Religion

Charity Nebbe

 

 

What happens after we die? It’s a question that we can’t answer. But more and more people are reporting what happened to them during a "near-death experience." And if you listen closely to their stories, some fascinating clues to the question emerge.

Constancia Huff Roling

An extended voyage down the Mississippi River in a kayak hasn't always been high on Barb Geiger's list of things she wanted to do. But one Sunday morning in 2013, after weeks of preparation, Barb and her husband set off in a self-built kayak for an epic five month journey of paddling and service work. 

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American Iftar Dinner

After the Trump administration broke a White House tradition last year of celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a Des Moines teen is trying to revive and expand the tradition.

Starting with the Clinton administration, the White House has hosted an annual iftar dinner to celebrate Ramadan. It continued through the Bush and Obama presidencies, but Donald Trump did not hold the event when he took office in 2017.

Photo Courtesy of Tahera Rahman

Tahera Rahman is an Illinois native who has been making headlines for the last few months by becoming the first Muslim woman to wear her hijab on live television reporting for the Fox affiliate in the Quad Cities.

She says she started wearing her hijab full-time when she was 11.

"I wore it on and off as a kid. When you were a little kid, you want to be just like your mom, so that's why I wanted to wear it. I started wearing it all the time after fifth grade," she says.

iowa judicial branch building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case in which two women are suing a Pella church for failing to supervise a pastor who sexually exploited them.

The Bandstra family argues they should be allowed to sue the Board of Elders of the Covenant Reformed Church for negligent supervision and defamation.

Valerie and Anne Bandstra say statements from the church board accused them of adultery for their sexual contact with former pastor Patrick Edouard, who was convicted of four counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor in 2012.

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

Five faith-based student organizations have filed a brief in support of a Christian group that is suing the University of Iowa for religious discrimination.

Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) filed a lawsuit in federal court last month claiming UI penalized the group because of its religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. The university ended BLinC’s status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student.

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

A now-defunct student organization is suing the University of Iowa in federal court for religious discrimination. Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) lost its status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student. 

According to the lawsuit, BLinC told a member he wasn’t eligible for a leadership position because "his decision to enter into same-sex relationships was inconsistent with BLinC's religious beliefs."

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

UI Writer's Workshop graduate Reza Aslan has been writing and talking about God for most of his career. His newest book God: A Human History follows his last title Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

"If we can learn to stop hoisting our own emotions upon God, I think we can pave the path for a much more peaceful religiosity," he says. 

There are 2.2 billion Christians in the world, and there's a whole lot of diversity under the umbrella of that religion. Pastor Lillian Daniel, who lives in Dubuque and is senior pastor at First Congregational Church, is frustrated by the stereotypes that have developed about Christians and other people who attend church. 

Lucas Cranach the Elder - The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 13642 / Wikimedia Commons

Five hundred years ago, a rebellious German monk named Martin Luther, who was disgusted with what he saw as corruption in the Catholic Church, started a movement that dramatically changed the face of Christianity. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Ray Mentzer, professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa, and Greg Prickman, who is head of special collections at the University of Iowa. 

Mentzer says that while Martin Luther did write letters to the Catholic Church, he did not nail them to the door to declare his grievances. 

Martin St-Amant / Wikimedia Commons

For her newest book, author and traveler Lori Erickson went in search of places where she felt something special. In her new memoir, she visits holy sites all over the world and says that Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God is similar to what "St. Augustine might have written if he was born a Lutheran in Iowa."

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, she talks with Charity Nebbe about her travels.

woman in hijab
Jerry Seon / Pexels

A self-defense class for Muslim women will debut in Iowa City on Tuesday. These women are often targeted as their religious covering identifies them as Muslim. 

The Iowa chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations is sponsoring the class. Executive director Miriam Amer says Muslim women wearing headscarves, or hijabs, have been targeted in the U.S. in recent months. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

As Highway 30 enters Denison, a city of 8,000, the national fast food chains stand next to Mexican groceries and restaurants. In this small city near the Nebraska border, waves of immigrants have been arriving since at least the 1980s.

 

In small, rural, diverse towns like this one, religious institutions can play an important role. Often, they provide needed social services. Many are a small slice of home. And they can serve as some of the most prominent points of connection between the different communities in town.

 

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How many churches are there in Des Moines? How many mosques, temples, or places of worship are there? More than you might think. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tim Knepper, editor of the new book A Spectrum of Faith that was put together by more than one-hundred students at Drake University and highlights the religious diversity of Iowa.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The Diocese of Sioux City is rolling out changes that will close or consolidate many Catholic churches in northwest Iowa as part of its Ministry 2025 plan.

A shortage of priests and declining participation in weekly Mass fueled the Diocese to find more efficient ways to serve Catholic communities. Father Paul Kelly celebrates Mass in English and Spanish at St. Rose of Lima in Denison, a small western Iowa city that may soon welcome more parishioners from nearby communities.

Sarah Boden/IPR

More than 130 Iowa religious leaders and clergy have signed a statement calling climate change “one of the most pressing moral challenges facing our world today.”

