Your host, Anthony Gill, is professor of political science at the University of Washington and distinguished senior fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.  Learn more.
July 3 - Mark David Hall on Religious Accommodations.
Featured Episodes
Date: June 26th, 2016

Can a for-profit business that is inspired by one’s religious faith act as an effective charity? While many folks think that most charities need to be “non-profit,” Sozo Friends, created and operated by our guest Martin Barrett, introduces a new model that teams with restaurants, auto dealers, and mortgage companies to use wine, coffee, and chocolate to help a wide variety of faith-based organizations. We discuss Mr. Barrett’s history (including his time in Young Life) and how he used his love of wine and Jesus to help orphans, at-risk youth, and victims of sex trafficking.

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Date: June 19th, 2016

What did Adam Smith have to say on the effects of religious pluralism in a nation? And can what Smith hypothesized be tested today to see if it bears out? And what does this have to do with The Simpsons? Prof. Joshua Hall of West Virginia University explains a recent study he conducted that shows countries with higher levels of religious diversity have less regulated religious markets, just as Smith would predict. We also think about endogeneity and other fancy words, culminating in the economics of The Simpsons, which is not related to the main topic, but which is really cool nonetheless.

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Date: June 12th, 2016

Is it rational to believe in God? Is it rational to believe in Christianity? These were the some of the questions raised by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century that Prof. Michael Rota of St. Thomas University takes up in a re-examination of Pascal’s famous wager. He discusses Pascal’s life, the nature of the wager itself, and then updates it with his own insights, finishing off with a discussion of the probability that God exists.

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Date: June 5th, 2016

Can a committed Christian also be a good liberal? We invite Prof. Kyle Swan, a philosopher at Sacramento State, to share his thoughts on the topic. We discuss the general concept of liberalism, not in the sense of its use in current US politics, but rather from the perspective of the term as it originated in the Enlightenment with an emphasis on liberty and the “right to be left alone.”

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Date: May 29th, 2016

Prof. Matthew Moore explores the interesting (and limited) political theory embedded in Buddhist thought and compares it with some Western political thinkers including Friedrich Nietzsche and John Howard Yoder. We discuss the concept of “the self,” and how the notion of limited citizenship plays out in the polity for Buddhist thinkers. We even discuss whether or not robots should meditate at the end of our interview.

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Date: May 22nd, 2016

While many parishioners often look to their pastor for emotional and spiritual support, it is not often that we think that members of the clergy need such psychological assistance as well. Nonetheless, the demands of the ministry can be highly demanding and their unique professional role may often lead to isolation from important social support networks. Profs. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell (Duke) and Chris Adams (Azusa Pacific) discuss the results of a recent study on the mental health of ministers within the United Methodist Church. The focus is not only on trying to address negative mental health outcomes, but ways in which positive mental health predictors can be encouraged. We also talk about how one counselor (Dr. Adams) has put this research to use in his own role as a counselor to seminarians and missionaries.

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Date: May 15th, 2016

Billie Livingston, an independent novelist and poet, discusses the role of faith in her life and fictional writing. Our conversation meanders broadly through a number of different topics including the publishing industry, where works of literature are inspired from, and how the role of mercy and guilt play into Billie’s own writings. We discuss her most recent novel “The Crooked Heart of Mercy” and learn how she views her spiritual journey in light of her many life experiences.

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Date: May 8th, 2016

Happy bicentennial to the American Bible Society, celebrating its 200th year in operation on May 11, 2016. To celebrate, we invite historian John Fea (Messiah College) to discuss the history of the ABS and his recent book “The Bible Cause.” We track the changes to this quintessential American institution over time, emphasizing how it reflected and shaped our society over the past two centuries.

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Date: May 1st, 2016

Prof. Christopher Hale (U of Alabama) discusses how religion is connected to political protest in Mexico. Building upon some foundational work in the religious economies school, he explains how institutional decentralization and lay leadership fosters socio-economic activism. He also addresses the role of ideology and religious competition.

Check out our extensive archives of great episodes. There is sure to be something of interest to everyone there!

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Date: April 24th, 2016

When a congregation splits from a denomination, what becomes of the church property? More specifically, how have US state courts wrestled with the issue of religious property disputes while trying to preserve the autonomy of church doctrine? Prof. Michael McConnell (Stanford Law School) answers these questions in historical context. He notes how judicial decisions have changed from the traditional “English Rule” favoring hierarchical denominations over congregations, to perspectives that are less intrusive into the internal doctrine and organization of a faith, nothing that there is still a great deal of ambiguity in the law. He argues for an approach known as “strict neutral principles.”

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