religion and faith | KUOW News and Information

religion and faith

Don't Believe In God? Move To Seattle

May 26, 2015
Seattle atheists march in a parade. Ten percent of the city identifies as atheist, actively not believing in God. That's the highest percentage among large cities in the U.S.
Flickr Photo 2008/Evil Angela (CC BY-NC 2.0)

If you don’t believe in God, Seattle may be the city for you.

Ten percent of Seattle residents call themselves atheists – the highest rate among the largest metro areas in the U.S., according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Two nuns from 19th-century Palestine are now saints after being canonized by Pope Francis, in a move seen as aimed at encouraging Christians across the Middle East who are facing persecution by Islamist extremists.

According to The Associated Press:

The U.S. is less Christian than it used to be, and fewer Americans choose to be a part of any religion, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Of the more than 35,000 people surveyed, 70 percent say they are Christian — but the number of people who call themselves atheist and agnostic has nearly doubled in the last seven years.

There’s a new series making waves on the web. “Halal in the Family” centers around the Qu’osbys, an all-American family who also happen to be Muslim.

It’s no coincidence that the family name sounds a lot like “Cosby.” Co-creator Miles Kahn tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that the idea first came from a comment that journalist Katie Couric made, that maybe what American Muslims needed to combat stereotypes was their own “Cosby Show.”

When walking into the front vestibule of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in the seaside town of Scituate, Mass., it doesn't look or sound like the average church.

"What the hell are you doing?" an actor from The Young and the Restless says on a big-screen TV with two recliners set up in front of it. They're all arranged right next to a stained-glass window.

Courtesy of Ayan Jama

The sun was peeking through the clouds on Saturday, April 25  at Victor Steinbreuck Park in downtown Seattle, where a crowd gathered to celebrate the first ever Islamophobia Awareness Day.

The event was created by a group of Muslim girls from Rainier Beach High School. 

Abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage. The so-called pelvic issues are the ones that the head of the Roman Catholic Church really gets worked up about, right?

Not this pope.

That has been pretty clear to anyone listening to Pope Francis since he took over at the Vatican in 2013. “It is not necessary to talk about all these issues all the time,” Francis told an interviewer that same year. 

Now, Francis seems determined to talk about global climate change. And lots of people are listening.

As a 12-year-old Catholic boy growing up in England, Michael Fitzgerald decided he wanted to be a missionary in Africa. Eight years later, he was studying theology and learning Arabic in Tunisia.

He went on to devote his priestly ministry to the promotion of interfaith understanding between Muslims and Christians, and became one of the top Roman Catholic experts on Islam. He has served as the archbishop of Tunisia, the papal nuncio — effectively a Vatican ambassador — in Cairo, and the Vatican's delegate to the Arab League.

Sixty-three percent of people who took part in a global survey of religious attitudes say they are religious, according to WIN/Gallup International, the organization that carried out the polling.

The poll also found that 22 percent said they were not religious while about 11 percent said they were "convinced atheists," according to the poll published today. It surveyed nearly 64,000 people in 65 countries.

Plymouth Congregational Church in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Aaron Gustafson (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Chris James of Dubuque University about his study on Seattle churches and what they can tell us about the future of religion.

Seattle's Jewish Population Soars

Apr 3, 2015
Remaining edifice of the old Temple De Hirsch, Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/brewbooks (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Matt Boxer, a researcher at Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, about the increase in Seattle's Jewish population. Boxer is part of a team commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle to study the Jewish population.

Karen Shiveley, 67, waits to meet the pastor of a Baptist church in Everett. Shiveley has been checking out several churches around the Seattle area, hoping to find the right fit.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

 At Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Everett, Karen Shiveley sat alone in a pew, waiting to meet the pastor. The 67-year-old was smartly dressed, with orange-framed glasses, and she wondered if this could be her church home.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds talks with Leah Libresco, news writer at FiveThirtyEight, about the boycott issued by Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of government travel to Indiana after it passed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, described by opponents as a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians. 

In Israel, religious law governs family matters.

For a Jewish divorce, an Orthodox rabbi oversees a ritual that begins with the husband placing a folded decree, called a get or gett, into the wife's cupped hands. But that paper can be hard to obtain, because the husband can refuse to grant the divorce.

A new Israeli film playing in the U.S. shows how patriarchal Jewish divorce laws can trap even secular women for years.

The film is a drama called Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem. Viviane wants a divorce but needs her husband's permission.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, you know that it's going to be a hot argument when the usually straight-faced Justice Samuel Alito begins a question this way: "Let's say four people show up for a job interview ... this is going to sound like a joke, but it's not."

The issue before the court on Wednesday was whether retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated the federal law banning religious discrimination when it rejected a highly rated job applicant because she wore a Muslim headscarf.

