Beyond Belief

Ernie Rea and studio guests discuss the place of faith in today's complex world, exploring the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20081208
20081208
20030818
20030818
20030915
20030915

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, and traditions of our lives.

20030922
20030922
20040105
20040105
20040112
20040112
20040126
20040126
20040202
20040202
20040209
20040209
20040216
20040216

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20040301
20040301

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind experiences, values and traditions.

20040308
20040308
20040315
20040315

Ernie Rea and studio guests discuss the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20040322
20040322
20040329
20040329
20040705
20040705
20040712
20040712
20040719
20040719

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20040726
20040726
20040802
20040802
20040809
20040809

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden, often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20040816
20040816
20040823
20040823
20040830
20040830
20040906
20040906
20040920
20040920
20040927
20040927
20050103
20050103
20050110
20050110

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out hidden and often contradictory truths behind experiences, values and traditions in our lives.

20050117
20050117
20050124
20050124
20050131
20050131
20050207
20050207
20050214
20050214
20050228
20050228
20050314
20050314
20050703
20050703

Another chance to hear the Sony Award-winning programme in which Ernie Rea discusses the role of women in Islam with three Muslim Women - Khola Hasan, Sarah Joseph and Irshad Manji.

20050704
20050704

Ernie Rea with a series of conversations with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20050711
20050711
20050718
20050718
20050725
20050725
20050801
20050801
20050808
20050808
20050815
20050815
20050822
20050822
20050829
20050829
20050905
20050905
20050912
20050912
20050919
20050919
20050926
20050926
20060102
20060102
20060109
20060109
20060123
20060123
20060130
20060130
20060206
20060206
20060220
20060220
20060227
20060227
20060306
20060306
20060313
20060313
20060320
20060320
20060327
20060327
20060703
20060703

GETRIDOFTHIS

20060710
20060710
20060717
20060717
20060724
20060724
20060731
20060731
20060814
20060814
20060821
20060821
20060828
20060828
20060904
20060904
20060911
20060911
20060918
20060918
20060925
20060925
20061002
20061002
20061009
20061009
20061016
20061016
20070101
20070101
20070108
20070108
20070115
20070115
20070122
20070122
20070129
20070129
20070205
20070205
20070212
20070212
20070219
20070219
20070226
20070226
20070305
20070305

Ernie Rea explores the place of faith in today's world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20070618
20070618
20070625
20070625
20070702
20070702
20070709
20070709
20070716
20070716
20070723
20070723
20070730
20070730
20070806
20070806
20070813
20070813
20070820
20070820
20070827
20070827
20070903
20070903
20070910
20070910
20080114
20080114
20080121
20080121
20080128
20080128
20080204
20080204
20080211
20080211
20080218
20080218
20080225
20080225
20080303
20080303
20080310
20080310
20080317
20080317
20080324
20080324
20080602
20080602
20080609
20080609
20080616
20080616
20080623
20080623
20080630
20080630
20080707
20080707
20080714
20080714
20080721
20080721
20080728
20080728
20080804
20080804
20080811
20080811
20080818
20080818
20080825
20080825
20081215
20081215
20081229
20081229
20090105
20090105
20090112
20090112

Ernie Rea explores the place of faith in today's world.

Ernie Rea explores the place of faith in today's world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

20090119
20090119

Ernie Rea explores the place of faith in today's world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

Ernie Rea explores the place of faith in today's world.

20090126
20090126
20090202
20090202
20090209
20090209
20090216
20090216
20090223
20090223
20090302
20090302
20090601
20090601

As British troops are withdrawn from Iraq, Ernie Rea discusses whether Just War Theory, expounded by St Augustine, is rendered null and void by modern forms of warfare.

20090608
20090608

Ernie Rea debates traditional African beliefs, the faith system of new South African president, Jacob Zuma.

What are these beliefs and how do they fit with Islam and Christianity?

20090615
20090615

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the theological issues raised by Alzheimer's disease.

What insights do faith communities offer into what makes us human when we lose our cognitive abilities, and what is left of the self once Alzheimer's has done its worst?

20090622
20090622

To mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, Ernie Rea and guests discuss why this major Protestant reformer altered the shape and changed the thinking of Western Europe.

What is the legacy of Calvin and why do his ideas still influence churches in Britain and around the world today?

Marking the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin.

20090629
20090629

To mark the 200th edition of the programme, Ernie Rea and guests AC Grayling, Anthony Carroll and Mona Siddiqui discuss whether Britain is now a post-secular society.

What happened to the perceived wisdom that modernity would see religion wither and die? Why has the post-millennium world seen a rise in interest in all matters religious rather than the expected decline? Does immigration and 9/11 account for this resurgence in religion or are other factors at work? And should faith have a public space in today's complex world; should it have more rights than trade unions and political parties?

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether Britain is now a post-secular society.

20090706
20090706

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the theological roots of the Orange Order, the largest Protestant organisation in Northern Ireland.

20090713
20090713

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether adopting poverty as a spiritual practice could have advantages.

Can spiritual fulfillment be found in wealth and possessions or should these be given away in pursuit of higher goals?

20090720
20090720

Ernie Rea and guests discusses whether the internet is a gift to humanity or a threat to civilized values.

Is there a place for virtual churches or synagogues online, or are such attempts simply data connections between like-minded people? To what extent are real-world relationships threatened by virtual relationships, internet addiction and constant interruptions from mobile phones, emails and online communities?

Ernie Rea and guests discusses whether the internet is a gift to humanity or a threat.

20090803
20090803

With protests continuing in Iran over the results of the presidential elections, Ernie Rea and guests examine the history and theology which underpin the Islamic republic.

20090824
20090824
20091228
20091228

Ernie Rea and his guests discuss the popularity of angels in contemporary culture.

Angels appear in almost every religious tradition; what are they and why are so many people prepared to believe in angels but not in God?

20100111
20100111

Ernie Rea and his guests discuss forms of spiritual healing and the belief systems which underpin them.

20100118
20100118

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the religious traditions of the poorest state in the Arab world and ask why Jihadi networks are taking hold in Yemen.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of Islam in Europe.

20100125
20100125

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether self-inflicted pain is a valid or offensive form of spiritual discipline.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether self-inflicted pain is a valid or offensive form of spiritual discipline.

Ernie Rea discusses whether self-inflicted pain is a valid or offensive form of discipline

20100201
20100201

Ernie Rea and guests examine the rise of new monastic communities and ask what characteristics they share with traditional orders.

Ernie Rea and guests examine the rise of new monastic communities.

20100222
20100222

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the relationship between religion and the law.

20100301
20100301

For St David's Day, Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether patron saints are still important cultural icons.

What do their stories tell us about ourselves and our history? Do we have the right saint for each nation and is there a place for a patron saint of the UK?

On St David's Day, Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether patron saints are still important.

20100308
20100308

Ernie Rea and guests examine how Biblical attitudes to childlessness persist in society today.

20100315
20100315

Ernie Rea and guests asks whether or not the use of apocalyptic language is helpful in the climate change debate, politics and media.

Ernie Rea asks if the use of apocalyptic language is helpful in the climate change debate.

20100322
20100322

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of Islam in Europe.

How do different religious traditions coexist alongside each other and what happens when tensions arise?

20100913
20100913

In Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this edition, Ernie and guests discuss the life, beliefs and enduring legacy of Cardinal Newman, who will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in the Archdiocese of Birmingham during his state visit.

John Henry Newman converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism and went on to become a Cardinal in 1879.

He was the founder of the Oratories of St Philip Neri, in Birmingham (where he lived until his death on August 11 1890) and in London.

Newman's aim was to describe and inspire the Christian mind.

His vocation was to help modern people realise the demands of thinking and acting with the mind of Christ and his Church.

And it is this legacy which endures today.

Newman will become the first non-martyr saint in England since the Reformation, and de facto the patron saint of converts.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

The life, beliefs and legacy of Cardinal Newman, being beatified during the Papal visit.

20101004
20101004

Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place and nature of faith in today's world.

20110711
20110711

In the first of a new series, Ernie Rea and guests discuss the Christian understanding of Hell.

Hell appears in several mythologies and religions as a place of suffering and punishment after death, but it is Christianity which has lent it its most vivid imagery.

The Christian understanding of hell grew out of the Jewish concept of Sheol, a shadowy abode of the dead.

Jesus used graphic images to describe hell which were further elaborated by the early church wrestling under persecution with the question of how a Just God could permit such suffering.

That the Evil will be eternally punished was one answer to this dilemma, although there has always been a minority strain within Christianity arguing that eternal hell is incompatible with the workings of a loving God.

Joining Ernie to discuss hell are the Catholic writer and commentator, Peter Stanford, lecturer in patristic theology at Exeter University, Morwenna Ludlow, and lecturer at Oakhill theological college Daniel Strange.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the Christian understanding of Hell.

20110718
20110718

Christianity is a Middle Eastern Religion.

Its early expansion was Eastwards and it quickly became the dominant religion of the region.

That changed with the arrival of Islam but Christians have always had a significant presence.

But during the last century Christians began leaving the Middle East in large numbers.

Sometimes it was because they were more able to take up the opportunities the West offered; sometimes it was because they felt less able to express their faith under growing political Islam.

In this programme Ernie Rea asks how the events of the Arab Spring will affect the fortunes of Christians in the Middle East.

He is joined by Nadim Nassar, a Syrian and Anglican priest, Professor Madawi al-Rasheed from Kings College London, and Ziya Meral, fellow of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Discussion on the impact of the events of the "Arab Spring" on Christians in the region.

20110725
20110725

If there is one idea on which David Cameron has staked the reputation of his government it is the Big Society, and he has stressed the role he believes faith groups have to play in it.

Their reaction has, however, been mixed with the Archbishop of Canterbury describing it as a "stale slogan" in danger of being seen as an opportunistic cover for spending cuts.

So what is the Big Society, and are its values consistent with religious values? Ernie is joined by Phillip Blond, Director of the Think Tank Respublica and widely credited as being the originator of the government's Big Society idea, Maleiha Malik, Professor in Law at King's College, London: and Antony Lerman, former founding director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss Religion and the Big Society.

20110801
20110801

According to recent research, a Christian couple in Britain has only a 50 percent chance of transmitting their beliefs and practice to their children. If a child has just one Christian parent the chance is 25 per cent. Why is it so difficult for parents to pass on their faith? And do grandparents and parents in minority faith communities face the same problems when it comes to transmitting their religious beliefs and values across the Generational Divide?

Ernie Rea's guests in Beyond Belief today are Professor David Voas from Manchester University, Sadek Hamid a researcher into Muslim youth, and the Rabbi and Baroness, Julia Neuberger.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss religion and the generation gap.

According to recent research, a Christian couple in Britain has only a 50 percent chance of transmitting their beliefs and practice to their children.

If a child has just one Christian parent the chance is 25 per cent.

Why is it so difficult for parents to pass on their faith? And do grandparents and parents in minority faith communities face the same problems when it comes to transmitting their religious beliefs and values across the Generational Divide?

20110808
20110808

The idea of the Sabbath, a communal day off every week, has been all but taken over by Sunday opening and the 24/7 society.

In "Beyond Belief" Ernie Rea asks what society has gained and lost as a result of this change.

Sports Commentator Dan Walker tells him why he refuses to work on a Sunday, and he is joined by Rabbi Naftali Brawer, Sam Barker of the Relationships Foundation and Keep Sunday Special Campaign, and Philip Booth from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

20110815
20110815

We were told that Globalisation would kill off religion.

In fact, the vast majority of the world's population continues to maintain religious beliefs and practice.

So how does Globalisation affect Religion? Does the spread of religion across national boundaries mean that its universal elements will develop at the expense of the national and particular? Is there a danger that faith and culture might become separated from one another? And can faith communities help to mitigate the worst effects of globalisation?

Ernie Rea is joined by Martin Palmer from the Alliance of Religion, Conservation and the Environment, Dr Sara Silvestri from City University, London, and Adrian Wooldridge a columnist with The Economist and the co-author of the book "God is Back.".

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the effects of globalisation on religion.

20110822
20110822

Series exploring the place and nature of faith in today's world.

20110829
20110829

Religious symbols can cause offence these days, it seems - whether it's a Christian cross over a work uniform or a Muslim woman's headcovering.

But people seem to have no problem with statues of the Buddha in shops and garden centres.

Secularists who are quick to pour scorn on Christianity and Islam often have a soft spot for his teachings.

But is Buddhism as we experience it in the West, the genuine article? It may be one of the fastest growing religions in the West, but can it thrive apart from the cultural soil in which it took root?

Ernie Rea is joined in discussion by Nagapriya from the Buddhist Triratna Order, AniRinchen Khandro, a nun in the Tibetan tradition, and Will Buckingham, a lecturer at deMontfort University, Leicester who know describes himself as "Buddhish" rather than "Buddhist.".

20110905
20110905

A controversial High Court ruling on the admission policy of the Jewish Free School in London two years ago has led to heated and ongoing discussion among Jews in this country about what constitutes Jewishness.

With the number of Jews in Britain declining, the question of how to preserve and pass on Judaism is a major preoccupation of members the community, be they Orthodox, Reform or secular.

So what should be the test for determining who is and isnt Jewish? How important is religious practice, observing a kosher table or male circumcision? And how important is it for the preservation of Jewishness that a Jew should marry another Jew?

