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.
Sep 4 - Boone on a 40-Day Spiritual Road Trip.
Featured Episodes
Date: August 28th, 2016

What is sharia law? And how are governments working them into their constitutions in contemporary Muslim societies? Prof. Clark Lombardi (University of Washington Law School) tackles these questions and several more in an informative discussion of the history and contemporary application of sharia law. He contrasts and compares canon and common law with sharia and has reflections on how this all affects good governance.

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Date: August 21st, 2016

Irish immigration during the 1840s and afterwards had an important effect on the cultural, economic, and political history of the United States. Prof. Maureen Fitzgerald (College of William & Marry) discusses how Irish nuns worked with poor immigrants and the effect they had on transforming New York’s welfare system over the course of the 19th and early 20th century. This seldom told story illuminates the important role women religious played in advocating for women, children, and families during a period of rapid change in American society.

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Date: August 14th, 2016

Is your congregation prepared to help out the community during a natural disaster? Prof. Jamie Aten of Wheaton College and the Humanitarian Disaster Institute discusses why religious congregations are well-suited to provide relief to individuals beset by large-scale tragedies. We discuss how churches offer both short-term and long-term assistance, and why it is important for congregational leaders to know what their ministry and members do well and build a plan around that. This is a great episode for sociologists to understand the importance of religious organizations in civil society AND a conversation that gives practical advice for those folks in the pews who want to help out.

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Date: August 7th, 2016

We celebrate our 300th episode by going back in time to look at how industrialization and globalization affected the Islamic religious landscape of Bombay, India, and what effect those changes had on a larger geography and period of time. Prof. Nile Green, a historian at UCLA, joins us to take us on this interesting journey. Instead of seeing modernization leading to a standardized and “Protestant” form of Islamic faith (as Max Weber might predict), Nile argues that the laissez faire approach of the British towards non-Christian religions combined with Christian missionaries resulted in numerous forms of Islam, from “reformist” to “customary.” He notes how this “religious economies” approach also explains the expansion of Islam into places such as Japan and the United States.

Celebrate our 300th episode by browsing our archives and sharing your discoveries with a friend!

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Date: July 31st, 2016

America has become less religious in recent years. To explore this phenomenon, both in its present form and situated historically, we invite Prof. Joseph O. Baker of Eastern Tennessee State University to talk about the history and contemporary dimensions of American secularism(s). He notes that secularism does not necessarily mean atheism, but includes an array of different categories. We also discuss some of the reasons for the recent increase in “nones,” including family structure, changing sexual norms, and political polarization.

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Date: July 24th, 2016

Why would anyone walk across hot coals, pierce themselves with sharp objects, or engage in other costly sacrifices when their resources are meager? Using data collected from two years of fieldwork in India, Dr. Eleanor Power of the Santa Fe Institute explains how individuals signal their credibility, trustworthiness, and helpfulness in their communities via these public rituals. Elly also explains how this ritualistic behavior is perceived by others in the community and how it connects various individuals. Along the way, we also talk about possession, not in terms of ownership but wherein your body is taken over by demons or gods.

Drop us a note if you have interesting topics or people that you think would make for a great discussion!

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Date: July 17th, 2016

In this encore presentation from 2012, Prof. Sung Joon Jang discusses his recent study on Eagle Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America, conducted by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion with Byron Johnson and Young Il-Kim. The report focused on the effect that Scouting has on developing the behavior and character of young men, particularly those who earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Prof. Jang details a list of pro-social behaviors that are associated with Eagle Scouts well into their adulthood and compares these traits with individuals who were in Scouting but never obtained Eagle and the general population. The results are fascinating and contain a few surprises.

We will return next week with a brand new episode. Please stay tuned and tell a friend.

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Date: July 10th, 2016

In 19th century America, Jews disproportionately filled an important role in the US economy as peddlers and merchants who brought supplies to settlers in the westward expansion. Prof. Colleen Haight of SJSU explains the logic behind this phenomenon and links it to the economics of religion and the role that religious distinctiveness played in solving reputational problems. She also addresses the matter of hostility towards Jews and how this factored in to their chosen profession. This is an encore presentation from the autumn of 2014.

We will return on July 24th with new episodes. In the meantime, search our archives!

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Date: July 3rd, 2016

As a number of religious accommodation cases are winding their way through the U.S. court system, we invite Prof. Mark David Hall (George Fox University) to discuss the history of religious exemptions in American history. In addition to whether or not a florist or baker should be exempted from providing services to same-sex weddings based on religious beliefs, we also examine rights of conscience accommodations granted to religious groups for military service, the swearing of oaths, mandatory school attendance, and vaccinations. Prof. Hall explains how “Americans at their best” have accommodated religious views since colonial days and speculates on what the future holds.

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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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