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.
April 23 - Jeremy Menchik on Religion & Indonesia.
Featured Episodes
Date: April 23rd, 2017

Indonesia is both the world’s largest majority Muslim country and a consolidated democracy. Yet, unlike Western democracies, the Indonesian state pursues a policy of Godly nationalism that prioritizes religious belief over secularism. Despite this, the nation also exhibits a high level of religious toleration for various religious minorities including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and various variants of Islam. Prof. Jeremy Menchik (Boston University) discusses this interesting balancing act and explains

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Date: April 16th, 2017

Get into the octagon with Prof. Christian Novetzke as we spar intellectually about the relationship between the martial arts and Eastern religions. Karate, jujitsu, tai chi, tae kwon do, and even yoga are discussed in our fascinating interview that also explores Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and the connection between Christianity and the mixed martial arts (i.e., cage fighting). We discover the importance of self-actualization that connects all these different philosophies and martial activities.

We are taking a break for the Easter holiday but will return with fresh episodes soon. Enjoy this great interview from our archives.

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Date: April 9th, 2017

How do various democratic nations manage increasing religious pluralism around the world?  Prof. Christopher Soper, a distinguished political scientist at Pepperdine University, answers this question and talks about the third edition of his book The Challenge of Pluralism, co-authored with Kevin den Dulk and the late Stephen Monsma.  After Chris provides a few reflections on […]

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Date: April 2nd, 2017

Why do governments repress religious organizations? Jason Klocek, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley, explains how government experience with, and fear of, conflict that has a religious dimension will motivate rulers to crack down not only on religious that appear to be a direct threat, but most religions in general. He shares the research results of a study he conducted with Prof. Peter Henne of the University of Vermont and provides a number of interesting case studies to illustrate their explanation, including Russia and China.

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Date: March 26th, 2017

Does the religious composition of a nation and its leaders have an impact on whether a country will initiate a war? Prof. Davis Brown, a research fellow at Baylor’s ISR, discusses his most recent article on this subject and details a new data set that he has constructed (and is expanding) to answer questions like this one and others. His analysis reveals that countries with a Christian war ethic have been much less likely to initiate wars than ones with an Islamic war ethic, dating back to 1946.

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Date: March 19th, 2017

Is your trans-congregational triad closed? What does that even mean?! Prof. Markus Schafer (U of Toronto) explains how all of this relates to how we are networked to other people in our congregations and community. He shares the results of several network studies that show religious traditionalists exhibit more prosocial behavior than expected given how they are connected to other individuals beyond merely their own church. He also reveals that evangelical Christians are not only good at making friends, but good at helping their friends make more friends. A fascinating study of the wide web of connectedness that religion helps promote!

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Date: March 12th, 2017

With all the tumult in the American political landscape recently, is the United States pump primed for a Christian Democratic party similar to those in Europe? Three scholars debate this topic based upon a scholarly symposium published in the journal “Perspectives on Political Science.” Prof. Hunter Baker (Union University), the organizer of the symposium, argues that the time is right for Christian Democracy in America. Prof. Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) notes that while Christian Democracy (CD) was helpful in Europe for consolidating democracy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the conditions in the U.S. are not ripe for CD. Finally, Prof. Micah Watson (Calvin College) takes a decidedly negative position towards the concept of CD. Your host, Tony, chimes in with his own thoughts at the end.

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Date: March 5th, 2017

Can a foundation of religious freedom mitigate violent extremism by various religious organizations? This is the question put before a group of scholars at a symposium sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs (Georgetown University). Moderated by Thomas Farr, the panelists include Dan Philpott (Notre Dame), William Inboden (Texas), Allen Hertzke (Oklahoma), and Sahar Aziz (Texas A&M).

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Date: February 26th, 2017

In an increasingly pluralistic world, can Christians break out of their bubble and engage individuals from different faiths while still retaining their own spiritual identity. Prof. Marion Larson of Bethel University discusses how she and her co-author, Prof. Sara Shady, have approached this subject theoretically and as a matter of practical experience. Prof. Larson shares her thoughts on the topics of ecumenism, tolerance, and approaching others with an attitude of hospitality.

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Date: February 19th, 2017

Protestants have often been critical of the Roman Catholic Church for adding on a number of traditions, rituals, and theologies that were not part of early Christianity. Prof. Jim Papandrea of the Garrett-Evangelical Seminary (Northwestern University) argues that many of these critiques are misplaced and that early Christianity was very Catholic (capital C) in nature. He discusses issues such as tradition, faith and works, the papacy, and veneration of the Saints. The conversation is very interesting given that Prof. Papandrea was once Protestant and is now Catholic, why Tony was once Catholic and is now Protestant. Ecumenical understanding is a theme running throughout our discussion.

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