Joining Ernie to discuss Jewish identity are Laura Janner Klausner, Rabbi of the Alyth Reform Synagogue in London; Natan Levy, the Orthodox Rabbi of Shenley United Jewish Congregation; and Dr Brian Klug Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at St Benet's Hall, University of Oxford, and author of "Being Jewish and Doing Justice.".

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the vexed question of Jewish identity.

20110912
20110912

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

A discussion on the different ways of understanding the world around us.

20110919
20110919
20110926
20110926
20111003
20111003

Earlier this year the Irish Prime Minister launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican, after an inquiry into the handling of allegations of child abuse found that the church had ignored its own child protection guidelines.

Enda Kenny said a culture of "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism" dominated the Vatican, criticisms which were rejected by the Vatican as "unfounded".

Kenny's speech signalled beyond doubt an end to the symbiotic relationship between church and state which many say has dominated the Republic ever since it was founded.

So what is the future for Catholicism in Ireland? Joining Ernie Rea for the discussion is Dublin priest Father Joe Murphy, David Quinn, a columnist for the Irish Catholic and Irish Times, and the theologian and lecturer in medical ethics, Gina Menzies.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the future of Catholicism in the Irish Republic.

20120206
20120206
20120213
20120213
20120220
20120220

The Baha'i faith, though numerically small, claims to have a geographical reach second only to Christianity.

It was founded in the nineteenth century in Iran, where its followers are now severely persecuted, and preaches the Unity of God, humanity and religion.

Fidelma Meehan tells Ernie Rea how she was introduced to the faith by the comedian Omid Djalili.

Ernie is joined by two Baha'i writers Moojan Momen and Lil Osborne, and by Denis MacEoin who used to be a Baha'i but left after he became disillusioned with what he saw as its authoritarian structures.

Different ways of understanding the world. Ernie Rea and guests discuss the Baha'i faith.

20120227
20120227

The death in December of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's "Dear Leader" has focused the spotlight on the affairs of one of the world's most secretive states.

Kim Jong Il - and his father before him - had assumed the status of demi-gods. To follow any other religion risked imprisonment or worse. In today's "Beyond Belief" Ernie Rea asks what the implications of Kim Jong Il's death might be for religious freedom.

By contrast, South Korea has some of the world's largest Christian congregations. And for centuries millions of Koreans, North and South, have followed Confucian, Buddhist and Shaman traditions.

Joining Ernie for the discussion are James Grayson, Emeritus Professor of Modern Korean Studies at the University of Sheffield; Professor Sebastian Kim who holds the Chair in Theology and Public Life at York St John University; and Dr Jiyoung Song Associate Fellow at Chatham House and Lecturer at the National University of Singapore.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss religion in Korea following the death of Kim Jong-il.

20120402
20120402

This is the most important week in the Christian Year when Christians commemorate what they regard as the central event in human history, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross, an excruciating form of torture carried out by the Romans. Today the cross is commonly used as a fashion item - not a symbol of death, but of consumerism. It can still cause offence; some Christians have been told they cannot wear one at work.

Ernie Rea considers the different uses and symbolism of the cross with Dr Sophie Lunn Rockcliffe, Lecturer in Roman History at Kings College London; Dr Anna Robbins, Lecturer in Theology and Contemporary Culture at the London School of Theology: and Dr Ed Kessler, Director of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic religions in Cambridge.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the symbol of the cross in contemporary society.

20120416
20120416
20130204
20130204

Ernie Rea presents the discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

20130211
20130211

"No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" The brilliant Monty Python sketch was able to use an historical reference because the very mention of the Inquisition conjured up images of dark dungeons; cruel monks wielding instruments of torture and consigning thousands of alleged heretics to the flames. The Inquisition has had a bad press. But in fact there were several Inquisitions, some more cruel than others. And it is still active. Nowadays it goes under the name of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in the 1990s it was run by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. So what does it do? How does its present structure relate to its medieval origins? Does it deserve its sinister reputation?

Joining Ernie to discuss the Inquisition are Dr Gemma Simmons, Lecturer in Pastoral and Social Studies at Heythrop College London and a member of the Congregation of Jesus; Dr Christopher Black, Honorary Professor of Italian History at the School of Humanities, at the University of Glasgow; and Cullen Murphy, Editor at Large of Vanity Fair and author of God's Jury, The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World.

20130225
20130225

As the bill to allow same sex marriage makes its way through Parliament, Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether homosexuality is compatible with Islam. The Muslim Council of Britain has voiced its opposition, but what does the Koran say about homosexuality - is the prohibition unequivocal and absolute?

Ernie's guests are Ibrahim Mogra, one of Britain's leading Imams; Pav Akhtar, Muslim politician and the director of UK Black Pride and Islamic scholar and Secretary of the Charity "Scriptural Reasoning" Sheikh Dr Muhammed al-Hussaini,.

20130318
20130318

Addiction to alcohol costs the UK around £22 billion per annum in health, welfare, social care and prison costs. The expectation is that more than 200,000 people will die prematurely in this country of alcohol related liver disease in the next 20 years. Is addiction a disease or does it signify an absence of will power? Alcoholics Anonymous famously claims that the cycle of addiction can only be broken by surrendering to a higher power. So is a spiritual approach to the problem effective?

Joining Ernie to discuss the spiritual dimension to alcohol addiction and its treatment are Mike Williams, General Director of Stauros Foundation, a Christian Charity which offers fellowship to people suffering or recovering from addiction; Maia Szalavitz a neuro-science journalist with Time.com; and Dr Wendy Dossett Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Chester University who has just completed a Research Project on Spirituality and Addiction.

20140310
20140310

The Christian season of Lent is a time for recalling the forty days and nights spent by Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. In other faiths too the wilderness is a place of refuge, self- discovery, temptation and joy.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the idea and experience of the wilderness are the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, the Buddhist writer Vishvapani, and Laura Feldt, associate Professor in the Study of Religion at the University of Odense in Denmark.

20140519
20140519

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the heady mix of football and religion in Brazil in the first of a new series of Beyond Belief.

For a month from the 12th June there will be a football match on television just about every evening during the World Cup. The host nation, Brazil, are among the favourites to win. Many of their players will be looking to a higher power to help their efforts on the field, because Brazil is an intensely religious country and some of its finest footballers are signed up "Ambassadors for Jesus."

Brazil has the largest population of Catholics in the world, but things have been changing as Brazilians migrate from rural areas to the cities and the country becomes a major player on the world economic stage.

Joining Ernie to discuss the Changing Face of Religion in Brazil are Daniel Clark, a Baptist minister and citizen of Brazil as well as Britain; Bettina Schmidt, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religions at the University of Wales, Trinity St David ; and Andrew Dawson, Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University who has been researching Religion in Brazil since the early 1990s.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

20140915
20140915

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

20140922
20140922
20140929
20140929
20150601
20150601

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

20150622
20150622
20150629
20150629
20150907
20150907
*20071231
*20071231
*20080107
*20080107
*20081222
*20081222
50 Years Of Nostra Aetate20151207
50 Years Of Nostra Aetate20151207

It is 50 years since the publication of the Vatican document 'Nostra Aetate' which transformed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and other religions, most notably Judaism. At only a few paragraphs in length, this short text has been widely seen as one of the most remarkable moments in the turbulent history of interfaith relations. How did it come about? What can we say it has really achieved? And how does it fit into the world in which we now live?

Ernie Rea explores the impact of 'Nostra Aetate' with Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Southwark and chair of the Bishops' Conference Committee for Other Faiths and of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations; Dr Ed Kessler, Founder-Director of the interfaith organisation, the Woolf Institute; and Oliver McTernan, Director of the conflict-resolution charity 'Forward Thinking', which works among communities in the UK and the Middle East.

Producer:

Amanda Hancox.

It is 50 years since the publication of the Vatican document 'Nostra Aetate' which transformed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and other religions, most notably Judaism. At only a few paragraphs in length, this short text has been widely seen as one of the most remarkable moments in the turbulent history of interfaith relations. How did it come about? What can we say it has really achieved? And how does it fit into the world in which we now live?

Ernie Rea explores the impact of 'Nostra Aetate' with Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Southwark and chair of the Bishops' Conference Committee for Other Faiths and of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations; Dr Ed Kessler, Founder-Director of the interfaith organisation, the Woolf Institute; and Oliver McTernan, Director of the conflict-resolution charity 'Forward Thinking', which works among communities in the UK and the Middle East.

Producer:

Amanda Hancox.

A Religion Without God20040223
A Secular Meaning To Life20100816

Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Each week Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious or non-religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, Ernie asks whether there is a secular meaning of life and how this can be achieved without a shared reference to God or other higher spiritual figure.

What is the basis of our morality and can there be any universally held, objective rules of right and wrong if there is no God?

Ernie and the panel hear from the writer, AN Wilson, who recounts his journey from childhood belief, through atheism and back to a constant, yet doubting faith in God.

In the second half of the programme, the panel discuss how a secular purpose to life is created and asks whether the purpose of life without God, can only be failure? In a secular world, have the terrors of hell been replaced by the terrors of failure? Can belief in God offer redemption where human capacity has failed?

The panel comprises Fergus Stokes who was once a Baptist minister and now is a humanist who practises psychotherapy; Dr Sue Blackmore, Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth and who is a Zen Practitioner; and Canon Dr Alan Billings, former director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at the University of Lancaster.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Abstinence20100809

Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this edition, representatives of three different faiths discuss the purpose and effect of abstinence.

What benefit does abstaining from food or sex or pastimes have on the spirit, the soul or the waistline and is denying yourself always a good thing? Ernie hears about some extreme forms of abstinence which are questioned and challenged by the guests, who include Raana Bokhari from the Religious Studies Department of the University of Lancaster, Peter Stanford, a Catholic writer and journalist and Dr Atul Shah, a member of the Jain community.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and his guests explore abstinence for religious and non-religious purposes.

Adoption20120326

The Government is seeking to speed up the adoption process for the growing number of children being taken into care in the UK. Social workers responsible for the difficult job of matching children with adoptive parents are often criticised for focusing too much on questions of ethnicity or lifestyle. So how far should religion play a factor in the process which links children and parents? Ernie Rea discusses the issue with Raffia Arshad, a family lawyer, Ruby Clay, an author who has adopted three children with her lesbian partner, and Fiona Bowie a social anthropologist and also an adoptive mother.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss religion and adoption.

Aid20100104

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of faith in international aid and development. To what extent are western aid agencies in danger of imposing secular values on developing countries by failing to address spiritual matters alongside physical needs?

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of faith in international aid and development.

To what extent are western aid agencies in danger of imposing secular values on developing countries by failing to address spiritual matters alongside physical needs?

Animals20130304

The revelation that horse meat has found its way into supermarket products, and that Muslim prisoners have been fed meals containing pork has highlighted again the way food is produced and animals treated.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the place of animals in the religions of East and West are Shimon Cohen, Director of Shechita UK, an organisation which defends the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for food; Barbara Gardner, a trustee of the RSPCA and author of The Compassionate Animal; and Shaunaka Rishi Das a Vaisnav priest from the Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the place of animals in the religions of East and West are Shimon Cohen, Director of Schechita UK, an organisation which defends the Jewish method of slaughtering animals; Barbara Gardner, a trustee of the RSPCA and author of The Compassionate Animal; and Shaunaka Rishi Das a Vaisnav priest from the Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies.

Anti-semitism In Europe20130128

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the reasons behind rising anti-semitism in Europe. A survey published last year revealed that 24% of the French population holds anti semitic views. The figure for Hungary is 63%. In Spain 72% of the people are willing to admit that they are anti Jew. Just 70 years after Hitler tried to wipe out European Jewry, attacks on Jews are on the increase. What is the cause of this resurgence? What can be done to stop it?

Joining Ernie to discuss anti Semitism in Europe today are Dr Ed Kessler, Director of the Woolf Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Faiths; Social and political commentator Mohammed Ansar who is a Social and Political Commentator and Dr Yaakov Wise from the Centre for Jewish Studies, at the University of Manchester.

Apocalyptic20121231

If you get to listen to this programme, it's because the Domesday scenario - according to which the world would end on December 21st - did not happen. The interpretation of the Mayan calendar that arrived at this date was derided by most Mayan scholars, but this hasn't stopped the media camping out in the French village of Bugarach, identified as the only village on earth which was to be spared destruction.

Apocalyptic ideas about the end of the world, as we in the West understand them, have their roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The popular imagery - the Mark of the Beast, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Whore of Babylon - feed the imagination of film makers and writers, who draw upon Biblical imagery.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the nature and role of apocalyptic ideas on western religion and culture are Dr Philip Alexander, Professor of Post Biblical Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester; Dr Stefan Skrimshire, lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds; and Rev Dr Steve Jeffrey minister of Emmanuel Evangelical Church in North London.

Apostasy20140609

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the meaning of Apostasy within Islam.

The case of Meriam Ibrahim, sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for abandoning Islam, has attracted world wide attention. In the West, the court decision has been almost universally condemned as a violation of a basic human right, that of religious freedom. About 20 Muslim countries in the world have laws against apostasy; What purpose do they fulfil and what is historical and theological reasoning that lies behind them?

