WXXI AM News

Religion

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. 

We are coming up on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's famous event, that either did or did not happen. Luther's famous 95 Theses are legend now, nailed to a church door in a German town. He was attacking the Roman Catholic leadership.

We discuss the legacy of this revolutionary, in what we hope will be an enlightening and free-ranging conversation with our guests:

Maybe you are excited about your vote for president...or maybe you view it as a choice you are not thrilled to make. Eric Metaxas is a Christian author, theologian, and radio host who says Christians have a certain obligation on November 8: he says God wants them to vote for Donald Trump. He made the case in a Wall Street Journal piece, and he has been continuing the conversation on the cable and talk show circuit.

Some Christian leaders have agreed with him, saying Trump is not a great choice, but God wants Trump to be president. Do you agree? We discuss the position with our guests:

A new play looks at what might happen if a conservative Republican leader changed his mind about God and guns.

"Church and State" imagines a Newtown-like mass shooting, in which a Senator's children survived. His views on God, and on gun rights, immediately shift. This comes as a problem for his wife, a devoutly religious woman who favors no restrictions on guns, despite the massacre at her children's school. And what would voters say? Our guests:

  • Jason Odell Williams, playwright, Church and State
  • Ralph Meranto, artistic director, JCC CenterStage

 

 

Perhaps the most controversial DNC email released in the recent leak was the one that questioned whether Bernie Sanders is actually an atheist, and whether that could be used against him with voters. Across the country, atheists groaned at yet another slur against the non-religious. Polls show atheists are viewed with great suspicion by religious Americans.

We talk about atheist-phobia, and whether atheists feel like they'll have a chance to ever hold higher office in this country. Our guests:

Sunday is Father’s Day, and we spend the hour talking about the influence of fathers – specifically one daughter’s life with and without her dad.

Author Rebecca Rene Jones discusses her new book, Broken for Good: How Grief Awoke My Greatest Hopes.

Nazareth College is getting ready to host perhaps the first ever conference on the intersection of faith and the fight against climate change. The conference is called Sacred Texts and Human Contexts: Nature and Environment in World Religions.

How does faith guide our approach to climate change? Is environmentalism a religious value? Our panel discusses it:

  • Thomas Donlin-Smith, professor of religious studies at Nazareth College
  • Etin Anwar, chair of religious studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Nancy Rourke, director of the Catholic Studies program at Canisius College
  • Nathan Kollar, co-founder of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies at Dialogue

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