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Host Krista Tippett explores the practical implications of spirituality at work with Federal Bureau of Investigations special agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley and syndicated columnist Tim McGuire.

In May 2002, Rowley wrote a now-famous 13-page letter to Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI. In it, Rowley raised serious and detailed concerns about how the FBI had handled leads prior to the September 11th attacks.

Religious pronouncements seem to have become mandatory for the Democratic candidates in this election. Yet it’s been easy to deride the resulting sound bites that are widely repeated—such as Howard Dean’s proclamation of his favorite book of the New Testament: the Old Testament book of Job. Host Krista Tippett takes a larger view of what this election has to say about the role of religion in American life. Is it changing, and if so, what is substantive and important in that change?

At the center of our history of church and state is a troublesome irony. What began as an attempt to guarantee religious tolerance in the new world has at various times been commandeered by the most chauvinistic movements America has known. In spite of this, religious liberty has survived as an American ideal—one which we continue to test.

We live in a world of increasing religious pluralism—diversity beyond the imagining of our nation’s founders—which suggests fresh nuance to the meaning of religious liberty. This much is clear: our modern conversation has few connections to the social, political, and religious impulses that led to the First Amendment.

Host Krista Tippett and her guests revisit the history and meaning of separation in thought-provoking and, at times, unsettling ways. Charles Haynes talks about his work in the American public school system—the arena in which our modern debates often center. Philip Hamburger describes his research into the surprising, and largely forgotten, origins of separation of church and state. And, Cheryl Crazy Bull speaks about the loss and reemergence of religious expression in tribal public life.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church has sharpened our culture’s intensifying focus on homosexuality. In a year of political and religious milestones for gays and lesbians, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay man to be elected an Episcopal Bishop. There were 11th-hour allegations of impropriety. But in the end, the laity, clergy, and House of Bishops of the Church confirmed his election.

This week, we set aside the ins and outs of the Robinson controversy. The public furor over this event flows, in part, from our culture’s confusion over what it might mean to morally condone homosexual relationships. And Gene Robinson aside, this issue remains an ongoing source of bitter debate among Anglicans and in most of the mainline churches in this country.

How can people of faith reach radically different conclusions while living in the same tradition? Host Krista Tippett engages two Episcopal bishops on either side of the matter in a thoughtful conversation that aims to clarify our understanding of the religious issues at stake.

Over the last four decades, women’s roles have changed dramatically — at home, in the work force and in religious institutions as well. In America, resistance to this is often couched in religious terms. Where there is a backlash against feminism and its repercussions, it is often embodied in religious practice. Host Krista Tippett speaks with three devoutly religious women who also call themselves feminist.

Christian scripture and tradition have overwhelmingly shaped American attitudes toward sexuality. And in the past year, our national attention has been riveted on sexual scandal within the Catholic Church. In this program, we crack open the difficult subject of Christian tradition and healthy sexuality. What is the positive sexual ethic of the Bible, beyond the identification of sin? What does sexuality have to do with the human spirit and how might this change they way it is discussed in communities of faith?

More than any crisis in modern memory, the War on Terror—including the current U.S. military presence in Iraq—is being debated in religious, usually Christian, terms. We explore the nuances of that debate with a former war correspondent, a political theorist, and a renowned preacher. We ask how and whether Christian principles really make a difference at this moment in our national life—and if not, why not?

Even among deeply religious Americans, there’s no consensus on the proper role of religion in politics. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C., recently invited two veteran politicians to address this issue: former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana. They were asked to speak about how they have reconciled personal religious conviction with serving a pluralistic American constituency.

In this program, we delve into uncomfortable religious and moral questions that the September 2001 terrorist attacks raised—questions of meaning that Americans have only begun to ponder one year later. This hour also features the riveting first-person account of veteran public radio producer Marge Ostroushko, who captures elements of the religious life that grew up at and around Ground Zero and was largely hidden from news reporting. Her coverage, which you won’t hear anywhere else, includes the ash-swirled final service, and an interview with the priest who coordinated the 24-hour team of clergy who blessed every human remain found there since 9/11.

Just-war theory was set in motion in the 5th century as St. Augustine agonized over how to reconcile Christianity’s high ethical ideals with the devastating world realities which were bringing about the fall of Rome. For 1,600 years, theologians, ethicists, diplomats, and political leaders have drawn on this tradition, refined it, and employed its key questions: When is it permissible to wage war? And how might our ethical and religious foundations place limits on the ways we wage war?

In this program, we explore three varied perspectives on how such questions are alive and evolving today, and how they might inform our approach to the conflict in Afghanistan and the peace we would like to achieve beyond it.

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