Church pew with hymnal
Bala Sivakumar / Creative Commons

Federal and local law enforcement officials are hosting a summit in Detroit on Monday to help area religious leaders make places of worship more secure.

The training session will focus on best practices during emergencies, including active shooter situations.

Attendees are also being encouraged to communicate more with each other, including making others aware of threats they've received or suspicious individuals.

An exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History displays the science behind evolution.
Flickr user Dom Dada / Flickr -

Can strict Christian belief co-exist with science and the scientific view of evolution?

A West Michigan-based group called Biologos believes the answer is "yes."

Deborah Haarsma, the president of Biologos, is an astrophysicist and former chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College.

Flickr user Fernando Revilla / Flickr

Tomorrow, for the second consecutive month, will be a Friday the 13th.

Professor Phillips Stevens of the University of Buffalo, whose research includes topics such as cultural anthropology and religion, says this fear could have religious roots.

Buddha painting in Dambulla cave temple in Sri Lanka. People in Sri Lanka have practiced Theravada Buddhism for centuries.
Bernard Gagnon / wikimedia commons

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan has received $2 million to establish the Thai Professorship of Theravada Buddhism.

The school says Thursday the gift will enhance one of the largest Buddhist studies programs in North America. The holder of the endowed chair will teach courses and conduct research to advance knowledge of Thai Buddhism.


Matt Green said that Grindr, perhaps the best-known location-based gay dating app, is not only about looking for love or hookups. It can also be a platform for finding spiritual, or even religious connections.

Hailing from Ann Arbor, Green is a second-year rabbinical student at New York City’s Hebrew Union College. He’s known as “The Grindr Rabbi” and uses Grindr to reach out to gay Jews in New York City.

Green said it all started when he came back from rabbinical school in Israel last year. He downloaded Grindr and posted to his profile that he was on his way to becoming a Rabbi.

User VanZandt / Flickr

Before you roll your eyes and grumble about what society is coming to, just hear these churches out for a second. 

"It was painful to hear that so many people weren't getting ashes until the evening," says Reverend June Marshall-Smith of Novi United Methodist.

She says growing up, she always got ashes in the morning, "to remind me all day how my faith is guiding me during the Lenten season."  

"[But now] churches had gone to only evening services and no longer morning services. So I was providing a morning service, but people who were not members of my congregation were not coming to that.

Monks playing dungchen / Dechen Phodrang monastic school, Thimphu

A new study will create a digital sound map of religion in Midwestern cities by collecting sounds of worship – sounds like Gregorian chant, Muslim calls to prayer, and Native American chants.

The Religious Soundmap Project of the Global Midwest is led by Amy DeRogatis, an associate professor of religious studies at Michigan State University, and Isaac Weiner, an assistant professor of comparative studies at Ohio State University.

We originally aired this story on Valentine's Day, 2012.

It packs a lot into three minutes: young love, religious intolerance, small town bigotry, and the difficult life decisions we all have to make. 

It ends with a high school reunion that changed everything.

73-year-old Judith Narrol and 74-year-old Ed Storement were married on Valentine's Day, 2012.  They tell us they couldn't be happier. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan and Ohio researchers are building a "sound map" of religion in Midwestern communities to explore religious diversity in a novel way.

Religious and comparative studies professors from Michigan State University and Ohio State University received a $30,000 grant from the Humanities without Walls consortium. It's funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Before dawn this morning, five Satanists erected what they call a "snaketivity" on the east lawn of the state Capitol.

A fake snake coils its body around the display, which features the phrase “The Greatest Gift is Knowledge.”

Jex Blackmore is with the Satanic Temple of Detroit. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This holiday season, two very different religious beliefs will be on display at the state Capitol in Lansing.

A small crowd sang Christmas carols outside the state Capitol today. They were there to see a small nativity scene erected. The figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph will stand in stark contrast to a display featuring a snake that Michigan Satanists plan to put up on Sunday. 

Jane and Ellen Knuth / Amazon

In 2008, like so many college graduates, Ellen Knuth was looking for a job. But unlike many grads Ellen found a job more than 6,000 miles away teaching English in Japan. All her mother could do was hope and worry from afar. 

Jane Knuth now has Ellen back home in Michigan and together they've written the new book Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter's Conversations on Life, Love and God.

In addition to worrying about her daughter being halfway around the world, Jane had concerns for her daughter's spiritual well-being.

User: Linda Stephan / Interlochen Public Radio

More than 100 years ago, Methodist missionaries set up Indian Mission churches in northern Michigan. The goal was to bring Christianity and to do away with traditional American Indian beliefs.

