Category: North America

Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?

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.

Let us know your position by clicking “read more” and commenting on our discussion board.

Thomas Kidd on the Pilgrims (Encore Presentation)

While Tony takes a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, we offer you an encore presentation about the Pilgrims. Thomas Kidd (Baylor University) enlightens us about the history of the Pilgrims, tracing their roots in 16th century England to The Netherlands and eventually to the Plymouth Colony in what is now today Massachusetts. Prof. Kidd discusses the differences the Pilgrims had with the Church of England and their Puritan brethren. We also explore why the king of England would allow a group of his critics to settle land in North America, the hardships that this group of religious refugees faced in their first years in the wilderness, and the imprint the Pilgrims left on U.S. history.

A great podcast for high school educators and homeschoolers, as well as a nice refresher course for those of us who think we remember our American colonial history. Plus, you get to hear your host recite poetry!

William Reimer on Religion & Violence in Toronto

Sociologists have long noted, and perplexed by, the long-term trend in interpersonal violence in industrializing nations, a pattern that dates back several centuries. William Reimer, author of “Revisiting Toronto the Good,” explains how the spread of religious ideas and themes in the late 19th century helped to mitigate murder rates in this Canadian “city of churches.” We discuss the rise of British Evangelical Protestantism, its influence on proper manliness and prison reform, and how it became infused in the political fabric of the city in the late 1800s.

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Clark Lombardi on Sharia Law

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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Maureen Fitzgerald on Irish Nuns and Welfare

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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Sung Joon Jang on the Boy Scouts of America (Encore Presentation)

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.

Murat Iyigun on Monotheism, Conflict, Europe, the Ottomans, and the Blues

Did the Ottoman Caliphate have any impact on Europe’s socio-political and economic development? While we often examine Europe’s late medieval history in isolation from other world events, Prof. Murat Iyigun (University of Colorado) argues that the Ottoman Empire’s advances into southeast Europe affected the religious, political, and economic history of Europe in very interesting ways. We also look at the ability of monotheism to guarantee longer and more expansive sociopolitical control, and the influence of mothers on the military policy of Ottoman sultans. At the end of the podcast, we have a special treat — an original “arabesque blues” song, Muqarnas, written and performed by Murat!

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Paul Kubicek on Islam, Political Islam, and Democracy

Can democratic governance on a national scale coincide with Islam? Prof. Paul Kubicek (Oakland University) takes us on a comparative journey to show where predominately Islamic populations have existed successfully with democracy. While much of media and scholarly attention on the topic of Islam and democracy has focused on the Middle East, Paul discusses the interesting cases of Turkey, Senegal, Mali, and Tunisia, while also noting some of the difficulties in democratic transitions in places such as Bangladesh. He also shares his reflections on the Arab Spring.

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Daniel Dreisbach on Abe Lincoln’s Religious Rhetoric

Being in the midst of the sesquicentennial of the US Civil War, we examine the religious rhetoric used by one of that era’s looming figures, Abraham Lincoln. Prof. Daniel Dreisbach of American University explores the religious phrases, themes, and cadence of Lincoln’s two most famous speeches — The Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address.

Research on Religion is a great educational resource for high school and college students. Help spread the word!

John Owen IV on Confronting Political Islam, Historical Lessons

As ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical forms of political Islam take center stage in the news and policy circles, can we learn anything about the broad-based movement known as Islamism from the history of Europe? Prof. John Owen IV discusses how the West has dealt with its own radical ideological struggles and the parallels we can draw to the present situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Does a Scottish rebellion in the 1560s have anything worth informing us about the Taliban? Find out!

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