They say carbon pollution is an environmental justice issue, because power plants have historically been located near low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and agricultural communities. They want local, state, national and international leaders to form policies and strategies that promote sustainable energy use. 

mother mosque circle
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A few hundred people gathered at North America’s longest-standing mosque in Cedar Rapids Sunday to show support for the Muslim community. 

Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Native American and atheist leaders spoke to a crowd at the Mother Mosque of America about equality, acceptance and love.

The interfaith rally was held to counteract recent hate crimes and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Mother Mosque Imam Taha Tawil thanked the participants for supporting tolerance and religious freedom.

YUVAL PELEG

The Bible is the most read book of all time. For billions of people around the world, it provides answers, and it also leaves many questions.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with archaeologist and biblical scholar Robert Cargill, who has worked long, hard, and traveled far to find an answer to the question of - Where did the Bible come from?

He's written about what he has found in his new book, The Cities that Built the Bible.

Charity Nebbe

Pew Research finds that 68 percent of Americans say there is no conflict between their personal religious beliefs and science. For the 30 percent who do see a conflict, "the most common source of disagreement involves beliefs about evolution and the creation of the universe."

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

It is hard to have conversations with people who disagree with your viewpoint. If you're having an even harder time with those conversations lately, you're not alone. 

"This election has played to our most primitive fear, and fight or flight responses. A lot of us are just weary and need to give ourselves time to muster those better qualities in ourselves," says Krista Tippett, host of the radio show On Being.

"Compassion, empathy and understanding don't feel very natural right now, but they are what are needed to live right now."

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The Imam at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids says Muslims in his community are reacting with a mix of fear and sadness to the election of Donald Trump as president.

Hassan Salim says he hopes President-elect Donald Trump will watch his language when talking about Islam.

“There are millions of American Muslims who are truly hurt every time he does not distinguish between what Islam is, what American Muslims are, and radical Islam. These are two separate things and he needs to make it very clear.”

Gold Star Museum

What does it mean to live an ethical life? Is it necessary to have religious beliefs in order to have a moral code?

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Webb Keane, George Herbert Mead collegiate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, and Bob Cargill, assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa, about these questions. 

Both argue that humans don't need religion. 

chuck grassley
John Pemple/IPR file photo

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he doesn’t see any reason to increase gun control measures, following this weekend’s mass shooting in Florida.

Deceased shooter Omar Mateen used guns to kill 49 people and wound 53 others at an Orlando nightclub.

Grassley says that’s no reason to increase firearm regulations. Rather he thinks the focus should center on what he calls “radical Islamists.”

Carl Wycoff

Iowa is becoming more diverse with time. While 77 percent of Iowans identify as Christian, nearly a quarter do not.

On this edition of Talk 0f Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on religious diversity in Iowa.

She talks with Maeve Callan, associate professor of religion at Simpson College, who gives talks on religious culture in order to humanize religious diversity and to help stop the stigmatization of minority religious groups in the state.

Flickr / JohnPaulRichards

Gov. Terry Branstad says a proclamation he signed that encourages Iowans to participate in a Bible reading marathon and to read the Bible on a daily basis, “Until the Lord comes,” is not an affront to religious liberty.

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s concerned that the proclamation endorses a particular religion.  The organization says it never announces an intention to file a lawsuit, but it is reviewing options in this case.

But Branstad says he’s "astounded" people are upset since he’s not forcing anyone to read the Bible or pray.

RifeIdeas / Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump released his first television ad this week in Iowa and New Hampshire. In it, he promises to stop what he calls radical Islamic terrorism by creating a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Imam Taha Tahwil, director of the Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids, has a less extreme, and more conversational, proposition: Trump should visit the mosque.

A coalition of religious leaders is having a unity prayer gathering on west steps of the State Capitol on Sunday. The group’s purpose is to show solidarity with Iowa Muslims, in light of what it calls, “hateful, divisive language" against Muslims in recent days.

Rev. Billy Young, president of the Pastors and Ministers Alliance of Des Moines, plans to attend. He says the current anti-Muslim climate reminds him of his childhood in Mississippi, where the Klu Klux Klan burnt a cross on his front lawn because his family was African-American.

Taysaev / Wikimedia Commons

The terrorist attacks on Paris sparked an outpouring of support for people affected. The attacks in Beirut that day before did not. Why?

Daryl Cameron, assistant professor of social psychology and director at the Iowa Morality Lab at the University of Iowa, says it’s because we don’t respond to the people living in those places in the same way.

“We can imagine what its like to be someone in Paris going through this. It’s harder to think about what it’s like to be someone in Beirut,” he explains.

Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, many have been quick to condemn the group calling itself ISIS, and many have also been quick to condemn Islam.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with more than one billion believers worldwide. Imam Hassan Selim of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids  says it’s unfair to characterize all Muslims as terrorists.  

More than 120 people are dead in Paris after a string of terrorist attacks late last week, including one American. The attackers have been identified as Muslim extremists, and one of the terrorists is said to have gotten into France by posing as a refugee.

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