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Religion

Deadly and destructive hurricanes. Shootings in churches, on college campuses and at music concerts. Acts of terrorism from the streets of New York City to a mosque in Minnesota. Anti-Semitic threats on Jewish community centers and hate marches at synagogues. And to think...these don’t even scratch the surface of the tragic incidents that continue to shake our nation. At a time when many in our community and our country feel helpless and hopeless - Rochester area religious leaders are coming together on this edition of Need to Know to discuss the challenges of our time and to offer a sense of hope at a moment when some say it's needed most. 

On this week's show, from mass shootings and terrorist attacks to ongoing issues of racism, sexism and much more….Rochester area religious leaders come together to address the challenges of our time.

Then, we ask why aren’t more women joining the political arena as candidates? We’ve got some answers that may surprise you.

One of the most prominent opponents of the political marriage between Republicans and Evangelical Christians is an ordained Christian minister. Barry Lynn is also the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. He says he sees an ongoing threat in which houses are worship are treated like political bases. This is timely, as President Trump presses his case that Christianity is under attack, mobilizing a base of voters that helped elect him.

Lynn is in Rochester a guest of the local chapter, and he tells us how he views church-and-state issues over his 25 years leading the organization. 

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church has a prominent place in Rochester's African American and civil rights history -- one that has been celebrated for 190 years.

Founded in 1827 by an escaped slave, it was a shelter on the Underground Railroad for hundreds of escaped slaves being led to freedom by Harriet Tubman. It was also the spiritual home of Frederick Douglass, who edited and printed the North Star in its basement. Susan B. Anthony also visited the church, giving her last ever public address to its members.

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church is gearing up for a black tie soirée to celebrate it's 190th anniversary. We talk to organizers of the event about the church's history and why it still has an important role in civil rights advocacy today. In studio:

  • Carmen Allen, head of Memorial AME Zion Church's Community Outreach Ministry, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee
  • Rashid Smith, preacher's steward at Memorial AME Zion Church, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee
  • Delores Radney, chair of special events for the 190th Anniversary celebration, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee

What is the future of Catholic education? We’ve seen some schools shift and close, but the evolution of Catholic education shows some resilience. Nazareth Elementary, for example, is moving to the old Sacred Heart School. Interestingly, 70 percent of the students at Nazareth are not Catholic.

Our guests discuss modern challenges and how they’re adapting. In studio:

  • Sr. Margaret Mancuso, principal of Nazareth Elementary
  • Deborah Hanmer, parent of two children in Catholic elementary school
  • Mary Martell, principal of Holy Cross School

Nazareth College is getting ready to host an international symposium on how religion intersects with women and gender relations. Sex, the role of women, equality… it’s all there. The symposium will offer discussions on a wide range of topics, and we explore them with our guests:

One of the most well connected priests in the world is a Rochester native who assisted the Vatican during the transition period between Popes Benedict and Francis. Father Thomas Rosica is the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media, and is a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil. He's back in his hometown to host a retreat, and he joins us on Connections to talk about the work and impact of Pope Francis.

Father Rosica has worked as a media attaché for Francis, providing English language translation. He sees this Pope as a hand reaching out to the truly needy around the world. We discuss the refugee crisis, the meaning of "pro-life," and what it means to be Christian.

Can science and faith coexist in today's politically-charged environment? A 2015 survey found that nearly 70 percent of evangelicals in the United States don't see religion and science as being totally at odds. Meanwhile, a survey cited by National Geographic says scientists may be just as likely to believe in God as those outside the scientific community.

We discuss the relationship between science and religion with our guests:

  • Rev. J. Eric Thompson, priest in charge at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Dansville
  • Dan Courtney, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and atheist activist

Anti-Semitic incidents are up 86 percent in the U.S. compared to the same time last year. That’s according to the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights organization. Some of those acts of hatred against American Jews took place right here in Rochester. A public discussion on these events and how to respond to them to create a more tolerant community is taking place with area leaders and residents. The effort is being led by the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Project out of Monroe Community College. On this edition of Need to Know we discuss the causes of religious bigotry and local work to bring more acceptance to Rochester.

The third African American Roman Catholic female priest will be ordained on Saturday, and she’s in Rochester. Reverend Myra Brown is an associate pastor and deacon at Spiritus Christi Church. We talk to Reverend Brown about her 25 years in the ministry, her anti-racism initiatives, and her efforts to help people in poverty. 

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