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.
Feb 7 - Kane on Muslims in Russia, Historically
Featured Episodes
Date: January 31st, 2016

Joel Osteen has risen to fame and popularity over the past decade and a half, and not without much criticism for his spiritual message and preaching style. Prof. Phillip Sinitiere examines the founding and growth of Lakewood Church, dating back to John Osteen, to put the Osteen phenomenon into a broader context. We examine the history of the Osteens, the institutional development and innovativeness of Lakewood Church, as well as the development of the prosperity gospel and what it all entails. The story that emerges is more nuanced than either supporters or detractors paint.

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Date: January 24th, 2016

Prof. Jonathan Rose (emeritus) of ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law discusses the development of common law in medieval England and the various ways in which members of the clergy would manipulate it towards their benefit. We learn about the differences between civil, canon, and common law, as well as a bit about the medieval Church.

Visit our archives for more historical topics!

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Date: January 17th, 2016

The decline of religion around the world may be greatly exaggerated. Returning for his sixth appearance on our podcast, Prof. Rodney Stark, co-founder of Baylor’s ISR, discusses his new book “The Triumph of Faith” and reviews how the religious landscapes in various countries and regions of the world has been greatly transformed in the past half century. We look at “nones” from the United States, the rise of indigenous Christianity in Africa, and how even the Japanese still rely upon Shinto priests for blessings.

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Date: January 10th, 2016

In a slight departure from our regular fare on religion, we step into the world of philosophy to examine the question of where virtue comes from and how it develops. Dan Russell (University of Arizona) explores this topic via the “mundane” (meaning “of this world”) approach of Aristotle. We examine the difference between ideals and virtues, the role of personality in psychology, and how this all might relate to religion.

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Date: January 3rd, 2016

France has a sizable and growing Muslim population, but how well are they integrated into national life? Prof. Claire Adida discusses a multi-pronged study conducted with David Laitin and Marie-Anne Valfort assessing the extent of discrimination on religious grounds and why it occurs. We discuss “rational” and “non-rational” Islamophobia (listen to the podcast for full definition of these terms) and the self-reinforcing “discriminatory equilibrium” that has resulted in the country. She also discusses the field experiments conducted as part of this research.

Research on Religion is available for free on iTunes. We have over 270 unique episodes in the archives.

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Date: December 27th, 2015

Who doesn’t love the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life?” Author Jon Sweeney explores the spiritual themes of temptation, resurrection, and salvation that are found in the town of Bedford Falls. We walk through this epic film focusing on certain “turnkey” moments in George Bailey’s life leading up to the second half of the film wherein Jimmy Stewart’s character faces temptation, prays for relief, and experiences a resurrection. Jon Sweeney adds a twist to the familiar story, though, by talking about a little noticed aspect of the final scene involving the character of Sam Wainwright. This is a great primer for those folks who are about to see the film for the first time, and it is allows experienced viewers look at the storyline with fresh eyes. Grab a glass of mulled cider, curl up by the fire, and share this fascinating podcast with a good friend.

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Date: December 20th, 2015

How has Christmas been celebrated throughout the millennia and in different parts of Europe? Where do traditions such as decorating trees and caroling come from? And what is Krampus? Tara Moore, a part-time instructor in English at Penn State University – York, talks about all of this and more in an exploration of how we celebrate Christmas. Based on her book “Christmas: The Sacred to the Santa,” she provides us with many interesting tidbits that you’ll want to share them with friends and family during Yuletide.

Let your friends, family, and colleagues know about our podcast this holiday season. It is the gift of education!

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Date: December 13th, 2015

From approximately 711 A.D. to the end of the 13th century, the majority of Spain was ruled by Muslims, with Christian rule finally unifying the country in the late 15th century . Prof. Darío Fernandez-Morera examines the history of al-Andalus and argues that this historical epoch was not necessarily a time of religious harmony and “convivencia” that many contemporary scholars claim. We examine the political, economic, and social status of Christians and Jews, as well as women, during this time period.

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Date: December 6th, 2015

With Chanukah season upon us, we invite Rabbi Elie Estrin, director of the University of Washington’s Chabad, to explain the history, meaning, and traditions of the holiday. We cover recent archaeological discoveries in Israel, different ways Chanukah has been celebrated over time, and what it is like celebrating Jewish holidays in a predominately Christian nation. For those not familiar with Chanukah, this is a wonderful introduction and Rabbi Estrin also connects it to the importance of religious liberty in our contemporary world.

Make us a part of your weekly routine. A new episode uploads every Sunday.

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Date: November 29th, 2015

Being the first constitutional republic in modern history, Americans have always believed their country to be exceptional and this has often mixed with explicit and implicit religious overtones. Prof. John Wilsey (Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary) explores the relationship between American exceptionalism and civil religion as it has evolved over time, with particular attention to the 19th century.

Check our expansive archives for more great historical topics and issues of contemporary concern!

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