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.
May 1 - Chris Hale on Religious Activism in Mexico.
Featured Episodes
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.

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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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Date: April 17th, 2016

Prof. Francis Beckwith (Baylor University) discusses his new book “Taking Rites Seriously,” and how secular rationalism has permeated our legal decisions and what that means. He discusses the intellectual framework surrounding secular rationalist arguments, why he considers them limited, and discusses how this affects the freedom of religious believers. We cover issues such as abortion, intelligent design, and the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Date: April 10th, 2016

Do citizens in religiously-active countries prefer to have members of the clergy directly intervene in the politics of their nation? While one might assume they would, Prof. David Buckley (U of Louisville) discovers the opposite finding; religious individuals prefer to see their spiritual leaders less involved in governmental decision-making. Dr. Buckley discusses how religious leaders in such countries already have informal networks of influence and how direct involvement in politics runs the risk of tarnishing the moral authority of clergy and dividing their flock.

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Date: April 3rd, 2016

The rise of charter schools over the past quarter century has altered the way in which we think about the nexus of religion and state with respect to education. Prof. Aaron Saiger of Fordham University Law School documents changes in the American educational system and how religious communities are reacting to the charter school movement.

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Date: March 27th, 2016

Can the evolving state of science give us greater insight into God and vice versa? We talk with former atheist Nancy Ellen Abrams about her journey through the history of science and how she has come to understand God and spirituality, as well as her new book “A God that Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet.” This is one of our most unique interviews blending humanity’s evolving understanding of the universe with a bit of theology.

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Date: March 20th, 2016

During the week before Easter, we visit with Dr. Michael Licona (Houston Baptist University) to discuss the historiography of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Is the Resurrection merely a tale pulled from pagan rituals or an example of mass hysteria? Dr. Licona examines these questions and other counter-arguments to the story presented in the Christian Gospels, and explains why it is important for Christians not to accept the validity of the Resurrection on faith alone, but to think closely about the historical evidence with respect to all alternative explanations. This, he says, can help counter doubt and strengthen one’s own faith.

We have over 275 episodes in our archives. There is likely to be something of interest to everyone.

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Date: March 13th, 2016

How have evangelical Christians been involved in politics ever since evangelical Christians have been around. Studying how these religious individuals become involved in elections and social movements has largely been the fodder of sociologists and political scientists, but our guest — Nathanael Snow, a graduate student in economics at George Mason University — focuses the lens of public choice theory to understand how evangelical politics have changed over time. We learn what public choice theory is, why it can apply to religious groups, and the history of evangelical involvement in U.S. politics from the mid-19th century forward. Nathanael

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Date: March 6th, 2016

When it comes to gaining access to cheap financial credit, we normally assume that the economic, political, and cultural elite in society will have a better chance at obtaining favorable loans. However, during the late Ottoman Empire, the wealthy, males, and Muslims were considered to be higher credit risks than the poor, females, and non-Muslims. Prof. Jared Rubin of Chapman University explains why this is, referencing a fascinating historical study he conducted with Prof. Timur Kuran (another frequent guest on our podcast).

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Date: February 28th, 2016

With the 50th anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae just past us, we visit with independent scholar Keith Pavlischek to discuss the life and thought of John Courtney Murray, a Jesuit priest who had a profound impact on how Catholics think about religious pluralism and liberty. We review the major document on religious freedom released at the Second Vatican Council and then discuss how Murray became involved in this debate after being prompted to think about religious freedom following a series of US Supreme Court decisions. We also reflect upon what Murray would have thought about our current church-state landscape.

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