us? Or is the Biblical representation of angels something entirely different?
12/19/202143 minutes, 53 seconds
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12/12/2021

Steven Spielberg’s remake of the musical West Side Story has hit the big screen and with it there is renewed interest in its origins as a story of two lovers divided by religion. The man behind the screenplay for the new version, award winning writer Tony Kushner tells Edward about the film's Jewish roots. In a candid interview with Edward, the former Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones talks about his latest book ‘Justice for Christ’s Sake’ in which he which draws heavily on the lessons he learnt while chairing the Hillsborough Independent Panel. This week the Government reaffirmed its commitment to banning so-called Conversion Therapy. BBC Religious Affairs Journalist Harry Farley talks us through the government's proposals and two Christians with very different views respond to the plans. Reverend Graham Nicholls is Director of Affinity - a Fellowship of Churches, Evangelical Agencies and Christians. He fears a new law would criminalise the teaching of traditional Christian beliefs on marriage. Elinor Kershaw of the Quaker Gender and Sexual Diversity Community thinks the plans may not go far enough. We hear how a delay in plans to reform marriage law in England and Wales has left thousands in unregistered religious marriages without legal protection. Edward speaks to Roxana Rais of the Muslim Women’s Advisory Council, and Russell Sandberg, Professor of Law at Cardiff University and Author of ‘Religion and Marriage Law’. And as the last in a trio of reports looking at Anti-Semitism on Social Media is published, Dr Julian Hargreaves, Director of Research at the Woolf Institute, explains its findings. And Sunday listeners tell is what makes for truly great Christmas music. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke Rowbotham Editor: Helen Grady
12/12/202143 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Pope in Greece; Columba - a post-Brexit saint; Religious Chart Toppers

Pope Francis is in Cyprus this week where he said that "walls of fear" and nationalism were slowing down Europe's progress. As he moves onto Greece, another country on the frontline of the migrant crisis, we'll hear how this visit is being greeted on the ground. In the aftermath of the crisis of 2015, when thousands of asylum seekers arrived in Greece, the government there toughened its stance on migrants. How do Catholics in Greece, itself not long in recovery after a deep economic recession, view the Pope and his plea to open borders and offer safe haven to migrants? We're celebrating St Columba, or St Colmcille as he's known in Ireland, who was born in County Donegal 1500 years ago this week. He is revered for his miracles and missionary zeal but as a Nobleman with considerable power, he also had a reputation as a warrior and a troublemaker. We'll separate the fact from the folklore and hear how this Saint who is loved on both sides of the Irish border as well as in Scotland and the North of England now represents a shared heritage and future in a post-Brexit world. And as the Church of England releases its first ever single in a bid to be the Christmas number one, we'll be asking what it takes for a religious themed song to make it to the top of the charts. Photo Credit: Andreas Solaro/AFP
12/5/202143 minutes, 49 seconds
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The bible in BSL, the Rabbi and Kim Kardashian, and Rev Dr John Sentamu

The bible in sign language, the rabbi and Kim Kardashian, and Lord Bishop Sentamu
11/28/202144 minutes, 6 seconds
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Rumi: The Musical, Asylum seeker conversions, Mother-and-baby homes in Northern Ireland

In the wake of last weekend’s bomb attack in Liverpool, carried out by an apparent convert to Christianity, Emily Buchanan and guests explore the role of religious conversion in the lives of those seeking asylum in the UK. The Stormont executive has agreed to accept all the recommendations of a panel set up to investigate institutions for unmarried mothers in Northern Ireland. We consider the implications and hear the testimony of one survivor, Adele Johnstone. While sayings of the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi are hugely popular on social media, this week ‘Rumi: The Musical’ premieres in London's West End with the aim of getting to the human and spiritual heart of the Muslim mystic. Producers: Dan Tierney Olive Clancy Editor: Helen Grady.
11/21/202143 minutes, 49 seconds
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Europe's Best Cathedrals, FW. De Klerk's faith, and could Joe Biden be banned from Communion?

With thousands of migrants stranded in freezing temperatures, we explore the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Poland's border with Belarus. Wojciech Wilk from the Polish Centre for International Aid gives the picture on the ground and journalist Jonathan Luxmoore explains local Church leaders' response. To mark Remembrance Day, our reporter Vishva Samani joins a group of British Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims as they uncover forgotten stories of sacrifice and valour from their own communities. Could the US President be banned from receiving Communion? Some Catholic Bishops are unhappy that Joe Biden, a practising Catholic, supports abortion rights and believe he and other Pro-Choice politicians should be denied the central sacrament of their Chuch. Will a new Church document agree? William explores the issue with Social Justice Campaigner Sister Simone Campbell and Ed Condon, Editor of the Catholic website ‘The Pillar’. FW. De Klerk was the last leader of apartheid South Africa and the man who freed Nelson Mandela from jail. Following his death this week, William asks if FW. De Klerk’s personal faith can help us make sense of his complex story. We hear from Saul Dubow, Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History at Cambridge University and the Very Reverend Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral. And listeners share what makes their local Cathedral so special - from West Wales to Orkney - as we go on a journey through those magnificent structures that have withstood centuries and still provide focal points in times of national crisis and celebration. Simon Jenkins, Author of ‘Europe’s 100 Best Cathedrals’, shares his favourites too. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Helen Grady
11/14/202143 minutes, 41 seconds
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Leonard Cohen's Spirituality; Is Faith Being Left Out Of COP 26?; St Cuthbert

The singer Leonard Cohen, who died five years ago, tells the story that a friend once told him: "You never met a religion you didn't like". Listen in to our investigation of his spiritual life and we're fairly confident you'll never hear a Cohen song in quite the same way again. Though he fell out with the Montreal Jewish community he grew up in, his music fuses Judaism and Christianity as well as ideas from Zen Buddism. We hear Cohen's own views on faith from the BBC archive, talk to Harry Freedman author of Leonard Cohen: The mystical roots of genius and of course, hear those songs alongside their inspirations from the Talmud, the Kabbalah and the Bible. Is faith central to the debate about caring for the environment? This week the UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said religious leaders were left to "scramble around" for the chance to make their voices heard at COP 26, the UN summit aimed at bringing climate change under control. As the conference enters a second week Edward Stourton talks to faith leaders about their experiences, what exactly they have to add to the debate and how they're going to make themselves heard in week two. Also in the programme: the young German Catholics attempting to get the church to spell God with a gender star. They say that the image of a male, white God is putting many young people off religion. And where's Cuthbert? This week York Minster replaced a window dedicated to the influential St Cuthbert. Its one of the largest surviving narrative windows in Europe and the only one telling the story of the saint who was a Medieval superstar. Edward finds out what the window tells us of the hermit and how to pick out Cuthbert himself from a window that is celebrated as a "Lancastrian who's who's".
11/7/202143 minutes, 48 seconds
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Black Muslims, COP26, Divali

“I feel like you almost need to perform to prove you are a Muslim” says makeup artist Zainab Hassan as a survey by Muzmatch confirms the discrimination many Black Muslims feel within some Muslim communities. Imam Rakin Niass and Imam Qari Asim discuss how to tackle this. 19 out of 20 of the most popular Christian American pages on Facebook were fake. Karen Hao tells Edward about the troll farms set up to exploit Facebook communities in the run up to last year’s Presidential election. As COP26 begins young activists Lucy Gillingham, Harjot Singh and Priya Koria discuss their hopes and fears for the climate change conference. Bhavik Depala talks of his joy as the Neasden Hindu Temple in London opens its doors to celebrate Divali for the first time since lockdown. The never ending cycle of prayer and music – Vishva Samani looks at the Benedictine tradition of the Divine Office. Producers: Amanda Hancox and Jill Collins Editor: Helen Grady
10/31/202143 minutes, 35 seconds
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Last rites as an 'emergency service', Lebanon crisis, 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'

The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury has called for greater recognition of the last rites as an “emergency service”, following concerns that a priest was unable to reach Sir David Amess, a Catholic, at the scene where he was attacked. Meanwhile in Parliament this week, there was talk of this being reflected in a so-called "Amess amendment" to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Ed Stourton explores the implications. Sectarian violence on the streets of Beirut last week was the deadliest there for more than a decade. Residents are already living through Lebanon’s worst economic crisis for more than three decades and rebuilding their city after last year's port blast. We examine the religious roots of the crisis. Dune, the latest sci-fi blockbuster, is an adaptation of a 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, in which religion, Islam in particular, looms large. We look at how the film deals with the Islamic themes. (Credit: Warner Bros. UK & Ireland; directed by Denis Villeneuve) As part of Black History Month, we reflect on the origins and controversy of the song, 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot', with a descendent of the enslaved people who are credited with writing it. Producers: Dan Tierney Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Helen Grady Picture: Fisk Jubilee Singers Credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis
10/24/202143 minutes, 42 seconds
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Church crawls, Religious toys, Jewish Fringe Festival

On this weekend’s Sunday programme, we continue to explore the future of religious worship, post-pandemic. Our reporter Nalini Sivasthasan looks into the renewed calls to make some Mosques more inclusive spaces for Muslim Women. And our Presenter Emily Buchanan speaks to the Imam and Scholar, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra. Amidst the growing calls for the restitution of treasures looted from Africa during the colonial era, there sits in the British Museum a contested collection of Sacred Plaques known as Tabots. Campaigners argue that there is no legal impediment to them being restored to their homeland. Father Abate Gobena, a serving Priest and member of the Parish Council at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church in London, explains why these Tabots are so precious to Ethiopians. Author Peter Stanford takes us on ‘church crawl’ across the UK with his latest book ‘If These Stones Could Talk, The History Of Christianity In Britain and Ireland Through Twenty Buildings’. Is a cuddly Deity the best way to help children understand faith and culture? In the run up to Diwali, soft toys of Deities like Ganesha are on offer at Hindu gatherings. Now the range is expanding to include all major faiths as our Reporter Vishva Samani explains. ‘Tsitsit’ is a pun on the Hebrew word for ritual fringes and it’s also the title of a Jewish themed Fringe Festival of comedy, theatre and music, currently on tour around the country. Emily speaks to the Festival’s Director Alastair Falk and Rachel Creeger, the only Orthodox Jewish woman on the British comedy circuit and co-host of the podcast 'Jew Talkin’ to Me’. Picture Credit: 2021 The Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Helen Grady
10/17/202143 minutes, 57 seconds
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Ben Fogle; Halal Student Finance; Day of the Scientist

Following in the footsteps of St Colomba, presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle has been on a pilgrimage across the Hebrides to explore themes of community and spirituality, He joins Edward Stourton to describe a personal journey that can be seen in a four part series on BBC One called 'Scotland's Sacred Islands with Ben Fogle'. A survey by Muslim Census has found that large numbers of Muslim students feel compromised by having to take out non halal student loans. The student loan scheme charges interest on money borrowed and under Islamic law interest bearing loans are forbidden. Sadiq Dorasat from Muslim Census exclusively reveals the results of his research. Ahead of the ‘Day of the Scientist’ on Radio Four, Edward talks to two scientists with a religious backgrounds who reflect on the relationship between religion and science – Dr Yadvinder Malhi is professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford and Dr Monica Grady is professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University. Producers: Helen Lee Olive Clancy
10/10/202144 minutes, 1 second
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03/10/2021

Is it possible for intense suffering to bring about great spiritual growth ? That’s the question our Presenter Emily Buchanan explores with the Psychologist and Author Dr. Steve Taylor in his book ‘Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation. It covers the stories of those who report transcendental experiences after a major trauma such as bereavement or witnessing violent conflict. Over a thousand Church Leaders are signatories to a letter urging the Government not to remove the £20 uplift to Universal Credit. They are asking Government to choose to build a just and compassionate social security system. Emily explores with Rachel Gregory, Policy Manager at Christians Against Poverty and Mohammed Lockhat, Chair of the Peace Centre in Leicester, just what the removal of this uplift means in real terms. BBC 1’s new primetime Sunday night drama Ridley Road is inspired by the true story of a revival of fascism and neo-Nazism in 1962, and the group of Jewish men and women who formed an anti-fascist resistance movement called the 62 Group. We speak to one of the few surviving members of that Group, Jules Konopinski along with the Historian and Author of ‘We Fight Fascists’ Daniel Sonabend. In the second of our series exploring some of the changing faith practises in Britain, we focus this week on the Church of England. Reporter Harry Farley poses the question ‘Does the Parish Have a Future? with church-goers and non-churchgoers alike. And Emily explores the arguments with Emma Thompson from the Campaign group Save The Parish and the Revd Canon David Male, the Church of England’s Director of Evangelism and Discipleship. Producers: Jill Collins, Amanda Hancox Editor: Helen Grady
10/3/202143 minutes, 57 seconds
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"Brown" Bouquets; Faith After The Pandemic; Deborah Feldman

This years' bumper wedding season - postponed because of the pandemic - means difficult flower choices for many a winter bride. The Chelsea Flower Show judge and Royal Wedding florist Shane Connolly believes that using unseasonal flowers at weddings and in churches is a real problem for the environment. Edward Stourton hears from recent brides who chose recycled bouquets and talks to Shane Connolly about "brown flowers" and why he wants churches to give up using plastic foams and imported flowers for good. In the first of a series Sunday Programme investigates faith in a post pandemic world, starting with a look at intriguing new research suggesting that young people - those aged 18 to 34 - are more likely to pray once a month than the over 55s. We discover a world of young people who rejected online worship but have since found prayer communities in unlikely places – from a Muslim basketball team to impromptu Hindu prayer gatherings – and asks if these activities will continue as normality returns. Plus Edward talks to Deborah Feldman, author of Unorthodox, the memoir that inspired the hit Netflix series. Her latest book, Exodus, is an account of her decision to live in Berlin, part of a wave of descendants of German Jewish refugees doing the same and coming to terms with the past. Photo Credit: Ben Achana Photography
9/28/202143 minutes, 43 seconds
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Psalm 23 Garden, Sanctuary, Muslim Sibling Rivalry

The Chelsea Flower Show finally opens its doors on Monday 20th September. Reporter Vishva Samani went behind the scenes for a sneak preview of The Bible Society’s Garden, Psalm 23, designed by Sarah Eberle The Assisted Dying Bill gets its second reading in the Lords next month. As the debate gains momentum, our Presenter William Crawley asks how we can find more comfortable and beneficial ways of talking about the subject of death and dying. He’s joined by Liz Slade, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches and Dr. Hina Shahid, GP and Chair of the Muslim Doctors Association. King Ina of Wessex, a Christian, confirmed the right of Churches to offer Sanctuary in 693. By 1624 those rights were abolished, but the Church is still seen as a place that people can turn to for Sanctuary in one form or another. Only last week a group of Church of England Bishops accused the Government of criminalising ‘the Good Samaritan’ under proposals outlined in the National Borders Bill, requiring Border Force vessels to turn back migrant boats, rather than give safe passage to the UK. We explore what Sanctuary means in the modern world with Dr Louise Hampson, from the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, who is also leading a Sanctuary Exhibition at Beverley Minster and The Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. Sisters, Uzma and Ambreen Hameed, have written a two-book novel series called ‘Undying’. It’s a black comedy about two rival sisters in a British Muslim family. The sisters tell William how the project brought them closer together, as they assessed what it meant to live with the label British Muslim. Producers: Jill Collins and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Tim Pemberton
9/19/202143 minutes, 50 seconds
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Turban confusion, Jewish heritage, Hong Kong Christian activists

The first hate crime recorded after the 9/11 attacks in the US was against an observant American Sikh man Balbir Singh Sodhi. He was murdered by a man who thought his turban meant he supported the Taliban. Now Sikhs in the US and UK are concerned that the rising profile of the Taliban in Afghanistan is once again leading to abuse. We hear from the community and ask what might be done to remedy what they call "religious illiteracy". This year the UK opened its borders to people from Hong Kong in what is said to be the biggest migration here since Windrush. It's expected that between 130,000 and 300,000 will come over time. These are people who are unhappy with the path Hong Kong has taken since it was handed over to China in 1997. But key players on both sides of the argument over Democracy in Hong Kong had their roots in Christianity. William Crawley discusses this with former foreign correspondent and author of The Gate to China, Michael Sheridan. And we report on the UK's oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks and a fight against a proposal to build two tower blocks next to it. The synagogue's trustees say the proposed buildings will block almost all sunlight and change the atmosphere completely. We'll ask if we're paying enough attention to our Jewish Heritage with Professor Abigail Green, who's helping Heritage England to enrich their records with surprising Jewish connections to much-loved country houses like Strawberry Hill and Waddeson Manor. They're now inviting the public to "enrich the list" by bringing them their memories of Jewish life in important buildings: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/enrich-the-list/
9/12/202143 minutes, 27 seconds
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British Muslims views on Afghanistan, Vaccine inequity, The traditions of the Jewish New Year.

As the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Goodall, the Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet resigns to become a Roman Catholic, we explore what it means for both faiths. Our Presenter Edward Stourton is joined by Christina Rees, who was a member of the Church of England’s Synod for twenty five years and also a prominent campaigner for the ordination of women, and the Right Reverend Monsignor Keith Newton, who is responsible for the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. John Viney, a former Jehovah’s Witness Elder along with a former Witness whom we are calling Sarah, give us their reactions to the latest Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Report Father Mychal Judge lost his life in the attack on the Twin Towers. His was the first death to be formally certified and he was identified as Victim 0001. As the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 looms, his friend and colleague Salvatore Sapienza and Francis DeBernado, Director of the New Ways Ministry, who has been working on Father Michael’s biography, reflect on the life of the Firefighter’s Chaplain. As the Taliban begins to form a Government, how do UK Muslims feel about the prospect of a new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan? We’ve been getting the views of different sections of the British Muslim population. Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the Jewish New Year. But what does it symbolise and how is it traditionally celebrated? Different traditions observe the festival in slightly different ways as Esther Offenberg, Molly Taylor and Joe Hyman explain. Whilst many of the richer nations complete their vaccination programmes, many poorer countries have barely started. So how do we rectify this vaccine imbalance. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown discusses the issue with our Presenter Edward Stourton.
9/5/202143 minutes, 50 seconds
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Religious minorities in Afghanistan, The rise and fall of Christian Ireland, George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ 50 years on

As the UK urges the Taliban to guarantee a safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan beyond the 31 August deadline, there have been calls in the US to prioritise the resettlement of members of minority religious groups at risk of persecution. This week, William Crawley explores the situation on the ground for minority Christians and Hazara Shia Muslims. Ireland has long been regarded as the land of saints and scholars. Yet, despite Christianity’s long dominance on the Island of Ireland, it’s decline over recent years has been rapid. History professor Crawford Gribben tells the story in his new book, ‘The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland’. George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ was instrumental in popularising the Hindu divine form of Krishna in the West. Half a century on, we report on how Krishna found a place on George Harrison’s biggest hit and how the former Beatle’s legacy endures among the UK’s Hare Krishna movement and beyond. University can be a time when personal beliefs are challenged, changed or super-charged. As students prepare for the start of a new academic year, we bring together two undergraduates - both Christians - to explore the impact of new-found freedom on faith. Producers: Dan Tierney and Alistair Kleebaur. Editor: Helen Grady.
8/29/202143 minutes, 45 seconds
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Afghan refugee crisis; Women's rights under the Taliban; Cardinal Nichols on our moral responsibility for Afghanistan

The unfolding crisis in Afghanistan is the focus of much of this week's programme. As Afghan families arrive in the UK, we hear how religious communities are mobilising to support them and we speak to one refugee who landed here only last week. Christian charities co-ordinating the response share their concerns about the Government's resettlement scheme. And Ravi Singh, CEO of Khalsa Aid, tells William Crawley about his struggle to help 300 Sikhs and Hindus who took refuge in the Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul as the Taliban swept into the city. "We must give the Taliban a chance and not be terrified by Sharia” says Khola Hasan of the Islamic Sharia Council as she debates with the Afghan film maker Dayanna Saqeb-Jamal. But has the Taliban really changed? Cardinal Vincent Nichols examines our moral responsibility as Afghans are killed in the crush outside Kabul airport and he questions the Government's figure of allowing only 20,000 Afghan refugees saying we should welcome Afghans to this country. And, as the inaugural ‘Hundred’ cricket tournament reaches its climax this weekend, we report on an initiative to get more Muslim women playing cricket and speak to Britain's first hijabi cricketer, Scotland bowler Abtaha Maqsood. Producer: Amanda Hancox and Dan Jackson Editor: Helen Grady
8/22/202143 minutes, 42 seconds
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Aretha Franklin influence, 'Conversion therapy' ban, Vaccine refusal among US evangelicals

As the Aretha Franklin biopic ‘Respect’ premieres this weekend, we explore how the singer helped to bring black spirituality into the mainstream of American life. Ahead of a public consultation and proposed ban on so-called 'conversion therapy' in England and Wales, we hear views about how a ban should work in practice and what the implications could be for some religious groups. The latest polling in the US suggests that around a quarter of white evangelicals don’t want the Covid vaccine. We explore how much religion is playing a part in their decision and how church leaders are influencing uptake of the vaccine. Research by Sunday has found that over the past decade the number of applicants accepted onto religion and theology related undergraduate courses in UK universities has nearly halved. We ask what might be behind the figures and examine the value of a theology degree. Producers: Dan Tierney and Rosie Dawson. Editor: Helen Grady.
8/15/202143 minutes, 59 seconds
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08/08/2021

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
8/8/202143 minutes, 23 seconds
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01/08/2021

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
8/1/202143 minutes, 50 seconds
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25/07/2021

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
7/25/202143 minutes, 16 seconds
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Women at Hajj; Football and Racism and Universal Credit

This year, for the first time, women are allowed to register for the pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city this year without a male guardian. The Hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia begins on July 17th and continues until 22nd July. It was to be something of a festival, with women from all over the world planning to go together. Sadly only Saudi citizens can attend due to Covid restrictions. But it's still a big moment for Muslim Feminists. The BBC's Emb Hashmi reports. England under 21's football coach Michael Johnson talks to Edward about how he guides young players and helps with their resilience and coping strategies with racism and how his Christian faith helps him in difficult times. The Church of England and the charity Child Poverty Action want the Government to change its policy of limiting most universal credit payments to a maximum of two children per family. The two child limit started in 2017. Official figures published this week show that more than a million children have been affected since then - many from religious minorities. The Bishop of Durham the Right Reverend Paul Butler is the Church's spokesman on Families and Welfare. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Rosie Dawson Editor: Helen Grady
7/18/202143 minutes, 28 seconds
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11/07/2021