Apparitions Of Mary20160328

Since 2010 a Vatican commission has been investigating the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. An announcement is expected soon, amid concerns that the supernatural claims of six visionaries are getting out of the Vatican's control. Beginning in 1981, the apparitions purportedly continue daily, and thousands of pilgrims from all over the world travel to the small town each month to meet the alleged seers. What exactly are Marian apparitions and how have they been explained? What are some of the stories associated with them? Why have they become such a powerful tool for conversion over recent decades? Are they always an aid to religious devotion or can they lead to unhealthy superstition?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.

Archaeology And Religion20140113

Late last year a team of archaeologists who had been working on a site in Nepal announced that they had uncovered the earliest known Buddhist shrine, a discovery which leads them to place the date of the Buddha's birth three centuries earlier than previously thought. In the first of a new series of Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and guests discuss the impact that archaeological discoveries have on the study of religion and on the faith of believers. What added dimensions does archaeology bring to religions of the book? What light does it shed on the worlds of the founders of the faiths? And can archaeology ever be used to prove or disprove the beliefs of the billions that have followed them? Ernie Rea's guests are Professor Robin Coningham, Professor Francesca Stavrakapooloo and Professor Tim Insoll.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Are Institutions In Decline?20140224

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, recently suggested that the Church of England may be extinct within a generation unless it learns to connect with young people. The Church of England is the most obvious example of a religious institution in serious decline, but it's certainly not the only one. Why is this happening? If our major religious institutions die, who will notice? And what might take their place?

Joining Ernie to discuss the future of religious institutions are the Rev Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin in the Fields in London and a visiting Professor in Christian Ethics at Kings College London; Linda Woodhead, Professor in the Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University; and Jasjit Singh, Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Artificial Intelligence20150406

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the promise and threats of developing artificial intelligence with

Anders Sandberg, a philosopher from the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford, Elaine Graham,

Grosvenor Professor of practical Theology at Chester University, and Professor Lionel Tarrasenko, Chair of electrical engineering at Oxford University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Atheism20120305
Avatars20141124

The word "Avatar" was not conceived by a Hollywood film producer but comes from the Sanskrit word for "descent". It relates to when a deity manifests in an earthly embodiment. In Christianity "incarnation" describes the coming of the divine in bodily form to the world in which we inhabit. Does this make Jesus an "Avatar"? Some Hindu's believe so. In this programme Ernie Rea explores the parallels and distinctions between the two and, as new technologies offer the prospect of digital "Avatars" able to simulate our personalities in the online world after death, discusses what such developments tell us about contemporary attitudes to life-after-death and immortality.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the theology and digital reinvention of "Avatars" are Dr Chetna Kang, Hindu priest and psychiatrist, David Law Professor of Christian Thought and Philosophical Theology, and Dr John Troyer, Deputy Director of the Centre of Death and Society at the University of Bath.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Ayodhya20110124

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's religious discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes, contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In the programme, Ernie and his guests discuss the disputed site of Ayodhya in India.

Hindus and Muslims have been in conflict for more than a century over the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, a town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Hindus claim the site was the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram and that a mosque was built after the destruction of a Hindu temple by a Muslim, Babur, in the sixteenth century.

After decades of legislation, an India court ruled last year that the site should be split three ways between Hindus, Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara Hindu sect.

Beyond Belief examines why this site is important to both Hindus and Muslims and asks whether the legal judgement is workable in modern secular India.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the dispute between Hindus and Muslims over Ayodhya.

Baptists20120827

Ernie Rea is joined by three prominent Baptists: Dianne Tidball, Ruth Gouldbourne and Peter Morden to discuss the history of the Baptist Church and its significance today. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first Baptist congregation in England and Baptists form the biggest Protestant denomination in the world but what do they stand for? Ernie's guests discuss the often bloody history of the Baptists from their origins as a persecuted dissenting movement in the seventeenth century. And they consider what Baptists contribute to Britain today. Are they still a voice of protest, speaking out for justice and for religious freedom?

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the history of the Baptist Church and its significance today.

Belgium20160606

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Betrayal20150914
Betrayal20150914

What do Muhammad Ali, Helen Shapiro and John Travolta have in common? They all changed their religion. They abandoned the traditions in which they had been brought up in favour of something different. In some cases, it produced a great sense of betrayal. Some religious groups will cut off friends and family who renounce their religion. Life for the so-called betrayer can be very difficult indeed. The idea of betrayal runs very deep in many religions. Why? And what does it actually signify?

Ernie Rea is joined by Prakash Shah, Director of the Centre for Culture and Law at Queen Mary, University of London; Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawar, Chief Executive of the Spiritual Capital Foundation Think Tank; and Douglas Davies, Professor in the Study of Religion at Durham University.

Produced by Nija Dalal-Small.

Buddhism And Violence20130819

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

Buddhism is generally portrayed in the West as a religion of peace and non-violence. The first of Buddhism's 'Five Moral Precepts' states that it is wrong to take the lives of others. But recent clashes between native Buddhists and minority Muslims in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) have left over 200 people dead, and more than 150,000 people homeless. So what is Buddhism's teaching about the use of violence? Is it permitted or prohibited?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss Buddhism and violence are Michael Jerryson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Youngstown State University, Ohio, who co-edited the book 'Buddhist Warfare'; Rupert Gethin, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, and Soe Win Than, a journalist who was born in Myanmar and who works for the BBC's Burmese Service.

Cardinal Newman
Catholic Synod On The Family20141006

This week the extraordinary Synod on the family called by Pope Francis takes place in Rome. It is a crucial moment for the church because the notion of what constitutes family and attitudes towards things like contraception, marriage, abortion and divorce have changed, putting church teaching out of step with wider society and indeed many Catholics. The question is what should the Church do about it? Pope Francis has hinted he wants change, but of what kind? To what extent is current Church teaching based on scripture and indissoluble, or based on rules that can be reinterpreted and more openly applied?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the extraordinary Synod on the family are Madeline Teahan, Associate Editor at the Catholic Herald, Paul Valley author of 'Pope Francis: Untying the Knots' and David Willey the BBC's Vatican Correspondent.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Celebrity Culture20110131

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme, Ernie asks his guests whether the values of celebrity culture are at odds with their own religious values.

Why are we fascinated by the rich and famous and have we always been? Why do we care about the personal antics of footballers, pop stars, TV personalities and actors? Has celebrity replaced religion in society?

Joining Ernie to discuss celebrity culture is Dr Kristin Aune, senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Derby and co-author of "Reclaiming the F World: The New Feminist Movement; Vicki Mackenzie, journalist and Buddhist and author of Cave in the Snow; and Miriam Berger, Rabbi from the Finchley Reform Synagogue.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Guests discuss if the values of celebrity culture are at odds with religious values.

Celibacy20130610

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

The role of celibacy differs cross-culturally among religious traditions, with some insisting on it and others prohibiting it. Obligatory celibacy for Catholic priests in the West was introduced in 1130, yet in other traditions, such as Islam, marriage for their spiritual leaders is positively encouraged and celibacy, whilst not forbidden, is seen as second class. Is celibacy an essential requirement for real closeness to God or not? And given that it's basis is essentially cultural rather than theological, should celibacy be optional across religions?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss celibacy across religions are Professor Carl Olsen, Prof of Religious Studies at Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, and Editor of the book, Celibacy and Religious Traditions; Dr Helen Costigane SHCJ, member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, who teaches Canon Law and Christian Ethics at Heythrop College, University of London, and Sheikh Michael Mumisa, Islamic scholar at the University of Cambridge.

Celtic Christianity20060116

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and contradictory truths behind the experiences values and traditions.

Contributors include Ian Bradley, Brendan O'Malley and Edward Norman.

Charity20140825

The current crisis' in Iraq, Gaza and Syria means there is much work for humanitarian relief agencies working to pick up the pieces of these terrible conflicts. Many of these groups are faith based bodies - organisations motivated by a religious conviction to help those in need. But what does it mean to be a faith based charity? Is it a strength to have a religious dimension or a weakness? And how do you ensure that charity does not become exercise in proselytization?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the pros and cons of faith based charity are Andrew Hogg, Head of Media at Christian Aid; Jehangir Malik, Director of Islamic Relief; and Dr Michael Jennings, Lecturer in the Department for Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Childlessness20151214

Birth rates in Western Europe have been dropping steadily. In the 1970s, one in ten British women reached the menopause without having children. Today it is one in five. Earlier this year Pope Francis told an audience in St Peter's Square that, "The choice not to have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies; it is enriched, not impoverished." Is he right? Does the biblical injunction to "Go forth and multiply" still hold true? To what extent does the stigma of infertility still exist within society?

Ernie Rea discusses issues around childlessness with Khola Hasan, an Islamic scholar, writer and broadcaster who sits on the Islamic Shariah Council; Dovid Lewis, who is the Rabbi of South Manchester Synagogue; and Dr Dawn Llewellyn, Senior Lecturer in Christian Studies at the University of Chester who has carried out research into voluntary childlessness among Christian women in Britain.

Producer:

Dan Tierney

Series producer:

Amanda Hancox.

Christianity And Gender Identity20140623

Ernie Rea and guests discuss Christian perspectives on Gender identity.

Within the last 40 years it has been possible for people to undergo sex reassignment surgery. British law was changed ten years ago to enable them to change the sex given on their birth certificates. What challenges do these developments throw up for Christian thought and practice? Ernie is joined by Rev Rachel Mann, a transgender priest in the Church of England, Dr Vicky Gunn who teaches practical theology at Glasgow University and Dr Don Horrocks, head of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance and Research Associate at the London School of Theology.

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Christianity And The American President20040913

Ernie Rea converses with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences, values and traditions of our lives.

Christianity And The Law20140127

Last year Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division, gave a speech in which he said the law of this country is secular, and that Christianity no longer informs its morality or values." Happily for us," he went on, "the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs."

Ernie Rea is joined by Sir Mark Hedley, Joshua Rozenberg and David McIlroy to discuss the relationship between Christianity and the Law.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Comedy And Religion20130902

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

The late Christopher Hitchins wrote that "The mockery of religion is one of the most essential things". Certainly if you go to any Comedy Club today, you can expect to find that religious belief is an open target. But are there any limits to what is acceptable? Are there any parallels between the role of the priest and his congregation and the comedian with his audience?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the relationship between comedy and religion are the Muslim stand-up comedian, Imran Yusuf, the Jewish stand-up, Josh Howie and Patrick McKearney, a Doctoral Researcher in Theology and Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Compassion20150615

The very public failures of the Mid Staffordshire National Health Service Foundation Trust raised serious questions about the standard of care in some hospitals. Two Enquiries agreed that there had been "appalling" emergency care with deficiencies at "virtually every stage." What would have prevented such a humanitarian failure? Some said that an obsession with targets and bureaucracy had been allowed to obscure the needs of patients. Others suggested that nurses in particular had lost the capacity to care. Again and again we heard the word "Compassion". Good old fashioned Compassion - a concept central to the world's religious tradition - just wasn't fashionable in an individualistic and competitive society.

Ernie Rea is joined by Paul Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at the University of Derby: Anna Smajdor lecturer in Medical Ethics at the University of East Anglia; and Joshua Hordern Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the University of Oxford.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Confucianism20150323

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the revival of Confucianism in China.

In 1966 the Red Guard in China sent a telegram to Mao tse Tung. "Dearest Chairman Mao," it read. "We have rebelled. We have torn down the plaque extolling "The teacher of ten thousand generations;" we have levelled Confucius' grave; and we have obliterated the statues in the Confucius Temple." By the time the Cultural Revolution had done its work, Confucianism which had dominated the religious and cultural life of China for over a millennium, seemed almost obliterated. But today it is making a comeback. The Chinese government is encouraging its study. What is going on? How can it be that a philosophy which was thought to be the embodiment of reaction is being hailed as a force of progress,

Joining Ernie to discuss the New Confucianism are Dr Joachim Gentz, Chair of Chinese Philosophy and Religion at Edinburgh University: Thomas Chan, a member of ASHA, a group which focuses on inter faith dialogue: and Isobel Hilton, a journalist and editor of Chinadialogue.com

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Depression20120730

Ernie Rea explores the relationship between religion and depression with expert guests: Sabnum Dharamsi, a Muslim; Dr John Swinton, a Christian; and Ed Halliwell, a Buddhist. They look at what different religious traditions teach us about the experience of sadness and despair; how having a religious faith can be a source of support for some people suffering from depression; but they also consider how religious communities don't always get it right.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the relationship between religion and depression.

Development Of Mecca20130121

It may surprise you to know that the world's tallest hotel is in Makkah. The Clock Tower which is part of the same complex is the world's largest clock tower. None of this would be all that important were it not for the fact that these building are metres away from the Grand Mosque which, for Muslims, is the world's holiest place. In order to create the space for this expansion, large residential districts have been demolished and the residents evicted; many examples of traditional urban architecture have been destroyed. What is behind this programme? Is it cultural vandalism? Or rampant capitalism? Or does it reflect a legitimate theological concern on the part of the Saudi authorities to prevent idolatry? Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the potential destruction of some of Islam's Holy Sites are Yaqub Zaki, Visiting Professor at the Aga Khan Foundation at Harvard University; Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow; and Irfan Al Alawi, Executive Director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Egalitarianism20120903

Ernie Rea and guests discuss religious responses to economic inequality.

