Category: China (PRC)


Rodney Stark on The Triumph of Faith

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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Brian Grim on Religious Liberty & Business

Is religious liberty good for business? Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, explains why rights of conscience are good for commercial businesses and how individual enterprises can be encouraged to support basic human rights. We discuss the creation and role of his organization as well as some specific instances where businesses around the globe — from Brazil to Indonesia to Europe — have helped create a more peaceful and spiritually pluralistic environment.

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Joel Fetzer on Confucianism and Democracy

Max Weber once argued that Confucianism did not lend itself to liberal democracy because of its allegiance to social hierarchy and harmony. Prof. Joel Fetzer of Pepperdine University examines this claim with evidence based upon the recent democratization of Taiwan. He argues that although Confucianism was not a cause of the recent democratization, the philosophy is flexible enough to allow for compatability with a variety of democratic norms including indigenous and women’s rights. We also examine the cases of South Korea, China, and Singapore.

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Tony Carnes on A Journey through NYC Religions

Journalist Tony Carnes joins us to discuss his fascinating anthropological/documentary project wherein he is exploring every nook and cranny of New York City to find out what religious life is like in the big city. Literally walking the 6,400 some odd miles of NYC, he has discovered a spiritual world more vibrant than most outside observers would expect. Indeed, his ongoing project, which tracks the origins of various houses of worship, has discovered that Gotham is experiencing a religious rennaissance to the contrary expectations of secularization theory. Indeed, he challenges Harvey Cox’s notion of “the secular city” by proclaiming New York as a “postsecular city.” We talk in length about the origins of this project, which includes reflections on religious journalism and Tony’s own life, and some of his broader findings to date. This interview sets up a future interview that looks at some of the particulars of religious life in The Big Apple.

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Robert Woodberry on Missionaries and Democracy

Did Protestant missionaries help plant the seeds of democracy throughout the world? Prof. Robert Woodberry takes us on a historical tour-de-force around the globe showing how “conversionary Protestants” helped to promote literacy, spread printing technology, facilitate civic organization, defend religious and civil liberties, and protest the abuses of slavery and colonialism. We discuss how this happened and why Protestants were uniquely situated to do this, although we look at similar Catholic efforts in recent decades. We conclude with speculative thoughts about the Arab Spring.

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Christian Novetzke on Kung Fu Fighting & Eastern Religions

Get into the octagon with Prof. Christian Novetzke as we spar intellectally 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.

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Kevin Cooney on Religion and the Rule of Law in China

Prof. Kevin Cooney of Northwest University joins us to discuss his recent trip to the People’s Republic of China where he visited with numerous Chinese scholars to discuss the role of religion and the rule of law in that country. He shares his insights from that trip, including his experiences in touring different parts of the country and learning about the religious landscape. Prof. Cooney contrasts the scene in China today with what he experienced back in the mid-1980s when he was teaching English in that country.

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Karrie Koesel on House Churches in China

Prof. Karrie Koesel (U of Oregon) explores the “house church” movement in China, revealing how these clandestine religious groups are formed and operate in an environment that is not necessarily hospitable to independent religious organizations. We note some of the penalties that can accrue if such churches are discovered, but also discover that many of these churches exist in a “gray” market with the tacit approval of local government officials. We end our discussion with some speculation about how religion may be changing Chinese society and politics.

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Roger Finke on Religious Persecution

Roger Finke of Penn State University talks with Tony about the prevalence and reasons for religious persecution around the globe. We explore the connectcions between seemingly small violations of religious liberty and religious persecution. Prof. Finke further argues that even small violations of religious liberty can presage greater threats to a wider set of civil liberties. Our discussion covers all regions of the globe, with a focus on Japan, Nigeria, Iran, Russia, France and the United States.

Listerners are encouraged to email the host and let him know you are listening and to provide feedback (good or bad). The host’s email is: tgill (at) uw (dot) edu

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Karrie Koesel on Religion & Politics in China

University of Oregon political scientist Karrie Koesel addresses the relationship between religious groups and the state in the People’s Republic of China. She discovers and interesting symbiosis between church and state at the local level. (To download, right click on the button to the right and choose “save target as….”)

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