Football seems to have united England - at least temporarily. And there's a lot of faith involved both on and off the pitch. William talks to Rabbi Alex Goldberg, chair of the England Football Associations Faith Network, about the example being shown by Gareth Southgate's team and how we might keep the momentum going after Sunday's game. What does the title Reverend mean to you? A mark of respect for the office, or a contribution to an unwanted culture of deference which damages the church? Titles for the clergy such as Reverend, Most Reverend and The Venerable have been used for more than 500 years. But the Church of England now considering dropping them in favour of simple job titles. We discuss what purpose they serve with the rector who wants to get rid of them and the priest who thinks they serve a purpose. The Methodist Church has become the largest religious denomination in Britain to permit same-sex marriages, with the first marriages expected in the Autumn. William will talk about this momentous change with Jarel Robinson Brown, who resigned from Methodist ministry as he felt unwelcome. He is now an Anglican curate with radical ideas to tackle racism and homophobia in the UK. And Gospel Singer of the Year, Monique McKen, on the particular joy of congregational singing and its possible return. Picture Credit: British Future
7/11/202143 minutes, 57 seconds
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Manchester Jewish Museum; Fire Monks; Gardening

Following a two year refurbishment, the Manchester Jewish Museum has just reopened. The former Spanish and Portuguese synagogue is now resplendent in its original colours and the new extension houses a gallery that takes visitors on a journey through Manchester’s diverse Jewish history. Next week, visitors to the Hampton Court Flower show (opening 6th July) will be able to sit in the Communication Garden which has been designed by Amelia Bouquet in support of Mental Health UK. Amelia talks about the health benefits of gardening. When Sozan Miglioli is not performing his duties as a Buddhist Monk at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre, he becomes a ‘Fire Monk’. Now that wild fires are raging near his monastery in California, he describes his fire prevention techniques to Emily Buchanan. Producers: Helen Lee Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Tim Pemberton
7/4/202143 minutes, 44 seconds
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Fatima the Film; Tik Tok Anti-Semitism and Methodist Gay Marriage Vote

Marco Pontecorvo, a director best known for his award winning work on television, including Rome and Game of Thrones, talks to Sunday about his new film Fatima. It tells the story of three Portuguese shepherds who reported visions of the Virgin Mary more than a hundred years ago. Jewish TikTok video makers say measures to protect them against anti-Semitism on the app are actually stopping them speaking about their faith. BBC digital journalist, and TikTok user, Sophia Smith-Galer tells William what's going on. And an exclusive interview with the first Black female president of the Methodist Conference ahead of a momentous vote on same-sex marriage. William discusses the vote with Reverend Sonia Hicks as well as her hopes of what she'll achieve in post. Photo Copyright Republic Film Distribution 2021 Editor: Gill Farrington Producers: Carmel Lonergan Olive Clancy
6/27/202143 minutes, 48 seconds
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Smuggling bibles to China; Wedding backlog; President Biden and the Catholic Bishops

It was called 'Project Pearl' and the mission was to smuggle a million bibles into China. On a moonlit night 40 years, vast crates containing the bibles were unloaded on to the sand in Shantou. It was a covert operation and Paul Estabrooks was there. He tells Emily how they managed to avoid capture by the Chinese authorities and what was driving them to get so many bibles into the country. As the easing of COVID restrictions allow more people to attend a wedding, we investigate claims from couples who say the civil registrar system is failing to meet the growing demand for statutory ceremonies. If a couple wish to be married in a non-religious service they may have to take a low cost civil ceremony to ensure their marriage is legal. Julia and Jordan tell us that they were told to buy a more expensive wedding packages from their local authority if they wanted to have the legal paperwork in time for their humanist ceremony. Andrew Copson, the Chief Executive of Humanists UK tells us why he believes there is now a stronger case for marriage reform. On Friday tremors could be felt across the political faultlines of America's Catholic Church. A majority of members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to go ahead with a process that could deny Holy Communion to public officials who take a position at odds with the church's teachings on issues like abortion. That could include President Biden, the nation's second Roman Catholic president. The decision was even in defiance of advice from the Vatican. Religious journalist Sarah Posner explains the background to the vote and the possible implications of the decision. Producers: David Cook & Helen Lee Editor: Tim Pemberton Photo credit: Terry Madison
6/20/202143 minutes, 51 seconds
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Climate Change Boat Relay; Faith and Football; Cult Survivor

What will you be doing on Sunday afternoon? You could look to Cornwall where the G7 will draw to a close and a group of young Christians will meet at Truro Cathedral. There they will bless a wicker boat to be carried in relay to Glasgow in time for the UN Climate Change Conference in October. Edward Stourton asks if they can really hope to change minds with the trip and finds out why they're carrying the boat. Or maybe you'll spend your Sunday afternoon doing something else entirely. As England takes to the pitch for its first Euros encounter, Edward speaks to the Bishop of Willesden who includes Wembley in his diocese. How does this football loving cleric feel about the Euro's theme song which talks about broken churches and broken dreams. Is football the only answer? Also in the programme, the race against time to save some extraordinary murals in a London Church. The now flaking paintings are by the German Jewish artist Hans Freibusch who was exhibited in Hitler's infamous "degenerate art" exhibition of 1937. As a refugee in the UK, he was commissioned by the Church of England and painted more murals than any other artist in the church's history. And Edward hears from a survivor of the Children of God cult that began in the counter culture of late 1960s America but spread throughout the world. It came to be known as The Family and was dogged by allegations of child abuse and psychological manipulation. Followers believed that God was love and love was sex, so there should be no limits, regardless of age. Faith Morgan joins Edward to talk about her memoir of her upbringing in the sect and eventual escape at the age of 19.
6/13/202143 minutes, 12 seconds
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06/06/2021

A look at the ethical and religious issues of the week
6/6/202143 minutes, 52 seconds
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Cathedral Cycle Route; Gordon Browns Global Vaccine Plea and The Pagan Ceremony of 'Handfasting'

A new cycle network is being launched this morning linking all 42 English Cathedrals across a 2000 mile route. A group of cyclists are setting off from Newcastle Cathedral this morning. Clare MacLaren is the Canon for Music and Liturgy at Newcastle Cathedral and Sean Cutler from Northumbria University pulled the route together. Gordon Brown leads a group of religious leaders asking for G7 leaders to prioritise vaccines for developing countries ahead of the G7 summit. The Dalai Lama and Rowan Williams are among the other signatories to a letter asking the UK to use its chairing of G7 to make the difference on the global vaccine campaign. The ancient marriage ceremony known as handfasting can be traced back to Celtic and Druid ceremonies. It may even be where the phrases ‘tying the knot’ and ‘bound for life’ originate. The Pagan Federation is campaigning for couples to be legally married by the Pagan ceremony. Sarah Kerr is President of the Pagan Federation. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Tim Pemberton
5/30/202143 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Church's Role Post Covid; Gaza Ceasefire; G7 Choir

What should the role of churches of all denominations be as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic? More than 5,500 people including non-church members, congregations and church leaders have provided their testimony on the human cost of the pandemic when places of worship were closed and unable to play their usual role as crisis centres and places of comfort. We hear how two people made a contribution to their communities and the leader of the research, Dr Dee Dyas from the University of York tells Edward that churches and other places of worship have a unique opportunity to play a key role in the nation's recovery. As the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire took hold on Friday, both Israel and Hamas declared victory. But continuing unrest at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday suggests that the underlying issues remain as unresolved as ever. We return to the region and hear from two Jerusalemites who have lived through these perilous past few days, Abeer Zayyed, a volunteer at the Al Aqsa mosque and Rabbi Ron Kronish, who also works in Jerusalem. In June world leaders will gather in Cornwall for the G7 Summit. To mark the occasion, Truro Cathedral and local school choirs have released a song to send a message to them. Written by Sir Tim Rice and Peter Hobbs the lyrics ask the leaders to 'collaborate and take their responsibility seriously'. Now other singers from around the world can add their recordings to the performance. We hear from some of the Truro choristers and Esme Page, co-founder of the Sing2G7 initiative, explains how children can get involved. You can listen to the song and find out more here: https://www.sing2g7.org/ Producers: David Cook Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Tim Pemberton Photo: © Mazur / cbcew.org.uk
5/23/202144 minutes
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Songs of Grief and Hope; Contested Monuments; Mayflower Legacy

In October 2019 the LA-based musician Natalie Bergman was about to go on stage at Radio City Music Hall New York for a career defining concert with her band Wild Belle. Then she took a call the San Francisco coroner - her father and stepmother had just been killed in California when a drunk driver crashed into their taxi. She cancelled the tour and went into a hibernation of grief that led her to rediscover her faith on a silent retreat at a monastery in New Mexico. Her album Mercy, tells the story of that time. The Church of England has a long and sometimes complicated history. This year more than ever, church communities worried about memorials and statues with links to slavery or other distasteful events of the past. This week the Church of England published official guidance for parishes and cathedrals to help them deal with the problem. We hear from Novelette-Aldoni Stewart who worked on the new guidelines, from former Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake who has had to adjudicate on such issues in the past and from Val Potter, a church warden in Dorchester whose Parish has spent years trying to deal with a conspicuous memorial to a slaver-owner who brutally supressed a rebellion. Has your parish got a memorial or statue you are not sure how to deal with? Or have you found a good solution - tell us how you did that. Email us [email protected]
5/16/202143 minutes, 45 seconds
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Arranged Marriages, Gavin Peacock, ‘Body and Soul’ workout with Mr Motivator

Can an arranged marriage be modern? How much of a say do the daughters and sons have? After 10 years of research, Raksha Pande from Newcastle University has discovered two new types of arranged marriage, distinct from those of previous generations. William Crawley explores a range of views and experiences among young British Asians. In 2008, the former professional footballer and Match of the Day pundit Gavin Peacock gave up a thriving media career to become a church minister in Canada. It was the culmination of a faith journey that began in the 1990s as player for QPR, Newcastle and Chelsea. He tells his story in his new autobiography, ‘A Greater Glory: From Pitch To Pulpit’. Thousands of school children across the country will be taking part in what is hoped to be a record for the greatest number of people participating in a simultaneous fitness workout. The ‘Body and Soul’ charity project, organised by the Reverend Steve Chalke and fitness instructor ‘Mr Motivator’ aims to encourage a reconnection of our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing as we emerge from the pandemic. We would love to hear your experiences of where physical activity meets spirituality. How do you connect body and soul? You can contact us on Twitter: @BBCR4Sunday, or email: [email protected]. Producers: Dan Tierney and David Cook Editor: Tim Pemberton.
5/9/202143 minutes, 40 seconds
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Pilgrimage; Segregated Education in Northern Ireland; An Emperor in Bath

Pilgrimages are having a moment, with new paths in Scotland, around Durham and between the Cathedrals of England. The famous international ways from Camino de Santiago and Via Francigena have risen massively in popularity too, stalled only by the pandemic. We'll hear the highs and lows of our listeners' pilgrim tales and discuss the attraction with travel writer Sarah Baxter. Just what is it about walking for days on end that works for people and do you have to be religious to benefit? This week Northern Ireland marks the centenary of the state’s foundation after the partition of Ireland. The anniversary comes just weeks after renewed sectarian tensions. After the recent violence, the Irish President Michael D Higgins said education separated along Catholic and Protestant lines can no longer be justified - 93% of schoolchildren in Northern Ireland are separated by faith. We'll be talking to the headteacher and a parent from a school that will be one of the first to teach protestant and catholic children side by side, starting in September. And Emily will discuss what is holding Northern Ireland from ending segregated schooling with Baroness May Blood and the Catholic Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown. And Emily finds out how the genteel town of Bath, often described as something straight out of a Jane Austen novel, reacted when the Emperor of Ethiopia came to live amongst them in the 1930s. Bath is beginning a six month festival celebrating the man who was not alone an emperor, but leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox church and to some members of the Rastafari movement, is considered the returned Messiah of the Bible. Emily talks to academic and film maker Dr Shawn Sobers about the warm welcome he got in Bath in spite of the conservatism of the time.
5/2/202144 minutes, 17 seconds
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100 Voices; Church of England's anti-racism strategy; Pilgrimage

On Friday, President Biden will mark his first 100 days in office. Each day he has received a letter written by a religious scholar about a pressing issue of the day. William is joined by the founder of '100 Days, 100 Letters' Rabbi Andrea Weiss. The issue of racism has become a common theme over the early days of this presidency and in the week of the conviction of the former policeman Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd Andrea shares some of the letters that explore the divisons and rifts many Americans are trying to resolve. Also we hear from Patrick Ngwolo the lead pastor at Resurrection Houston who knew George Floyd as a friend. The long awaited report from the Church of England's Archbishops' Anti-Racism Taskforce was released this week. It aims to bring about 'a change of culture in the life of the church.' But does it go far enough and what is being done differently to ensure the recommendations are acted on? We hear from a former race advisor to the church and two members of the taskforce, Rev Sonia Barron, Co-chair of the taskforce and the Ven Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tells Sunday how he intends to ensure that there is meaningful change throughout the church to address racism. And relax with Spring sounds and spiritual uplift as we walk the new Northern Saints Trails with Reverend Eileen Harrop and trail creator David Pott. They’ll take the slow route in the footsteps of Cuthbert, Hilda, Oswald and Bede - part of a revival of the time-honoured tradition of pilgrimage. We would love to hear your stories of pilgrimage - where did you go and what did you learn on the road? You can contact us at [email protected] Producers: David Cook and Alistair Kleebauer
4/25/202143 minutes, 39 seconds
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'Music of the soul'; Faith and Forgiveness; Racism in the Church of England

Are you feeling stressed by the pandemic? You could try Sufi meditation to music. Sufism is a form of Islamic mysticism that emphasises introspection and spiritual connection but the meditation can work whether you are of other faiths, or none. When the pandemic began the Sufi music group Zendeh Delan decided to create Sufi-inspired music to aid meditation and broaden its appeal. The result is an album fusing Persian with western orchestral instruments and it is now being used in hospitals and clinics. We talk to musician Omid Asgari about what he calls "the music of the soul" and to clinical psychologist Dr Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh about how she uses it in her practice. As the United States mourns the victims of the shooting at Indianapolis, Emily talks to Jennifer Hubbard, mother of six year old Catherine, who was one of twenty children and six adult staff members who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012. It is one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history. Jennifer tells Emily how the tragedy threatened but then strengthened her faith as she put her energy into founding a sanctuary in her animal-mad daughters' name. And as the Church of England prepares to publish a much anticipated action plan to tackle racism this week we'll discuss what needs to be done now. It is not simply a matter of atoning for the past or removing old statues or symbols - this week too the BBC's Clive Myrie investigates contemporary allegations of discrimination in the Church for Panorama. The Archbishop of Canterbury has already backed plans for more black clergy and said the Church should rethink its depiction of Jesus as white. Will this be enough? Picture credit: MTO Shahmaghsoudi - School of Islamic Sufism
4/18/202143 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Duke of Edinburgh's Faith, Northern Ireland Violence, The Musical Human

Following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, William Crawley looks back on his life and reflects on his faith with Bishop Graham James, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, historian Coryne Hall and the writer Martin Palmer. Also in the programme, as violence returns to the streets of Northern Ireland, how significant is this moment and do religious leaders have any influence on events? With the Catholic Bishop Noel Treanor, and the Presbyterian Moderator, Dr David Bruce. And the musicologist Michael Spitzer, author of the new book 'The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth', explores how music was fundamental to our evolution and its relationship to religious and spiritual beliefs across the world and across time. Producers: Dan Tierney and Rosie Dawson.
4/11/202143 minutes, 56 seconds
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Harry Connick Junior; Fiona Bruce, Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Sir David Suchet

The singer and musician Harry Connick Junior is a Grammy and Emmy winning star. He's sold more than 28 million records worldwide and is in constant demand for concerts internationally. So when Covid struck, he found himself with time on his hands. The result is a new album Alone with My Faith. Last December, the Conservative MP Fiona Bruce was appointed the Prime Minister's Global Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief. In her first broadcast interview since being appointed, she tells William her priorities for the job. The actor Sir David Suchet has played many roles from Poirot to Dr Who. His latest performance goes live on Easter Sunday when he reads the whole of St John’s Gospel from Westminster Abbey. The world premiere - as it has been billed - will be released on the Abbey’s website at 4pm on Easter Sunday. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Olive Clancy Editor: Tim Pemberton Photo Credit: Georgia Connick
4/4/202143 minutes, 39 seconds
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Handel's Messiah; RE and the Cartoon Row; Sikh Domestic Abuse

The English National Opera and BBC Two are going ahead with a full rendition of Handel's Messiah over Easter. The soprano Nadine Benjamin and the conductor Laurence Cummings tell Emily Buchanan why this socially distanced performance means so much to them. After a tense week in which a Batley school used an "inappropriate" image of the Prophet Mohammed, we discuss how you strike the balance between teaching controversial subjects and promoting respect and tolerance. Emily Buchanan is joined by teacher and campaigner Ayesha Ali-Khan and Andrew Copson, Chief executive of Humanists UK. And the Sikh Women's Action Network, which helps Sikh survivors of domestic abuse, says calls during lockdown more than doubled. Emily Buchanan hears one survivor's story and talks to the co-founder and Executive Director of SWAN Sahdaish Pall about what they are doing to help.
3/28/202143 minutes, 45 seconds
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"Witch" songs; The Ethics of Protest; LGBT+ Catholics

I've Forgotten Now Who I Used To Be is an album from Ghana's so called Witch Camps. The Italian-Rwandan film maker Marilena Delli Umuhoza and the Grammy award winning producer Ian Brennan recorded music made by women accused of witchcraft and ostracised. Most are guilty of nothing more than being older, destitute or of having disabilities. The couple specialise in documenting the music of the marginalised from prisoners in Malawi to genocide survivors in Rwanda. It is, they say, the music of pure emotion - join us to hear it and how it was made. The right to protest should be on an equal footing with the right to communal worship under lockdown rules. That's the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights this week, and they've called on the Government to take urgent action accordingly. Is protest really as sacred as worship? And if so where do we draw the line on what is acceptable behaviour in the name of a cause we truly believe in? William Crawley discusses the ethics of protest with two women of faith and finds out just how far they would go for their cause. Pope Francis has just approved a Vatican ruling that catholic priests cannot bless same-sex couples. The statement, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that any such blessings are invalid in the eyes of the church. It has confused LGBT+ Catholics who tell the programme they are disappointed Pope Francis would endorse this when he has said he supports civil rights for gay partners. Is Pope Francis a reformer after all? William discusses this with the papal historian John Cornwell, the author of a new book about Pope Francis - Church: Interrupted. Producers: Olive Clancy Carmel Lonergan
3/21/202143 minutes, 12 seconds
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Strange Fruit; Prison during the Pandemic; Religion and the Census

In this episode of Sunday we hear the little known Jewish history of one of the most influential protest songs of the 20th century 'Strange Fruit' and how it came to be performed by Billie Holiday, which is the subject of the film 'The United States vs Billie Holiday' currently streaming on Sky Cinema. Former prison inmate now prison chaplain, Jonathan Aitken takes us inside HMP Pentonville, as he describes a year of prison chaplaincy during the pandemic which he says has led to some ground-breaking and long overdue reforms. ‘If you’re not religious, say so!’ – that is the request of a campaign launched this week by Humanists UK. They want people who are "not in any meaningful sense religious to tick the ‘no religion’ option on the 2021 Census". Ed Stourton is joined by the Chief Executive of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson, and also Nick Spencer of religion and society think tank Theos to discuss the Census, religion and the none-religious. Producers: Catherine Earlam Louise Clarke-Rowbotham
3/14/202143 minutes, 21 seconds
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A special programme to celebrate International Women's Day

Sister Norma Pimentel is one of the most important advocates for immigrants in the United States. For over three decades, she has been working to support migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. along Texas border with Mexico and as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, she directs efforts to provide shelter, food, sanctuary and comfort to people often treated as less than human. Last year she made Time magazine's list of the100 most influential people and her work has earned her the moniker of “the Pope’s favourite nun.” It is estimated that 71% of victims of modern day slavery are women and girls. For the past six years, former police officer Karen Anstiss has been running Caritas Bakhita House - a place of safety for women escaping human trafficking which is supported by the Catholic Church. Karen talks about her work and how we can help the victims of modern day slavery. On 3rd January this year, Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben became the first female chaplain to the US House of Representatives. Three days later, an angry mob stormed the Capitol building and the 60 year old Presbyterian Minister found herself on the frontline. It's a place she's been before as she's seen active service in Afghanistan so, as she explains to Emily, she went into "a sort of spiritual cover" in a way that she would in a war zone. And, 17 year old award winning poet Aminah Rahman performs her poem 'Changing the Future' - written especially to celebrate International Women's Day. Producers: Helen Lee Olive Clancy
3/7/202143 minutes, 50 seconds
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Black Church Vaccine Push; Pope's Historic Visit to Iraq; Decorating Graves

Sixty of the country’s black majority churches have joined forces to support the Covid vaccination programme. Pastor Agu Irukwu, head of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, which is operating a pop-up vaccination centre, talks to Ed Stourton about what they are doing to tackle vaccine hesitancy. Pope Francis is due to visit Iraq this Friday. It will be the pontiff's first international trip since the start of the pandemic, but the Pope is said to be intent on going. Dr Elizabeth Monier, University of Cambridge, explains why the trip is so significant to Iraq's small Christian population. Should it be allowed for graves to be decorated and personalised to remember those we have lost? Ed Stourton hears the story of Lynsey Dent who was asked by her local diocese to remove toys and other mementoes from the grave of her two children because they were in violation of Church of England churchyard regulations. And Brendan Day, secretary and executive officer for the Federation of Burial & Cremation Authorities, explains why cemeteries have regulations about the decorating of graves. Producers: Catherine Earlam Louise Clarke-Rowbotham
2/28/202143 minutes, 44 seconds
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Elton John's Rocketman for Lent; Young Worshipers and Climate Change; Nigeria's Oscars bid

Can Elton John really help us think differently about Lent? Canon Rachel Mann believes he can and she tells William how the rock star known for his flamboyance inspired her guide to the Christian season of self-examination and fasting which began this week. This week the Catholic Church in England announced new action on climate change, to be led by the diocese of Salford. The Church of England too has pledged zero carbon emissions by 2030. And the Islamic Relief charity is helping Muslims aim for an "eco-Ramadan" this year. But are young worshippers impressed with these measures? Recent research suggested young Christians at least are not. What will it take for religion to achieve anything meaningful in the battle against global warming? And we talk to the director of The Milkmaid, Nigeria's first ever entry for the Oscars. The film tells the story of a pair of young women abducted by Islamist fighters in the North of Nigeria. We hear how the production was halted when local police suspected them of being terrorists. And how the film is now being viewed around the world but not in Nigeria as the censors want it cut to avoid offending religious sensibilities. Producers: Olive Clancy David Cook Editor: Tim Pemberton
2/21/202143 minutes, 46 seconds
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Every Day Sounds That Make Us Happy; Dissappeared Christian and Black Church Domestic Abuse.