Egypt20110117

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme, Ernie Rea and guests discuss the religious history and make-up of Egypt: what is Coptic Christianity? How do Christians, who make up about ten per cent of the population, live alongside their fellow Egyptian Muslims? What is distinctive about Egyptian Islam? How have the two faiths co-existed for 1,400 years and how do we make sense of recent tensions between the two communities?

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the history of Christians and Muslims in Egypt.

End Time Beliefs In Islam20150309

According to Islamic teaching, there will a be a Day of Judgement when all of humanity will be judged by Allah. It will be preceded by divisions within the body of Islam and battles throughout the Middle East, particularly in Syria. Little wonder that some Muslims are speculating that the End Times are upon them. The leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, uses the language of End Times to underpin his organisation's legitimacy. So are we really experiencing the signs of the End Time? Why are the end time beliefs in Islam similar to those in Christianity? Does Islamic State believe they are hastening the Last Judgement?

Producer: Amanda Hancox.

Evangelical20130325

When Justin Welby was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury there were two things we quickly learned about him. The first was that he has a business head on him and used to work in the oil industry - that's significant for a country grappling with issues of financial morality.

The second was that he is an Evangelical - that's important for the wider Anglican church which is battling splits between evangelicals and liberals over the issue of homosexuality - and for the church of England where there's an internal debate among Evangelicals about the very meaning of that term.

Joining Ernie to discuss Evangelicals, especially within an Anglican context are the Rev Dr Rob Munroe, who is a member of the Anglican evangelical group, Reform: Vicky Beeching, a Theologian and Visiting Research Fellow at Durham University ; and Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the think tank Ekklesia.

Eve20140120

In the trailer for the final run of Desperate Housewives, viewers are seduced into watching the series with a variety of tantalising images. Four beautiful women in provocative poses, attracting the longing gazes of their easily led men. Snake like belts draped sinuously around their waists are provocatively removed or loosened. And there's an apple, red and luscious, newly plucked from a tree. A 21st century television hit makes its appeal by drawing on an ancient biblical character which it assumes will resonate with the viewer.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the Biblical figure Eve, and what has been made of her down the centuries are Katie Edwards, lecturer in Biblical Studies at Sheffield University; Amy Orr Ewing, Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics; and Maureen Kendler, head of Educational Programming at the London School of Jewish Studies.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Evil Spirits20050221
Faith And Disability20100823

In Beyond Belief Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme Ernie is joined by a Christian, a Druid and a Hindu who discuss the understanding of disability from their faith perspective.

They address how disability is viewed within their community, the value of a disabled life lived, the quality of that life and how discrimination against people with disability begins even before birth.

Ernie and his guests hear from a deaf couple who wanted the right to keep an embryo with genes for deafness, should they undergo IVF treatment.

Their wishes caused outrage and was frequently misunderstood.

How could parents wish for a child with a disability; how could this possibly be wanting the best for their child?

Ernie's panel comprises Emma Restall Orr who is a Druid and a wheel chair user; Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the Christian Think Tank, Ekklesia, and father of Samuel who has spina bifida; and Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests explore how disability is explained by different faith communities.

Faith And Doubt20130805

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

We live in an age of doubt. We have been taught to question everything. But it is the religious traditions which major in certainty which are on the increase. Fundamentalism is gaining pace, even in an age of science.

In the first of a new series, Ernie Rea discusses the role of doubt within religion with Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh and author of "Leaving Alexandria - a memoir of faith and doubt", Shaykh Shams Ad-duha, Principal of Ebrahim College, London, which trains British Imams, and the theologian and astro-physicist, the Rev Professor David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College, Durham.

Faith Schools20110214

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss different ways of understanding the world around us.

Fear20120806

Ernie Rea is joined by sociologist Frank Furedi and theologians David Thomas and Simon Podmore to discuss the significance of fear in religious traditions. The programme will consider the theology of fear and explore how religions have made use of fear and responded to it throughout the ages. It will also look at how our fears have changed in the modern world and whether religions have played down their teachings about hell and damnation in recent years. And how does fear affect morality? Are we responsible for crimes committed under the threat of reprisals? And are we to be congratulated for good deeds performed only as a response to the fear of negative consequences for ourselves if we don't behave?

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the significance of fear in religious traditions.

Fire In Religion20130520

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

In Edinburgh a modern festival has grown up around the ancient pagan festival of Beltane, traditionally marked on May 1st, where fires are lit. But does fire have both negative and positive connotations across all religions? Is it always viewed as potentially transforming as well as destructive?

In today's programme, Ernie Rea is joined by Alan Williams, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester; Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University and Canon Loveday Alexander, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, to discuss the role of fire within religion and its symbolism today.

Fixed Easter20160321

The Archbishop of Canterbury is working with other Christian churches to agree on a fixed date for Easter, which he hopes would happen "in between five and 10 years time". The first attempt to make such a change was in the 10th Century. The date, which is different in the Eastern and Western Christian traditions, is also intrinsically linked to the Jewish celebration of Passover and Christian church liturgy is steeped in its Jewish origins. Why historically has the date been different among Christians? What would it take to agree on a fixed date? Why does it matter? What could a change to a fixed date mean for Christians and Jews?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series producer: Amanda Hancox.

France20160111

Faith discussion programme.

Fundamentalism20150112

Is it correct to describe the killers of Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris as fundamentalists?

When this programme was recorded, the operation to detain the suspects is continuing. The initial murders were carried out in the name of Allah in retaliation for the publication of cartoons deemed to be lampooning the prophet Mohammed. How do you describe people who carry out such atrocities? A quick glance through the papers revealed a wide diversity of terms, from the simple "terrorists," to "Muslim hardliners and "Islamic fundamentalist." Which terms are appropriate? What does it mean to describe someone in religious terms as "A Fundamentalist? What problems do we cause problems when we don't consider carefully the meaning of terms before applying them to a particular situation?

The use of the term Fundamentalism has changed over the decades. Joining Ernie Rea to discuss its usage today are Haras Raffiq, Managing Director of the Quilliam Foundation, which exists to counter Islamic extremism, Julie Scott Jones, Associate Head of the Sociology Department at Manchester Metropolitan University; and Salman Sayyid, Reader in Islam and Politics at the University of Leeds.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920824]

A sceptical

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines men and women of religious and political conviction. This week: Lord Rees-Mogg. Producer David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920824]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Producer: David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920829]

Ludovic Kennedy talks to people with religious or political convictions.

1: Lord Rees-Mogg.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920829]

Talks: Ludovic Kennedy

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920831]

Ludovic Kennedy 's guest is Kalim Siddiqui. Producer David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920831]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: Kalim Siddiqui.

Producer: David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920905]

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines Kalim Siddiqui.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920905]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: Kalim Siddiqui.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920907]

This week

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines Clive Calver , Director of the Evangelical Alliance. Producer David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920907]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: Clive Calver

Producer: David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920912]

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines Clive Calver ,

Director of the Evangelical Alliance.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920912]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: Clive Calver

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920914]

Ludovic Kennedy 's guest is the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks.

Producer David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920914]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: Dr Jonathan Sacks.

Producer: David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920919]

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920919]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: Dr Jonathan Sacks

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920921]

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines John Gummer , MP.

Producer David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920921]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: John Gummer

Producer: David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920926]

A sceptical

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines men and women of religious and political conviction. This week:

John Gummer , MP.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920926]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Unknown: John Gummer

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920928]

A sceptical

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines the Bishop of Durham. Producer David Coomes

Genome: [r4 Bd=19920928]
Genome: [r4 Bd=19921003]

In the last programme of the series

Ludovic Kennedy cross-examines the Bishop of Durham.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19921003]

Unknown: Ludovic Kennedy

Ghosts20150831
God And Neuroscience20090817

Ernie Rea and guests discuss what cognitive neuroscience is revealing about belief in God.

What does research into our brain indicate about religious and spiritual experiences?

Greece20150608

In January Alexis Tsipras became Prime Minister of Greece and formed a coalition government with the nationalist Independent Greek Party. Tsipras is a radical, committed to ending austerity. He is also an atheist who publicly declared that he wants to move Greece in a secular direction. That would be a radical move, for Greek Orthodoxy is the only legally recognised religion and may command the loyalty of up to 97% of the Greek people. Tsipras did not take a religious oath on taking office. But since then he has been seen attending Orthodox Services; and has been making friendly overtures to Orthodox Clergy. Church attendance in Greece is low; but Orthodoxy appears to be deeply embedded in the identity of the Greek people. It is almost part of their DNA. Why is that? And how does it impact on the lives of ordinary people?

Joining Ernie to discuss the influence of the Orthodox Church within modern Greece are the Rev Vasileios Papathanasiou, priest at the Grreek Orthodox Cathedra; of the Holy Cross and St Michael in Golders Green; Stavroula Pipyrou Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews; and Daphne Halikiopoulou, Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at the University of Reading.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Heaven And The Afterlife20151228

The question of what happens after we die is central to the world's faith traditions. How has the belief in an afterlife developed across the religions? And what does Heaven mean to people of faith today?

Ernie Rea discusses the concept of the afterlife with Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies; Dr Shuruq Naguib, lecturer in Islamic Studies at Lancaster University; and the writer and broadcaster Peter Stanford.

Producer:

Amanda Hancox.

History Of The World Special20100208

In a special programme linked to the BBC's A History of the World series, Ernie Rea and guests discuss the meaning of the flood tablet relating part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The 7th-century BC tablet from northern Iraq tells the story of the adventures of Gilgamesh, a legendary ruler of Uruk, and his search for immortality.

The tablet contains details similar to the story of Noah and the flood in the Hebrew Bible.

Holy Spirit20140901

The blessing "In the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit" is much used in Christianity. But what do we mean by the term Holy Spirit? Belief in the Holy Spirit is a cardinal tenet of the Christian faith, while Muslims and Jews talk of the "Spirit of God." Whilst there is some common ground between the faiths, the differences in the interpretation of the Holy Spirit go to the heart of what marks the Abrahamic faiths apart.

Ernie Rae explores the Holy Spirit with Loveday Alexander, Professor Emeritus in New Testament Studies at Sheffield University, Sajjad Rizvi, Associate Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the University of Exeter and Laura Janner Klausner, from the Movement for Reform Judaism.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Homosexuality20030929
How Islamic Is The So-called Islamic State?20151123

In claiming responsibility for the Paris atrocities, the so-called Islamic State described the attacks as "a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah". Last year, when the group's self-imposed Caliphate was declared, hundreds of Muslim leaders and scholars from across the world wrote an open letter to the self-professed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, accusing him of heinous war crimes and a violation of the fundamental principles of Islam. So how Islamic is 'Islamic State'? Why have mainstream interpretations of Islam so far failed to provide an effective counter-narrative? What needs to happen for the group to be defeated?

William Crawley discusses the beliefs which underpin the so-called Islamic State in the light of the Paris terrorist attacks with Sheikh Dr Salah Al Ansari, an Imam, theologian and academic; Haras Rafiq, Managing Director of the anti-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation; and Dr Katherine Brown, an expert in Islamic Studies at King's College London.

Producer:

Dan Tierney

Series producer:

Amanda Hancox.

Humanism20150525

Can Humanism include belief in God?

Last year Pope Francis, addressing the European Parliament , pleaded for a rediscovery of the ideals of humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person. He said, "A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks losing its own soul and that "humanistic spirit" which it still loves and defends." The Pope was clearly trying to reclaim the humanist tradition from atheism. But was he waging a futile battle? Is humanism by its very nature opposed to religious belief?

Joining Ernie to discuss Humanism are Stephen Law from the Centre for Enquiry and author of "A very short Introduction to Humanism; Nick Spencer Co-author of "The Case for Christian Humanism;" and Marilyn Mason, former Education Officer for the British Humanist Association.

Immortality20110307

In the last in the current series, Ernie Rea invites guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives to debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme Ernie and guests discuss ways in which individuals have sought immortality either through belief in eternal life with God or through ever ingenious scientific methods.

Why do human beings appear to want to believe in some sort of life after death? How is the meaning of this life shaped by a belief in the hereafter or a knowledge of endless existence? Are we ultimately creatures shaped by the destiny of our own death?

Joining Ernie to discuss immortality are the philosopher, John Gray, author of The Immortalisation Commission: science and the strange quest to cheat death; the theologian, Alister McGrath, professor of theology, ministry and education, and head of the centre for theology, religion and culture at King's College, London and the psychologist, Les Lancaster, professor of transpersonal psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss ways in which individuals have sought immortality.

Indian Elections20140331

India is about to go to the polls. 788 million people are eligible to vote in the world's largest democracy. The role of regional, local and caste-based parties is important in Indian politics where Governments tend to rule by coalition, but this election is being represented as an epic struggle between the Indian National Congress party and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by the controversial figure of Narendra Modi, a Hindu Nationalist.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the role of religious nationalism in Indian politics are William Gould, Professor of Indian History at the University of Leeds, Atreyee Sen, lecturer in Contemporary Religion and Conflict at the University of Manchester, and Zoya Hasan formerly Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University and currently National Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Interfaith Marriage20151130

There are big challenges faced by interfaith couples today; where to get married, how to bring up the children and where to be laid to rest. They are the concern of all faiths. As British society becomes more multicultural, are these challenges becoming greater for those who chose to marry someone of a different faith?

