Religion & Faith

Krista Tippett

“What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?” Those are the two questions that form the backbone of “On Being,” the award-winning public radio show hosted by Krista Tippett. The show delves into questions of meaning and faith with devout believers and atheists alike, including poets, actors, musicians, scientists and theologians. In her new book, “Becoming Wise,” Tippett reflects on the lessons she has learned from her guests about family, civility, and how to be more fully present in our lives.

Pope pontiff Francis

Pope Francis is releasing a major document Friday known as “Amoris Laetitia” (Latin for “The Joy of Love”), which may address controversial issues such as unmarried couples cohabitating, contraception, remarrying without an annulment and same-sex marriage. While religious conservatives fear he could undermine church doctrine, Catholic reformists hope the pontiff will be bold in addressing these issues. We discuss the impact the document could have on the global Catholic community.

Susan Jacoby

We tend to think of religious conversion as a spiritual experience. But historically, people have changed religions for plenty of reasons other than faith: Jews in 14th-century Spain became Catholics to avoid torture and execution and 19th-century German Catholics converted to Protestantism to enter advanced professions. In “Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion,” author Susan Jacoby takes a closer look at the multitude of factors that have drawn people – from Augustine of Hippo to Muhammed Ali – into the fold of organized religion. We?ll also talk to her about her New York Times op-ed on how political campaigns continue to ignore nonreligious voters, even though they?re growing in number.


The U.S. may have the most Christians of any nation in the world, but a new poll from the Pew Research Center shows a decline in their numbers and a jump in Americans who identify as having no religion at all — a change that Pew calls “astounding.” The Pew study polled 35,000 people, and found more Americans — especially millennials — classified as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” We discuss America’s changing religious landscape, and how it’s been affected by ethnic diversity, religious intermarriage and non-Christian faiths.

Pope Francis

A lifelong Roman Catholic, historian Garry Wills has been an ardent critic of the Catholic Church’s history and teachings throughout his career. In his new book “The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis,” he focuses on how the current pontiff, who has spoken on controversial issues like sexual abuse, homosexuality, abortion and climate change, can serve as an agent of change for the Church.


The attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had deep personal resonance for Berkeley-based political cartoonist Khalil Bendib. One of his heroes, the cartoonist Jean Cabut, was among those killed, and as a Muslim he says he fears a backlash. Bendib and Amir Soltani, co-authors of the graphic novel “Zahra’s Paradise,” join us to talk about balancing freedom of religion and expression in a multicultural society.

Published courtesy of Khalil Bendib

Oakland Bishop Michael Barber

Because they don’t have tenure, all K-12 teachers in East Bay Catholic private schools are required to sign new contracts each year. But this year’s contract includes a contentious new clause requiring them to conform to Catholic Church teachings in their personal lives. While private schools are legally allowed to impose religious restrictions, some teachers are unhappy with the addition in a diocese where 18 percent of teachers are not Catholic.

The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court placed a small town in upstate New York on the right side of the law on Monday, defending the town’s practice of opening public meetings with a group Christian prayer, as long as officials make efforts at inclusion. We’ll discuss the ruling and the place of prayer in public spaces.


Journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich was trained as a scientist and is a long-time atheist. But in recent years she’s been grappling to understand a mystical experience she had as a teenager. The author of the bestseller “Nickel and Dimed” joins us to talk about her new book, “Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything.”

Pope Francis

The Catholic Church is too focused on “small-minded rules” and issues like homosexuality and abortion, Pope Francis said in a revealing interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine, released this week. We’ll discuss the Pope’s candid comments and what they say about his vision for the Church.


Who was Jesus Christ the man? Religious scholar Reza Aslan re-examines Jesus, discovering a man he says wasn’t just a peaceful teacher but also a political revolutionary who urged his followers to take up arms. In his new book, “Zealot,” Aslan examines the political life of Jesus, and what inaccuracies between the Gospels reveal about Jesus’ life.

Interview Highlights


Does the Bible need a makeover? A group of 20 spiritual leaders from around the country thought so, and they convened recently to update the New Testament. The result combines traditional and newly discovered texts, including ancient Christian stories of women leading their own congregations. San Francisco-based Presbyterian minister Bruce Reyes-Chow was a part of this group, and he joins us to discuss the book, “A New New Testament.”

Pastor Jim Wallis

Abraham Lincoln is said to have remarked that he wasn’t concerned about whether or not God was on his side. Instead, he was more concerned about being on God’s side. In his new book, theologian Jim Wallis explores what it means to be aligned with the divine in an age of political dysfunction and bitter hyper-partisanship. Wallis joins us to discuss his book “On God’s Side,” and his call for a national conversation on the meaning of “the common good” in both our politics and our personal lives.

Robert Alter

Biblical scholar Robert Alter considers himself a “literary archaeologist.” In his award-winning translations of the Hebrew Bible, he aims to reconstruct and restore the poetry and prose style of the original ancient text. Alter joins us to discuss his latest installment, “Ancient Israel,” a translation of “The Former Prophets,” the Biblical books Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor

KQED Public Media for Northern CA