What every day sounds make you happy; the sound of a coffee pot percolating, a cat purring or Church bells ringing? Musician Tommy Perman asked that question and has produced an album using everyday sounds. William Crawley talks to Tommy about why and how he made the album happen? On 13 February 2017, Malaysian Christian worker Raymond Koh was abducted. His family has been lobbying for his release or news of his fate ever since. They say they've received minimal cooperation from the Police or government. The family believe he was abducted for his faith and the Christian work he and his wife did among the destitute and people with HIV. He is not the only “disappeared” Christian in Malaysia in recent years. This will be the first time his wife Susanna has spoken to Western media about her and the family’s ordeal. A resource - thought to be the first of its kind - to help black majority churches response effectively to the issue of domestic abuse has been developed after it became apparent that women felt the churches weren't doing enough about the issue and in some cases were even turning a blind eye. It comes at a time when domestic abuse offences have increased across the board during the pandemic. It's the work of the Black Church Domestic Abuse Forum (BCDAF) which was formed five years ago to address the issue. We hear from Kim Bacchus and Dr Ava Kanyeredzi both involved in the work. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor: Tim Pemberton Photo Credit: Roel Knappstein
2/14/202144 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Skipping Sikh; David Baddiel; Gospel Music

The Queen hailed Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old who raised millions for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden, as an "inspiration" this week after he died of coronavirus. We talk to 73 year old Rajinder Singh who was inspired by Captain Tom to become the "Skipping Sikh" - he gained worldwide acclaim for the exercise videos he made to cheer up his community in isolation and ended up raising money for the NHS as well. Maybe more than at any other point in history, we are talking now about race, ethnicity and equality. But how do we define who belongs to an ethnic minority and who is a target of racism? In his new book, Jews Don't Count, the comedian and writer David Baddiel argues that anti-Semitism is being left out of the public conversation about racism. And is Gospel Music in crisis? A meeting held this week discussed just that. After the high of The Kingdom Choir singing at the Royal Wedding in 2018, how is the music developing to attract younger singers whose musical interests lie outside gospel? Producers: Olive Clancy David Cook Editor: Tim Pemberton
2/7/202143 minutes, 49 seconds
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Archbishop of York; Nazir Afzal; Islamic Relief Worldwide

After the devastating news this week that 100,000 people have died in the UK after contracting Covid-19, the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell tells Ed Stourton why he and the Archbishop of Canterbury are inviting the nation to join them in prayer every day at 6pm during the month of February. Nazir Afzal was Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England from 2011 to 2015. He built his career on bringing people to justice. This week he called for a public inquiry into the Government's handling of the Covid pandemic. He tells Ed Stourton why. Islamic Relief Worldwide has been cleared of institutional anti-Semitism in an independent report after two trustees and a member of staff were found to have posted offensive social media comments. The report's author Dominic Grieve explains its findings and recommendations and Martin Cottingham, Islamic Relief Worldwide's Director of External Affairs, responds. Producer: Catherine Earlam Carmel Lonergan Photo credit: Office of the Archbishop of York
1/31/202143 minutes, 44 seconds
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Faith and Kamala Harris; China's Uighar Minority; How to be a Refugee

When Kamala Harris was sworn in as the US vice-president this week, Hindus gathered in her family's ancestral home town in India to pray for her success. Much is said about her status as the first woman and first African American to hold her post, but less about her South Asian heritage. In this week's programme William Crawley asks how important her Hindu background is to her and to Americans. One of the final acts of the Trump administration this week was to declare that China's treatment of the Muslim minority Uighar people amounts to genocide. This happens to be one of the few things President Biden's government agrees with him about. Here, MPs debated but failed to implement a bill that would make it illegal to trade with a country guilty of genocide this week. Who are the Uighar people and what exactly is happening to them? We find out from an Uighar activist and refugee in the UK, Rahima Mahommad. This Wednesday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, we are asked to place a candle in the window to remember those murdered for who they are. But we should also remember those who escaped at a cost. The philosopher and writer Simon May was brought up a Catholic, by parents who came to the UK as Hitler rose to power. His mother, the acclaimed violinist Marianne Liedtke, converted to hide her background and refused to consider herself Jewish. William talks to Simon May about his new book - How to be a Refugee - about his quest to uncover his Jewish heritage. Producers: Olive Clancy David Cook Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/24/202143 minutes, 43 seconds
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Lichfield Cathedral Becomes Vaccination Hub; Martin Luther King Day and Sikh Devotional Music

Lichfield Cathedral has committed to helping a medical practice vaccinate the local community for a year, meaning that for several days a week it will sacrifice its worship space for public health. Few cathedrals are accessible to the elderly and vulnerable who need to be vaccinated immediately – but fortunately Lichfield, which was built as a medieval centre of healing for pilgrims, was built with step-free access way back in the 12th century. Sophia Smith-Galer reports. Monday the 18th January is Martin Luther King day, a public holiday in the USA. The Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry is the first African American to serve as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church known for his sermon on the power of love for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. He talks to William about Martin Luther King’s life and all that he signified could not be more timely. An award winning documentary exploring Sikh music uncovers how the harmonium became a mainstream instrument in temples and Gurdwaras around the world. Jasvir Kaur Rababan CEO of the Raj Conservatoire, London explains why she believes its introduction changed the tone of devotional music. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/17/202143 minutes, 43 seconds
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President Trump, white supremacy and Christianity; Children of Catholic Priests; Christmas lights stay on

There were crosses, “Jesus Saves” signs and “Jesus 2020” flags that mimicked the design of the Trump flags. Christian symbols were on display as the world watched rioters storm into the US Capitol on Wednesday. As many of the President's allies withdraw their support for him in the dying days of his presidency Edward investigates the religious rhetoric and symbolism that Trump and his supporters have embraced. The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She criticises what she says was the 'grievous misappropriation of the Christian faith.' And Robert P Jones, author of 'White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity' argues that the mob was motivated not just by loyalty to Trump, 'but by an unholy amalgamation of white supremacy and Christianity that has plagued the United States since its inception and is still with us today.' For decades, the Catholic Church rarely acknowledged the fact that supposedly ‘celibate’ priests were fathering children. The scale and impact of these secretive births is only now coming to light. In what is thought to be the first ever book about the phenomenon, called ‘Our Fathers’, Vincent Doyle, himself a child of a Catholic priest, argues that the Church needs to wake up to the reality that it cannot stop priests fathering children. And as we adjust to weeks of winter lockdown, comedian Paul Kerensa presents a theological argument as to why we can keep the Christmas lights on until February. Producers: David Cook Olive Clancy Editor: Tim Pemberton
1/10/202143 minutes, 29 seconds
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Religious News Review; Hospital Chaplain; Religion and Vaccine Scepticism

For our first programme of 2021 we brought together three journalists to talk about the big religious news stories of the past year and what they expect to be reporting on in the next. Emily Buchanan is joined by Justin Cohen, News Editor at The Jewish News, Aina Khan a freelance journalist who writes for Al Jazeera among others and Ruth Gledhill, Multi-media Editor of the Catholic magazine The Tablet. As hospitals across the country struggle under the strain of the current spike in coronavirus cases we hear from Yunus Dudhwala, Head of chaplaincy at Barts Health NHS Trust, about the work they are doing to support both patients and staff. And what role does religion play when it comes to vaccine scepticism? Emily Buchanan talks to Dr Eric Stoddart, lecturer in practical theology at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, University of St Andrews and Dr Hina Shahid, Chair of the Muslim Doctors Association.
1/3/202143 minutes, 47 seconds
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Hope, Devotional music, Cold water swimming

Is it possible to find hope in a pandemic? One thing many agree on is that a pandemic can reveal much about who we really are, individually and as a society. Pandemics can expose the cracks in our health care and the inequalities that separate us – nationally and globally. If that’s true, pandemics also give us a chance to learn how to care for one another better. That’s a message we often hear from those working in development charities around the world as they’ve continued to combat poverty and hunger, wave after wave of this pandemic. William Crawley speaks with Esther Lehmann-Sow, World Vision’s partnership leader for faith and development and Shahin Ashraf, Islamic Relief's head of global advocacy. Devotional music and religious chanting have long been a way for people to express an emotional response to the world around them –that’s even more the case, as you might imagine, during a year of pandemic. For many British Hindus and Sikhs, the demands of this year has required them to find creative ways to come together while staying apart. Vishva Samani has been speaking to some of them. Coldwater swimming is not for everyone. But there is growing evidence that taking a dip in a lake or the sea can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. There’s certainly been a lot of that about this year, which may explain why 2020 has seen a rise in people taking to the waters to exercise. The RNLI has even published new guidance to encourage people to stay safe while they seek out the stress-relief of a cold-water plunge. The poet and spoken word artist Harry Baker is one of those people. We asked him to capture his experience on paper for us. Editor Tim Pemberton Producers Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Photo Credit Worldvision
12/27/202043 minutes, 52 seconds
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Bethlehem's quiet Christmas, Cardinal Pell's prison journal, Choir's Covid test

Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem have begun their Christmas celebrations under strict restrictions following a surge in corona virus cases in the occupied West Bank. As Yolande Knell reports, church leaders say Bethlehem will continue with its festivities to try to send a hopeful message to the world. In 2019 Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in prison for 'historical sexual assault offences'. Earlier this year the Australian High Court voted 7-0 to overturn the original convictions. In a frank interview, the man who was once the third most powerful person in the Catholic Church reflects on his time inside jail, what he feels about his past handling of abuse allegations and the man whose accusations put him behind bars for 404 days. And the full choir of Leicester Cathedral have all been booked in for rapid Covid tests on Sunday morning. The Dean, the Very Rev David Monteith tells Edward why it will be such a momentous moment if the choir can sing together for the first time since March. Producers: David Cook Dan Tierney Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
12/20/202043 minutes, 40 seconds
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Indian farmers' strike; Lock-down Conversions; Christmas Lights at Durham Cathedral

Millions of farmers across India are striking in a dispute with the government over new agricultural laws. The Government says the new law would free farmers from a current system of middlemen, but the farmers believe prices will fall and small farmers will struggle. Indians of many faiths are involved but the majority are Sikh and Sikh communities around the world have been demonstrating, concerned at what might become of the some 146 million farms in India, with an average size of less than 3 acres. Emily Buchanan talks with the BBC’s Rahul Tandon. The covid pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we work, socialise and even worship. But the uncertainty has - for some - given rise to an opportunity of a spiritual awakening. Ellie Quinn - who is in Istanbul, and Oscar Portar, here in the UK - both found themselves converting to a new religion this year. We hear them in conversation sharing their journey to faith in lock-down. The Christmas tree lights in Durham Cathedral will be switched on this Sunday by a nurse and a doctor from the local hospital to pay tribute to the work carried out by 1000’s of clinicians during the pandemic. Dawn Kempson is a Junior sister at University Hospital of North Durham and Dr Tara Watkiss works in A+E at the same hospital. Emily talks to them about how they have coped this past year. Producers Carmel Lonergan Olive Clancy Editor Amanda Hancox
12/13/202043 minutes, 56 seconds
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The PC and the hijab; Minecraft Sunday School; National Grief Awareness Week at St Paul's Cathedral

Police officer Uzma Amireddy has designed a new hijab which allows muslim women to wear the head scarf safely while on duty. We hear why it was important to develop the hijab and how she hopes the new design will be rolled out across the country. As well as church services going on-line this year so has Sunday School. In the Diocese of Hereford, curate Jo Burden invited her group of 8-11year olds to zoom into a virtual world with the popular computer game, 'Minecraft' to learn more about the Bible. And to mark National Grief Awareness Week the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral the Very Reverend Dr David Ison tells Edward the role the cathedral will play and how their online Book of Remembrance can help people remember the sorrows and sacrifices of others who have died during the pandemic. You can add an entry here: www.rememberme2020.uk Producers: David Cook Catherine Earlham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
12/6/202044 minutes, 31 seconds
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Christmas Carols; Maradona; the Morality of Foreign Aid

It's the first Sunday in Advent and once lock down is lifted Christmas carols will be allowed to be sung outside in all three tiers. Stuart Barr Conductor and founder of "Out to Perform" talks about the value of live outdoor music during the pandemic and beyond. Front pages around the world reacted to the death of Diego Maradona with the headlines such as “God is Dead” and “heavenly”. To those in his native Argentina, he is a deified persona for the miracles he worked on the football field. Although off the pitch he was no saint. Jimmy Burns, author of “The Hand of God: The Life of Diego Maradona”, explores this paradox and what makes Maradona such a remarkable figure for so many. The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the decision to cut the UK’s overseas aid budget as “shameful and wrong”. But what is our moral obligation to the poorest people of the world? Director of CAFOD, Christine Allen, and foreign correspondent, Ian Birrell, discuss this with William Crawley. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor Amanda Hancox
11/29/202043 minutes, 53 seconds
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Catholic IICSA Response; MuslimPro App; Zoom Choirs

After the damning report into safeguarding practices in the Catholic Church at the IICSA inquiry, the Church has announced it's next steps. What are they and do they go far enough? William Crawley hears analysis from the BBC's Harry Farley, reaction from a survivor and asks Carol Lawrence, a member of the Safeguarding Review Panel, will these changes make the Catholic church a safe space? A recent investigation by Vice has alleged that apps, including a Muslim faith app, have had their data sold to the US military by a location data firm. William Crawley interviews Joseph Cox the journalist who led the investigation and also talks to Rob Pritchard, a former cyber security researcher at GCHQ. And also on the programme, the award winning diocesan choir which kept the young people of west Yorkshire singing through lockdown. Producer: Catherine Earlam Rosie Dawson Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
11/22/202043 minutes, 58 seconds
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Beirut Statue; Catholic Abuse Report; Who should get the vaccine first?

It's over a 100 days since the blast shook the Lebanese capital, Beirut. In the weeks following hundreds of volunteers gathered to clear the city’s streets and repair the damage caused. Among them was artist, Hayat Nazer - who saw an opportunity to create a statue from the debris that would inspire hope for the people of Lebanon. The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has been heavily criticised for putting the reputation of the Church ahead of its duty to survivors of child abuse. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse also said that Cardinal Vincent Nichols had not shown, "compassion towards victims in the recent cases". We hear from one abuse survivor who presented her evidence to the inquiry along with a campaigner who disclosed the extent of abuse that took place at Ealing Abbey & St Benedict's School. Edward asks Baroness Sheila Hollins and the Catholic journalist Catherine Pepinster about the damage this report has done to the Church. News this week of a milestone Covid vaccine offering 90% protection prompted some to suggest life could be back to normal by spring. Edward Stourton discusses the moral and ethical questions surrounding this vaccine with the Reverend Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser on Medical Ethics for The Church of England, and Dr Matti Kohonen – Principal Advisor on the Private Sector for Christian Aid. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo credit Hayat Nazer
11/15/202043 minutes, 30 seconds
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Remembrance in a pandemic; US Election; Living in Love and Faith

Events to commemorate Remembrance Sunday will be very different this year because of COVID-19. Organisers have cancelled wreath laying ceremonies and a ban on communal worship means many services will not be allowed to take place. The Ven Martyn Gough, Chaplain of the Fleet and Archdeacon for the Royal Navy explains how he will be marking the day and why many in the Navy will be able to gather to remember those who have lost their lives during conflict. The outcome of the Presidential Election in the United States was a nail biter. It will take some time to produce a detailed analysis of voting patterns amongst the faith groups but there have been some clear signs that certain voters delivered surprising results. Pollsters believed Democrat Joe Biden was in with a strong chance of winning the state of Florida and his failure is down to the Hispanic vote. Rev Gabriel Salguero is the President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and he tells William that Trump’s early move to court the evangelical vote in Hispanic areas appears to have paid off. The Church of England’s latest attempt to navigate the complex and divisive issues surrounding human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage will be unveiled tomorrow with the release of a series of videos, podcasts and books. The Living in Love and Faith resources, three years in the making, are designed to help all members of the Anglican Church better understand the range of views and opinions held by its members. But will this initiative actually deliver any change for LGBT people? We hear from some of those who participated in the enterprise and the Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth, who led the project. Producers: David Cook Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
11/8/202043 minutes, 31 seconds
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Bobby Ball's Faith; France and Islam; Labour Anti-semitism Report

Following the sad news that comedian Bobby Ball died this week Emily Buchanan hears the little known story of how a knock on his dressing room door in 1986 led to him becoming a born-again Christian and how his faith transformed his life. After the attack on the Church in Nice Emily Buchanan gets analysis from three journalists on the fraught nature of relations between France and Islam both home and abroad. She is joined by John Laurenson, Nabila Ramdani and Dorian Jones. And the President of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl responds to the EHRC report into antisemitism in the Labour Party and talks to Emily about rebuilding trust with British Jews. Producer Catherine Earlam Rosie Dawson Series Producer Amanda Hancox
11/1/202043 minutes, 46 seconds
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COVID reflections; Pope Francis and civil partnerships; Bakery for refugees

As large parts of the UK enter stricter COVID restrictions this weekend, many businesses and individuals say they face a challenging winter. Seven months ago during the national lockdown, SUNDAY heard from three people who were getting to grips with running their church, mosque and synagogue. Edward catches up with them to hear how they managed and what they have learnt from the experience. FRANCESCO is the latest film from Oscar and Emmy-nominated Director Evgeny Afineevsky, featuring exclusive interviews with Pope Francis. It premiered at the Rome Film Festival this week and immediately made headlines for the statements made by Francis supporting civil union laws for same sex partners. His personal position on this issue isn’t new but some commentators believe Pope Francis may be setting a path for the church to follow. Canon lawyer Ed Condon and academic Candida Moss discuss. A bakery set up in a church kitchen to train refugee women in bread-making skills is now supplying a local food bank with more than 200 loaves a week. Chernise Neo is the founder of Proof Bakery and she explains how working with dough helps support the women. Producers: Amanda Hancox Louise Clarke-Rowbotham
10/25/202043 minutes, 49 seconds
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Gordon Brown; Bishop of Liverpool; Martyrs Book

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown makes the moral case for full employment in an exclusive interview for Sunday with the BBC’s Harry Farley. A week after the city of Liverpool moved into the Tier 3 system of Covid restrictions, Edward Stourton talks to the Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes about how people in the city are coping and how to rebuild trust which, he says, has broken down during the pandemic. ‘However awful their end, martyrs matter still,’ writes Catherine Pepinster in her new book "Martyrdom". Edward Stourton asks her why. Producers: Catherine Earlam, Rosie Dawson Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
10/18/202043 minutes, 38 seconds
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Amanda Khozi Mukwashi; IICSA reports on the Anglican Church; Jewish weddings

‘But Where are You Really From’, is a new book by Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, the CEO of the international aid charity Christian Aid. It tells the story of her family’s migration across southern Africa and her own journey to the UK. As we mark Black History Month, Amanda explores the real questions she believes we need to be asking ourselves and each other about where we come from. Damming, shameful and disastrous. Words used by Church of England bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself to describe the report on the Anglican Church by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Amongst the findings published this week it said the church spent decades failing to protect children from sexual abuse, instead, it prioritised protecting its own reputation. William speaks to three people who have seen the impact abuse in the church can have; solicitor Richard Scorer, victim and survivor advocate Andrew Graystone and a survivor of adult abuse, Jo Kind. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell tells William how the church plans to respond to the report. For the first time Liberal Judaism in the UK will allow Jews marrying non-Jews to receive the traditional wedding blessing, under the chuppah, a symbolic canopy. Until now it has only been permitted for the marriage of two Jews. The decision means Ruth and Andrew Seagar can renew their vows under the chuppah, 38 years after their first wedding and they tell us what the decision means for them. Producers: David Cook Rosie Dawson Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
10/11/202043 minutes, 37 seconds
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Church Bucket List; Survivors Redress Scheme; Jewish Time Capsule

Elena Curti talks to Emily Buchanan about her new book “Fifty Catholic Churches to See Before You Die”. A treasure trove of places of worship from hidden gems to gothic, revival masterpieces, it offers a new way of understanding the history of Catholicism as expressed in its churches. For the first time The Church of England has announced a scheme offering financial support to abuse survivors. Emily gets reaction from one survivor and talks to the Church’s Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gibbs, about how he hopes this will pave the way to a full redress scheme in the near future. Renovation work at the Manchester Jewish Museum has uncovered a time capsule that was placed under the ceremonial corner stone in 1873 when the synagogue was under construction. The museum’s CEO Max Dunbar tells Emily what he can see inside the sealed glass capsule and what it tells us about the community at the time. Producer: Catherine Earlam Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
10/4/202043 minutes, 56 seconds
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Manchester Camerata ; Cardinal Vincent Nicholls and Baptism Error

Manchester Camerata will be running a series of online films called “Untold” from Thursday, commissioned and curated by the orchestra. The first film is “Caroline”. Violinist Caroline Pether talks about her story of struggling with acceptance as a gay christian woman, set to music and prose by poet Jackie kay. This Sunday is World Day of Migrants and Refugees and we hear from Cardinal Vincent Nichols who will highlight his concerns about the current situation. When Catholic priest Father Matthew Hood looked at a video of his own baptism he realised he wasn’t a priest after all. He explains to William Crawley why the use of "I" instead of "we" made all the theological difference. Producers Carmel Lonergan David Cook Editor Amanda Hancox
9/27/202043 minutes, 52 seconds
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Leroy Logan; Prayer Wall; Witches Pardon

Leroy Logan spent his 30-year career with the Metropolitan Police trying to change it from within. He describes his decision to join the police as a ‘calling’. His autobiography, ‘Closing Ranks’ is out this week and he discusses policing, race and faith with Edward Stourton. The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer got the planning permission green light this week but what about the prayers of none-Christian believers? Edward Stourton talks to Richard Gamble whose dream for a massive Christian monument is fast becoming a reality. And the woman behind the campaign for a pardon, apology and memorial to the two and half thousand people - mostly women - accused of witchcraft in the 16th to 18th century - Claire Mitchell QC joins the programme. Producer: Catherine Earlam Rosie Dawson Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
9/20/202043 minutes, 45 seconds
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Wedding law review, ‘Celebration Earth’, the ‘Holy Blood of Hailes’

The Law Commission is reviewing wedding law which it says “has failed to keep pace with modern life”. Prof Nicholas Hopkins of the Law Commission explains why the current law is problematic and what changes are being proposed. And given the significant ramifications of those changes for religious weddings, Ed Stourton discusses their potential impact with Rev Bruce Thompson, Chair of the Lincolnshire Methodist District, and the theologian and author, Rev Dr Ian Paul. Next week sees the launch of two international faith-based environmental programmes: a commitment by more than one hundred faith organisations to draw up long-term plans to protect the planet; and a 10-year programme to record billions of personal stories from around the world. Under the banner ‘Celebration Earth’, the projects aim to challenge environmental messages of destruction and gloom to inspire hope and practical change. Its 750 years since the arrival of the ‘Holy Blood’ at Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire. The relic was believed to be a portion of the very blood shed by Christ on the cross. It was box office in the Middle Ages before being denounced and destroyed in the English Reformation. Dr Michael Carter, ecclesiastical historian at English Heritage, tells the relic’s remarkable story. Producers: Dan Tierney and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox.
9/13/202044 minutes, 6 seconds
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Andy Burnham, Jonathan Sacks and others celebrate Sunday's 50 birthday.