Today the missions blend those traditions. But they serve small congregations that can’t afford to pay their pastors.

The United Methodist missions have survived with lots of financial help from the denomination, but now leaders say they have to scale back.

For one mission pastor, it feels like a broken promise.

Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported this story.  

* Listen to the story from Linda Stephan above.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Metro Detroit clergy leaders stood together Thursday to send a clear message: They support same-sex marriage and equal rights for LGBT people.

They also strongly condemned some of their fellow Michigan Christian leaders who are fighting to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Last week, a group of about 200, mostly Michigan-based black pastors declared that “the fight is on” to protect “traditional” marriage.

The festival in past years.
The Arab American

The festival has been canceled for the second year in a row due to higher liability insurance costs for festival organizers.

The three-day festival in Dearborn celebrated Arab culture and was one the largest gatherings of Arab Americans in the U.S., but it also attracted anti-Islamic protestors and Christian missionaries from around the country.

Niraj Warikoo reports for the Detroit Free Press:

Tensions at the festival broke out in 2010 when a group of Christian missionaries arrived with video cameras to record their attempts to debate Muslims. Some were arrested for disturbing the peace, though later acquitted of most charges. Their arrests drew outrage from conservatives across the U.S.

Another Christian group filed a lawsuit against the city, saying the missionaries were restricted in where they could distribute their literature. In 2012, a separate group of Christians brought a pig’s head mounted on a pole with anti-Islam signs, resulting in some youth hurling bottles at them.

Warikoo reports that Dearborn was forced to pay $300,000 to the Christian missionaries arrested in 2010.

The Arab-American Chamber of Commerce says they’re still looking for ways to move forward with the festival.

Whitefish filets.
user Cheryl Q / Flickr

TRAVERSE CITY – Many fish markets in the Great Lakes region are running short of whitefish, and it's coming at a bad time: the Passover holiday.

Whitefish is a key ingredient in gefilte fish, a traditional Jewish dish that originates in eastern Europe. Recipes vary, but it often consists of ground fish, vegetables such as onion and carrots, and bread crumbs formed into loaves or balls.

The shortfall results partly from the bitterly cold winter that caused vast sections of the Great Lakes to freeze over. The ice cover kept some commercial fishing crews stuck in port. A drop in the whitefish population is also to blame.

Kevin Dean of Superior Fish Co. near Detroit says his latest shipment amounted to just 75 pounds, although he requested 500 pounds.

Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

St. Henry’s in Lincoln Park held its first Mass on June 3, 1923 and its last Mass on March 2, 2014.

At the end of the church’s final Mass, parish members took the most important objects and walked them out the door.

The holy oils were carried by five members of the Olive family. Jackie and Bill Balmes carried out the marriage registry (they’ve been married for 65 years). Four men, including Jim Bomia and his two grandsons, lifted the crucifix off the wall (it weighed several hundred pounds), and walked it down the aisle and out the door.

LGBT flag / Antioch University

There can be little doubt that we are living at a time when our attitudes as a society are undergoing a tremendous shift in what we think of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Recently, we spoke on this show with Michigan State University professor Charley Ballard, who directs the state of the state surveys. The most recent MSU survey found, for instance, that 54% of Michiganders support gay marriage, with 36% opposing it.

Just four years ago, gay marriage was opposed by 51% and favored by 48% of those surveyed.

That is the view from social science. But what about the view from the pulpit?

Ken Wilson is pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. The evangelical minister has spent years wrestling with this question:  Where do we – as a Christian faith community – draw the line on the gay marriage issue?

His journey to rethinking his beliefs about where LBGT people fit into what he calls “the company of Jesus” is spelled out in his new book “A Letter to my Congregation:  An evangelical pastor's path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus.”

Listen to the full interview above. 

Central Michigan University

A college class that involves poring over ancient biblical texts might not inspire much excitement.

But a college class that teaches some of the same lessons using zombies? Ah, that's going to grab 'em!

That's the idea behind a religion class at Central Michigan University that has, indeed, grabbed a lot of attention. It's called "From Revelation to 'The Walking Dead,'" and it’s taught by religion professor Kelly Jean Murphy.

CMU student Carl Huber is a junior who is double-majoring in Comparative Religion and Sociology, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Nation of Islam's Farrakhan to speak in Detroit

Feb 23, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan will deliver the keynote speech on the final day of the movement's four-day convention in Detroit.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones told participants at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday that Farrakhan had some "awesome words" when he addressed the council earlier.