Ernie Rea discusses the pros and cons of interfaith marriage with Asad Zaman, an Imam for over 20 years who leads the Friday prayers at several mosques across Manchester; Dr Jonathan Romain, a Reform Rabbi who has written extensively on interfaith marriage; and Rosalind Birtwistle, Co-Founder of the Interfaith Marriage Network, who is a Christian married to a Jew.

Producer:

Dan Tierney

Series producer:

Amanda Hancox.

Islam And Education20140616

What is the purpose of an Islamic education? Faith Schools are popular with parents, but there is also considerable public disquiet about them - particularly when such schools are Islamic. The Al Madinah Free School in Derby has been forced to close its secondary wing on the grounds that it is "Chaotic, dysfunctional and inadequate." Now there are so called Trojan Horse allegations about five schools in Birmingham - none of them Faith Schools - which have been put into special measures because it is said not enough is being done to protect children from the potential risks of radicalisation and extremism.

Ernie's guests are are Rania Hafez, Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at the University of Greenwich, Professor Dennis Hayes, Head of the Centre for Educational research at the University of Derby and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, columnist for the Independent newspaper and co-founder of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

Islam And The Veil20120102

In the first of a new series, Ernie Rea and his three guests discuss Islam and the Veil.

France, Belgium and Italy have already banned the full face veil. Other countries are considering it. In Britain a Private Member's Bill on the subject was thrown out 18 months ago. But the subject prompts fierce debate amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In a country like the UK, which prizes individual freedom, is it a basic human right? Or is it essentially divisive in promoting community cohesion? The Qur'an contains very few relevant verses and the word "hijab" literally means "curtain" but many new converts to Islam believe that the full veil is a religious obligation, but is it? Ernie and his guests get to the heart of what the Qur'an actually says and, more, importantly, how that has been interpreted.

Joining Ernie for a lively debate on Islam and the Veil are Fatima Barkatullah, writer and lecturer for the Islamic Education and Research Academy, Dr Shuruq Naguib, Lecturer in Islam at Lancaster University and Khola Hasan, Lecturer on Women's Rights under Islamic law and member of the Islamic Sharia Council.

Ernie Rea and his guests get to the heart of what the Qur'an actually says about the veil.

Jrr Tolkien20130930

40 years since the death of J.R.R. Tolkien many people remain as spell bound as ever by the richly detailed world he created in his epic works of fantasy fiction. The books are among the nations most loved and 150 million copies have been sold worldwide. The Peter Jackson films, first 'The Lord of the Ring' series and now 'The Hobbit', have been among the highest-grossing films of all time.

What underlies this enduring appeal? Tolkien, a devout Catholic, described 'The Lord of the Ring' in a letter as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work".

How are we to interpret the theology of Tolkien's world of 'Elves' and 'Orcs', 'Froddo' and 'Gollum', darkness and light? How do we reconcile Catholic symbolism with the magic and mysticism that lean to a more pagan reading of his stories? And what do these epic battles of good versus evil tell us about Tolkien's own faith and world view?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the religious and philosophical nature of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary works are Joseph Pearce, writer in Residence and Fellow at Thomas More College and author of 'Tolkien: Man or Myth'. Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University, specialising in ancient and medieval paganism and magic. And Rev Dr Alison Milbank, Associate Professor, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Nottingham University and author of 'Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians'.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Last Rites20140602

Ernie Rea and guests discuss Last Rites in some of the world's major faiths.

The one reality of which everyone can be sure is that they will die. Most people say they want to die at home surrounded by their loved ones, but dying in hospital is the norm. Religious communities have traditional rituals around dying - do these transfer easily to a clinical setting? And what might the idea of Last Rites mean to those without a religious faith?

Ernie is joined by Maryam Riaz, Muslim Chaplain with Bradford Teaching Hospitals, NHS Trust; the Rev Anne Edwards, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Manager at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust; and Christina Welch, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at Winchester University where she runs an MA course in Death, Religion and Culture.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Livingstone's Legacy20130603

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

It's 200 years since the birth of the Scottish missionary, David Livingstone. His legacy was to shape missionary work in Africa and elsewhere, right through to the present day. His supporters point to the medical and educational advances Christian missions have brought whilst his detractors talk about the oppression of colonialism. Today African missionaries are being sent to the UK.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss Livingstone's legacy are Paul Lloyd, Senior Pastor of the Victory Outreach Church; Cyprian Yobera, an Anglican Minister in Salford and Dr Jack Thompson, Honorary Fellow at the School of Divinity, the University of Edinburgh.

Magna Carta20141229

What was the Church's role in the creation of Magna Carta? We all know about "Bad King John" and his barons, but this was a religiously charged document. The very first and the very last clause declare that "The Church must be free," and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, almost certainly drafted it.

Ernie Rea is joined by the Very Rev June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury , whose Cathedral houses one of the four original copies of Magna Carta; Simon Barrow Co Director of Ekklesias, a Christian think tank; and David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History at Kings College London and one of the investigators involved in the Magna Carta Project which is researching the context, production and reception of Magna Carta.

Martin Luther King20130826

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

Its fifty years since Martin Luther King addressed an immense crowd in Washington and told the world that "I have a dream." His words galvanised black people across America and paved the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Out of deep Christian conviction King wanted to fight against ingrained injustice using exclusively non-violent means. In this programme Ernie Rea explores the religious influences and ideas of Martin Luther King and asks, half a century on, whether we have sanitised the tough message of that speech.

To discuss the life and work of Martin Luther King Ernie Rea is joined by Rev Dr Cheryl Sanders, Professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington D.C.;

Israel Dresner, Emeritus Rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah synagogue in New Jersey who worked closely with King and was present when he delivered the "I have a dream" speech and Richard Reddie, author of the book Martin Luther King Junior, History Maker.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Men And Spirituality20110228

Ernie Rea invites guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives to debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme Ernie Rea and guests discuss male spirituality and ask if men and women respond differently to religious convictions. Do the leaders and prophets of the Hebrew scriptures offer role models for men going to church or synagogue today? Are the characters of Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon suitable and appropriate role models? For Christians, does Jesus and his selection of 12 male apostles offer an image for brotherhood today? Is the church focusing too much on love and nurture rather than courage, risk, adventure and sacrifice? Why are Jewish communities seemingly more successful at retaining men compared with their Christian counterparts?

Joining Ernie to discuss men and spirituality are the Reverend Andy Drake, director of evangelism at Christian Vision for Men; Dr Janet Eccles, a sociologist of religion attached to the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster; and Rabbi Dr Dan Cohn Sherbok, Emeritus Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

In this programme Ernie Rea and guests discuss male spirituality and ask if men and women respond differently to religious convictions.

Do the leaders and prophets of the Hebrew scriptures offer role models for men going to church or synagogue today? Are the characters of Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon suitable and appropriate role models? For Christians, does Jesus and his selection of 12 male apostles offer an image for brotherhood today? Is the church focusing too much on love and nurture rather than courage, risk, adventure and sacrifice? Why are Jewish communities seemingly more successful at retaining men compared with their Christian counterparts?

Ernie Rea and guests discuss male spirituality and ask why so few men go to church.

Mercy20160314

Pope Francis has declared 2016 a "Holy Year of Mercy" and described it as "a privileged moment, so that the church may learn to choose only that which pleases God most"; that is forgiveness and mercy. What exactly do we mean by mercy? Why has the Pope singled it out as the virtue we need the most to build a better society? If it is a central theme in the great religious traditions, how are we to apply it in everyday life? Ernie Rea and guests discuss the nature of mercy.

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series producer: Amanda Hancox.

Mindfulness20140526

Mindfulness is a form of meditation which is designed to anchor us in the present. it has a growing fan club at Westminster where overloaded MPs hope it will help them focus on the things that really matter. It has its roots in religious practice; but can it be adapted to a secular environment?

Joining Ernie Rea are Christopher Titmuss, co-founder of Gaia House, a Buddhist retreat centre in Devon; Chris Cullen, a Teacher at the Oxford University Mindfulness Centre; and Rebecca Crane, Director of the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Monogamy20100215

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether or not monogamy is the ideal for human relationships.

Moses20150105
Moses20150105

has always been good box office even before Ridley Scott's blockbuster movie hit the cinema screens on Boxing Day. There was Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments; the cartoon Prince of Egypt. It's a great story - Ancient Egyptian pharaohs and pyramids, babies in baskets, plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and a great chase.

The story of Moses is the seminal one for Jews; without him they would never have become a people. But he's important for Muslims and Christians too. And the story of a people being rescued from slavery and journeying to the Promised Land has been claimed by countless groups down through the ages.

Ernie Rea is joined by Maureen Kendler, teaching fellow at the London School of Jewish studies, Shuruq Naguib, lecturer in Islamic Studies at Lancaster University, and the Rev Keith Hebden, Anglican Priest in Nottingham and author of "Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Must The Papacy Be Like This?20040119

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world, teasing out the hidden and often contradictory truths behind the experiences and traditions of our lives.

Mystical Experiences20120109

Shamanic cultures have been using substances for thousands of years to induce altered states of consciousness. X ray vision is said to be a key feature of the shamanic experience. This has been observed in Aboriginal rock art where the skeletons of animals are depicted. Cannabis is sacred to the Hindu God Shiva and even ancient Buddhists were known to use drugs. In India there was a substance called Soma, which is mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, which probably used hallucinogenic mushrooms.

There's now a strong working hypothesis amongst academics that traditional religious practices such as meditation can activate chemicals in the brain which produce the same effects as LSD. But Robert Zaehner, an early 20th century British academic argued that only theistic mysticism was sacred and that all other mystical states were profane or immoral.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss mystical experiences are Dr David Luke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich and President of the Parapsychological Association, Shamanic Practitioner, Dr Zoe Bran and Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Ernie Rea discusses the impact of religious belief and practice on today's society.

Near-death Experiences20130909

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

Near-Death Experiences often seem to include bright lights, the presence of benevolent spirits and a sense of peace - in other words a very positive experience. However, more unusually, there are others whose experience is very different, some cite overwhelming fear and visions of being chased by demons. Do these have a rational scientific explanation or are they indications of a life beyond this one?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the nature of Near-Death Experiences are Dr Penny Sartori of the University of Swansea, whose book 'The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences' is due to be published in 2014; the Very Reverend Professor Gordon McPhate, the Dean of Chester Cathedral who is also a trained Pathologist and a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Chris French, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, the University of London.

Producer: Liz Leonard.

New Religious Communities20150928
Nigeria20120319

is in crisis. Thousands of Nigerians have fled their homes following a spate of Islamist killings.

The attacks have been carried out by a group calling itself Boko Haram which has demanded that Christians leave the North of the country where the majority population is Muslim. Christians have taken revenge by attacking mosques and Muslims living in the South.

Nigeria is said to be one of the most religious countries in the world. Its also Africa's biggest producer of oil so it is wealthy. But more than half of its people live in poverty. Corruption and mismanagement is endemic. So is this conflict really about religion at all, or is religion simply a presenting issue?

Joining Ernie to discuss the role of religion in the conflict in Nigeria are

Dr Jameel Yusha, senior lecturer in media and politics at Northumbria university, Dr Steven Pierce, lecturer in the history of sub Saharan Africa at the university of Manchester and Dr Leena Hoffman who has just completed her PhD on democracy and patronage politics in Nigeria at the University of Birmingham.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the religious dimensions to Nigeria's current crisis.

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

A discussion on the different ways of understanding the world around us.

Nuns20110221

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme, Ernie discusses the role and place of nuns in religious communities. How have they changed in recent years and how have they coped with a serious decline in vocations? Is there a similar decline within other faith communities?

Joining Ernie to discuss nuns are Myra Poole, a Sister of Notre Dame who is very involved with the movement for Catholic Women's Ordination; Rosanne Reddy, Sister of the Gospel of Life, a comparatively new order which she founded along with Cardinal Thomas Winning in 2000: and Lama Zangmo, a Buddhist nun and Director of the Kagyu Samya Dzong Buddhist Centre in London.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

A discussion on the different ways of understanding the world around us.

Olympics20120409

Ernie Rea in conversation with guests about the place of faith in today's complex world.

Organ Donation20130812

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

Three people die every day in need of an organ transplant while only 31% of people in the UK have joined the Organ Donor Register. Technological advancements mean there are ever more advanced ways of successfully transplanting organs but society remains divided over solutions along ethical and religious lines. Last month the Welsh Assembly became the first UK country to introduce a system where individuals will be presumed to have consented for their organs to be donated unless they opt out. Should the state take our organs or should it be the ultimate altruistic gift?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss organ donation are Reverend George Pitcher, Anglican Priest at St Bride's, Fleet Street, Janet Radcliffe-Richards, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Oxford. And Mohammed Zubair Butt, Islamic scholar and hospital chaplain.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Original Sin20160523
Original Sin20160523

The Catholic Church still affirms the doctrine of original sin. For more than 1,500 years the Church has maintained that the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden was passed on to every subsequent human being. This meant that every baby was born bad, with its inherent human nature corrupted and attracted to sin. This was not a marginal teaching; it has underpinned Christianity. Ernie Rea and guests discuss the religious, social and cultural legacy of the doctrine of original sin.

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series producer: Amanda Hancox.