In this special edition of Sunday celebrating 50 years of religious news and current affairs broadcasting, we are joined by one of the great religious and philosophical thinkers of our time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, to discuss the media's changing relationship with religion and Judaism and his hopes for the future. The Sunday programme has Manchester in it's DNA, broadcasting from the area for the past 26 years. The Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham talks to Emily Buchanan about Manchester, community, politics and faith. And Emily is joined by a panel of young people of different faiths to discuss identity, race and religion in 2020 and to hear what they want to see in the reporting of religion into the future. Producer: Catherine Earlam Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
9/6/202044 minutes, 3 seconds
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Medieval Sacristy revealed; The Good Childhood Report; Climate Change Protest

This week, a lost medieval sacristy used by 13th century monks has been discovered in the grounds of Westminster Abbey along with hundreds of bodies and many artefacts. William Crawley speaks to Warwick Rodwell, Consultant Archaeologist to Westminster Abbey about the find. The Good Childhood Report by the Children's Society says that UK teenagers have the lowest levels of life satisfaction across most of Europe, which often results in fear of failure. Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society discusses the report. Christian Climate Action has issued a joint statement on behalf of Christians, including four Church of England vicars and a Catholic priest, who have been arrested for their part in past Extinction Rebellion protests. In the statement they say they are willing to risk being arrested or support others who may be. William discusses whether having a Christian faith justifies breaking the law with Signatory Reverend Helen Burnett and Professor Christopher Finlay, Durham University. Producers Carmel Lonergan David Cook Editor Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: Westminster Abbey
8/30/202043 minutes, 35 seconds
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Jewish Spell Book; Detained Sikh; Education Bishop

A Hebrew spell book which tells you how to keep your love alive is part of a fascinating exhibition of Jewish manuscripts on display at the British Library. The Library's Lead Curator of Hebrew and Christian Orient Collections, Ilana Tahan, talks to William Crawley about this spellbinding exhibition. A Sikh British man has been detained in Indian for almost three years without charge. Indian police claim he was involved in a plot to kill Hindu politicians. Jagtar Singh Johal's brother, Gurpreet, talks to William Crawley about the case. And after weeks of intense focus on exam results, The Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Education, the Rt Rev Paul Butler calls for a renewed focus on schools re-opening in September. Producers: Catherine Earlam Rosie Dawson Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
8/23/202043 minutes, 46 seconds
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Britain's Pilgrim Places; Church of England Safeguarding Concerns; Gong Baths

Pilgrimage, the journeying on foot to holy places, which was once banned by Henry VIII has undergone a revival in Britain in recent years. Nick Mayhew-Smith, co-author of a new book which illustrates 500 historic routes and sites with practical instructions on how to find them, explains the appeal of this ancient tradition. The Church of England’s governing body, the Archbishops’ Council has been reported to the head of the Charity Commission for its failure, ‘to devise a safe, consistent and fair system of redress for victims of abuse.’ The letter of complaint signed by survivors, senior lawyers and members of the General Synod is critical of the church’s handling of abuse allegations and calls for the entire safeguarding process to be reformed. Donna Birrell reports on the letter and hears from two of the signatories. The church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, Dr Jonathan Gibbs responds to the complaints and outlines what he is doing to change the church’s approach to safeguarding. This week, the UK and France have been working on new measures to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel. More than 4000 have done so since the start of the year. William Crawley debates our legal and moral duty towards migrants who make the dangerous journey across the Channel, and asks what should happen once they enter the system in the UK. And we continue our summer series exploring alternative spiritual practices that people have been embracing during lockdown. This week Martyn Cawthorne from Gong Spa Manchester explains the transformational properties of sound as he takes us on a virtual gong bath. Producers: David Cook Carmel Lonergan Editor: Christine Morgan Photo: Hermit Chapel at Roche, Cornwall by Marcus Green
8/16/202043 minutes, 35 seconds
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John Hume remembered, Women in Top Vatican Jobs, Yoga therapy

Ed Stourton and guests reflect on the life and beliefs of John Hume, the politician widely credited with crafting the Irish peace process, who died this week at the age of 83. We get the latest news and analysis following the devastating explosion in Beirut. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and survivors of abuse will appear at the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sex Abuse this week. One survivor calls for the organisation to apologise for what he says are inadequate policies which have failed to protect children. We assess the significance of Pope Francis' appointment of six women including former Labour minister Ruth Kelly to the Council for the Economy which oversees Vatican finances. According to the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams the COVID pandemic has triggered a “historic spiritual moment.” The increase in app downloads and online classes suggests more people are seeking spiritual practices. This summer on Sunday we are going to explore some of them, beginning this week with yoga therapy. Producers: Dan Tierney Louise Clarke-Rowbotham.
8/9/202043 minutes, 49 seconds
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Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years on; Sheffield Cathedral Choir; Hajj in lockdown

This week is the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A group of international leaders founded by Nelson Mandela called 'The Elders' is calling on people across the globe to reflect, pause and recognise the scale of the nuclear tragedy and they are inviting people to join them in crafting an origami paper crane and adding a message of hope. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, is an Elder and she tells Edward Stourton why the unravelling of nuclear arms controls and the escalation of nuclear proliferation is still a global existential threat. The decision by the Dean and Chapter of Sheffield Cathedral to disband the choir has been criticised by former choir members and parents of current singers. They tell us why they are unhappy about the move to refresh the cathedral's musical offering and build a choir that reflects the diversity of the city. The Dean, the Very Reverend Peter Bradley joins us live to explain why he had to close this choir so he can 'build the best, if not the best cathedral choir in the UK'. In normal times nearly two and a half million pilgrims from around the world would be expected in the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina for the week-long Hajj. Last month Saudi authorities banned international visitors in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19. Around 10,000 people living in the country have been allowed to attend. BBC reporter Faarea Masud tells Edward that the impact of the cancellation is not only a spiritual blow for those hoping to attend, but it has had a massive impact on businesses too. Producers: David Cook Dan Tierney Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
8/2/202043 minutes, 36 seconds
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Bishop Michael Curry; Sudan; Westminster Abbey Financial Crisis

The Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry is the first African American to serve as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. He talks candidly about the soul of America, his hopes and fears post the Coronavirus pandemic, and his concerns about the what he calls a "pandemic of deep and entrenched racism". Until recently, Muslims in Sudan could be sentenced to death for converting to Christianity; even discussing other religions could lead to arrest. Former British Ambassador to Sudan, Dame Rosalind Marsden explains why the liberalisation of such laws in Sudan is a significant step in the country’s development towards a stable and peaceful future. In an exclusive interview with the Dean of Westminster Abbey, Dr David Hoyle, talks about the "breathtaking" loss of income the Abbey has incurred as a result of Coronavirus. Dr Hoyle tells the BBC's Religion Editor, Martin Bashir, the steps he might have to take in order to preserve one of the Nation's most historic buildings. Producers Carmel Lonergan Rosie Dawson Editor Amanda Hancox Photo credit : TEC
7/26/202043 minutes, 59 seconds
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Church Finance Crisis; Islam Campus Report; Methodism & Racism

Two prominent church leaders, Rev Lucy Winkett and Rev Sam Wells, tell Emily Buchanan about the dire financial situation faced by their iconic London churches due the impact of Covid-19. A new report claims university campuses can be hostile environments for Muslim students, especially those with visible religious identities. Three students share their experiences and one of the report’s authors Professor Alison Scott-Baumann explains what the research discovered about why. The Philanthropy Revolution - Lisa Greer talks to Emily about her new approach to giving and raising money. Sunday continues to examine the issue of racism within the faith world. This week Emily hears from a trainee preacher Anthony Boeteng who raised the issue at the recent Methodist Conference and she asks the new president of the Methodist Conference, Rev Richard Teal what action the church is taking to address it. Producers: Catherine Earlam Amanda Hancox
7/19/202043 minutes, 41 seconds
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Greyfriars Bobby; Jehovah's Witness; the New Archbishop of York

Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh is well known for the statue of the small Skye terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. It commemorates the dog’s loyalty after it guarded the grave of his owner for 14 years. Celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary have been cancelled because of Corona virus but the Rev Richard Frazer, Minister of Greyfriars Kirk, tells Emily why people are being encouraged to model their own statues of the iconic dog as part of the celebrations. In August the Jehovah’s Witnesses will give evidence to the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sex Abuse. Submissions will also be heard from survivors who have criticised the church’s handling of abuse allegations. Their appearance comes as campaigners around the world are questioning why the religion is restructuring the organisation and selling off substantial amounts of property. Sunday’s - David Cook has been investigating. The newly confirmed Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell joins Emily to talk about the challenges he faces post pandemic in the Church, the needs of the North and the faith of the nation. Producers Carmel Lonergan David Cook Editor Amanda Hancox
7/12/202043 minutes, 3 seconds
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Cycling Sisters; Leicester in Lockdown; Children's Mental Health

Pre-pandemic times saw Britain’s roads sprinkled with cyclists but they were mainly white, male and clad in lycra. Cycle Sisters in East London challenges this stereo-type because it’s a cycle group for Muslim women. There is a high proportion of ethnic minority families living in the part of Leicester where the highest number of Covid-19 cases have been recorded. Suleman Nagdi, from Leicester’s Federation of Muslim Organisations, talks to Edward about how the Muslim community is feeling as the city experiences its second lockdown. The CEO of World Vision UK, Mark Sheard, and Bernadette Fisher, Director of Brentwood Catholic Children’s Society, discuss how churches can support parents to help their children process the coronavirus crisis. Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza has been offered a job as a priest by the Diocese of Manchester despite twice having been refused asylum in the UK (on the grounds that he was a “genocide denier”). In 2014, he was finally allowed to stay in Briton on appeal, the immigration tribunal deciding that he had “found redemption through his religious work since the genocide”. The Guardian's Chris McGreal talks about Jonathan Ruhumuliza’s past asks whether he should have a future in the Church of England. Producers: Helen Lee Dan Tierny Photograph by Jenna Selby, Waltham Forest Council
7/5/202043 minutes, 39 seconds
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Hajj, Russian Jews and Weddings are back.

Hajj will be held on a much smaller scale this year with a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia able to perform it. Emily asks Dr Carool Kersten from Kings College, London, what took the authorities so long and what impact has this had on Muslims world wide? For religious groups everywhere, lock-down has been a huge challenge. With places of worship and religious centres shuttered, maintaining a sense of community hasn’t been easy. It’s a particular problem for Russia’s Jewish community, which – 30 years after the fall of communism - is still recovering from decades of state-sponsored Antisemitism. Our Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg reports on what the Jews of Russia have been doing to build a community and the efforts they’re taking during the pandemic to preserve it. With places of worship opening for weddings from the 4th of July we hear from one couple who have been waiting in limbo to hear whether their postponed big day could go ahead and BBC Religion Editor, Martin Bashir explains the rules of socially distanced weddings. Producers Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor Amanda Hancox
6/28/202043 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Journey App, Rowan Williams, Black Jews

“The Journey – Leo’s story” is a new app created by the National Holocaust Centre and Museum on the theme of the Kindertransport. The role-play story app follows Leo, a young boy forced to flee Nazi Germany. Marc Cave, Chief Executive of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and children involved in trialling the app talk about how it reveals the true horror faced by German Jews during WWII. This week the government announced that it is merging the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The former Archbishop of Canterbury and Chair of Christian Aid - Dr Rowan Williams - expresses his concerns about the way in which the UK's aid budget will be administered in the future. The Board of Deputies of British Jews have launched a Commission into Racial Inclusivity ‘to banish prejudice and promote inclusion’. Nadine Batchelor-Hunt is a writer and journalist. She describes what it is like to be black and Jewish. Stephen Bush, Political Editor of the New Statesman and Chair of the new Commission, talks about what he hopes it will achieve. When Hamed Amari and his family fled Afghanistan in 2000 they arrived in the UK with nothing. Hamed’s older brother Hussein was seriously ill with a heart condition and died two years ago. Hamed talks to Edward about his first book, 'The Boy With Two Hearts', in which he has captured the family's harrowing journey to safety in the West and talks about how they were determined to ‘give back’ to the NHS and to the country that provided them with a safe home. Producers: Amanda Hancox Helen Lee Picture Credit : Bright White and Studio Liddell
6/21/202043 minutes, 53 seconds
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Post Office IT dispute, Carers week; Places of worship reopening.

The government will shortly launch an independent review to consider whether Post Office Ltd has learned lessons from the Horizon dispute and court case, and made the changes needed to ensure a similar case cannot happen again. The Church of England also has a part in this story as Paula Vennells, former Post Office Ltd CEO and current Chair of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is also a non-stipendiary priest in the diocese of St Albans. There have been a number of complaints to her Bishop about whether she should continue to be a priest, William Crawley asks are these justified? To mark Carer’s Week, we talk to Chris (80) and Cheryl (75) who are facing extra challenges during lock-down as they care for their 47 year old daughter Natasha. Not all faith communities have welcomed the government announcement that places of worship can open on June 15th for private prayer. To explain why, William is joined by Rabbi Nicky Liss from the Highgate Synagogue in north London, Hassan Joudi who is Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain and Rev Canon Chris Thomas, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference. Producers Carmel Lonergan David Cook Editor Amanda Hancox
6/14/202043 minutes, 34 seconds
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Young Black UK Voices; President Trump's Evangelicals; Hagia Sofia

As America mourns the death of George Floyd - with memorial services and protests across the country - we ask what impact his death has had on the black community in the UK and what changes they would like to see. Edward Stourton discusses the issues with Aliyah Hasinah from Black Lives Matter UK and Ruth Yimika Afolabi founder of Magnify magazine. The pictures of President Trump standing outside St John's Episcopal Church just across the road from the White House, bible in hand , have been interpreted as a direct appeal to his religious base. Donald Trump has long enjoyed the support of American Christians, especially white evangelicals, and it’s this relationship that journalist and author Sarah Posner discusses on the programme. Is Turkey’s President Erdogan planning to allow the Hagia Sofia - one of Christianity’s greatest churches - to be converted into a mosque? Dorian Jones reports. Producers: Helen Lee Amanda Hancox
6/7/202043 minutes, 46 seconds
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DJ Chaplain; Vatican's Covid-19 Commission; Prayers in the parking lot

The night-time economy in the UK has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown. Bars, restaurants and music venues have been forced to close. Luke Rollins is a DJ Chaplain and tells Edward Stourton how he is supporting colleagues whose work and lifestyle has changed because of the pandemic. The Rev Dr Augusto Zampini Davies has been appointed by Pope Francis to a Vatican Commission that is investigating how the Holy See can respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and what role it can play to help manage the social and economic changes that will follow. He tells Edward about the massive task ahead and how they propose to help the church and society recover. This week Northern Ireland approved drive-in churches as it begins to ease some restrictions brought in to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Worshipping in 4 wheels was popular in 1950’s America and Father Stephen M Koeth tells Edward about their history and the current enthusiasm for drive-in churches in the US. Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients account for more than a third of those in critical care with Covid-19. Someone who is seeing this on the front line is the Rev Dr Alfred Banya, Head of Chaplaincy at King’s College Hospital in London. Edward speaks to him along with Robert Beckford, Professor of Theology at the Queens Ecumenical Foundation in Birmingham, as they explore the reasons why this is happening and what more can be done to help protect the BAME community. Producers: Amanda Hancox David Cook
6/2/202043 minutes, 43 seconds
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George Floyd death reaction, Sikh representation row, ‘Most popular hymn of hope’

There have been several nights of protests in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody this week. Before moving to Minneapolis in 2018, the 46-year-old lived in Houston’s Third Ward housing projects, where he has been described as a "person of peace" and a "mentor to a generation of young men”. His friend, Pastor Patrick Ngwolo, responds to the news of his death. When the Church of England comes out of the pandemic how will it survive in a world where financial, political and social norms have changed dramatically? Will some dioceses have to be merged and the number of Bishops reduced? Will plans to grow the church be shelved? The Rev Canon Rosie Harper is critical of the Church’s response to Covid and favours a radical rethink of the Church’s immediate priorities. She debates with the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek. Jasvir Singh - the Sikh representative on the government’s Places of Worship Taskforce – stepped down at the weekend "in the interest of the safety of his loved ones" following sustained criticism from certain sections of the Sikh community. They argued that he was an unsuitable representative for the Sikh community as he has no experience of running a Gurdwara. Jas Singh, a spokesman for The Sikh Federation UK, and Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, a Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies at the University of Birmingham, reflect on the controversy and the issue of representation among British Sikhs. A poll carried out by the aid agency CAFOD has found that the most popular hymn to inspire hope is ‘How Great Thou Art’. CAFOD’s Programme Director for Peru – Lucy Jardine – talks about why this hymn means so much to her and modern day hymn writer - Keith Getty - explains what makes ‘How Great Thou Art’ such a successful piece of worship music. Producers: Dan Tierney and David Cook Amanda Hancox
5/31/202043 minutes, 54 seconds
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80th Anniversary of Dunkirk; Forgiveness and Will Hajj Happen?

Dom Gervase Hobson-Matthews was a monk who trained and taught at the Benedictine run Downside Abbey. During WW2 he served as a chaplain to the 1st Artillery Division. He kept a diary that chronicled his experience helping troops to withdraw from the beaches of Dunkirk where he was killed in June 1940. Days before his death, he rejected an opportunity to return home. To mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Dunkirk the Abbey’s Director of Heritage Dr Simon Johnson tells us about Dom Gervase’s courage and martyrdom through archive and extracts from Dom Gervase’s diary. The screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce has written a new book for a bible study series called “How the Bible Can Help Us Understand Forgiveness”. He discusses the subject with Marina Cantacuzino, founder of the Forgiveness Project, which collates powerful stories of forgiveness from around the world. The Saudi authorities have yet to officially cancel this year’s Hajj. Whilst the Muslim world has been celebrating Ramadan, they have not had to make this difficult decision but after Eid everyone will be asking if the Great Mosque in Mecca can re-open at the end of July for the most important pilgrimage in Islam. Emily discusses the problem with Dr Carool Kersten, Reader in the Study of Islam & the Muslim World at King’s College London. Producers Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor Christine Morgan
5/24/202044 minutes, 3 seconds
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Keeping fit South Asian style, Navajo Nation, Church post-lockdown

Award-winning fitness instructor Lavina Mehta is doing special exercise classes online for the elderly South Asian community in this country. She is joined every day by her 72-year-old mother-in-law Nishaben Mahendra Mehta who translates Lavina’s instructions into Gujarati and does all the exercises as well. This week, President Trump announced that the Navajo Nation - which includes vast stretches of land in northern Arizona, New Mexico and Utah - will receive more than 600 million dollars of federal government aid. The reservation, which is home to about 175,000 people, has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the United States for its rate of Covid-19 infection. Joe Boland from the charity ‘Catholic Extension‘, which provides support for Native American tribes tells William about the problems they are facing. Post pandemic many say that the Church of England will never be the same again. While their doors may be physically closed - spiritually – some believe that God is reaching into more homes than ever. Online services are booming and pulling in record numbers of participants. But when all of this is over and the doors to places of worship reopen will there still be a demand for congregations gathering via the web? William is joined by Rev Charlotte Bannister-Parker, Chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford for Online Services and the author and academic Dr Bex Lewis who studies how we interact with the digital world. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Helen Lee Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
5/10/202043 minutes, 58 seconds
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VE Day Anniversary; Christian Charity Crisis; Ramadan Online

On VE Day 75 years ago the bells of churches and cathedrals across the country were rung in celebration. Anniversary events will be very different this year as many of them have been cancelled as people adhere to rules that prohibit mass gatherings. Using archive and contemporary recordings from some who were there in May 1945 we remember the moment when the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces ended World War II in Europe. The charity Christian Aid has announced that they are projecting an annual loss of £6 million due to a fall in income because of Covid-19. They plan to furlough 20% of their staff and reduce the pay of everyone else. The cuts come as they launch their major annual fundraiser, Christian Aid Week. The charity's CEO Amanda Khozi Mukwashi debates the funding crisis facing charities that focus on international projects with Christine Allen, Director of the Catholic charity CAFOD. The Archbishop of Canterbury led the first virtual assembly for the online school, Oak National Academy this week. Another project has embraced technology to help keep school choirs performing. The Catholic Diocese of Leeds has launched daily online singing sessions for thousands of children who would usually be singing in school. Co-ordinator Tom Leech explains why music is an important part of home schooling for children in some of the most deprived areas of West Yorkshire. Ramadan is an important part of the religious calendar for muslims both spiritually and socially. Remona Aly reports on how families, friends and scholars are ensuring they keep traditions and customs associated with the Holy month alive. Producers: Amanda Hancox David Cook Photo: © Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey
5/3/202043 minutes, 37 seconds
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'Telephone Lament for Coronavirus', US Lockdown Protests, 'Best of' Streamed Worship.

