Friday, July 24, 2015 7:00pm
In January 2015 video emerged of the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by so called Islamic State. In a recent report China was named as the country’s biggest threat to its security after a prolonged stand off over disputed islands. Against this backdrop Janak Rogers explores the current push by Japan's conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reinterpret Article 9, the famous peace clause of the post-war Japanese constitution.
Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, together with its junior coalition partner, Komeito, want to expand the role and readiness of Japan's military. Komeito, however, is backed by the powerful Buddhist organisation, Soka Gakkai, which has traditionally fought for Japan's pacifist stance, but it’s now felt to be time for Japan to revise its pacifist position Janak asks what is 'Japanese pacifism' and to what degree is it under threat? And, will the so-called 'engaged Buddhism' of Soka Gakkai ultimately prevent or facilitate the expansion of Japan's military power?
(Photo: Japanese protestors against security guidelines. Credit: Associated Press)
Friday, July 17, 2015 7:00pm
Just outside the Egyptian capital of Cairo, in the barren and bare foothills is a slum. The slum has an industry, which is the recycling of the thousands of tonnes of garbage this vast, sprawling city produces every week.
John Laurenson travels to the slums populated by the trash collectors to meet 'Mama Maggie', a Coptic Christian nun, who has dedicated her life to helping the people of the area, feeding, caring and ministering to some of the poorest people in the country
He meets Maggie in the homes of the people here where carts pulled by donkeys struggling up the makeshift streets strewn with the stinking rubbish. This is the home of the Zabaleen, Coptic Christians who make their living recycling 9,000 tonnes of garbage per day, nearly two-thirds of the rubbish thrown away by Cairo's 17 million people.
Maggie tells John how she gave up her wealth and the trappings of her affluent Cairo lifestyle to spread the word of Jesus amongst the Copts. John finds out what life is like for Christians in Egypt who have suffered persecution in the years since the revolution of 2011 and the fall of Hosni Mubarak and as John follows her as she does her work, he find out how Copts are treated four years on, as Christians are persecuted in other countries in north Africa by Islamists.
Friday, July 10, 2015 7:00pm
With recent research estimating that 23% of Americans are now counted as ‘nones’ when it comes to their religious beliefs, Jane Little meets a new generation of religious leaders, and explores whether they are threatening and disaffected who feel alienated from their institutions, and whether they are threatening traditional hierarchies.
In the second of her three conversations with a new generation of female religious leaders in America she meets Malaysian-American Ani Zonneveld. Ani was supposed to be a diplomat – at least that was her father’s plan for her. He was a Malaysian ambassador and she was raised in several countries. Instead she became a singer and Grammy award-winning songwriter. Then, after the events of September 11th 2001, she studied and ultimately embraced Islam, and made it her mission to counter the Saudi-exported Wahhabism that has inspired extremist groups from Al Qaeda to ISIS. She is now what she calls an “Imam with a small ‘I’". Ani often leads Friday prayers in her Los Angeles community and she founded Muslims for Progressive Values, a US-based international group of Muslims which supports gender equality, interfaith marriage, and gay rights. Jane talks with Ani about faith, fanaticism, and why she is now giving lessons from the Koran to diplomats at the United Nations.
To hear the first in the series of Breaking the Mould then go to http ://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02s257z and if you want to read more then go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/33377925
Friday, July 3, 2015 7:00pm
Take a trip through the streets of Kinshasa and there is a good chance you will walk past or into a church, blaring out music enticing you in to worship in its colourful, noisy congregation
In the second part of his religious snapshot of Democratic Republic of Congo William Edmundson examines the revivalist churches that have sprung up around the capital Kinshasa. The starting point of William’s journey is an 2013 attempted coup, one of the many coups attempted in this country over its bumpy history. But what sets this apart is that it was not led by revolutionaries or a disgruntled military, but by a pastor, Paul Joseph Mukungubila and his followers.
As William explored in the first programme, the DRC has a complicated religious past linked to its colonial history and the Catholic church has long been the main faith of choice, but now a new, vibrant revival church is capturing the faithful of the country by focusing on the word of the gospel. William visits the revivalist churches to find out their appeal and whether the established Protestant Catholic and Kimbanguist faiths we heard about in the first programme can maintain their influence in the face of this new power
Producer/Presenter William Edmundson
If you would like to hear the first part of Williams journey through the DRC to explore its religious past then please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002vsn4