We examine the meaning of Pope Francis' new encyclical on climate change. What does it mean for the Catholic Church? More broadly, what does it mean when an organized religion wades into climate issues? Our panel discusses that and more:

Father Roy Bourgeois was a Catholic priest for 40 years, but the Vatican defrocked him in 2012 for supporting women in the priesthood. Bourgeois has spent his career advocating for equality and justice, from the rights of the poor and oppressed, to women's ordination. He's in Rochester for an event on Wednesday night, but first, he's on Connections.

We're looking at Indiana's controversial new law and all that comes with it (before show time, Indiana lawmakers agreed to make changes to the law). with an agreement to make changes to the law, The state of New York and the city of Rochester have banned all nonessential travel to Indiana. We'll talk about the law, what it means, and what comes next with our guests:

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is our guest, he's a Palestinian OB/GYN who lost three daughters and a niece when Israel hit his house with rockets in the 2009 siege of Gaza. Dr. Abuelaish was working in Israeli hospitals, one of the first Palestinians to do so, and had become a symbol for bridging cultural differences. Then he lost his daughters. He has become an advocate for peace and is the author of I Shall Not Hate: A Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. He lives in Toronto now, and is in Rochester for a Monday night event.

President Obama set off an unexpected little firestorm when he mentioned the Crusades at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month. Many Christian leaders responded that the Crusades are misunderstood, and were justified wars responding to Islamic aggression. And it made me realize that I really don't know squat about the Crusades. Fortunately, some very scholarly people around here do, and they're joining us:

  • Timothy Thibodeau, Nazareth College professor
  • Laura Ackerman Smoller, University of Rochester professor
  • Michael Tinkler and Courtney Wells, Hobart and William Smith professors

Author George Dardess is our guest, he's written a number of books about the differences between Islam and Christianity, and about religion in general. He says he's saddened by the "Islamophobia" that he sees coming out of Charlie Hebdo and other recent events. We talk about whether religions are inherently violent, and whether the world's major religions can reconcile differences.

We examine the significance of Pope Francis to the Catholic Church. His public statements appear to be significantly further left on social issues than his predecessor. But is that reflected in actual doctrine? Are there real changes afoot, or is this simply a Pope with a defter public touch? With us are: 

  • Fr. George Heyman, president of St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry in Pittsford
  • Fr. Edward Salmon, McQuaid Jesuit High School
  • Nora Bradbury-Haehl, director of faith formation at St. Patrick's Church in Victor

There is a new Good News Club in Monroe County, and there is now a Young Skeptics Club that has been created as a kind of counter-program.

The Good News Club is a national organization with a mission to "evangelize children in the name of Lord Jesus Christ." They are not officially affiliated with public schools, but they are sanctioned as after-school activities by public schools that welcome them. In 2001, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow this practice.

The new Young Skeptics Club is an effort created by the new local atheist congregation, designed to offer an after-school activity centered on critical thinking.

We'll have a representative from the Good News Club national organization, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and representatives from a local Young Skeptics Club.

We welcome Ron Lindsay, author of the new book The Necessity of Secularism, to talk about his views on Charlie Hebdo and the European movement toward a parallel legal system for religious factions. For example, the UK is considering sharia law courts. Lindsay is the CEO of the Center for Inquiry, which was involved in this past summer’s Greece town prayer case

Rochester has a new Sunday Assembly, and it's a place for atheists to come together. We'll sit down with Leslie Hannon and Kim Teal , who are helping coordinate the local chapter of a growing national movement. What do atheists say about the concept of coming together in a setting that resembles a church? Who is attending?