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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 EverettEditor: Amanda Hancox


16 Jun 2019

Rank #1

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Cardinal Vincent Nichols on human trafficking, Franklin Graham and Sharia Law

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales says that we are losing the battle against human trafficking.BBC's Religious Affairs Editor Martin Bashir talks to Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham.A review of sharia councils, launched by Theresa May in 2016 when she was home secretary, was published this week. It calls for sharia councils to be regulated with a code of conduct and recommends Muslim couples should be legally required to civilly register their marriage before or at the same time as their Islamic ceremony. Edward talks to the review's chair Prof Mona Siddiqui.What did Jesus look like? Everyone can conjure an image of Jesus and often he is seen as a handsome, white man with flowing locks and pristine linen robes. But is our popular image of Jesus overly westernized and untrue to historical reality? Christian Origins scholar Joan E. Taylor tells Edward what he really looked like.The Bishop of Manchester is calling for concerted action to tackle child poverty after it was revealed that more than half of children in some parts of the country are living in poverty. Manchester is highlighted as one of the worst areas. Kevin Bocquet has been looking at the reasons children are living in poverty in a growing and affluent city. Edward discusses child poverty with Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker.According to new research you are more likely to support immigration if you are a Christian and go to Church. Those who say they are Christian, but don't go to Church are the least supportive of immigration in any faith group. Producers: Louise Clarke-Rowbotham and Carmel LonerganSeries Producer: Amanda Hancox.


4 Feb 2018

Rank #2

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The Lent plastic challenge, Martin Luther King's legacy and meet the robot vicars

If you had to buy your weekly food without it being packaged and wrapped in plastic how would you manage? Tracey Logan reports on how she avoided using plastic for the 40 days of Lent.In a message released for Easter Sunday, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham argues the moral case for businesses to pay the real 'Living Wage''. Alex Chalk the Conservative MP for Cheltenham tells Edward he has written to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, asking them to conduct a separate investigation into the Jehovah's Witnesses after a growing number of people come forward with complaints about the organisation.A Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King. So what of his legacy today? Was King's idea of how to achieve a society based on 'justice, equal opportunity, and love of one's fellow human beings', flawed? The theologian Robert Beckford and academic Kehinde Andrews debate.The University of Sheffield in collaboration with the Church of England and the BBC's Daily Service has developed the prototype for a priestly robot that can perform services for all occasions. Rosie Dawson meets the robot that's about to be rolled out across rural parishes.The Easter story presents some challenging themes for RE teachers and school assemblies. Sarah Major reports on how some schools approach the brutality of the Crucifixion and the complexity of the Resurrection in their lessons.On Easter Sunday, the RAF celebrates its centenary. Peter Devitt, from the RAF Museum tells Edward more about the history of the different faith groups who have served over the past 100 years. Producers:David CookRajeev GuptaSeries Producer:Amanda Hancox.


1 Apr 2018

Rank #3

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Bar Mitzvahs in Old Age, Unregistered Faith Schools, 21st-Century Mosques

The UN has called on Israel to scrap a new programme to force thousands of African migrants out of the country. Middle East Correspondent Yolande Knell has been speaking with some people effected and gives us the latest.A Bar Mitzvah would normally be associated with a boy who is 13 and a Bat Mitzvah would be for a girl at the age of 12 or 13. The ceremony traditionally marks a child's coming of age. However, as we hear its becoming more common for older people to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah; second time around or maybe for the first time. Hackney Council have released a report into unregistered educational settings. They say gaps in current laws mean hundreds of children are not having a proper education and growing up without being able to read or write. Instead they are subjected to hours of religious doctrine. Hear more on the programme.And the Sikh Federation UK have called for restrictions to be placed on any Indian government officials entering Sikh temples unless for private worship... we find out why.Hundreds of churches across Germany are defying the state, opening their doors to offer refuge to more than six hundred asylum seekers facing deportation. And the numbers are growing. Dale Gavlak reports from Germany on growing tensions between churches offering refuge and public opinion towards refugees. And what should mosques look like in the 21st Century and what role should they play in the lives of young Muslims? Dr Khadijah Elshayyal from the Alwaleed centre and Hassan Joudi, from the Muslim Council of Britain tell Edward why it's an issue now and what may be uncovered.Producers: Rajeev Gupta and Amanda Hancox.Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.