Pacifism20150921
Pacifism20150921

A hundred years ago the trenches had been dug and British and German soldiers were engaged in bloody combat in Flanders and Gallipoli. Faced by the scale of the slaughter, many people turned to pacifism, the idea that all resistance to evil should be non-violent. It was not a new idea; some Eastern religions adopt it as their default position. But the deadly potency of weapons of mass destruction have reopened the debate in the West. Is pacifism a viable option in a world of nuclear weapons and drone aircraft?

Ernie Rea is joined by Pat Gaffney from the Catholic peace organisation Pax Christi; Jonathan Romain, Rabbi of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire; and Major General Tim Cross who has seen active service in Northern Ireland, in Bosnia, and in Kuwait and Iraq during the First Gulf War and is now Chairman of the Christian Think Tank, Theos.

Produced by Nija Dalal-Small.

Philanthropy20101220

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme, Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether faith inspires philanthropy and asks if greater personal wealth comes with greater responsibility to help others, less fortunate.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether faith inspires philanthropy.

Physics20120423

When asked to defend their belief in a Creator God, people of faith often turn to the argument that there must be a First Cause - you can't create something out of nothing they say, therefore right at the beginning, someone must have been responsible for the first element from which sprang life.

A new book, "A Universe from Nothing", by the American theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, turns this argument on its head. Not only can something arise out of nothing, but something will always arise out of nothing because physics tells us that nothingness is inherently unstable.

The book has made an enormous impact in the States, making the New York Times' best sellers list, and it prompted Richards Dawkins to observe that it was "Potentially the most important scientific book with implications for atheism since Darwin".

So does it knock the argument for God on the head? Are physics and God irreconcilable?

Joining Ernie to discuss whether modern physics leaves any room for God are Dr John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Dr Usama Hasan, Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University and a part time Imam, and Dr Mark Vernon, Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck College, London who has degrees in physics, theology and philosophy.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether modern physics leaves any room for God.

Pilgrimage20120130

Every year more than 100 million people around the world go on pilgrimage, the biggest mass migration of people on the planet. Two and a half million Muslims visited Mecca for last year's Hajj and over 600,000 visited Graceland to worship at the shrine of Elvis Presley. Tourist companies specialising in pilgrimage tours are expanding - it's big business. Ernie and his guests discuss whether there is something in the human psyche which seeks fulfilment from a physical journey, but one that has a spiritual motive, and also consider the growing phenomenon of cyber pilgrimage. Can a "virtual" journey in any way be seen as comparable?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss pilgrimage are Dr Marion Bowman, Head of the Department of Religious Studies at the Open University; Martin Palmer, Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, and Connie Hill-Smith who is writing her doctoral thesis on cyber pilgrimage at the University of Wales, Trinity and St. David's.

Ernie Rea and his guests discuss pilgrimage and ask why it is growing in popularity.

Plague Narratives And Ebola20141201

How are religious plague narratives affecting the responses to the Ebola outbreak?

Throughout history, people have sought explanations for such deadly epidemics. Pre scientific societies thought that plagues were a punishment from the gods who were displeased with human behaviour. We have a better understanding of the causes and effects of disease today, but such ideas persist in many quarters and can still have a subconscious influence on contemporary attitudes to illness.

Ernie Rea is joined by Dr Jane Stevens Crawshaw, Leverhulme early careers research fellow in History at Oxford Brookes University; the Rev Monsignor Robert J Vitillo, special Advisor on Health and HIV at the Catholic organisation Caritas International; and Joel Baden, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Pope Francis20140303

Ernie Rea discusses the impact of Pope Francis' first year in the Vatican with journalist Paul Vallely, academic Tina Beattie and parish priest Marcus Holden. The Pope is still enjoying a media honeymoon but what is his programme for change? Can he do more than change the atmosphere in the Church?

He has appointed eight Cardinals from outside the Curia as his key advisers - what fresh perspectives might they bring to the Vatican? And he's been consulting priests and laity ahead of a Synod on the family in October, but will the Church's position on matters such as contraception change as a result?

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Protestant Work Ethic20120116

Today's crisis in the global financial markets has produced much soul searching about the culture of greed which seems to permeate our society. At the beginning of the last century the German sociologist, Max Weber, proposed that there was a direct link between the Protestant Reformation and the rise in capitalism. And specifically, that hard work, combined with a moral attitude towards wealth, was directly linked to salvation. So is the loss of religious faith across the West linked to the current crisis in capitalism?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the Protestant Work Ethic are Lord Andrew Mawson, social entrepreneur, cross bench peer and minister in the United Reformed Church; Professor Sam Whimster, Fellow in the Centre for Advanced Study at the University of Bonn, and Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi of New North London Synagogue.

Ernie Rea discusses the impact of religious belief and practice on today's society.

Purgatory20150302

Is Purgatory a religious place or a psychological concept?

Even in this so-called secular age, people with little or no religious belief often revert to religious terminology to describe their experience. After a difficult time, someone will say, "I've been to Hell and back." And after a time of testing or of waiting, they might say they've been through Purgatory.

The word Purgatory comes from the Latin word meaning to "Purge," and refers in Catholic teaching to a place or state between heaven and hell. It has no place in Protestant or Orthodox teaching. How did the idea develop? What was its purpose? Does it have any contemporary meaning?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the concept of Purgatory are Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary University, London: Father Paul Keane, Vice Rector of Oscott Catholic Seminary in Birmingham: and the historian of religions, Martin Palmer.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Race Relations In The Usa20141215

In recent months some major American cities have experienced racial tension which has erupted into violence. In August Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Sections of the community reacted with violence, looting and protest and when, at the end of November, a Grand Jury decided not to indict the policeman there was further violence. Then in New York another Grand Jury decided against indicting a policeman who was caught on video in Staten Island putting a choke hold on a black man. Eric Garner was heard screaming "I can't breathe" and he subsequently died. The cases have raised questions about how much progress has been made in America towards creating a truly equal society. Joining Ernie Rea to discuss church and race relations in the United States of America is the Rev Cheryl Sanders, Professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity and Pastor at the Third Street Church of God in Washington DC; Bishop Larry Jones, Founder and Pastor of Greater Grace Church in St Louis Missouri; and Alexander Smith, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Warwick University and at Kansas University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Rastafari20130218

To most people the word Rastafarian conjures up images of dreadlocks, the smoking of ganja, and Bob Marley. But Rastafari, as it's more correctly known, is a movement with a complex belief system. It has its origins in Jamaican society in the early 20th century, when black people rose up in protest at oppressive systems imposed by white rulers. But is it just a passing phenomenon? Has it continuing relevance in a fairer, more open society? How does it need to evolve?

Joining Ernie to discuss Rastafari are Tony Tafari, who is a member of the Rastafari Council of Britain; Dr Ellis Cashmore, Professor of Culture, Media and Sport at Staffordshire University; and Marzia Coltri, visiting Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton.

Religion & Politics20130617

Margaret Thatcher's funeral in St Paul's Cathedral was attended by thousands of world leaders and watched by millions more around the world. In death, as in life, Margaret Thatcher shaped the occasion: she dictated the order of service and chose the hymns and readings. She was probably the most overtly Christian Prime Minister of the twentieth century up to the time of her leaving office. So where did those Christian influences come from? How did her religious conviction shape her politics? And what is her legacy in terms of the relationship between religion and politics in a multi cultural Britain?

Joining Ernie Rea are Dr Eliza Filby, Lecturer in Modern British History at King's College London, whose book, "God and Mrs Thatcher: The Battle for Britain's Soul", is published later this year; Edwina Currie, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health under Margaret Thatcher and MP for South Derbyshire between 1983 and 1997 and Canon Dr Alan Billings, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council under David Blunkett when Margaret Thatcher came to power, and former Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at Lancaster University.

Religion & The Coronation20130527

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

The Queen is preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of her Coronation on 2nd June 1953. The Coronation is an occasion for pageantry and celebration, but it is also a solemn religious ceremony. The form and wording have varied over the centuries. Today, the Sovereign undertakes to rule according to law, to exercise justice with mercy, and to maintain the Church of England.

Ernie and his guests will be considering the spiritual elements of the ceremony, asking whether both the wording and the solely Christian emphasis are appropriate in today's multi-faith society.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the role of religion in the Coronation ceremony are Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin who is both a chaplain to the Queen and Speaker's Chaplain in the House of Commons, as well as vicar to two inner city parishes in Hackney; Martin Palmer, Church Historian and Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture and Symon Hill, an Associate of Ekklesia, a Christian thinktank which explores the role of religion in public life.

Religion And Art20050321
Religion And Debt20150817

The Greek Debt Crisis has highlighted in the most dramatic way just how much our economic systems depend on borrowed money. The figures of international debt are mind boggling. In the economies of wealthy countries like the United States and the UK, around 97-98% of the money is debt. It is money whose value rests not on something that exists in the present but on something that might exist in the future.

We are all living with debt. People in the UK owed £1.436 trillion at the end of May 2015, according to The Money Charity, up from £1.407 trillion at the end of May 2014. That's an extra £584 per adult. We have learnt to live with credit, whether it be a mortgage or a loan for a car or just a credit card account which spirals out of control.

It seems that debt has become an essential part of personal finance. But is that healthy? Or ethical? And do our religious traditions have anything to say about our reliance on debt?

Ernie Rea is joined by Habib Ahmed, Sharjah Chair in Islamic Law and Finance at Durham University Business School; Paul Francois Tremlett, Lecturer in the Religious Studies Department at the Open University; and Michelle Swallow, Debt Advisor at the organisation Christians Against Poverty.

Produced by Nija Dalal-Small.

Religion And Psychotherapy20160104

There is a long Christian history of exploring the self. Some of the greatest Christian theologians wrote about the importance of the inner life; and in times of distress and suffering it was the Church people turned to for both confession and counsel. Things began to change in the 20th century with the emergence of psychoanalysis and the writings of Sigmund Freud. No longer were ideas about the inner life the preserve of the Church. Psychotherapy was seen as a threat by the Institution; and religion, conversely, was viewed with suspicion among many psychotherapists. Are religion and psychotherapy at war with one another? Or are they more compatible than we might think? Can they be reconciled?

Ernie Rea discusses whether Christianity or psychotherapy provides the more reliable guide to the inner life with Mark Vernon, a psychotherapist and writer; psychoanalyst Anouchka Grose; and Reverend Dr Andrew Walker, Director of the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre.

Producer:

Dan Tierney

Series producer:

Amanda Hancox.

Religion In Prison20100726
Religion In Prison20100726

In Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, Ernie and his guests discuss the place and purpose of religion in prison.

What do the different faith traditions and their sacred texts say about dealing with crime and wrong doing? What is the purpose of prison? Why must every prison have a Church of England chaplain and how is their role changing in an increasingly secular world? The programme will also discuss fears over radicalisation of Muslim inmates in prison, the appeal of religion for some and why it still has a "privileged" place in prison.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place and purpose of religion in prison.

Religion In Prison20100927
Religion In Prison20100927

Ernie Rea is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, Ernie Rea and his guests discuss the statutory provision of religion in prison.

What is the history and role of prison chaplains? Should the state make provision for prisoners to worship and practice their own faith inside prison.

Is radical Islam being propagated within the prison system and what is being done to combat extremist views.

Discussing religion in prison is the Rev Christopher Jones, a former prison chaplain and now Home Affairs Policy Adviser for the Church of England's, Archbishop's Council; Rashad Ali from Centri, a counter extremist organisation; and Frances Crook, the director of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and his guests discuss the statutory provision of religion in prison.

Religion In Public Life20050307
Religion In Russia20140217

William Crawley and guests discuss the role of religion in Putin's Russia.

Religious History Of Iraq20140908

Today life for religious minorities in Northern Iraq is perilous as the militant Islamist group, Islamic State, continues to attack a range of diverse groups across the country in its pursuit of establishing a new Caliphate. But in this programme Ernie Rea and guests explore how up until the 20th century Iraq was known as a harmonious melting pot of religious and ethnic diversity. How true is that assessment? What has happened to change that? Is there any way for Iraq to step back from the brink? And could a Caliphate ever be part of the solution?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the current situation in Iraq from a religious perspective are Gerard Russell, former British and United Nations diplomat and author of "Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East"; Dr Erica Hunter, Senior Lecturer in Eastern Christianity in the Department of Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London: and Dr Reza Pankhurst author of The Inevitable Caliphate.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Religious Literacy20150316
Religious Literacy20150316

In Britain we're sometimes nervous about talking about religion, lacking the tools to talk about it in a society of many faiths and none. But how can we begin to understand one another if we cannot talk about those things which form the bedrock of so many peoples' lives.

Joining Ernie to discuss Religious Literacy are Dr James Conroy, Vice Principal of the University of Glasgow and lead author of the publication, "Does Religious Education Work?"; Dr Adam Dinham, Professor of Faith and Public Policy at Goldsmith's, University of London; and Dr Abby Day, Reader of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmiths, and author of "Believing and Belonging."

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Restorative Justice20130311

schemes are increasingly playing a role within the Criminal Justice System. They are designed to confront the criminal with the consequences of his or her actions. Sometimes they involve a meeting between the victim and the offenders, where victims can give their perspective on what has happened and offenders can seek forgiveness.

Many religious groups believe that Restorative Justice principles resonate with their traditions.

Joining Ernie to discuss Restorative Justice are Pavan Dhilowal, Head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Society and former policy head at a think tank specialising in criminal justice; Khola Hassan, Media Representative at the Islamic Sharia Council; and Tim Newell former Governor of Grendon, a therapeutic prison.