As protests to end the lockdown continue across some states in America, Edward Stourton speaks to two Christian pastors in Virginia who have responded differently to the stay-at-home order. Our correspondent Rahul Tandon reports on claims that Hindu nationalists are exploiting Covid-19 to ramp up prejudice against Muslims in India. Mud Orange – a new ‘creative agency’ launched at the start of this year's Ramadan - is, according to its founders, the first in the Western world to specialise in targeting the Muslim consumer, while aiming to reshape the public image of Muslims. The BFI’s 'Jewish Britain on film' is a free-to-view online collection of films which give an insight into the life of British Jews over the last century. It brings together the earliest surviving depictions of Jewish characters in British cinema as well as documentaries and homemade cine films. Continuing our chaplains series, Fr. Dan Mason, National Catholic Chaplain to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers explains the issues affecting those communities during the pandemic. With a wide variety of online worship now available to anyone anywhere, Rev Fergus Butler-Gallie offers a guide to where you can surf the services that meet your liturgical tastes: beginning with Protestant denominations. And intensive care doctor Mark Tan shares his ‘Telephone Lament for Coronavirus’. Producers: Dan Tierney Helen Lee Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
4/26/202043 minutes, 45 seconds
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Chester Mystery Plays go online; Pope Francis on Covid-19; Jewish Chronicle's financial woes

There’s no Passion play on the streets of Chester this year, so the city’s Mystery Plays go online for the first time. In an exclusive interview with the papal biographer and journalist Austin Ivereigh, Pope Francis has given an insight into his life under lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and the BBC's Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell reflect on the impact that coronavirus has had on Easter celebrations here in the UK and across the Holy Land. There are growing concerns about the conditions inside prisons during the coronavirus lockdown with up to 4 thousand low-risk offenders set for temporary release. The Anglican Bishop to Prisons, James Langstaff explains his concerns. And the Jewish Chronicle, one of the longest running Jewish newspapers in the world has announced it has ceased trading with the loss of jobs. Producers: Amanda Hancox Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Picture Credit: Neil Kendall
4/12/202043 minutes, 52 seconds
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Covid ethical dilemmas; Plants for Passion; Holy Howlers

The Covid pandemic has created ‘battlefield’ conditions for UK doctors who may soon have to make very difficult decisions about who to prioritise for life-saving treatment. Edward Stourton discusses the underlying ethical principles with Dominic Wilkinson, Professor of Medical Ethics at Oxford University; and Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser on Medical Ethics for The Church of England. Urban naturalist Bob Gilbert uncovers some of the native plants and trees in Britain that have a close association with the Easter story. Comedian Paul Kerensa has been listening and watching some of the online services that have sprung up and reports on some of the holy howlers when things didn't go entirely to plan. There are calls for some churches to reopen for private prayer. As well as practical questions about health and safety, the lockdown raises theological questions about the meaning and importance of scared space. Catholic Journalist Tim Stanley and the Anglican Bishop of Hertford Michael Beasley discuss. With Ramadan less than three weeks away, British Muslims are preparing for a dramatically different experience during the Holy Month this year. Jehangir Malik, CEO of Muslim Aid explains how his family and his community are adapting to the crisis. Producers: Amanda Hancox Dan Tierney
4/5/202043 minutes, 52 seconds
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Covid-19 Funerals; Charity Funding; Fuad Nahdi

As the UK adapts to the social restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, Edward Stourton looks at the impact it is having on grieving families at funerals. How do you greet people in a time of social distancing? Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, tells Edward about the Hindu greeting known as the Namaste. Yahya Birt and the Bishop of Bradford, Toby Howarth pay tribute to the former Editor of Q News, Fuad Nahdi, who died last weekend. And why is Brazil's President keeping Churches open when the rest of the country is shutting down? Katy Watson explains. Producers: Amanda Hancox Rosie Dawson
3/29/202043 minutes, 50 seconds
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Response of Religions to Coronavirus; Worship Online; Mothing Sunday

The landscape for all faith communities has changed dramatically this week. The doors to churches, mosques, temples and cathedrals closed as communities do their bit to try and keep worshipers safe and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But keeping those communities together and supporting them through a time of national crisis is proving to be challenging. Joining Edward Stourton to discuss how their faith communities are navigating the current crisis are the Rev Prof Gina Radford - a former Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Imam Abid Khan from the Cheadle Mosque and Community Centre in Manchester and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner - Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism. The main solution for many religions to the temporary closure of worship spaces, has been to start broadcasting services, prayers and devotional messages online. Sophia Smith-Galer has been taking a look at religion in the digital age and this week she took part in virtual reality Christian service in which the pastor was in the United States and the congregation was spread out all over the world. Today will be a very different Mothering Sunday as many families will be unable to get together. So, The Mother’s Union is stepping up to support members who will be in insolation this Sunday because of the coronavirus. Their Chief Executive - Beverley Jullien - joins William to discuss some of the suggested activities that her organisation has come up with. Producers: Helen Lee Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox
3/22/202043 minutes, 53 seconds
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The Bones of Saint Eanswythe; Christ Church College Dispute; Coronavirus and the Vatican

In the coastal town of Folkestone, historians and archaeologists are celebrating a remarkable find. It dates from 7th Century and is thought to be the earliest verified remains of the English Saint Eanswythe – one of the first converts to Christianity in England. The BBC's Religion Editor, Martin Bashir, reports from Folkestone. Andrew Billen from The Times unpacks the dispute between the Dean of Christ Church College and the some of the academic staff that has cost over £2.5 million in legal fees and created damaging divisions. Italy is in lock-down as the entire nation has been quarantined to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Rome is a place of pilgrimage for millions of people but the Vatican and St Peters Square is closed to the public. Emily talks to Christopher Lamb, Tablet’s Rome correspondent, about the latest news and how coronavirus might impact Easter celebrations. Producers: Carmel Lonergan David Cook Editor Amanda Hancox
3/15/20206 minutes, 8 seconds
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Digital Religion; International Women's Day; Coronavirus and a South Korean Religious Sect

Sophia Smith Galer reports on religious apps, in the first of a three part series for the BBC World Service Heart and Soul on religion in the digital age. To mark International Women’s Day we hear from three young women about what their faith means to them in 21st century Britain. And the BBC’s Laura Bickers tells Edward why a South Korean religious sect is being investigated over its links to the high number of Coronavirus confirmed cases in the country. Producers: Catherine Earlam, Helen Lee Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
3/8/202043 minutes, 36 seconds
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Vatican "Secret" Archives; Coping with Trauma and Dehli Religious Riots

The Vatican “Secret” archives will be opened on Monday – what new findings might emerge about Pope Pius X11 war time dealings? Historian David Kertzer and Lisa Billig,the American Jewish Committee's representative to the Holy See, talk about what they expect to discover. L'Arche communities around the world support people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. Last week a community report concluded that it's founder Jean Vanier abused six adult women. Emily Buchanan talks to Professor Irene Tuffrey Wijne, a member of the Community, and Rev Hilary Ison on how churches and communities can be helped to come to terms with trauma. Andrew Selous MP became the Second Church Estates Commissioner last month. Appointed by the Crown, on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Second Church Estates Commissioner’s role is to act as a link between the Church of England and Parliament and to represent church concerns in the House. He discusses his new role and takes issue with a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group demanding the removal of religion from all activities in the House of Commons. The religious violence which has been happening in Delhi since last weekend has shaken the capital. Rahul Tandon explains the background to the latest violence. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Rosie Dawson Editor: Amanda Hancox
3/1/202044 minutes, 11 seconds
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Doom Paintings, Illegal Schools; Bloomberg and the Jewish Vote

One of England's largest 'doom' paintings has been restored in St Thomas's Church, Salisbury. These medieval paintings depict the moment when Christ judges souls to send them to either Heaven or Hell. Over the years many were painted over or damaged. William Crawley talks to Rev Kelvin Inglis about what the restoration of the Salisbury 'doom' painting has revealed. As the government announces more measures to crackdown on illegal schools, many of which have a religious character, we hear from Ruth Wareham from Humanists UK about the work they have been doing to uncover the scale of the issue and what more needs to be done. And the BBC’s White House reporter Tara McKelvey reports on Michael Bloomberg and asks if he can count on a block vote from the Jewish community as he strives to secure the Democrat nomination in the race for the Presidency. Producer: Catherine Earlam Peter Everett Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
2/23/202043 minutes, 52 seconds
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When Gospel Meets Hip-hop; Safeguarding; National Holocaust Memorial

Christian rap and grime artist Guvna B travels to the US to explore the fusion of gospel music and hip-hop The Church of England may have to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds to compensate survivors of sexual abuse following a unanimous vote at this week's General Synod. The Church's incoming Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Rt Rev Jonathan Gibbs, put forward an amendment calling for serious money to be committed for redress and for a safeguarding policy reshaped by survivors. So is this really a new chapter for safeguarding in the Church of England? William speaks to Donna Birrell who was following the debate. This week Westminster Council turned down a planning application for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens close to the Houses of Parliament. The Council said it contravenes rules on size, design and location. But aside from the planning issue there is a divide within the Jewish community as to whether the memorial should be built at all. We hear from Baroness Ruth Deech and Journalist Justin Cohen. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: Hillsong Church London
2/16/202043 minutes, 48 seconds
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Franklin Graham; Faith and Film; Red Sea Spies

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was scheduled to come to the UK for an 8 city tour beginning in May. As all the venues say they have cancelled his bookings Edward asks him why people appear to be uncomfortable with his visit and how he plans to respond. A clandestine operation carried out by one of the world’s most secretive intelligence agencies used a fake diving resort on the coast of Sudan to evacuate the ‘lost tribe’ of black Jews in Ethiopia. The true story of a remarkable rescue mission is told in a new book, Red Sea Spies by BBC Middle East journalist Raffi Berg. The Academy Awards will be held in Hollywood on Sunday night and The Two Popes is up for two awards with Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins both nominated. Stephen Brown, film critic on the Church Times, explains why there appears to be a mini boom in religious themed films. Producers: David Cook Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
2/9/202043 minutes, 42 seconds
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Church of England football; Lawyer to Asia Bibi; The Rule of Benedict

The Church of England’s has its first official football team, founded by an ex-professional from Iran who is now a priest in Sunderland. Emily talks to Rev. Pauya Hedari, captain and founder of the newly-formed Archbishop of Canterbury FC, about this team that will be made up exclusively of priests. Ten years ago the case of a young Christian woman in Pakistan made headlines when she was sentenced to death for blasphemy. Her case was so controversial that two Pakistani politicians were later killed for publicly supporting her and criticising the country’s blasphemy laws. The lawyer Saif ul Malook represented Asia Bibi from 2014 until she was freed from death row. He tells Emily Buchanan about the threats he continues to face. How can St Benedict’s sixth-century Rule, work for the present day and the challenges we face? In his book “The Way of St Benedict” Rowan Williams explores the importance and influence of Benedict's Rule for modern times. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Catherien Earlam Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: Keith Blundy
2/2/202043 minutes, 42 seconds
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Remembering the Holocaust; RE in Wales; Ezekiel Bread

To mark 75 years of liberation from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp Frank Bright and Ziggy Shipper both survivors of the camp talk about their experiences. A loaf of bread based on an ancient recipe in the Old Testament has become the latest nutritional in thing. Victoria Beckham posted a picture of her breakfast of smashed avocado on a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and others have been following suit. Sunday’s David Cook bakes some Ezekiel bread and Vanessa Kimble tells William Crawley about its prophesised nutritional value. The Eye As Witness is a new virtual reality exhibition exploring the political and moral motives for witnessing and recording the Holocaust. Reporter Vishva Samani went along to give it a try. Should the teaching of religion and Sex Education be compulsory in school? William Crawley discusses the reaction to the Welsh Government's decision to make the teaching of both mandatory in all schools. Producers: Rajeev Gupta and David Cook Series Producer: Amanda Hancox Photo Credit ; Adam Soller
1/26/202043 minutes, 54 seconds
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A Hidden Life, Xenobots, Synagogue Leadership Row

The true story of a Catholic, Austrian peasant farmer, who refused to pledge allegiance to Hitler but was let down by the Church is the subject of the film, A Hidden Life, out in cinemas this week. Bishop John Sherrington joins Sunday to discuss whether the film sheds new light on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Nazis. This week came news that researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam. To discuss the possible ethical implications of this William Crawley is joined by Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England, and Dr Yaqub Chaudhary, Research fellow in Experimental Science at The Cambridge Muslim College. And Sunday's David Cook reports on allegations of bullying at a flagship London synagogue. Producers: Catherine Earlam Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
1/19/202043 minutes, 54 seconds
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Australian wildfires; China's religious prison camps; a 12th C Monk's diet

Edward Stourton with the week's religious and ethical news.
1/12/202044 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Spirituality of Bees; Celebration Earth and Ethical Veganism.

Farah Jarral looks at the spirituality of the Bee. Long before we understood the ecological importance of the bee, it was already a precious symbol for many faiths and communities for centuries. Against a back drop of horrendous fires and floods engulfing the parts of the world, Celebration Earth is being launched. It’s an invitation to community groups, faith groups and large organisations to come together to celebrate the earth and help combat Climate change. Emily Buchanan discusses this new initiative with the conservationist Martin Palmer; Dr Chetna Kang, psychiatrist and Hindu priest and Munadiah Aftab, climate change campaigner for Islamic Relief UK. Also legal expert Joshua Rozenberg looks at the implications of a landmark employment tribunal case which this week has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and ethical vegans should be entitled to similar legal protections in the workplace as those who hold religious beliefs. Producers Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor Amanda Hancox
1/5/202043 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Mayflower - 400 years

In the autumn of 1620, 102 passengers set sail from England aboard the Mayflower. Many of those sailing were Puritans, looking for the freedom to practice their religious ideas. Others wanted a fresh start in the New World. The treacherous journey took 66 days and as the Pilgrims established their new colony they battled harsh winters, disease and internal dissent. As the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey is about to be commemorated, Emily Buchanan explores the Pilgrim’s journey, their relationship with Native Americans and discovers how their political and religious beliefs helped shape modern America. Producers: David Cook Dan Tierney Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
12/29/201943 minutes, 57 seconds
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Christians in Bethlehem; New Archbishop of York; Catholic Abuse law change

As we approach Christmas, Emily Buchanan has been to Bethlehem to speak to the Christian community living there. The new Archbishop of York, Rt Rev Stephen Cotterell joins Edward Stourton live to to talk about his plans for his new role. Sue Peart was the Editor of the Mail on Sunday YOU magazine but in 2018 she stepped down from her post and a few months later her mother passed away. Struggling to cope, Sue kept the Samaritans number by her bedside “just in case”. When her life got back on track she decided to volunteer for Samaritans. She talks about the challenges of manning their phones at Christmas. For 37 years, Sir Stephen Cleobury was musical director of one of the world’s most famous choirs - King’s College, Cambridge. He died recently and the Sunday programme pays tribute to his work. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox
12/22/201943 minutes, 42 seconds
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Two Popes, A Green Christmas, and God and the Election

Director Fernando Meirelles discusses his film The Two Popes. The role that religion played in the election has been described as unprecedented and worrying. Edward Stourton hears why with journalist Sunny Hundal and author Ben Ryan. And how to have a green and sustainable Christmas. Producers: Catherine Earlam Carmel Lonergan Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
12/15/201945 minutes, 58 seconds
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Bikram Yoga Film; Eco Mosque and Megan Phelps-Roper

Megan Phelps-Roper’s grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. The church is notorious for its preaching against gay people, Jews, Muslims and for picketing the funerals of American soldiers and the American Holocaust museum. Megan has now changed her views and her life. She tells us what made her preach hate and what led to her eventual transformation. A new Netflix documentary charts the rise and fall of one of the worlds foremost Yoga “Gurus’” Bikram Choudhury. The film first traces how Choudhury built his “Bikram” empire of hot yoga studios, training celebrities and amassing devotees. However Bikram has been accused by some followers of sexual assault and his empire appears to be unraveling. Journalist Julia Henderson, a former Bikram devotee herself, uncovered some of the allegations against him and speaks to Edward about what she found. A couple who were rejected by their local adoption service because of their Indian heritage have won their legal discrimination battle. Sandeep and Reena Mander sued The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council after they were turned away from Adopt Berkshire three years ago. We hear their reaction to decision And Professor Keith Brown, Director of The National Center for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice speaks to us about his new report on how Christian organisations can be better prepared when working with the vulnerable people in need of care. PRODUCERS: RAJEEV GUPTA PETER EVERETT EDITOR: AMANDA HANCOX
12/8/201943 minutes, 41 seconds
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First Sunday in Advent; Climate Change; Faith and Policing

In the aftermath of the attack on London Bridge Southwark Cathedral will have clergy available to listen and talk. Emily asks the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Andrew Nunn, what the response has been from the community. The dean will also talk about how they will navigate through the weeks building up to Christmas as its the first Sunday in advent and what the plans are. Ahead of UN climate conference COP25 which starts in Madrid next week, Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy & Communications at Catholic relief agency CAFOD and Chair of The Climate Coalition, talks about hopes and aspirations for the meeting and how the Catholic Church is about to embark on a major push on the environment. Police Constable Marie Reavey, Chair of the Christian Police Association, talks about a new resource to help faith based organisations partner with the police to help tackle social problems such as homelessness, isolation and addiction. Producers Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor Amanda Hancox Picture copyright Southwark Cathedral.
12/1/201943 minutes, 36 seconds
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Rose Hudson-Wilkin; Anti-Semitism and Non-Religious Assemblies

This week the Rt Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin became the first black woman to be consecrated a bishop in the Church of England. The former chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons joins Emily Buchannan. A new report released by the Church of England paints a damning picture of the Church's record on anti-Semitism. The report urges Christians to not only be repentant for the “sins of the past” against Jews, but also to challenge active attitudes and stereotypes. We hear from the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth and Dayan Ivan Binstock, Senior Rabbi at St John's Wood Synagogue. As the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue, theologian Dr Krish Kandiah has been speaking to Joshua Wong, the secretary-general of pro-democracy party Demosisto about his faith and the tactics of the protest movement. A row has broken out after some members of Churches Together England blocked a Quaker who is in a same sex marriage from becoming a president of the organisation. Emily speaks to Quaker Hannah Brock Womack and the Revd Dr Paul Goodliffe from CTE. PRODUCERS: RAJEEV GUPTA PETER EVERETT SERIES EDITOR: AMANDA HANCOX
11/24/201943 minutes, 46 seconds
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Church Loan Scandal, Religious Vote, Ebola Bishop

A London Church is under investigation for alleged fraud and financial irregularities after church goers claimed they were persuaded to take out large loans. The Sunday programme reports on claims and puts the claims to a representative of the church. Sima Kotecha reports on how religious voting "banks" could influence this year’s general election. And we hear from the Bishop of Hertford, Michael Beasley, a former epidemiologist at Imperial College London, who has been to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the world's second largest Ebola outbreak continues. He's joined by the United Nations Ebola Emergency Response Coordinator, David Gressly, to talk about the key role Churches are playing in the fight against the disease. Producer Catherine Earlam Carmel Lonergan Series Producer Amanda Hancox
11/17/201943 minutes, 40 seconds
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Remembrance Sunday, The President's Pastor, Cardinal Nichols

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, Paul Mason, the Roman Catholic Bishop for the Armed Forces met his Argentinian counterpart in Rome to return a statue of Our Lady of Lujan. The statue was left behind at the end of the Falklands War and brought back to Britain. In the exchange attended by Pope Francis, the Argentinians presented a replica for the military cathedral in Aldershot. She's been called the 'Trump Whisperer' because of her closeness to the American president. This week the Pentecostal preacher Paula White was named as Advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. A well known televangelist - Paula White's new role is seen as a sign that President Trump is keen to keep the support of religious conservative voters. So who is Paula White and how has she forged this preacher - president relationship? This week Cardinal Nichols the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales was called to give evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. We report on his appearance and hear exclusively from one of the abuse survivors who was referred to in the hearing. Producers: David Cook Rajeev Gupta Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
11/10/201943 minutes, 40 seconds
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Sentamu, Rebel Monk, IICSA

The Archbishop of York has said that a slow "environmental genocide" is taking place in Nigeria’s Bayelsa State. Speaking in an exclusive interview with the BBC as part of a commission investigating oil spills in the Niger Delta, Dr John Sentamu said that oil companies needed to end a culture of double standards in Nigeria. The BBC’s Mayeni Jones travelled with the Archbishop to Nigeria earlier this year, ahead of the publication of the commission’s interim report this week. She spoke to him about what he found there. Women aren't allowed to be ordained as monks in Thailand but some women have instead been ordained abroad, and have returned to the country to live as female monks. It began with Dhammananda, who was the first woman in Thai history to be ordained as a female monk. She is being celebrated as a member of the BBC 100 Women list this year. Aurora Almendral met her and heard her story. The Catholic Church is the focus of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) this week. Donna Birrell reports on what the inquiry has heard. To mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Edward hears from a couple with an extraordinary story to tell. Producer: Catherine Earlam Peter Everett Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
11/3/201944 minutes, 3 seconds
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Uluru; Einstein; Amazon Synod