14 Jan 2018

Rank #4

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Tamsin Greig, Europe's growing Muslim population, The pope in Bangladesh

Actor Tamsin Greig talks about her visit to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as an Ambassador for Tearfund and describes the work being done to tackle sexual and gender-based violence. Martin Bashir on the Pope's visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh.The Department of Education's survey of vulnerable children includes a new category "those vulnerable to abuse linked to faith and belief". How is that to be defined and prevented? Trevor Barnes reports.The story of what happened to the last Jews of Iraq is the subject of a new documentary "Remember Baghdad". Edward talks to David Dangoor about his great grandfather who was a former Chief Rabbi of Baghdad. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married - and the flurry around the news revealed quite a lot of confusion about the status of divorcees in Church of England and the rites of baptism and confirmation. Rev Ian Paul will shed some light on it on the confusion. The Muslim population in Europe could almost double by 2050. Conrad Hackett, from the Pew Research Centre tells Edward about the predictions of their report 'Europe's Growing Muslim Population'. Sheik Ibraham Mogra and Katie Harrison, Director of the Faith Research Centre, discuss the report's findings.ProducersCarmel LonerganLouise Clarke-RowbothamEditor Amanda HancoxPhoto Credit: Geoff Crawford Go to www.tearfund.org/ukaidmatch to find out more.


3 Dec 2017

Rank #5

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Homelessness, General Synod, Bats in churches

In 2015 the Bishop of Manchester told this programme of his concerns about homelessness in Manchester. After the broadcast the city council contacted the Bishop to discuss what needed to be done better. Bob Walker reports on how this lead to a radical change of approach.The Catholic Church has paid out more than $276 million in compensation to thousands of victims of child sexual abuse in Australia. Andrew West from ABC Radio reports on the hearings at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Heritage Lottery Fund has approved the development stage for the "Bats in Churches" project, bringing together wildlife and heritage conservation and church organisations to save bats and protect churches. Trevor Barnes reports.Nick Bundock Team Rector for St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury talks to Edward about the painful journey his church has been on since a coroners report into the suicide of a teenager pointed to her struggle to reconcile her sexuality with her faith. The conflict-driven food crisis in Yemen could become a full-blown famine this year warns the UN. Imran Madden the director of Islamic relief talks to Edward about what is needed.The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to members of the General Synod setting out the next steps following the vote on General Synod not to take note of the report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships. Synod members Susie Leafe, Director of Reform and Jayne Ozanne, LGBT+ campaigner, give their reaction whilst the Bishop of Willsden, Pete Broadbent, tells Edward how the Bishops will respond.Photo Credit (c) Hugh Clark/www.bats.org.uk ProducersCarmel LonerganLouise Clarke-Rowbotham EditorAmanda Hancox.


19 Feb 2017

Rank #6

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Graves shed light on early Christianity, Salafi Muslim women, The ethics of cryonics

The conservative Anglican group GAFCON UK have released a document listing clergy who they say have 'violated' the Church of England's 'authoritative teaching on sexuality'. GAFCON's chairman Andy Lines defends the strategy in a debate with the Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam who has called the statement, 'outrageous'.In a report to be released next week the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, say religious fundamentalism is more 'lethal than ever seen before'. The report's editor, John Pontifex joins Edward.Alex Strangwayes- Booth reports on the growing number of Gypsies and Travellers in England who say they have given up drinking alcohol and fortune-telling because they've joined a new Christian movement called Light and Life. The German Islamic organisation that calls itself 'True Religion' was banned on Tuesday after the authorities accused it of recruiting jihadists. Professor Peter Neumann from King's College London tells Edward more about the group. Dr Anabel Inge is the first researcher to have gained open access to women in the UK Salafi community. Her new book, 'The Making of a Salafi Muslim Woman: Paths to Conversion' has just been published.The discovery of eighty Anglo-Saxon graves in East Anglia was publicised this week. Kevin Bouquet takes a look at some of the skeletons and finds out why researchers say they are providing new information about early Christianity.A court has ruled that a terminally-ill 14-year-old girl could have her body cryogenically preserved in the hope she could later be brought back to life. Professor John Harris and Professor John Millbank debate the ethical issues raised by the decision.Producers: David CookCarmel Lonergan Series Producer:Amanda HancoxPhoto courtesy of MOLA.


20 Nov 2016

Rank #7

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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 LonerganSeries Producer:Amanda Hancox


15 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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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. ProducersCarmel LonerganLouise Clarke-RowbothamSeries Producer: Amanda HancoxPhoto credit: Neil Kendall.


1 Jul 2018

Rank #9

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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.ProducersRajeev GuptaCarmel LonerganEditorChristine Morgan.