Rule Of Benedict20160530

Saint Benedict is often regarded as the founder of Western monasticism. He wrote his Rule for monks in the 6th century, which is still followed by monks and nuns of the Benedictine order today. It sets out the spiritual and practical code for life in a religious community. Compared with earlier monastic writers, Benedict is much more moderate in the demands he makes on people. He was also aware that his Rule would need to be adapted to different times and circumstances. Ernie Rea and guests discuss the Rule of Benedict and what it has to offer the modern world.

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series producer: Amanda Hancox.

Rumi20150907
Rumi20150907

You may be surprised to learn that one of the best-selling poets in America today is a man who lived and died 800 years ago. The Persian-born Rumi, Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Rumi, to give him his full name, was a Sufi master who wrote ecstatic poems about joy and love and separation and pain. One respected scholar compares Rumi's work to Shakespeare's for "its resonance and beauty." Contemporary artists as diverse as Madonna and Philip Glass acknowledge their debt to him. But the popular editions of his work, much edited, contain little evidence of his Muslim origins. Has he been sanitised for a sensitive modern reader? Has his religion been removed from his poetry to help him become a more universal figure?

Ernie Rea is joined by Fatemah Keshavarz, Director of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park; Alan Williams, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester; and Shahram Shiva, a Rumi Translator and scholar

Produced by Nija Dalal-Small.

Russia20120924

The recent jailing of three young women for staging a political protest in a cathedral in Moscow has highlighted the relationship between the Government and the Russian Orthodox Church. Ernie Rea's guests today are Canon Michael Bordeaux from the Keston Institute for the Study of Religion and Communism, Father Andrew Phillips,a Russian Orthodox priest, and the BBC's former Moscow correspondent, Martin Sixsmith

Same Sex Marriage20120123

This week's Beyond Belief comes from Scotland, where the Scottish government is considering legalising same sex marriage. A period of public consultation has provoked a huge response from many religious groups who are opposed, yet the opinion polls are generally in favour. Civil partnership ceremonies have been legal in Scotland since 2005 and include the possibility of a religious blessing afterwards. So why is there a need for this further step? What is marriage? Is it a human or a divine institution? And would such a law, if passed, lead to moral anarchy, as some have claimed?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss same sex marriage are John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrew's, the Reverend John Bell, a Church of Scotland minister and Bashir Maan, Former Convenor of the Muslim Council of Scotland.

Ernie Rea and his guests discuss same sex marriage.

Sanctuary20100802

In Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, Ernie and his guests discuss the place of sanctuary in the modern world.

The guests discuss why Britain has a long and honourable but not unblemished record of offering sanctuary to those with a well founded fear of persecution, why churches were often seen as a place of sanctuary and how modern notions of sanctuary, known as seeking asylum, have become complicated by issues of economic migration.

Joining Ernie to discuss the right to sanctuary are Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue, the Rev Nicholas Sagovsky, Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey and Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion.

The programme also hears from Alain, who sought sanctuary in the UK after fleeing from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of sanctuary in the modern world.

Saudi Arabia20160229

The UK's ties with Saudi Arabia have come under growing strain in recent months over how to balance human rights concerns with the government's desire to promote a crucial trade and investment relationship. The Arab state sits on more than a quarter of the world's known oil reserves, making it one of the richest countries in the Middle East and a vital strategic partner to many Western nations. It is also home to the birthplace of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and the cradle of Islam. Its rulers espouse a strict version of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. The Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law includes harsh punishments such as public beheadings and restrictions on women. How did Wahhabism gain so much influence in the country? What, in turn, has been its effect on the stability of the region and the wider world? What should the UK's approach be to Saudi Arabia?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series producer: Amanda Hancox.

Scapegoat20150330
Scapegoat20150330

This is the Holy Week; the time when Christians remember the events leading up to the trial and execution of Jesus of Nazareth. It came to a climax on a Cross on a hillside outside Jerusalem, when Jesus laid down his life, according to Christian belief, as an atonement for the sins of the world. He was a scapegoat, an innocent man who suffered the punishment which by rights should have been ours. The scapegoat motif has resounded throughout history. Jews, held responsible for Christ's death, have been made scapegoats right up to the present day. The scapegoat is nearly always "the other;" the stranger who can be made to bear the responsibility for the problems the rest of us don't want to own.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the Scapegoat are Rabbi Dan Cohn Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales: Sharon Dirix, Tutor at the Centre for Christian Apologetics at Oxford; and Peter Stanford, writer and broadcaster whose latest book on Judas came out last week.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Seven Deadly Sins20140818

Envy, Pride, Anger, Gluttony and Lust are some of the misdemeanours considered so serious by the Church that they could have a fatal effect on an individual's spiritual health. Early British wall paintings stressed the connection between committing these so called "deadly sins" and ending up in Hell. But who decided what the seven deadly sins should be? Why was sadness replaced by sloth? Ernie Rea discussed the Seven Deadly Sins, their history and relevance today with John Cornwall, Catholic writer and Visiting Professor for Advanced Religious and Theological Studies at the University of Cambridge; Akhandadi Das, Vishnau Hindu teacher and theologian; and Father Andrew Louth, Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church and Emeritus Professor of Patristic Studies at Durham University.

Producer: Amanda Hancox.

Shakespeare And Religion20140630

Was William Shakespeare a closet Catholic? This year sees the 450th anniversary of his birth. He lived through a time of great turmoil, when Elizabeth the First tried to impose uniformity on the country's religious practice. How much is that reflected in his plays? How much did religion matter to Shakespeare? Did he have a particular religious agenda? And does he have a message for our contemporary religious - or irreligious - culture?

Ernie Rea discusses Shakespeare and Religion with Clare Asquith, author of Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Practice of William Shakespeare; Eric Mallin author of a book called "Godless Shakespeare:" and Helen Wilcox, Head of the School of English at Bangor University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Social Media20160516
Social Media20160516

In the virtual world of social media, religious communities are now global. But is this at the expense of local relationships? Does lively discussion on social media translate into to social action? And does social media genuinely have the power to reform religious institutions, challenge extreme views or change someone's personal religious experience?

Ernie Rea discusses the relationship between religion and social media with Michael O'Loughlin, journalist and author of "The Tweetable Pope"; Dr Bex Lewis, a Christian and Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University; and Shelina Janmohammed, a Muslim writer and blogger.

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series producer: Amanda Hancox.

Spiritualism20141208

The sale of Ouija Boards has soared recently due to a new horror film Ouija. The desire to make or maintain contact with the dead has been a feature of societies down the ages, but for one modern religion, Spiritualism, it continues to play a central role. Spiritualism is on the rise in Britain, increasing by 17 per cent between the 2001 and 2011 censuses. Ernie Rea discusses the appeal of Spiritualism with David Bruton, President of the Spiritualists' National Union, the Rev Dr Steve Jeffrey, and Dr Nadia Bartolini from the Open University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Stonehenge20140317

The Spring equinox falls on 20th March. A few dozen pagans and Druids will mark it with ceremonies inside the famous circle at Stonehenge. The summer solstice in June, on the other hand, will see thousands of people converge on the site. Why do they come? To connect with the ancestors? Celebrate nature? Rave? Does what they do bear any relationship to what happened at Stonehenge thousands of years ago, and can we ever know?

Ernie Rea is joined by Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at the University of Bristol, Julian Thomas,. Professor of archaeology at Manchester University and Frank Somers from the Amesbury and Stonehenge Druids.

Storytelling In Christianity20160307
Storytelling In Christianity20160307

In a special programme recorded at the the Bloxham Literary Festival, William Crawley and guests explore the rich history of Judeo-Christian storytelling. How old are some of the most popular and familiar biblical stories and where did they come from? How important has the telling, re-telling and adaptation of stories been throughout the history of Christianity? What challenges do they pose to people of faith?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Series Producer: Amanda Hancox.

Suicide20110110

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss different ways of understanding the world around us.

Sunni And Shia In Islam20130916

At times in history religion can appear to be a destructive force. Today the current conflict in the middle-east is increasingly defined along sectarian lines. From Iraq where a thousand people were killed in sectarian violence in July, the highest monthly death toll for five years according the UN; to Pakistan, where the minority Shia community has experienced repeated attacks by hard-line Sunni militant groups; to Syria where the ruling Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam, is embroiled in an increasing bloody civil war with the largely Sunni rebel forces.

A fault line has emerged throughout the middle-east dividing the region along Sunni and Shia lines. Where did this division within Islam occur and is it really the cause of these conflicts or merely being exploited for political gain?

Ernie Rea is joined by Murtaza Hussain, a Sunni Muslim, writer and journalist specialising in foreign policy and the Middle East. Dr Ali Al-Hilli is an Iraqi activist, lecturer and a Shia Muslim and Dr Carool Kersten, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World, King's College London.

Producer: Catherine Earlam.

Sunni And Shia Islam20110207

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss different ways of understanding the world around us.

Syria20120813

With escalating conflict in Syria and increasing concerns about the role of Muslim fundamentalism in the future of the country; Ernie Rea is joined by Syrian businessman Ammar Waqqaf, historian Emma Loosely and Lecturer in Islamic Studies Mustafa Baig to discuss the role of religion in Syria. Whilst the majority of the country's population are Sunni Muslims, President Bashar al-Assad's regime is Alawite, a secretive branch of Shi'a Islam. So what has it meant for Syria to be governed by an elite religious minority? How are Syria's other minorities religions such as Christians, Druze and Sufis treated? How will religion affect the current crisis in Syria and what kind of society might Syria be once it is over?

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the role of religion in Syria.

The Ahmedi Community20140203

Officially anyone who declares that "There is one God and Muhammed is his prophet" is a Muslim. But many Muslims argue that the beliefs of the Ahmedi community mean they cannot be part of the faith. There are about 12 million Ahmedi worldwide and their headquarters, originally in Pakistan, are now in London. Their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claimed to be a prophet, although a lesser one than Mohammed, and it is this claim that critics say put his followers outside the fold of Islam.

Joining Ernie to discuss the Ahmedi are Imam Ataul Rashed from the Ahmedi London Mosque, Dr Sahib Bleher founder of the Islamic Party of Britain, and Dr Simon Valentine, author of "Islam and the Ahmaddiya Jama'at.".

The Charedi (ultra Orthodox) Jewish Communities20100920

In Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, Ernie and his guests explore the beliefs, practices and lifestyles of the fastest growing group within Britain's Jewish community - Ultra Orthodox or Charedi Jews.

Much of its rapid growth is down to a high birth rate - they average around seven children per family - but they are also attracting members from other Jewish communities. In Israel they play a key role in electoral politics. But what is their impact in this country? What do they believe? How do they practice? And how do they interact with those who sit outside their community?

Joining Ernie to discuss Charedi Jewry is Rabbi Avraham Printer, Principal of the Yesodey Hatorah Senior School for Girls, Mrs Henya Myer, a member of the Hasidic Congregation in Manchester, and Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter who belongs to the Reform Movement of Judaism.

The middle interview is with Hillel Athias Robias, now a Liberal Rabbi in London but once Rabbi to a Haredi Congregation.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests explore the beliefs and lifestyles of the Jewish Charedi communities.

Much of its rapid growth is down to a high birth rate - they average around seven children per family - but they are also attracting members from other Jewish communities.

In Israel they play a key role in electoral politics.

But what is their impact in this country? What do they believe? How do they practice? And how do they interact with those who sit outside their community?

The Environment20140324

A new word has entered into our common vocabulary recently. Fracking is the process whereby shale gas can be released from beneath the earth's surface. On the one hand, it's argued that fracking could give us enough gas to meet our short to medium term energy needs; on the other hand, there are those who fear it will do lasting environmental damage. How do you balance short term needs with long term environmental priorities? Western Christianity has been accused of promoting an exploitative relationship with the environment. Has Religion anything to contribute to the debate?

Joining Ernie Rea are the Rev Michael Roberts, who trained as a geologist; Martin Palmer, Founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation: and the Rev Chris Halliwell, Rural and Environment Officer for the Diocese of Blackburn.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

The Family20151005

This week the Catholic Church began its second Synod on the Family. After a year of reflection and discussion, there has been much speculation as to what might emerge. The model for what constitutes a family has posed difficulties for Christianity down through the centuries. The greatly increased divorce rate, the movement for gay and lesbian equality; the possibility for surrogate children, all pose challenges for churches of all denominations which have longstanding theological ideas about what a family is and what it is for.

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the family is Dr Clare Watkins, Lecturer in Ministerial Theology at the University of Roehamption in London; the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Anglican Bishop of Buckingham; and the Rev Dr Paul Middleton, Senior Lecturer in New Testament and Early Christianity at Chester University and a minister of the Church of Scotland.

Producer: Amanda Hancox.

The Jesuits20130513

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today's complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

Pope Francis is the first Pope from a religious order for 200 years. Many were surprised by his appointment. But what will his Jesuit formation give him as he grapples with the many complex issues facing the Catholic Church, including child abuse and infighting, including what some view as corruption, within the Vatican itself?

In the first of a new series, Ernie Rea discusses the Jesuits, with panellists Brendan Callaghan SJ, Master of Campion Hall, Oxford; Michael Barnes SJ, Professor of Interreligious Relations at Heythrop College, University of London and Catherine Pepinster, Editor of The Tablet.