From this weekend there’s a ban on climbing ‘Uluru’ in Australia’s Northern Territory. Anthropologist Professor Veronica Strang tells William Crawley why the site is so sacred to the aborigines. In the wake of the deaths of 39 people in a lorry William hears from the Salvation Army’s Kathy Betteridge about their work with victims human trafficking. Dr Carrie Pemberton Ford from the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking tells him about the numbers of people caught up in this trade – and some of the stories behind them. To mark the 100th anniversary of the confirmation of the theory of relativity, Professor Alister McGrath talks about Eistein's religion and his quest for a theory of everything. As the Vatican’s ‘Amazon Synod’ comes to an end we hear about the issues that were discussed and the decisions reached. Childlessness is on the rise in the UK due to infertility but also to choice. What are the implications of this for the practice and theology of the churches? William discuss this with Dr Dawn Llewellyn from Chester University who has studied Christian attitudes to childlessness and Sheridan Vosey, the Christian writer and speaker, who has been unable to have children with his wife. Producers: Amanda Hancox Rosie Dawson
10/27/201944 minutes, 2 seconds
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Westminster Abbey, Gay Sikhs and Gandhi Statue

Edward Stourton visits Westminster Abbey with the historian William Whyte to talk about a new book commemorating the 750th anniversary of the consecration of the current Abbey Church building. Bake Off contestant and Sikh Rav Bansal came out as being gay publically earlier this year. Rav received a strongly worded homophobic letter from another Sikh who said he should dissociate himself from the faith. Other Sikhs have voiced their support for Rav and say there is nothing against being gay in their religion. Rav shares his experience with William. And should a statue of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi be erected in front of Manchester Cathedral? The statue is set to be put up in November but now some students at Manchester University say the decision should be reversed because of his "well-documented anti-black racism." Supporters of the statue say criticisms of Gandhi are too limited in view and the statue is an important message of peace for the city. William hears opposing views from Professor Meena Dhanda and Professor Anindita Ghosh. PRODUCERS: RAJEEV GUPTA CARMEL LONERGAN EDITOR: AMANDA HANCOX
10/20/201943 minutes, 41 seconds
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Canonisation of Cardinal Newman

Cardinal John Newman, who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, will be the first English person born since the 17th century to be declared a saint by the Catholic church on Sunday. A delegation led by Prince Charles will join thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square for the special Canonisation Mass led by Pope Francis. For Newman to be declared a saint, two miracles must be verified by the church. Melissa Villalobos says she was cured from serious bleeding during her pregnancy after praying to Cardinal Newman. She speaks to the BBC for the first time and tells Sunday how she feels to be in Rome for the ceremony. Rajeev Gupta reports from the Birmingham Oratory where Newman spent much of his later life. They've kept his room exactly as it was when he died and now the Oratory is preparing to become a pilgrimage site for catholics. And what role should saints have in the 21st century? Newman biographer Roderick Strange and Charles Collins from the catholic news website Crux discuss. Producers: David Cook Peter Everett Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
10/13/201943 minutes, 56 seconds
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Witch Map; LGBT+ Mass; Chibok Girls

An interactive map that tracks more than 3,000 Scots, mostly women, who were accused of being witches in the 16th and 17th Century has been published for the first time. Sunday hears from Professor Julian Goodare from the University of Edinburgh whose research into witchcraft in Scotland was used to build the map. Catholic Bishop John Arnold explains why his Salford diocese will be holding a mass for LGBT+ Catholics and their family and friends. On Saturday it will be 2000 days since 270 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Oby Ezekwesili, co-founder of Bring Back Our Girls tells William that the world has let down the Chibok girls. Producers Carmel Lonergan Rajeev Gupta Editor Amanda Hancox
10/6/201943 minutes, 50 seconds
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Handel's Brockes Passion; Unparliamentary language; Religious education

On Good Friday, on the 300th anniversary of its premiere, the Academy of Ancient Music realised a long-held ambition to perform a new version of Handel’s mighty Brockes Passion at the Barbican in London. It will be released on CD next week and Alexander Von Ingen, Chief Executive of the Academy explains why this version is so unique. In a week of divisions and tensions in Parliament with some MPs criticising the ‘toxic language of betrayal and treachery,' religious leaders have been appealing to politicians to moderate their language and learn to disagree respectfully. The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales Cardinal Vincent Nichols joins us along with Bishop David Urquhart and Rabbi Julia Neuberger who both sit in the House of Lords. The number of schools ‘flouting’ Religious Education laws has risen according to research by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education. Their report found that half of academies without a religious character and 40 percent of community schools do not meet their legal or contractual requirements to deliver RE and the organisation believes pupils are “not being given the access to the religious literacy they need and deserve." Ben Wood is NATRE’s Chair and he debates their findings with Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School & College Leaders. Producers: David Cook Catherine Earlham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox Picture Credit: Robert Workman
9/29/201944 minutes, 5 seconds
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Gender Neutral Babies, Rahmen Chisti, Persecuted Christians

A family from Bristol are bringing up their baby as gender neutral. They say it's to help their baby avoid unconscious gender bias. We hear from the family and discuss the theological implications of such decisions. The deadline for responses to a report on the persecution of Christians, led by the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, was this week. Some organisations have raised concerns about aspects of the report and its methodology. William talks to Rev Bonnie Evans-Hills, Coordinator for UK Coalition, who is concerned about the report and submitted a response on behalf of a number of faith groups and academics and Andrew Boyd from Release International. Rehman Chisti is the Prime Minister's new Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief. He discusses what will happen to the recommendations in the report and his priorities for his new role. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Amanda Hancox
9/22/201944 minutes, 4 seconds
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Gun-carrying Pastor, Crowdfunding Ethics, William Blake's beliefs

In November 2017 a gunman walked into a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot dead 26 parishioners. The pastor of that church, Frank Pomeroy, lost his 14 year old daughter in the attack. He tells William Crawley why he’s now running for political office and why he wears a gun in the pulpit. A crowdfunding page launched by a Muslim group opposed to LGBT relationships lessons has been removed. GoFundMe said the page violated its terms of service by raising money to fight an injunction preventing protesters from gathering outside a Birmingham primary school. John Coventry, Europe Director of GoFundMe and Anne McElvoy, senior editor at the Economist discuss the ethics of crowdfunding. Sheikh Yusuf Motala, one of the most significant figures in British Islam, has died. He was head of the Islamic institution, Darul Uloom in Bury. One of his pupils, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and the BBC’s Home Affairs Correspondent Dominic Casciani explain his influence. As a new William Blake exhibition opens at Tate Britain in London, Blake author and academic David Fallon explores how his unique and unorthodox beliefs shaped his art. Producers: Dan Tierney Rosie Dawson Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
9/15/201943 minutes, 45 seconds
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Should you break a promise, Sacred trees, The legacy of Mugabe

Should you make a promise you can’t keep? We reflect on the ethical issues thrown up by the week’s events in Parliament. Pope Francis has embarked on a 3 nation African tour. He’s visiting Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius. Martin Bashir, the BBC’s Religion Editor, has been travelling with the Pope. The historian Dan Jones has just written a new account of the era through the multiple perspectives of characters whose stories have seldom been heard. Much of the coverage of Robert Mugabe’s death has pondered on how a liberator became a tyrant. The answer is complex, as is the relationship between Christians in Zimbabwe and their former leader. And we have an in-depth investigation into the allegations of sexual and physical abuse against Sogyal Rinpoche. Producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Rosie Dawson Editor: Amanda Hancox
9/8/201943 minutes, 47 seconds
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Amazon indigenous tribes, Bishops' Brexit letter, Sogyal Rinpoche

Who is protecting the rights of indigenous people in the Amazon? We hear from Kawá, an Amazonian tribesman living in the UK about how his tribe has been affected by the fires and Adriana Ramos from the The Instituto Socioambiental in Brazil. A group of Church of England bishops has issued an open letter on the prospect of a 'no-deal' Brexit and the need for national reconciliation. Rt Rev Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, tells us why the letter has been written. Quentin Letts, Church going member of the Church of England, and political sketch writer at The Times shares his concerns. Tim Farron, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, talks about his book, A Better Ambition. What’s it like to be a Muslim Policewoman in North Yorkshire? Uzma Amireddy is the Positive Action Co-ordinator for North Yorkshire Police. After the death of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, we explore his legacy with author Mary Finnigan, who wrote ‘Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism - The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche'. And it’s the 50th Anniversary of the Churches Conservation Trust. The charity is holding a debate asking: who is going to look after these buildings in the future? We visit All Souls church in Bolton, under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, and hear from Simon Jenkins, a Trustee of the Trust, about what he thinks should happen to historic buildings. Producer: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox
9/1/201944 minutes, 1 second
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Religion and Music

In a special Sunday programme, Edward Stourton takes a look at the relationship between religion and music. He begins with Gospel music and talks to historian Viv Broughton, promoter Roy Francis and singer Dawn Thomas Wallace about music that has its roots in the black oral tradition and which has had a massive impact on the popular music scene. The Rev Dr Jonathan Arnold discusses why religious music is still popular despite declining attendances at our traditional churches. Edward also investigates the power of music to induce a sense of spiritual well being with Neurologist Professor Michael Trimble and Music Psychologist Dr Ruth Herbert. And Professor Rupert Till explains why he believes that popular music has become the primary location for young people to find meaning and belief in their lives. Music Therapist Grace Meadows describes how music can give a voice to those who have difficulty in communicating. The programme ends with Cantor Zoe Jacobs - Britain's first Cantor in Reform Judaism - talking about her role. Producers: Helen Lee Peter Everett
8/25/201944 minutes, 15 seconds
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Legal loopholes, Christian Liberty, conflict resolution and World Humanitarian Day

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham explains why some MPs want to close a legal loophole so that it is illegal for sports coaches and religious leaders to have sex with anyone in their care under the age of 18. Maji Peterx is a specialist in conflict resolution and has brought together former members and victims of Boko Haram in trauma awareness and peace-building workshops. He talks to Emily about his work and explains what he will be doing in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin this week. Why is one of Scotland’s biggest pilgrimage sites to close? Despite a petition with over 5000 signatures to keep it open, the pilgrimage centre at Carfin Grotto, North Lanarkshire, is likely to close as officials say it’s not making enough money. And Monday 19th August is the United Nations’ ‘World Humanitarian Day’. This year the focus of the UN's World Humanitarian day is on women. We speak to humanitarian aid workers Shivani Rana from Christian Aid and Zoe Corden from CAFOD about how dangerous their work has become. Produced by Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Peter Everett Series Producer Amanda Hancox
8/18/201943 minutes, 36 seconds
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Sister Helen Prejean, Brexit and the Border, Hong Kong Protests

Sister Helen Prejean is known worldwide for campaigning against the death penalty in the US. She is the author of the bestselling ‘Dead Man Walking’ and joins Emily to talk about her latest book – a personal story of faith and spirituality. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the start of The Troubles and although the Good Friday Agreement saw an end to the violence twenty years ago, many in Northern Ireland are feeling unsettled because of Brexit and the prospect of a hard border. The Rt Rev Dr William Henry, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, and Father Martin Magill, a Catholic priest on the Falls Road, discuss the current situation. Deacon John Lam, from the Catholic Chaplaincy at Hong Kong International Airport, talks about the protests currently underway there. On the 14th August there is a performance of L’enfance du Christ by French composer Hector Berlioz at The Proms. Professor Barbara Kelly talks about this vividly dramatic oratorio (including the well-known Shepherds Farewell chorus) which tells the story of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. Christian charity Home for Good says that church goers in the UK are still supporting overseas orphanages despite a UK government pledge to end its support of them. Emily is joined by the charity’s Head of Advocacy - Emily Christou. Producers: Helen Lee Peter Everett Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo credit: Scott Langley
8/11/201944 minutes
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Flood clean-up, Human trafficking, Theology of beards

A major clean-up is underway as homes were deluged, bridges destroyed, roads blocked and towns cut off as flash floods devastated parts of England. Reeth, in North Yorkshire, has been badly hit by the floods and the Bishop of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley has been one of those helping farmers and villagers as they try to get on top of the aftermath. The Salvation Army have been brought in by Coronation Street writers to help writers with a story-line about human trafficking and modern slavery. Andrew Wileman from the Salvation Army’s Anti-trafficking and Modern Slavery team tells William how the public are often the first to alert authorities to potential victims and how the Salvation Army help those caught up in the crime. Facial hair. It’s a personal thing. Beards may be ‘in’ right now but the history of hairy faces hasn’t always been harmonious. Having the wrong beard at the wrong time in religious history could be a matter of spiritual life or death. The anonymous Christian commentator The Church Mouse has chronicled the holy history of furry faces in a new book called Beard Theology.
8/4/201944 minutes, 2 seconds
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28/07/2019

Sunday morning religious news and current affairs programme presented by William Crawley.
7/28/201943 minutes, 53 seconds
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21/07/2019

Sunday morning religious news and current affairs programme presented by Edward Stourton.
7/21/201943 minutes, 42 seconds
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Plague Carving; The Archbishop of Capetown and Latest Anglican Church Investigation

At the height of the English Civil War, the City of Chester was not only scarred by battle, it was also devastated by plague. One house, at 9, Watergate Street, was spared, it is still known as ‘God’s Providence House’. In 1652 a special oak relief carving was made to commemorate this building. Now, 367 years later, it has just turned up in a house-clearance sale in Shropshire and it goes to auction on Wednesday. Edward talks to the man who identified the carving Jeremy Lamond. The Archbishop of Capetown Thabo Makgoba met with Nelson Mandela in his home in 2009, in response to the request of his wife, Graça Machel. This moment marked the beginning of a moving relationship between southern Africa’s Anglican leader and Mandela until his death in 2013. We hear how this relationship influenced the Archbishop. "To fail at safeguarding casts a stain over every good thing the church does" those were the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): this week. This comes at the end of two weeks as the inquiry has examined the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Anglican Church. Donna Birrell has been at the inquiry. Production Team Carmel Lonergan Emmie Hume Editor Christine Morgan
7/14/201943 minutes, 55 seconds
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Sir Stephen Cleobury; Ampleforth College; Guru Nanak's poetry

Sir Stephen Cleobury – Director of Music at King’s College Cambridge – conducts his final Choral Evensong this Sunday. He talks to Emily about his 37 years at King's. The spotlight is once again on Ampleforth College over safeguarding as the Independent Schools Inspectorate published a Progress Monitoring Report highlighting failures at the school. Head teacher Deirdre Rowe will be leaving after just ten months in post. The Tablet’s Liz Dodd explains why Ampleforth is “in turmoil”. Nazir Afzal, the former CPS prosecutor, talks to Emily about his role as a mediator at the Anderton Park [School] dispute about teaching LGBT rights and what the way forward should be. In this celebratory year of the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak, Dr Jasjit Singh and Mahmood Awan discuss the impact of the Guru's poetry and writings on literature. Producers Amanda Hancox David Cook. Photo Credit Kevin Leighton
7/7/201943 minutes, 34 seconds
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Faith at Glastonbury and The Bishop of Burnley on the need for Safeguarding changes

It's the biggest music festival in the world with more than 200,000 people expected to visit Worthy Farm in Somerset. It's renowned for its spectacular line up of musicians, but there is also a spiritual element to Glastonbury - and even a religious presence. The Reverend Chris North, has been volunteering for the past fifteen years in the Sanctuary Tent at the Festival. Senior Bishops in the Diocese of Blackburn have spoken out about their concerns over safeguarding in the Church of England. In a letter the Bishops of Blackburn, Lancaster and Burnley, along with other senior clergy in the Diocese, say the Church of England needs to look again at its culture and structure, and understand that safeguarding is not just about ticking boxes. The BBC's Donna Birrell has been speaking to the Bishop of Burnley, the Right Reverend Philip North, who told her that the Church is complacent in thinking safeguarding failures are "historic". A law allowing parents to withdraw their children from religious education should be overturned, head teachers from across England have argued in a new study. The research, carried out by Liverpool Hope University, found that 41% of school leaders interviewed had received requests for students to be withdrawn from teaching about one religion. Dr David Lundie from Liverpool Hope University talks about the implications of this research. Producers Carmel Lonergan Peter Everett Editor Amanda Hancox
6/30/201943 minutes, 55 seconds
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Hong Kong Protests, BK Shivani, Catholicism and Transgender

Hindu spiritual leader BK Shivani described as “the very modern face of India's ancient Raja Yoga” this week she arrives in the UK to start a European Tour. Raja Yoga is known as the ‘yoga of the mind’ and BK Shivani’s has a vast following of almost 4 million on social media. She's expected to fill venues across the UK. Edward Stourton has been speaking to her ahead of her visit. Also in the programme how religious groups in Hong Kong have been at the forefront of protests and are science and religion really in conflict with one another? Nick Spencer speaks to Edward about his upcoming three part Radio 4 series exploring the relationship between the two. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Peter Everett Editor: Amanda Hancox
6/16/201944 minutes, 1 second
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Gangland funerals; Jewish women's abuse helpline; Grenfell two years on.

Two years after Grenfell we hear about the role that faith plays in the lives of those still fighting for justice and overcoming the trauma of the worst UK residential fire since the Second World War. We hear why the Archbishop of Dublin has called for an end to gangland-style funerals and why some fear his statement could put local priests at risk. And as a new helpline for Jewish women suffering sexual abuse is launched, we hear from the head of Jewish Women's Aid about the cultural and religious reasons why Jewish women take over 11 years to seek help. For more information about the helpline please find the link at the bottom of the programme page. Producers: Catherine Earlam Helen Lee Editor: Amanda Hancox
6/11/201943 minutes, 56 seconds
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Cricket in Afghanistan; Military Chaplains; Grenfell legacy

As the Cricket World Cup gets underway, Sarah Fane, founder and director of Afghan Connection a charity working to improve the lives of young Afghani's through cricket tells William about the extraordinary story of the rise of Afghanistan as a cricketing force. Commemorations are taking place for the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6th June 2019. Of the countless sacrifices made on that day some of the lesser known stories were those of the military chaplains. Sarah Meyrick has researched the role of the military chaplains for her recently published book, The Restless Wave, and tells William some of their stories. Ahead of the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin talks about his report on the legacy of the tragedy and the social issues it continues to raise. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published a research report on child sexual abuse in religious institutions, based on accounts shared by survivors at its Truth Project. We hear from survivor Angharad Woolcott and Ann-Marie Field, Chief Operating Officer at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Producers Carmel Lonergan Rajeev Gupta Editor Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: Afghan Connection.
6/2/201943 minutes, 52 seconds
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Virtual Reality baptisms; Asia Bibi's lawyer

Asia Bibi's lawyer, Saif-ul Malook, was named Secularist of the Year this week by the National Secular Society. This week he returns to Pakistan after forfeiting his asylum in the Netherlands in order to fight another blasphemy case. He tells us why. Diarmaid MacCulloch joins us to explain why is he so concerned at a British Academy report this week warning that Theology and Religions courses are at risk of "disappearing" from universities. And a US pastor baptising people in the online world of virtual reality explains why the idea could catch on.
5/26/201943 minutes, 49 seconds
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Queen Emma's Bones; Ruth Hunt; Islamophobia

In her day, Queen Emma was a powerful political figure who married two successive Kings of England and was the mother of Edward the Confessor. Experts believe that they have found her bones in a mortuary chest at Winchester Cathedral. Replicas of those bones now form the centrepiece of a new exhibition exploring the relationship between monarchy, power and the church. Trevor Barnes has been to investigate. Panorama presenter Jane Corbin discusses the suspension of The Bishop of Lincoln. Two years after the Manchester Arena bomb took the lives of 22 people, David Walker - the Bishop of Manchester – talks about healing and remembrance in the city. BBC White House correspondent Tara McKelvey discusses controversial new anti-abortion legislation in the US. It is Stonewall’s 30th Birthday on 24th May. Its CEO Ruth Hunt talks about her faith and how the organisation is working towards greater inclusion for LGBT people in all religions. The government’s rejection of a definition for ‘islamophobia’ this week prompted widespread criticism from the British Muslim community. But not all Muslims agree that the definition is a good idea. The journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Labour shadow immigration minister Afzal Khan discuss. Producers: Helen Lee Catherine Earlam Editor: Amanda Hancox
5/19/201943 minutes, 52 seconds
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Walking pilgrimages, Jean Vanier, Religious perspectives on artificial intelligence

Walking pilgrimages are increasingly capturing the popular imagination; Bernadette Kehoe joins pilgrims on a new pilgrimage route in Kent. The ‘Augustine Camino’ winds its way from the Anglican Cathedral in Rochester to the Catholic shrine of St Augustine. Jean Vanier, the Catholic theologian and founder of the L’Arche communities, died this week. We pay tribute to his life and work with John Sargent, national director of L’Arche UK and Tim, an adult with learning difficulties and a member of L’Arche Manchester who knew him. The first Muslim to row for Team GB, Double Olympian Mohamed Sbihi. He tells our reporter Tusdiq Din how he has coped with Ramadan over the recent years where the demands of his faith and those of an elite athlete have found a compromise. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Professor Neil Lawrence (Professor of Machine Learning at Sheffield University) discuss ethical and religious perspectives on Artificial Intelligence. Azeem Wazir says he will be killed if he is deported back to Pakistan for protesting against the arrest of Asia Bibi and the country’s blasphemy laws. He speaks to Emily from Colnbrook immigration removal centre. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Harry Farley Editor: Amanda Hancox
5/12/201944 minutes, 7 seconds
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Ramadan, Thai King, South African Elections

Ramadan begins tomorrow and for the next month, Muslims will fast every day from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam as is Zakat - the compulsory giving of a proportion of your wealth to charity. We hear from young Muslims about the importance of giving. Today the Pope sets off on a visit to Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia. Why is he visiting countries in which fewer than 1% are Catholic? In January the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched a review into Christian persecution around the world and how effective the Foreign Office is in supporting those affected. The review is led by the Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen. He talks to Edward about his findings. The Archbishop of Cape Town - Thabo Makgobo - discusses the South African Elections. The King of Thailand is crowned over a three day ceremony. We look at the religious significance of the coronation for the country. Sister Katrina Alton is the first 'new' sister of St Joseph of Peace for 30 years. She tells Edward about her calling and her arrest at the Ministry of Defence after marking the walls with blessed charcoal in resistance to the preparations for nuclear war that go on there. Producers: Amanda Hancox Louise Clarke-Rowbotham
5/5/201943 minutes, 57 seconds
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Sri Lanka attacks; Catholic Primate of All Ireland

Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday bombings left at least 250 dead and more than 500 wounded. One week on we examine the history behind Sri Lanka's religious tensions and speak to a Catholic leader as churches across the country remain shut in fear of further attacks. After so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, we ask if this is now the terror group will operate now its territory has been defeated. The Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, talks to Edward Stourton about the news that Northern Ireland's politicians have agreed to begin talks to try and restore the devolved government at Stormont after the journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead by the New IRA. Producers: Harry Farley Carmel Lonergan Editor: Amanda Hancox
4/28/201943 minutes, 37 seconds
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The date of Easter, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Sri Lanka bombings

How was the date of Easter decided in the West? Michael Carter, Monastic Historian at English Heritage explains why Whitby Abbey played a crucial role. Ethirajan Anbarasan from the BBC's Sihala service gives the latest on the bombing of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka where hundreds have died. Cardinal Vincent Nichols head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales joins Emily live to discuss issues effecting the Catholic Church. Rosie Dawson reports from New York where an alliance of Christians have been following their own version of the Stations of the Cross in an attempt to highlight the suffering of victims of sex trafficking. And why are people drawing similarities between the Easter story and the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral? Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield and Father Aidan Troy, Parish priest of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Paris, discuss it. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Helen Lee Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: English Heritage
4/21/201943 minutes, 58 seconds
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Sikh Vaisakhi, Fleabag and Forgiveness

This weekend Sikhs all over the UK and the world are celebrating Vaisakhi. It marks one of the most important religious, historical dates in the Sikh calendar. William Crawley will be talking to Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies at the University of Birmingham. The hit BBC sitcom Fleabag has reignited a debate about priestly celibacy. Alex Walker quit the priesthood when he fell in love with his now wife. He talks about his life , the show and how the portrayal of the priests story line have been received. Jo Frost from the Evangelical Alliance and Lorraine Cavanagh from Modern Church discuss whether you need to believe in the Easter story in order to be a Christian.. And award winning rapper Guvna B talks about the current influence of religion in black music. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Christine Morgan Photo Credit: Sikh Press Association.
4/14/201944 minutes, 1 second
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Israeli elections, Jallianwala Bagh, Newly discovered ancient religion

Sunday morning religious news and current affairs programme.
4/7/201944 minutes, 2 seconds
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Brexit Alliance, Dalai Lama, Brexit Prayer

William Crawley discusses an unlikely alliance forged in the battle for Brexit when he discusses the relationship between the Protestant DUP and devout Catholic Jacob Rees Mogg with Professor Jon Tonge and journalist Mary Kenny It is exactly 60 years today since the Dalai Lama arrived in India having fled the Chinese authorities in Tibet disguised as a soldier. Krishna Das, Reuters’ Chief Correspondent, discusses his legacy and how his successor may be chosen. The Bishop of Salisbury - Nick Holtem - talks about the Church of England's response to the anxiety created by Brexit. Producers: Helen Lee and Harry Farley Editor: Christine Morgan
3/31/201943 minutes, 51 seconds
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Asylum and religious conversion; Sam Brownback

The Home Office says they are investigating after an official used Bible quotes to argue Christianity is not a peaceful religion in a bid to refuse an Iranian convert asylum. Was this a rogue incident or is it part of a wider pattern? Sam Brownback is the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. He speaks to us about China, Pakistan and Asia Bibi. And in India violence against Dalits, or those who are the lowest caste, persist. Rahul Joglekar visits one Dalit artist in Mumbai who is trying to change perceptions with a designer range of leather goods. Producers: Harry Farley and Peter Everett Editor: Amanda Hancox
3/24/201943 minutes, 47 seconds
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Witch Markings, New Zealand Mosque Attacks and Religion in China

Experts at Creswell Crags in Nottinghamshire thought the hundreds of markings covering the walls of caves were Victorian graffiti. Now they are believed to be Britain's largest collection of 'witch markings' from 16th - 18th centuries to protect people from the dark forces of the underworld. Reporter Harry Farley went to see them. The head of China’s state-sanctioned Protestant Church claims Western forces are trying to use Christianity to “subvert” the Chinese government and the Governor of Xinjiang province says the ‘re-education camps’ for Muslim Uighurs are reducing terrorism. Edward Stourton discusses religion in China with Maria Jaschok and Edmond Tang. In response to the New Zealand Mosque attacks, Edward speaks to the Bishop Christchurch. Samayya Afzal, Community Engagement Manager for the Muslim Council of Great Britain and Dr Rosemary Hancock of the University of Notre Dame in Sydney Australia discuss Islamophobia and what lies behind it. Producers Carmel Lonergan Helen Lee Editor Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: Creswell Heritage Trust
3/18/201943 minutes, 47 seconds
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25 years of women priests; Amanda Spielman on faith schools

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the first female ordinations in the Church of England. Rosie Dawson reports on the struggle women faced to become priests and the opposition that still exists in some segments of the Church. Amanda Spielman is Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of schools and she has angered some conservative religious groups by saying all children must learn about same-sex couples, regardless of their faith background. She responds to parents at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham who have withdrawn their children in protest at lessons about LGBT issues. Scottish couples are nearly four times less likely to divorce if they marry in a Humanist ceremony, according to figures given exclusively to Sunday. We discuss the story with Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK and Harry Benson, research director at the Marriage Foundation. Producers: Harry Farley Peter Everett Editor: Amanda Hancox
3/10/201943 minutes, 43 seconds
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Helen Taylor-Thompson; new Farsi service

94 year old Helen Taylor-Thompson talks to Emily Buchanan ahead of International Women's Day. She was a member of Churchill’s ‘Secret Army’ during World War 2 and went on to found Europe’s first AIDS hospice in the 1980's. She talks to Emily about how her Christian faith has helped her through. A new service in Farsi is launched at Wakefield Cathedral to cater for a growing number of Iranians who have become Christians in the last 5 years. Andrew West in Sydney reports on Cardinal Pell's challenge of his child abuse conviction and one survivor of abuse by a teacher in a Catholic School in Lancashire criticises the Catholic Church in England and Wales over its attitude towards survivors. Christopher Pearson, Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission responds. Producer: Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke- Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox
3/3/201943 minutes, 52 seconds
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Isis bride, sex education backlash

Tania Joya is a former ISIS bride and now lives in the US and works in de-radicalisation. She talks to Edward Stourton about the Shamima Begum case. Sunday's Harry Farley reports on how some Orthodox Jews state they will leave the country if new Government plans on Relationship education are implemented. Martin Bashir reports from Rome on the final day of a major summit on clergy sexual abuse, as the Pope calls for "concrete measures" and not only "simple and obvious condemnations". US comic writer Mark Russell talks to Edward Stourton about his comic about Jesus called ‘Second Coming’ and controversy around it. Producers: Catherine Earlam and Helen Lee Editor: Amanda Hancox
2/24/201943 minutes, 52 seconds
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Medieval Nun, Burial Space.

Buried within medieval archives is the story of Joan of Leeds – a nun who faked her own death in order to run away and live a wanton life. Professor Sarah Rees Jones of York University tells Edward the story. And why not everyone wants to be cremated even though we’re running out of space for burials - Professor Douglas Davies, director of Durham University’s Centre of Death and Life Studies and Mohamed Omer, board member of ‘Gardens of Peace’ the largest dedicated Muslim cemetery in the country discuss the theological reasons for burial. Following our special programme from Lagos last weekend we hear the latest results and predictions from Mayeni Jones in Nigeria. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Harry Farley Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo credit: Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York.
2/17/201943 minutes, 44 seconds
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Nigeria’s elections: A Sunday programme special

Nigeria’s presidential elections on February 16 will decide who leads Africa’s most populous nation for the next four years. In a Sunday special from Lagos, Edward Stourton explores the effect religion plays in Nigerian life and its importance in the upcoming ballot. Religiously linked violence in Nigeria’s northern states and middle belt colours the backdrop of these elections. We speak to those affected and examine the impact the clashes will have on how people vote. Femi Kuti who, like his father Fela Kuti, combines music with social activism, speaks to Edward Stourton about the choices facing Nigeria. And as two leading candidates are both in their 70s, we speak to some of Nigeria’s under 25s, who make up more than half the population, about how they view the elections. Producer: Harry Farley Helen Lee
2/10/201943 minutes, 38 seconds
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Jeremy Hunt, Bishop of Liverpool

The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, talks to Emily Buchanan at the launch of his review into the persecution of Christians around the world. The Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes is one of the most vocal advocates of LGBTI inclusion in the House of Bishops. He tells Emily Buchanan about his new book The Table and why he believes the Church needs to be open to all those on the margins. And - its the largest gathering of humanity on the planet but Rahul Tandon tells Emily how the Hindu pilgrimage, Kumbh Mela, is being used as a political platform ahead of upcoming Indian elections. Producers: Catherine Earlam; Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor: Amanda Hancox
2/3/201943 minutes, 51 seconds
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Holocaust Remembrance, Jazz Church Music, Venezuela

On this Holocaust Memorial Day, Edward talks to Hannah Lewis who survived a Nazi labour camp. Olivia Marks-Woldman joins Hannah to discuss new figures on British attitudes to the Holocaust. Composer Will Todd talks about his new CD of jazz/gospel 'Passion Music'. Further allegations against the late Bishop of Chichester - George Bell are "unfounded" according to a new CofE report. The current Bishop of Chichester - Martin Warner - explains why. Professor Raphael Luciani describes the unrest in Venezuela. 'Hate preachers' - we discuss whether or not their speeches at British universities are being properly monitored. Producers: Helen Lee Harley Farley Editor: Amanda Hancox
1/27/201943 minutes, 53 seconds
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Turbans and Tales, Clergy Safety, The Unknown Six

Amit and Naroop have photographed world famous musicians including 50 Cent and Tinie Tempah but this week launch a book of striking images of Turban wearing Sikhs. They talk to William Crawley about the project. The remains of six unidentified victims of the Holocaust, sent to the Imperial War Museum 20 years ago, will be given a Jewish burial on Sunday. William Crawley speaks to the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who is officiating at the service. In the week that up to fifteen Catholic churches received bomb and stabbing threats, we speak to Nick Tolson from National Churchwatch and the Reverend David MacGeoch, about whether enough is being done to protect clergy.
1/20/201944 minutes, 6 seconds
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Methodism's oldest chapel, Knife crime

The New Room in Bristol is Methodism's oldest chapel, built by John Wesley in 1739. Bob Walker reports after an 18-month, multi-million pound renovation that includes a new stained glass window telling the story of Wesley's life. The Church of England has faced criticism for its investments in Amazon and Google but it is also using its financial weight to pressure oil companies such as ExxonMobil to disclose greenhouse gas reduction targets. Loretta Minghella is First Church Estates Commissioner, in charge of the Church’s £8.3bn investment fund. She speaks to Edward Stourton. More than 130 people were killed through violent crime in London last year. This week Jaden Moodie, 14, was murdered after being knocked off a moped in Waltham Forest. He is believed to be the youngest victim to die on the capital’s streets in the past year. Tobi Adegboyega is lead pastor of Spac Nation Ministries, a church in south London that uses former gang members to show others caught in crime a different way of life. PRODUCERS: Harry Farley Rajeev Gupta EDITOR: Amanda Hancox Image credit: Andrew Taylor
1/13/201943 minutes, 50 seconds
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St Bride's Church, The Sacred Art of Joking, Jair Bolsonaro

For more than three centuries, St. Bride's Church in Fleet Street has had a close connection with the newspaper industry. The saddest services are funerals of journalists killed in the line of duty. Between 1st January and 14th December 2018, at least 53 journalists were killed around the world. Standing in front of the journalists’ altar, Edward meets two veteran journalists - the BBC’s Lyce Doucet and the photojournalist Sebastian Rich to discuss the changing nature of war zone reporting. Later today, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will officially gain its independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. Jonathan Luxmoore explains the importance of the split. As new figures reveal an influx of lone child refugees amongst the boatloads of people crossing the Channel, the Bishop of Dover talks about the need to show greater compassion for those risking their lives to get to the UK. James Cary is a sit-com writer who also sits on the Church of England’s General Synod. He says that Christians have lost the ability to see the humour in the Bible. He talks to Edward about his new book ‘The Sacred Art of Joking’. Indian women have been demonstrating in Kerala against their exclusion from the Sabarimala Temple. The BBC’s India correspondent Yogita Limaye explains why. Rosie Dawson reports on the American Red Letter Christians who are planning to launch the movement in this country. Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as president of Brazil on New Year’s Day. What impact is his faith going to have on his country now that he holds the reins of power? The BBC’s South America correspondent Katy Watson reports. Producers: Helen Lee and Catherine Earlam Editor: Amanda Hancox
1/6/201943 minutes, 45 seconds
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Where was Jesus born?

Emily Buchanan talks to Libby Purves about her collection of Nativity scenes. After which, Bishop David Walker and the Revd Dr Ian Paul will discuss if Jesus was actually born in a stable and whether or not it really matters. Fergal Keane remembers a happy Christmas time in Soweto in the early 1990s and Yolande Knell has been celebrating the Feast of St Nicholas with Palestinian Christians. The Bishop of Manchester comments on recent figures from the Office of National Statistics which show that the number of homeless people dying in England and Wales has risen by 25% over the past five years. The Dean of Blackburn talks about the gin he has created with a local distillery to raise money for the cathedral and Samantha Calvert, from the Vegan Society, describes a vegan Christmas and discusses why veganism should become a protected belief. And there is a taster from a documentary going out on Radio 4 on Christmas Day about the Once in Royal David City solo which is always sung at the beginning of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge. Producers: Helen Lee Peter Everett Editor: Amanda Hancox
1/4/201939 minutes, 47 seconds
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Immigration and Religion: A Sunday Programme Special

William Crawley presents a special edition of the Sunday programme looking at immigration and how different religious groups in the United Kingdom engage with this issue. As we look ahead to 2019 and the UK’s exit from the European Union, immigration is an issue which will continue to dominate politics. In this special edition of the programme William Crawley is joined by Dr Anna Rowlands from Durham University and the author Shelina Janmohamed to explore how different religious groups have engaged with refugees and migrants and the challenges they have faced. Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, explains the difference religious belief can have on someone’s views of immigration. Kevin Hyland, the UK’s former Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, discusses why he resigned, the role of religious groups in tackling human trafficking, and the rise of anti-migrant sentiment across Europe.
12/30/201843 minutes, 55 seconds
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A Christmas Experience

To keep Christ at the heart of the Christmas story, churches in North London have pulled out the pews and replaced them with Mary, Joseph, Shepherds and Herod to name a few, as over 900 primary school children have come together to recreate the first ever Christmas through an immersive story telling journey. Rosie Wright reports. NHS specialist organ donation nurse, Angela Ditchfield, tells Edward about a new option on the NHS Organ Donor Register which gives reassurance about how organ donation can be reconciled with a person’s faith or beliefs. With so much focus on the Prime Minister, Edward discusses the qualities needed for a good leader with two faith leaders – Bishop Nick Baines and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. Producers Carmel Lonergan Catherine Earlam Editor Amanda Hancox
12/16/201843 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Knife Angel and Divorce in the Sikh Community

Naz Shah MP, parliamentary ambassador for Islamic relief's ‘Honour Her’ campaign, speaks candidly to Edward about her personal reasons for joining the campaign to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls. A bitter divorce case in the orthodox Jewish community of Stamford Hill has revealed instances of housing benefit fraud - with some claiming it's prevalent in the community and assisted by local community organisations. Melanie Abbott has been investigating. And Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a staunchly Catholic conservative career politician, has been elected as the successor to Angela Merkel as leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats. We'll be exploring how her faith may shape her policy. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Helen Lee Editor: Amanda Hancox
12/9/201846 minutes, 53 seconds
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Hanukkah and Christingle; Funeral costs

This Sunday is the first day of Hanukkah - the Jewish festival of light. It is also the first Sunday in Advent on which Christingle services will be held in many Christian churches. We look at the significance of both festivals. The competition regulator has issued a report highlighting the rising costs of funerals. We discuss whether this will lead to transparency and lower funeral costs. The Charity Commission has launched an inquiry into the Buddhist group, the Rigpa Foundation. The founder and former Spiritual Director Sogyal Rinpoche faces accusations of sexual abuse and assault. Harry Farley reports. Continuing our series on public servants and the moral dilemmas they face, Dr Claire Foster-Gilbert talks to Sir David Normington, former permanent secretary at the Department of Education and the Home Office and first civil service commissioner. 80 years ago today the first Kinder transport arrived in Harwich bringing 196 children from a Jewish orphanage in Berlin. Rosie Wright hears from Kinder who made that journey to the UK and examines the political debates that took place to allow child immigration into Britain. Producers: Carmel Lonergan and Harry Farley Editor: Amanda Hancox
12/2/201843 minutes, 43 seconds
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Brexit; Church Growth

Sunday morning religious news and current affairs programme presented by Edward Stourton.
11/25/201844 minutes, 3 seconds
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Anglo Saxon religion; Asia Bibi

The British Library is hosting an exhibition on the Anglo Saxons, looking at 600 years of art, war and religion. Harry Farley speaks to lead curator Dr Claire Breay about the role of faith between the fall of Roman Britain and the Norman Conquest. David Neuberger, former President of the Supreme Court, opens up about his regrets, concerns and the difficulties facing the judiciary as part of a new series looking at the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by public servants. Asia Bibi, the Christian Pakistani woman acquitted for charges of blasphemy, is still in danger from mob violence, her supporters warn. As pressure builds on the Home Office to offer her asylum in the United Kingdom, we speak to a close friend of the family John Pontifex, from Aid to the Church in Need, and Usama Hassan, from Quilliam. Producer: Harry Farley Editor: Amanda Hancox
11/18/201844 minutes, 6 seconds
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Sunday: A Remembrance Special

In this special programme commemorating 100 years since the armistice was signed, Edward Stourton looks at the commonwealth contribution to the war effort , the impact of the war still felt across the globe today and we hear the thoughts of young people on the importance of remembrance. Also to mark 100 years on from the end of the First World War, the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has written a sonnet to mark the moment which she has recorded especially for Radio 4. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Carmel Lonergan Editor: Amanda Hancox
11/11/201843 minutes, 6 seconds
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Bishop Michael Curry and Intersex Day

Bishop Michael Curry became a household name when he preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. He talks about his new book ‘The Power of Love’. In anticipation of the worldwide Intersex Day of Remembrance on the 8th November, Edward chats to Sara who was born intersex. She describes how she has been treated by church congregations. Vishvapani talks about the life of Sangharakshita (founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order) who died this week. And the Rev Fergus Butler-Gaille describes the slightly eccentric and off-beat behaviour displayed by certain members of the English clergy over the years. Producers: Helen Lee, Harry Farley Editor: Amanda Hancox
11/7/201843 minutes, 41 seconds
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Karva Chauth Festival and Fake Dead Sea Scrolls

Hindu women have been fasting for the festival of Karva Chauth. Traditionally women keep the fast to bless their husbands with good health. But now more Hindu men are deciding to keep the fast along side their wives. AJ and Reena tell us why they have broken from tradition and have been fasting together. The Museum of the Bible said this week that five of its 16 famous Dead Sea Scrolls fragments are fake. Dr Roberta Mazza, Papyrologist at the University of Manchester, talks about her concerns on this increasing market for forgeries/illegal artifacts. Evangelical parishes in the Church of England have bought up millions of pounds worth of property. Harry Farley explores whether they are stockpiling assets ahead of a split. Academics at the University of Cambridge are exploring the link between epilepsy and religious experience. Catherine Carr reports. PRODUCERS: RAJEEV GUPTA TARA HOLMES SERIES PRODUCER: AMANDA HANCOX
10/28/201843 minutes, 55 seconds
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Sacred Mountain; Safeguarding Aid

For many years concerns have been raised over the eroded pilgrim path of Croagh Patrick; from where the fifth century Saint Patrick allegedly banished the snakes from all Ireland. Tracey Logan visits a new kind of path built near the summit using only materials found on the mountain, will the path still feel sacred? Labour MP Diana Johnson debates the benefits of her ten-minute rule bill to decriminalise abortion the bill with Conservative MP Fiona Bruce. To mark the centenary of the end of World War One, BBC Radio 2’s Faith in the World Week asks who are the peace makers today? The Mobo award winning rap artist Guvna B has been finding out by visiting a Christian charity in a busy London A&E who help victims of knife crime and gang violence. As the global safeguarding conference in London on tackling exploitation and harassment in the aid sector finishes, Edward talks to Debbie Ariyo from Africa United against Child abuse (Afruca) about what can be done to ensure the safeguarding of people in need. Producers: Carmel Lonergan Lissa Cook Editor: Amanda Hancox Photo Credit: Tracey Logan
10/21/201843 minutes, 59 seconds
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Andrew Brunson, Oscar Romero and Tommie Smith

Former Olympic champion Tommie Smith speaks to Rajeev Gupta about how his Christian faith inspired his iconic fist raised protest on the podium at the Mexico City Games 50 years ago this week. A court in Turkey has freed US pastor Andrew Brunson in a case that badly strained ties between the US and Turkey. We bring you the latest on his release. As the canonisation of the assassinated archbishop Oscar Romero takes place, Edward talks to CAFOD's South America regional manager Claire Dixon live from Rome. Reporter Trevor Barnes has been to a hand to hand food packaging event at the St Laurence's Church, Catford as they prepare food parcels to be sent out to Africa in time for World Food Day. PRODUCERS: RAJEEV GUPTA HARRY FARLEY SERIES PRODUCER: AMANDA HANCOX
10/14/201844 minutes
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Archbishop of York, Drones, Green Health Awards

As Archbishop John Sentamu announces his retirement, we look at the significance of the role of Archbishop of York in the Church of England. Trevor Barnes visits the winners of the first Green Health Awards, a collaboration of health care professionals and churches. The morality of killing with Drones - Dr Peter Lee, author of "Reaper Force: Inside Britain's Drone Wars" talks to William Crawley about the ethical and moral issues facing drone pilots. And why is Manchester celebrating Syria? Producers: Amanda Hancox and Dan Tierney
10/7/201843 minutes, 49 seconds
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Alabama Window, Galileo Letter Revealed, Miracles