Vandalism at Bothell Hindu Temple and Cultural Center.
Courtesy of HTCC/Nitya Niranjan

Marcie Sillman talks to Kami Simmons, professor of law at Wake Forest University Law school in North Carolina, about the challenges of proving a hate crime.

Last week the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell and Skyview Junior High School were vandalized by graffiti that read "get out" with a swastika symbol and "get out Muslims." Now leaders of the Hindu temple and local interfaith leaders in the community are calling for a federal investigation of the incident.  

Vandalism at Bothell Hindu Temple and Cultural Center.
Courtesy of HTCC/Nitya Niranjan

Leaders of a Hindu temple in Bothell have fast-tracked a plan to add some extra security cameras. This comes after the temple was tagged with racist graffiti over the weekend. The incident has gotten some international media attention and is still under investigation.  

A highly contagious disease was sweeping across the United States. Thousands of children were sick and some were dying. In the midst of this outbreak, health officials did something that experts say had never been done before and hasn't been done since: They forced parents to vaccinate their children.

It sounds like something that would have happened 100 years ago. But this was 1991 — and the disease was measles.

Ross Reynolds talks to Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun columnist, about the comments made by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the niqab, a face veil some Muslim women wear.

This week officials are gathering in Washington to discuss how to counter extremist messages, particularly those from the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

ISIS has been luring thousands of Westerners to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. The number of Americans who have traveled to Syria is still relatively small — in the neighborhood of 150 people — and a thin slice of that group, perhaps as many as two dozen Americans, are thought to have joined ISIS.

The organization United4Iran displayed this billboard in Washington, D.C., in 2012 to protest the treatment of Baha'is in Iran.
Flickr Photo/United4Iran (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with Mitra Zarakani, an employment specialist at Jewish Family Service's Eastside location, about her immigration to the U.S. and attending a secret university in Iran.

Pope Francis over the weekend became the first pontiff to hold a private meeting with a transgender person. It’s one of many firsts for Pope Francis that have been seen as promoting greater inclusiveness in the church.

But what about women in the church? According to a Georgetown University study, 72 percent of nuns in the U.S. have left the church in the last five decades, compared with 35 percent of priests.

Just six years ago, the Vatican’s launch of an investigation into American nuns sparked outrage, but the release of the report in December was more warmly received.

All Pilgrims Christian Church on Seattle's Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Don Jensen, executive director of Community Lunch, and Greg Turk, pastor of All Pilgrims Christian Church on Seattle's Capitol Hill, about community controversy over the church's plans to expand a meal program for people in need.

Jews Face New Fears In Europe

Jan 13, 2015

The killing of four French Jews in last week’s hostage standoff at a Paris kosher market has deepened the fears among European Jewish communities shaken by rising anti-Semitism and feeling vulnerable due to poor security and a large number of undefended potential targets.

The hostage situation followed the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. Experts say European Jews have not felt this threatened since World War II, when some 6 million Jews were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust.

(This post was last updated at 6:50 p.m. ET.)

A nationwide manhunt for the suspects of France's deadliest terrorist attack in more than 50 years ended in a hail of gunfire on Friday.

After hours of tension in two separate standoffs that shut down parts of the Paris metro area, the two main suspects in the attack on a satirical magazine and a man who took hostages at a kosher grocery are dead, President François Hollande said in a speech to the nation.

We're not all Charlie

Jan 8, 2015
Carlo Allegri/Reuters 

#JeSuisCharlie exploded on social media on Wednesday in support of the murdered journalists at Charlie Hebdo.

But while people across the world are aligning themselves with the French satirical publication, these are the reasons they shouldn't: 

1. Je suis Charlie? Nope. I'd be dishonest. 

Charles R. Johnson with Ralph Ellison
Wikipedia Photo/Robin Platzer

As a teenager, University of Washington professor emeritus Charles Johnson discovered a book on yoga and meditation on his mom’s bookshelf that sparked his interest in practicing Buddhism.

Johnson spoke with Marcie Sillman on KUOW’s The Record to discuss the intersection of race, religion and his writing. His newest book is called “Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections on Politics, Race, Culture, and Spiritual Practice.”

In The Sunday Conversation, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He's attracted to men, but he considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.

Jews, Chinese Food And Christmas: A Love Story

Dec 24, 2014
Chinese food fortune cookie
Flickr Photo/Ginny (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Hanna Raskin, former food critic for the Seattle Weekly, about the historical reasons why American Jews traditionally eat Chinese food on Christmas.

The Vatican released a much-anticipated report Tuesday, examining the lives and social work of American nuns.

The report on the 50,000 nuns and another on their leaders were both initiated under Pope Benedict in 2008. In 2012, the Vatican took over the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and said the leaders focused too much on social issues and promoted radical feminist themes.

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