Farrakhan's address is titled "How Strong is Our Foundation: Can We Survive?"

flickr user FatMandy /

The St. Clair County Jail has installed new procedures for inmates who request religious diets.

Until now, inmates who wanted religious diets were required to pass a written exam that tested their knowledge of their faith.

A lawsuit filed last year by the Council on American-Islamic Relations claimed that policy was unconstitutional.

The case concerned Aaron Utley, a Muslim man and a former inmate at the jail, who was denied a Halal diet – in keeping with Islamic tradition – after failing a test on Islam.

Mark Halonen / Brighton High School

Maybe more than any other, high school can be a time when what you choose to wear has a huge impact on your sense of identity.

As students take their first steps into adulthood, they walk a fine line between fitting in with their peers and developing a unique sense of self.

Earlier this fall, a group of AP language students at Brighton High School were asked to read a memoir by Iranian author Azar Nafisi. The book detailed the experiences of women during that country's religious revolution, including dealing with new standards of modesty in the way they dressed.

To experience the material first-hand, several girls in the class in Brighton chose to spend a full school day wearing hijabs, the head-scarves worn by Muslim women in many parts of the world.

The exercise gave students a chance to learn about an unfamiliar culture and religion. But in a school community where no students and only one teacher outwardly practice Islam, wearing the scarves was a good way to draw curious looks, questions and a few unfriendly comments.

Teacher Diana Mason and three students at Brighton who took part recently told Stateside about the experience.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Myra Klarman

There is no questioning the data: Buddhism is a force to be reckoned with. Estimates of the number of practicing Buddhists around the world ranges from 350-million all the way up to 1.6 billion.

 Buddhism is also recognized as one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. A University of Michigan professor has spent the past 12 years putting together what's being hailed as the most authoritative and comprehensive reference on Buddhism ever produced in English. It is "The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism," co-authored by Robert Buswell of UCLA, and Donald Lopez. He is the Chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and he is a Distinguished Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan.

Christus Vincit / Flickr

It has been seven months since the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

He took the name Francis. And since then, the Argentinean pontiff has caught the world's attention, ruffling more than a few conservative feathers with his words on abortion and gay rights, attempts to reform the way the Vatican runs, and how the Catholic Church connects with the people.

We wondered how much impact Pope Francis is having on Catholics in Michigan, and how he’s seen by members of other religions.

We began the conversation with Dave Willey, the Rome correspondent for the BBC.

Then, we hear from Jesuit priest Father Karl Kiser, and Baptist minister Ural Hill.

You're not alone, billboard tells nonreligious

Oct 6, 2013
Center for Inquiry

A billboard alongside a highway in western Michigan is spreading the message that religion is something people can live without.

The billboard went up Monday and is to remain in place through Oct. 27 along U.S.-131 in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming.

It's sponsored by the Center for Inquiry and carries the message "Millions of Americans are living happily without religion."


It’s been written "you will know them by their fruits." And what some congregations of faith are harvesting these days is energy - saving energy, and producing energy from the sun and from the wind.

Julie Lyons Bricker is the executive director of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that aims to get Michigan faith communities involved with promoting and implementing energy efficient practices. 

Bricker joined us in the studio today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Howard Books

One of the most frustrating aspects of living in American in 2013 is the way we seem to have lost a sense of being on the same team. 

Instead of thinking of ourselves as Americans or Michiganders, it's all too often Democrats or Republicans, Christian, or Muslim. 

This deep sense of division leads to gridlock in Congress and in Lansing. 

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced he will not run for re-election. What does this means for the city moving forward while currently under emergency management?

And we took a look at what's behind Michigan's high infant mortality rate.

And author, theologian, preacher, and social activist Jim Wallis joined us to talk about his book and The Common Good for America.

But first in the show, we got an update on the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, where crews are trying to figure out what caused the release of slightly radioactive water.

The plant was shut down a little over a week ago because of the leak, and crews say they have discovered a new crack in a water tank that has been leaking on and off for at least two years. Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith discussed the issue with us.

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist / Facebook

Sure, the three sisters from Ann Arbor's Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are probably going to beat you in a game of trivia about the Bible.

But you wouldn't expect them to take you on the physical challenges as well.

It turns out Sister Evangeline, Sister Peter Joseph and Sister Maria Suso are pretty darn good at flipping forks into glasses:

Good Friday

Mar 29, 2013
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Christians across Michigan are observing Good Friday.

Observances are taking place in many different places.

Beginning outside the state capitol building, a few hundred members of Lansing’s Christo Rey church followed a group of actors through the streets of the state capitol as they recreated the biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion.  

Holy week observances conclude on Easter Sunday.