26 Aug 2018

Rank #10

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A Christmas special from Hampton Court Palace

In a special edition of the programme from Hampton Court Palace, Edward Stourton goes back to Christmas 1516 to explore the religious, political and social climate of the time.Tracy Borman, joint Chief-Curator with Historic Royal Palaces tells Edward that 1516 was a good year for Henry VIII. His first child, Mary, had been born and the Christmas celebrations he hosted were described as the most extravagant ever seen. But England and large parts of mainland Europe were about to change forever as the Protestant Reformation that was to begin in Germany in 1517 spread. Trevor Barnes reports how the printing press acted as a catalyst, enabling the distribution of newly translated versions of the New Testament undermining the authority of the Pope and the Catholic church.Fr Anthony Howe, Chaplain to the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court shows Edward his copy of a 1515 Sarum Missal with the name of the Pope scribbled out, demonstrating how liturgy changed in England following the split from Rome.The broadcaster and early music expert Catherine Bott explores Henry's musical tastes and discusses some of the carols that would have been heard at the time.Edward gets a taste of a traditional Christmas dish, Plum Possett and discovers what else would have been on the table for people to feast on with food historian Ivan Day.Dr Matthew Champion from Birkbeck, University of London explores how the religious calendar shaped peoples' lives and then discusses with Tracy Borman some of the key factors which led to the reformation in England.Producer: David CookSeries Producer: Amanda HancoxThe Boar's Head Carol, In dulci jubilo & Lulling My Liking were performed by St Martin's Voices directed by Andrew Earis.Photo: Nick Wilkinson/newsteam.co.uk.


25 Dec 2016

Rank #11

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Crisis response chaplains help kidnapped seafarers; Archbishop Barry Morgan retires; Reaction to 'Shared Conversations'

On Friday the House of Bishops released a report saying the Church of England shouldn't change its teaching on marriage but recommending that it reviews other aspects of how it treats LGBTI+ clergy and laity. The Rev Rachel Mann is critical of elements of the report and gives Martin Bashir her reaction to it.The Rev Peter Sanlon had threatened to create a 'partnership synod' if the Church 'watered down' traditional teaching on marriage and homosexuality. He tells Martin what he plans to do next in light of the report.The Bishops of Manchester and Maidstone respond to criticism that the Church has come up with a 'don't ask, don't tell' solution.As the Anglican Communion's longest-serving archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, retires after 14 years as leader of the Church in Wales, he reflects on his time in office with Caroline Wyatt. More seafarers were kidnapped at sea last year than over the past decade. The Sailors' Society has trained 20 chaplains to provide 24-hour crisis response for them and their families. Hazel Southam reports.Jill Saward, who died earlier in January, was a formidable campaigner who inspired changes to legislation, policy and attitudes on rape. Her husband Gavin Drake talks to Martin about Jill, and what she meant to her family and those she supported.The South London Liberal Synagogue in Streatham is trying to raise £50, 000 to convert a disused caretaker's flat in the building to accommodate a refugee family from Syria. Trevor Barnes reports.Producers:David CookAmanda HancoxPhoto: Oceans Beyond Piracy.


29 Jan 2017

Rank #12

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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 LonerganLissa CookEditor:Amanda HancoxPhoto Credit: Tracey Logan


21 Oct 2018

Rank #13

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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 GuptaHelen LeeEditor: Amanda HancoxPhoto Credit: English Heritage


21 Apr 2019

Rank #14

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France's crumbling cathedrals, Bishop George Bell, the Religion of Mike Pence

Sunday morning religious news and current affairs programme presented by Edward Stourton.


17 Dec 2017

Rank #15

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Archbishop Vincent Nichols; Muslim Lifestyle Expo; Church of the Ragamuffins

William Crawley talks to Archbishop Vincent Nichols about the Santa Marta anti-trafficking conference which brought together police chiefs, the Home Secretary and the Catholic Church in Rome this week. William visits the Muslim Lifestyle Expo to hear how global brands are waking-up to one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world. Steve Chalke from Oasis UK joins William to discuss how his organisation has set-up what he refers to as a 'safe house' for child migrants arriving in the UK from the Jungle Camp in Calais. Bob Walker reports on the 'Church for Ragamuffins' in Luton which has been set up to support recovering alcohol and drug addicts.Halloween gets bigger every year as a retail event but does it also move further away from it's ancient pagan and religious roots? Professor Ronald Hutton joins William Crawley. One of the largest compensation claims against the Catholic Church begins tomorrow at the High Court in Leeds. Over two hundred men say they were abused at the St William's approved school in in East Yorkshire. The BBC's Caroline Bilton has been following the story. The Protestant Reformation is often dated to 31st October 1517 when Martin Luther is supposed to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. But would the Reformation have happened without Luther? Dr Linda Briggs and Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch discuss.Producers: Catherine EarlamHelen LeeSeries Producer: Amanda Hancox.


30 Oct 2016

Rank #16

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Look ahead to 2017, Bishop James Jones, Hull's Year of Culture

Caroline Wyatt presents a special New Year edition of Sunday, looking ahead to some of the issues likely to affect faith communities in 2017. Former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones reflects on his work with the families of the Hillsborough victims.And Bob Walker reports from Hull, where religious groups are preparing for the city's year of culture.Producer: Dan TierneySeries Producer: Amanda Hancox.


3 Jan 2017

Rank #17