When four girls were killed by a racist bomb in an Alabama Baptist Church 1963,the late Welsh artist John Petts raised funds for the Church and created a stain glass window depicting Jesus as black. Now the window is in need of protection. Theodore Ted Debro Trustee, a Church Trustee, tells Edward why. A letter by the Italian astronomer Galileo challenging the official view of cosmology has been discovered 405 years after it was written. Dr Anna-Marie Roos sheds light on the significance of the letter. A ComRes survey for BBC Local Radio on miracles reveals three in five (62%) British adults believe that some form of miracle is possible today. Chris French,Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, and Yujin Nagasawa, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham discuss the findings. The Indian courts have made a number of ground breaking rulings over the past few weeks including a landmark decision lifting a Hindu temple's ban on women entering. The BBC's James Clayton tells us more. Voters in the Republic of Ireland are being asked to decide whether the criminal offence of blasphemy should be abolished or not. Professor David Nash, Historian of blasphemy and adviser to the Irish government, speaks to Edward Stourton. Producers: RAJEEV GUPTA HARRY FARLEY Series Producer: AMANDA HANCOX Photo Credit: Sophia Smith Galer
9/30/201843 minutes, 50 seconds
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Exclusive bereavement survey, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Franklin Graham

Sunday reveals the results of the biggest ever UK survey into how people of different faiths cope with death, dying and bereavement. Co-op funeral care Managing Director David Collingwood and theologian Douglas Davies discuss the results. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been accused of 'hypocrisy' this week for his criticism of Amazon, a company the Church of England has shares in. Edward Stourton asks Catherine Howarth of Share Action, how far investors can influence the behaviour of companies. Bob Walker speaks to Nobel Peace prize winner and former Liberian Prime Minster Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who delivered a keynote address at Rising, a global peace forum held at Coventry Cathedral this week. Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, arrives in the UK next week for a three day event in Blackpool, prompting protests from LGBT activists and churches. Edward Stourton looks at what Franklin Graham believes and why he's such a controversial figure. Ahead of the first national Cathedral's conference in Manchester we speak to the Dean of Lichfield Adrian Dorber about how he hopes it will address the dire financial challenges many Cathedrals face. Crispin Blunt is the head of Humanist APPG in Parliament. Harry Farley speaks to him in the last of our series on Faith in Westminster. For the first time in years the number of people seeking to be ordained in the Church of England is on the up including among young people and women. Trevor Barnes finds out why. Producers: Catherine Earlam and Tara Holmes Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.
9/25/201843 minutes, 46 seconds
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Niqab Wearing Superhero, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Sara Alfageeh, an American illustrator and comic fan, annoyed by the tight costume worn by Marvel's Muslim superhero Dust she redesigned the niqab hero's attire and her designs have gone viral online. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks gives his first broadcast interview after his comments on Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism and he talks to Edward about his new Radio 4 series "Morality in the 21st Century". The Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches are in a tug of war over the status of the Ukrainian Church. Writer and journalist Jonathan Luxmoore discuses who the likely winner will be. Three years after David Cameron pledged 20,000 Syrians could seek refuge in the UK Bob Walker reports on the faith organisations helping many refugees to start again. Vatican commentators Austen Ivereigh and Edward Pentin discuss the letter sent by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano calling for Pope Francis to resign. Yasmin Qureshi MP talks to Harry Farley has he continues his series with politicians of faith. Cardinal Vincent Nichols tells Edward about his efforts to tackle human trafficking and modern day slavery. Producers Rajeev Gupta Peter Everett Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.
9/25/201843 minutes, 51 seconds
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Franklin Graham, French Pilgrimage

As hundreds of people take part in the annual pilgrimage in the French city of Valenciennes, John Laurenson joins the pilgrims to find out why pilgrimages are becoming so popular in secular France. Usama Hasan, Head of Islamic Studies at Quilliam, gives his reaction to the release of Amjem Choudary. And where politics and morality clash - Edward discusses the cut in funding for Palestinian projects by the US Administration with Nigel Varnell of Embrace the Middle East and Sarah Elliott from Republicans Overseas. Franklin Graham talks to Sunday about his controversial visit to Blackpool. And the heart-felt appeal from a mother who wants more people of Asian heritage to register as stem cell donors. Producers: Carmel Lonergan and Lissa Cook Series Producer: Amanda Hancox
9/23/201843 minutes, 50 seconds
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Religious education, Recovery walks, Moral economy

As Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing comes to an end, the BBC's White House reporter Tara McKelvey talks to William about his religious background and how it might appeal to the religious conservatives. Should Religious Education be renamed Religion and Worldviews and include non-religious perspectives such as Humanism and atheism? A major commission on RE has urged the Department for Education to do just this. William discusses it's findings with Rev John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey and chair of the commission. The Visible Recovery Movement is an alternative to 12 step fellowship programmes for those with addiction. Rosie Dawson went on a recovery walk in Shrewsbury to find out more. Professor Alison Scott-Baumann from SOAS tells William about the biggest research study ever of Muslim students in British universities. As the Archbishop of Canterbury warns of the need for the wealthy to be taxed more, theologian Dr Ian Paul and Andy Walton from the Centre for Theology and Community discuss whether the Archbishop is right. The Chief Rabbi has issued guidance for Orthodox Jewish schools on how to protect and improve the lives of LGBT pupils. Journalist Angela Epstein explains what the guidance entails and reaction to it. Harry Farley continues his series of interviews with politicians about their faith and politics by talking to the Conservative MP Gary Streeter. Producers: Catherine Earlam Peter Everett Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.
9/9/201848 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Pope in Ireland - a Sunday Programme Special

William Crawley presents a special programme from Phoenix Park, Dublin: Pope Francis is in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. What sort of welcome will Pope Francis receive amid global allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church? Over fifty thousand people are expected, and William Crawley will give a taste of the atmosphere as people flock to Dublin from across Ireland and beyond. He will look at the importance of Pope Francis's visit for Catholics in Ireland and examine how the Church in Ireland has changed since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979; a time when the church had much more influence on society and political life. The Pope will also visit the town of Knock. Rajeev Gupta went along to look at the history of this famous shrine and explore the importance of Pilgrimage. The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin gives his thoughts on the tensions and problems the Catholic Church is facing in Ireland and where he sees its future.Pope Francis met privately with 8 survivors of clerical and institutional abuse. One of them, a Catholic priest Fr Patrick McCafferty, spoke to the BBC's Callum May. Joining William live throughout the programme are former British Ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell and Dearbhail McDonald, Editor for Independent News and Media. They will discuss the reactions to Pope Francis's visit and its legacy both for the relationship between Church and State and for the wider Society in Ireland now and in the future. Producers Rajeev Gupta Carmel Lonergan Editor Christine Morgan.
8/26/201843 minutes, 44 seconds
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Divine Aretha, Faith in Westminster, Pope in Ireland discussion

We reflect on the deep Christian faith and gospel roots of Aretha Franklin with music, archive and the reflections of biographer David Nathan. American pastor Andrew Brunson is at the heart of a trade war between Turkey and the US. Emily Buchanan talks to Pastor Ryan Keating, who was himself deported from Turkey on charges of being a threat to national security about the place of Christianity in Turkey today. A report at the UN this week claimed that China is holding a million Muslim Uighurs in detention in Xinjiang province. The BBC's China correspondent John Sudworth talks to Emily Buchanan. Carol Monaghan is the SNP MP for Glasgow North West. She talks to Harry Farley about wearing her faith on her sleeve for our series on faith in Westminster. Ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland a debate is raging over whether the World Meeting of Families is too exclusive and conservative or too liberal and inclusive. Martin Pendergast and Anthony Murphy join the programme to discuss that question. As more and more cases of clerical abuse come to the fore, Emily Buchanan speaks to Mark Stibbe who alleges he was abused by conservative evangelical Christian camp leader John Smyth, who died this week. And Safeguarding expert Donald Findlater discusses why there are so many sex abuse scandals involving clergy. Ben Wood, Chair of the National Association of Teachers of RE, talks to Emily Buchanan about the dramatic drop in RE studies at A Level - why it's declining and what he thinks should be done about it. Editor: Christine Morgan Producers: Catherine Earlam Harry Farley.
8/19/201843 minutes, 36 seconds
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Cremations in Bali, Teaching the history of the Middle East, Why wear the burka?

Hundreds of people have died after a devastating earthquake hit the Indonesian Islands of Lombok and Bali this week. As Hindus on the islands start making preparations for the cremations of loved ones, Maria Bakkalapulo reports on the rituals and the significance of food during the ceremonies. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) accused two Catholic schools of allowing abuse to go unchecked for 40 years. They say both Ampleforth and Downside have blocked efforts to reform their structures. But how did safeguarding in these schools run by religious orders go so badly wrong. We start our series looking into how MP's with a faith balance religious beliefs and political life. This week Harry Farley meets Labour's Slough MP Tanmanjeet Dhesi at his local Sikh gurdwara. Wim Wenders' docu-film Pope Francis - A Man of His Word is out in the UK this week. Richard Fitzwilliams reviews the film with Emily Buchanan followed by an interview with director Wim Wenders himself. Only 2200 out of 550,000 GCSE history students took up the choice to study Israel-Palestine conflict this year. We talk to Michael Davies, a history teacher in Lancaster who says he has come up with an effective way to teach this topic in schools. Suhayl Patel, curriculum manager at the Abrar Academy faith school also joins us to tell us how Michael's teaching methods allowed pupils at his school to understand the conflict from a Jewish point a view. Why do some Muslim women wear a Burka when others feel a simple headscarf is enough to be compatible with their Islamic values? Mona Siddiqui and Fatima Barkatulla discuss the history and theology behind the Muslim veil. PRODUCERS: RAJEEV GUPTA PETER EVERETT SERIES PRODUCER: AMANDA HANCOCK.
8/12/201843 minutes, 52 seconds
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Empire of the Sikhs, Pakistan elections, Consecrated virgins

Poonam Taneja reports on the Empire of the Sikhs exhibition, a rare collection of stunning objects and works of art that reveal the remarkable story of the Sikh Empire and the European and American adventurers who served it. BBC Religious Affairs Editor Martin Bashir looks ahead to this week's review by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) of the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester, who was imprisoned in 2015 for abusing young men. Following the publication of new Vatican guidelines on what it means to be a consecrated virgin, Edward Stourton speaks to Elizabeth Rees who explains what life is like as a consecrated woman. Secunder Kermani reports on the influence of Sufi mystics on the outcome of the upcoming Pakistan elections. Jasvinder Sanghera tells Edward Stourton why her forced marriage campaign group Karma Nirvana is handing out spoons at a school to help tackle the summer holiday spike in forced marriage cases. Following a debate in the House of Lords of a bill calling for civil partnerships to be extended to siblings living together, we hear from one person living in a 'platonic partnership' about why they believe this is a matter of correcting a serious injustice. Do Christians and atheists have more in common than is commonly thought? Krish Kandiah thinks so and says why in his new book Fatheism. He's joined by Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK. to discuss the current climate of conversation between believers and non-believers. Producer Catherine Earlam Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Series Producer Amanda Hancox.
7/22/201843 minutes, 40 seconds
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Shaolin Grandmaster; Ofsted, religion and schools and new churches

We are familiar with yoga and mindfulness but now there's growing interest in an old Chinese practice called Qigong. 5000 years old, it was used by Kung Fu masters to increase their strength. One of the best known Malaysian Chinese Grandmasters is Wong Kiew Kit. Emily Buchanan met him to learn more about this ancient practice. The Church of England has announced plans for 100 new churches in England. The Bishop of Burnley, Philip North and Rector of Holy Trinity Guildford Robert Cotton discuss the future shape of church and whether the church has it's priorities right. This week the Labour Party will formally adopt its new 'anti-Semitism code' - a definition of what does and does not amount to anti-Semitism when it comes to disciplinary proceedings against its members. But the wording of the code has been heavily criticised. Kevin Bocquet reports. Professor Eamon Duffy talks to Emily about his new book, Royal Books and Holy Bones. Cardinal Vincent Nichols visited the Jesuit Refugee Service this week, who are calling for the government to change they way they deal with asylum seekers. Trevor Barnes reports. Amanda Speilman, Chief Inspector of OFSTED gave a speech this week warning of an "expanding sense of religious entitlement" by parents putting pressure on head teachers to change school policy to suit their needs. Emily Buchanan speaks to her about the role she see's for religion in schools. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has been appointed the PM's first Special Envoy on Religious Freedom. He tells Emily why his new role is needed and what he hopes to achieve. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Carmel Lonergan Series Producer: Amanda Hancox Photo credit :Fully Alive Ltd.
7/15/201843 minutes, 40 seconds
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Antony Gormley; General Synod and Fossil Fuels

The government announced plans to end conversion therapy this week after a survey showed most instances of attempted conversion therapy occur in a religious context. Harry Farley reports on the impact of this controversial practice and what it might mean for religious organisations that carry it out. Trevor Barnes is at the Church of England's General Synod in York reporting on the key issues and debates. Members of the General Synod are being urged to "strengthen the hand" of the Church's National Investing Bodies in discussions with fossil-fuel companies, by voting to increase the threat of disinvestment. Dr Darrell Hannah and the Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam discuss the amendment. From disgraced politician, to prison inmate, to prison chaplain, the Reverend Jonathan Aitken talks to Edward Stourton about his spiritual journey. Antony Gormley and Rowan Williams, two of the world's leading contemporary thinkers, in-conversation about the interface between art and theology following at the Royal Academy this week. The GITA is a seven hundred verse Hindu scripture in Sanskrit - not, you might think, the kind of thing that would naturally appeal to children, but it has been reworked into an illustrated children's book called the Battle of the Worlds. Sonal Sachdev Patel one of the authors talks to Ed Stourton. Producers: Catherine Earlam Lissa Cook Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.
7/8/201843 minutes, 52 seconds
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Chester Mystery Plays, Chief rabbi, Is the NHS a religion?

The nave of Chester Cathedral has been transformed into a huge theatre set for the performance of medieval mystery plays which take place in the city every five years and are running now. Rosie Dawson has been to a rehearsal. Nigel Lawson once likened the NHS to a religion; Trevor Barnes explores whether people think the NHS is a religion. After several years of mental illness, Guy Stagg set off one morning, from London, to walk to Canterbury. This led him to follow the paths of the medieval pilgrims to Jerusalem and he explains how this walk of over 5000 miles has helped his recovery. The chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accompanied the Duke of Cambridge on his historic tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Chief Rabbi talks to Edward about the trip and the wider significance of it. Does the church attract narcissistic personality types in leadership roles? Some new books on the topic suggest this is certainly the case. Edward discusses with Mark Vernon, former priest and psychotherapist and Andre Spicer from Cass Business School. The Court of Appeal in Belfast has ruled that humanist celebrants must be registered by the state as able to perform legal marriages for couples. We look at what this means for humanists as they take on more services such as funerals, naming ceremonies and marriage. Professor Linda Woodhead from Lancaster University talks about the role of such non-religious ceremonies. Producers Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Series Producer: Amanda Hancox Photo credit: Neil Kendall.
7/1/201843 minutes, 41 seconds
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Sikh Amritsar Files, Church Abuse Report, Theology in the White House

Police are treating the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Manchester this week as a hate crime. It follows a spate of other attacks on religious sites across the UK. Dr Chris Allen, Associate Professor in Hate Studies at Leicester University, explains why these attacks are happening now. Armed police officers have arrested at least 20 Jehovah's Witnesses in raids across Russia this week. Anastasia Golubeva explains why Jehovah's Witnesses are seen as an extreme organisation in Russia. Choristers from Hereford cathedral will make a historic trip to the Vatican to become the first Anglican cathedral choir to sing at a Papal Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Harry Farley has been to meet them. A UK judge has ordered the declassification of documents expected to shed light on Britain's involvement in the storming of Sikhism's holiest site in 1984. The Sikh Federation's Davinder Singh and the BBC's Mark Tully talk to William about those events. In the week that President Trump did a U-Turn on the administration's policy to separate children from their parents at the US border, we hear from Catholic Extension, a charity that works on the border. Plus Tara McKelvey, BBC's White House Correspondent, on the influence of religion inside the White House following Attorney General Jeff Sessions' use of the Bible to justify this policy. An independent report into the Church of England's handling of its 2007-9 Past Cases Review into sexual abuse has identified a range shortcomings in the way the PCR was conducted. David Greenwood, a lawyer representing survivors and Bishop Peter Hancock respond to the findings, respond to the report. Producers: Rajeev Gupta Lissa Cook Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.
6/24/201843 minutes, 57 seconds
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Windrush, Tax Justice Sunday and What does God look like?

Is this what God Looks Like? Psychologists at the University of North Carolina have put together a photo-fit image of what American Christians think God looks like - it's younger and more feminine than the Sistine Chapel's version. Bishop Joe Aldred and Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin join Edward to discuss how the churches responded to the Windrush generation and how it shaped worship in the UK today. Austria's government has begun the process of closing down several mosques and expelling imams. Austrian Muslims say the process is illegal and victimising the community. Reporter Bethany Bell in Austria explains. Dina Brawer will become the first Orthodox British woman to be ordained a rabbi, known as a Rabba, at an ordination ceremony on Monday. Trevor Barnes asks what influence could she have on Orthodox Judaism. Vicky Beeching began writing songs for the church in her teens. But this poster girl for evangelical Christianity lived with a debilitating inner battle: how to reconcile her faith with her sexuality. She talks to Edward about her journey. June 17th has been designated 'Tax Justice Sunday.' Edward discusses what this is likely to achieve with the Chair of Church Action for Tax Justice, Methodist minister Rev David Haslam and Dr Jamie Whyte, from the Institute of Economic Affairs Days after the U.S.-North Korea Summit in Singapore, John Choi who fled North Korea, and is now a Christian and human rights advocate living in the UK, tells Edward about his life, hopes and concerns for North Korea. Producers Carmel Lonergan Rajeev Gupta Editor Amanda Hancox Photo taken from "The faces of God in America: Revealing religious diversity across people and politics". Used by permission.
6/17/201843 minutes, 56 seconds
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Tory Islamophobia Allegations, Vicar of Baghdad, World Cup 'Morality Police'

Thirty years since the start of construction began on the largest regeneration project Britain has seen in modern times - Canary wharf - the area's former vicar and now Bishop of Salisbury, Nicolas Holtham, returns to find out what's changed and meet some old friends still working in the community. The Government have announced funding to increase security at places of worship at risk of hate attacks. It comes in the same week a mosque and Gurdwara were fire bombed in Leeds. Home Office Minister Baroness Williams talks to Edward Stourton about how the new funding will help and we also hear from Director of Just Yorkshire Nadeem Murtuja. The man known as the Vicar of Baghdad has been cleared by the Metropolitan Police of paying Isis to free Yazidis slaves. Canon Andrew White joins Edward Stourton to reflect on the investigation and its impact on him. The Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Mohammed Amin, discusses what he sees as his parties failure to take action on Islamophobia. Journalist Konstantin Von Eggert talks to Edward Stourton about the ultra-conservative, orthodox, Cossack "morality police" due to patrol World Cup games which kick off in Russia this week. Charles Clarke, the former Home and Education secretary, discusses a new report on Religious Education. Jayne Ozanne talks about her new book 'Just Love: A Journey of Self-acceptance' and tells of her 40 year journey to reconcile her faith with her sexuality before becoming one of the leading figures ushering in a new era of LGBTI acceptance in the Church. Producers: Catherine Earlam Lissa Cook Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.
6/10/201844 minutes, 5 seconds
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Volunteer week, Anti-trafficking app, Grenfell

On Monday religious think tank 'Theos' will publish a report, on how faith based organisations responded to the fire in Grenfell Tower. Report author Amy Plender, Muslim Aid's Jehangir Malick, and the Rev Mike Long from Notting Hill Methodist Church talk to Edward about what lessons can be learned. There's scant reference to Phoebe in the New Testament. A former slave who became a wealthy deacon in the 1st Century Christian church she was entrusted by Paul to take an epistle to Rome. She is the subject of a new story by the scholar and theologian Paula Gooder. To mark National Volunteers week David Cook explores a scheme run by Manchester Cathedral that has helped over 900 long term unemployed people improve their chances of finding work. Later today church goers across the country will be given access to an app specially designed to help them notice tell-tale signs of exploitation of workers with the increasing number of hand car washes. The data they gather will then be shared with the National Crime Agency who can investigate further. Trevor Barnes reports. A long-running conflict between cattle herders and farmers in central Nigeria is increasingly assuming a religious dimension, and as numbers of Christians and Muslims are killed our reporter from Nigeria, Stephanie Hegarty explains the history and current situation. Friends and relatives of people killed in the London Bridge terror attack are being invited to come together and remember their loved ones during a service at Southwark Cathedral this Sunday, Bishop Christopher Chessun will talk about the importance of marking the anniversary. Producers Carmel Lonergan Louise Clarke-Rowbotham Editor Amanda Hancox Photo: Grenfell Prayer Wall courtesy of Latymer Community Church.
6/3/201844 minutes, 3 seconds
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Manchester Bomb Anniversary, Chilean Bishops Resignation, New Stornoway Mosque

It's a year since the bomb attack on the Manchester Arena. In the aftermath, the actions of one young Muslim man captured the imagination of artist Ghislaine Howard. Her paintings of Baktash Noori offering hugs to strangers near St Anne's Church have just gone on display there. David Cook has been hearing their story. Dan Hett's brother Martyn was one of the 22 people killed in the Arena. He tells Edward why he is the lead signatory of a letter that urges the public to play an active role in the fight against terror. The Bishop of Manchester David Walker and Gorton MP, Afzal Khan join Edward to discuss what has happened since to strengthen community cohesion in the city. All of Chile's 34 Roman Catholic bishops have offered Pope Francis their resignations in the wake of a child abuse scandal and cover-up. Roman Catholic journalist Austen Ivereigh tells us what's prompted the decision and it's impact on the hierarchy of the Church. Bishop Michael Curry, who gave the address at the royal wedding, is the presiding bishop of the United States Episcopal Church. He's made an impression with his preaching. Bishop Joe Aldred of the Church of God of Prophecy speaks to Edward about his style. Christian Aid week finished on Saturday. Over 13,000 churches took part in the annual fund raiser. There's evidence that income from this area is in decline. Edward speaks to the charity's new Chief Executive Amanda Khozi Mukwashi. When the people of Ireland go to the polls next week, it will be the sixth time the nation has voted on abortion. The Catholic church appears to have taken a much less public facing role in the debate. Journalist Dearbhail McDonald tells us why she thinks that is. Producers: Rajeev Gupta David Cook Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.