The Origins Of The Universe20100830

Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious or non faith tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, Ernie's guests discuss what an understanding of the Big Bang Theory proves about the existence or not of God.

How is the search for the so-called "God particle" or Higgs Boson taking shape at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland and what are the implications for its discovery?

Joining Ernie to discuss this are Professor Jeff Forshaw from Manchester University, Reverend Dr David Wilkinson from St John's College, Durham and Dr Usama Hasan from Middlesex University.

Providing some light relief is the comedian and atheist, Robin Ince.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and his guests discuss the origins of the universe.

The Roots Of English Catholicism20100906

In Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In this programme, ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to England and Scotland, Ernie and his guests ask what is distinctive about English Catholicism.

How did the ban on Catholics taking public office, only lifted in 1829 with the Catholic Relief Act, alter the treatment and perception of Catholics in England? What were the key moments and factors which restored Catholicism to a place in society and how have those created a distinctive form of Catholicism, unique to England and different to traditional Catholic countries.

How does this play out today in public life, in relationship to the Pope and in acceptance of Vatican authority?

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ahead of the Pope's visit, Ernie Rea asks what is distinctive about English Catholicism.

The Sacredness Of Hair20100712

In the first in a new series of Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss how their own religious tradition affects their values and outlook on the world, often revealing hidden and contradictory truths.

In the first programme of this series, Ernie and his guests discuss the sacredness of hair.

Why do some faiths require hair to be covered; some demand it is never cut; and some shave it as a means of suppressing the ego? What does hair and the covering of it, with cloth or wigs tell us about modesty, purity and cleanliness? How do we feel about ourselves and our identity when our hair is removed?

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the sacredness of hair.

The Supernatural20101213

Ernie Rea returns with a new series of Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme, the first in a new series, Ernie and guests discuss the supernatural and ask whether there are always rational explanations for the apparently inexplicable.

Why does belief in the supernatural appear to have increased in recent years? Can it be explained by an increase in visibility in books, television and the internet or could our fascination with ghosts, spirits and the hereafter be filling a void left by organised religion.

The panellists hear from a medium and paranormal investigator who claims to have daily visions and has helped police forces solve murder cases.

Joining Ernie to discuss the supernatural are Gordon Smith, one of Britain's best known psychic mediums, the Reverend Anthony Delaney, pastor of Ivy Church in Manchester and Professor Christopher French, head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, London.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

In the first of a new series, Ernie Rea and guests discuss the supernatural.

The Three Wise-men20101227

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's theological discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

In this programme, Ernie Rea and guests discuss the story of the visit of the Magi, or Wise-men to the infant Jesus told in St Matthew's account of the Nativity.

Who could the Magi have been? From where did they travel, having seen a star in the east and why would they have recognised it as a significant sign? Is there more to this story than a colourful image on a Christmas card and the inspiration for a well known carol?

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea asks who were the Magi or Wise-men who visited the infant Jesus.

The Unification Church20130107

The 1960s and 70s saw a proliferation of New Religious Movements in this country. Perhaps the best known is the Unification Church founded by the Rev Sun Myung Moon which attracted world wide attention because of mass weddings where couples who had often never met were paired together. The Rev Moon died last September and the movement is struggling to come to terms with his departure. So what will happen now? How do New Religious Movements survive when their founder dies?

Joining Ernie to discuss the Unification Church are Professor Eileen Barker, Director of Inform, an Information Network focusing on New Religious Movements, George Chryssides, Honorary Research Fellow in Contemporary Religion at the University of Birmingham and Jack Corley, Director of the UK branch of the Unification Church.

Translating Sacred Texts20110103

Ernie Rea chairs Radio 4's discussion programme in which guests from different faith and non-faith perspectives debate the challenges of today's world.

Each week a panel is assembled to represent a diversity of views and opinions, which often reveal hidden, complex and sometimes contradictory understandings of the world around us.

As 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Ernie Rea and guests discuss how sacred texts, such as the Bible, Koran or Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy book, should be translated.

Are translations given equal consideration by followers as the original text? Does it matter whether you understand the language of your Holy book? Is there a place for contemporary interpretations such as the comic book Bible?

Joining Ernie to discuss translating holy books is Jasjit Singh, a doctoral researcher from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds; Dr Sahib Bleher, a professional translator who is currently working on a translation of the Qur'an into English; and the Rev Dr Maggi Dawn Fellow at Robinson College Cambridge and author of "The Writing on the Wall: High Art, Popular Culture and the Bible."

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss whether we should translate Holy books.

Travellers20120312

There are many communities of travelling people in Britain and there have been for generations. While most people accept their lifestyles, some in the settled communities regard them with a degree of suspicion, even as a people apart.

Many travellers have a strong religious faith. Those of Irish origin tend to be Catholic; but an increasing number of travellers of Romany origin are joining Pentecostal churches. How does their religious practice differ from the mainstream? Are there common features that relate to their way of life? How has the experience of travelling and of exclusion impacted on their faith? In religion, as in life, must they always be outsiders?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the religious beliefs of travelling people are Dr Adrian Marsh, Senior Programme Manager at the Open Society Foundation, Cathleen McDonagh, from Exchange House, a National Traveller Organisation in Dublin; and Jackie Boyd, a pastor with the Light and Life Gypsy Church.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of faith in the lives of travelling people.

Treatment Of Civilians In Armed Conflict20120917

In a special edition of Beyond Belief Ernie Rea discusses the morality of the battlefield and the treatment of civilians in armed conflict. Increasingly news reports detail the casualties of civilians caught up in fighting in many countries around the world. Are we witnessing something new as civilians are targeted or used as shields by rebel forces and opposing armies or has this always happened? Will the use of unmanned drones make life safer or worse for civilians? Is it time to rethink the Just War Theory in the light of modern warfare? These are some of the moral and ethical issues Ernie Rea will be debating with Lord Dannatt, former Commander in Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, Canon Dr Alan Billings, former Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at Lancaster University, Imam Ajmal Masroor and Dr George Wilkes, Director of the Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace Project at Edinburgh University. The programme was recorded in front of an audience at the Imperial War Museum North for the BBC's RE:Think Festival in Salford.

Ts Eliot's Religious Poetry20141222

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the enduring appeal of TS Eliot's religious poetry.

It's 50 years since TS Eliot died. His later work, most notably the Four Quartets, is informed by a Christian Faith which became one of the pillars which sustained his life. How religious is his poetry? And what does it have to say to a society which many feel has lost its Christian moorings?

Ernie is joined by Lyndall Gordon, author of The Imperfect Life of T S Eliot; the Rt Rev the Lord Harris, former Bishop of Oxford; and Roz Kaveney, poet, and critic and author of a series on Eliot for the Guardian newspaper.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Tunisia20150824
Tunisia20150824

The luxury hotels in the beach resorts of Tunisia which were once packed with tourists now lie nearly empty. The slaughter on the beach at Sousse on June 26th has added Tunisia to a growing list of no-go areas for Western tourists. Tunisia is 99% Muslim but was considered an oasis of secularism in the Arab World. Its revolution in 2011 marked the beginning of The Arab Spring, bringing democratic government in place of a dictatorship. But all those hopes now appear to have turned to dust. Tunisia sends more fighters to Syria than any other Arab country, perhaps as many as 3000. Tunisia is now ruled by a coalition that includes an overtly Islamist party, called Ennahda. So what does the future hold for the country? Is it going down a radical route?

Ernie Rea is joined by Zoe Petkanas, working on a Ph.D on Gender, Law and Social Change in North Africa at Cambridge University; Dr Radwan Masmoudi, President of the Centre of the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington D.C.; and Berny Sebe, Senior Lecturer in colonial and post colonial studies at Birmingham University.

Produced by Nija Dalal-Small.

Water20090810

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the religious symbolism and rituals associated with water and asks how these can offer insights into the ecology and politics of water.

When Does A Cult Become A Religion?20060213
Why Religions Change20130923

What causes religions to change beliefs or traditions which have been in place for hundreds of years? For centuries the Jewish people offered animal sacrifices daily in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Catholic Church condemned Galileo for teaching that the sun, rather than the earth, is the centre of our universe. Soon we may have female Bishops in the Church of England and some churches in the UK may be prepared to marry gay couples. Is it inevitable that religions which emerged two or three millennia ago will adapt and shift with ever increasing social, cultural and scientific change? How do you distinguish between eternal truth and the culturally conditioned?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the way in which religions change are Dr Linda Woodhead, Professor in the Sociology of Religion in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University; Dr Yaakov Wise, Research Fellow in the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester; and Dr Gavin Flood, Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Oxford.

Witchcraft20090727

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the beliefs underpinning witchcraft.

Do modern witches have anything in common with their forebears? And, have the Harry Potter books and films inspired greater interest in the craft?

Witchcraft & Child Abuse20120820

Ernie Rea explores the relationship between African churches, witchcraft and child abuse with expert guests: Pastor Mahele Tangata, pastor of a Congolese Church in North West London; Romain Matondo, Co-ordinator for the Congolese Family Centre; and Dr Richard Hoskins, an expert on witchcraft-based child abuse cases. The Metropolitan police reports that it has investigated 83 'faith based' child abuse cases involving witchcraft in the last ten years. A belief in witchcraft is common to some traditional African religions and to some elements of Christianity; but accusing children of witchcraft seems a comparatively modern phenomenon. Where does it come from? What can be done to prevent it? And are the churches concerned doing enough?

Producer: Charlotte Simpson.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the link between African churches, witchcraft and child abuse

Women In Hinduism20120910

The story of Ram and Sita - told in the Hindu epic, the Ramayan - is known to every Hindu and - more indirectly - to the millions who have seen the film Slumdog Millionaire. The hero of the film, like Ram, takes control and conquers in adversity. The heroine - the love interest - is a passive figure , in need of rescue.

There are around a million Hindus living in Britain and they take many of their values from the story of Ram. But are some of those values demeaning to women? There are many gods and goddesses in Hinduism but do they provide good role models for modern women? What does Hinduism teach about how women are supposed to live their lives?

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss a woman's place in Hindu society are Atreyee Sen, Lecturer in Contemporary Religion and Conflict at Manchester University; Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies; and Padma Anagol, Senior Lecturer in History at Cardiff University.

Ernie Rea and guests discuss the place of women in Hinduism.

Women In Leadership20100719

Ernie Rea and his guests explore the place of faith in our complex world.

Ernie is joined by three guests who discuss why the idea of women in positions of religious leadership is so controversial.

It is 35 years since the first woman was appointed as a Rabbi in the UK.

Since then, women have become priests but not bishops in the Church of England; there are continual calls to ordain women to the Catholic church; while the idea of female Imams is almost unimaginable in Muslim circles.

So why aren't women breaking through the glass ceiling into positions of leadership? How do theological issues influence equality? And do men and women bring different but equal skills to positions of religious leadership?

Joining Ernie to discuss these issues is Canon Lucy Winkett, currently Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral and shortly to become Rector of St James, Piccadilly; Lorna Ashworth, lay member of the General Synod of the Church of England and member or Reform, an organisation which opposes women Bishops and Khola Hassan, the director of Albatross Consultancy which focuses on issues concerning Muslims in Britain.

Jackie Tabick tells Ernie what it was like to be Britain's first female Reform Rabbi and whether opposition to women in positions of leadership has changed in the 35 years since she joined the Rabbinate.

Producer: Karen Maurice.

Ernie Rea and a panel of guests discuss the role and place of women as religious leaders.

Women In Sikhism20130114

The fundamental message of Sikhism appears to be simple; God is one and all people are equal. But are some more equal than others? If the Sikh scriptures are consistent with a feminist agenda, why do some Sikh women feel that they are second class citizens?

Joining Ernie to discuss the position of women within the Sikh tradition are Navtej Purewal, Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at Manchester University; Eleanor Nesbitt, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education in the University of Warwick; and Nicky Guninder Kaur Singh, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Colby College Waterville Maine in the USA.

Yoga20140210

Yoga is big business. Its worth $10bn a year in America alone. Does the growth in yoga's popularity, particularly in the West, mean that its spiritual content and religious roots are being neglected? Can yoga be practised aside from these roots? Are there even dangers in doing so?

Ernie Rea is joined by Jim Mallinson from SOAS, University of London, Suzanne Newcombe from the charity Inform and Ramesh Pattni from the Hindu Forum of Britain.

Yule20151221

December 21st - the shortest day in the year - is the day pagans across Europe are marking the Winter Solstice; an ancient festival, connected to the lowest position of the sun in the sky. It has been celebrated for millennia, and yet, its relationship to the relatively recent Christian celebration of Christmas is inseparable. It is no coincidence that a festival marking the 'rebirth' of the new sun in the sky comes just days before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, seen by Christians as the Son of God. How did this relationship develop? Where did many of the familiar customs we associate with Christmas come from?

Ernie Rea explores the pagan origins of Christmas with Ronald Hutton, professor of History at Bristol University; JJ Middleway, a celebrant and ritualist based in the Druid tradition; and the reverend Steve Hollinghurst, a Church of England vicar and author of 'New Age Paganism and Christian Mission'.

Producer:

Amanda Hancox.

0620060807
LASTSalvation20050328

In the last in this series, Ernie Rea talks with his guests about the place of faith in today's complex world.

A further series begins in July.