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This week on Beliefs, we return to a conversation with one of our favorite guests, scholar and writer Susan Jacoby.

Secularism and atheism finds a full-throated defense in this episode. Jacoby takes us on a journey of where we were just one year ago: presidential politics on the rise, the rise of secularism, no pandemic in sight, and a world less complicated.

Jacoby brings together the threads of various moments in history to identify her view that religion and politics have never comfortably coexisted.

 

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From Our Archives: 

We revisit a conversation from our first season with the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim. She describes the clarity she feels from what she calls the unfinished business of America. Reparations for slavery, the rights of women to control their bodies, and opposition to xenophobic oppression; all a part of the central moral character Rabbi Timoner feels is her purpose. As a rabbi, as a Jew, and as a social justice activist.

 

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Speaker, Pastor and Scholar Dr. Christopher A. House resigned from Liberty University recently in protest of President Jerry Falwell Jr’s deleted tweet featuring both blackface and KKK characters.

To speak to us about the moment when belief becomes action, Beliefs producer Jay Woodward asked Dr. House for a conversation.

 

 

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Writer and historian Jemar Tisby, Pastor Tyler Burns of New Dimensions Christian Center in Pensacola, Florida co-host the podcast Pass The Mic for their organization The Witness - A Black Christian Collective. 

We gratefully thank Religion News Service reporter Adelle Banks for leading the conversation. 

 

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The call for congregation

 

The steady call to reopen churches –amplified by Presidential encouragement- is thrilling to some and alarming others. How do we return to worship when the act of group singing, chanting, and praying can be so dangerous? 

How can churches be told to cease their primary function? 

Beliefs producer Jay Woodward spoke with RNS opinion columnist Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, and RNS Editor-In Chief Bob Smietana to assess the tensions facing churches across the country. 

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A ministry of song and service, with devotion to the most invisible among us.  

The husband and wife singer-songwriting team of Al and Andi Tauber, Urban Mennonites: 

They seek and value the simple life – in much the same way as their Amish and Quaker spiritual cousins, but their calling returns them to urban spaces; to pressing societal concerns. 
 
This episode of Beliefs was produced by Monique Parsons in collaboration  with KALW's The Spiritual Edgethe University of California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, and Religion News Service. 

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The ritual of remains.

We all have Beliefs on where our soul goes upon death.  
What remains is just that – remains.  
How do we honor the vessel that held the person we used to know? 
From earth to water, and even to the sky, 
delivering the body back to dust contains deep ritual for many faith traditions.  

Bill Baker speaks with Hamilton College Professor S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate  
to find guidance on the comfort of the ritual of passing. 

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America leans in to faith

To understand who we are,  and what our numbers signify, we turn to the math, to the staticians. 

Some among us combine psychology, algebra, opinion, and faith to read the rivers of American opinion.   

Greg Smith is associate director of research at Pew Research Center.  He helps to coordinate the Center’s domestic polling on religion. 

As the world gets stranger, we look for answers - from the divine, and from the numbers...  

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Progressive faith and politics

For decades, the political influence of faith has been seen in the might and the dominance of the Religious Right.  

A new book from Religion News Service political correspondent Jack Jenkins called American Prophets, The Religious Roots of Progressive Politics and the Ongoing Fight for the Soul of the Country charts the so-called Religious Left.  

Beliefs producer Jay Woodward and I spoke with Jack about his new book and the emergence of a powerful new political identity. 

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Houses of worship across the world are adapting to the challenges of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Keeping congregants feeling tied to their faith, themselves, and one another has been a challenge felt by all. But what if faith isn't at the center of the congregation? How are humanist, atheist and agnostic spiritual communities handling the isolation caused by the pandemic? 

 

James Croft, a clergyman at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, spoke with Beliefs producer Jay Woodward this week to share insight on how his congregation has handled the past several weeks.

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