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51% Show #1233

We live in a rapidly changing world. A study done by the Pew Charitable Trust into the religious beliefs of 

  Americans found that fully one quarter of Americans have left the faith they grew up in, and many have abandoned all organized religion.

Catholicism has suffered the greatest net loss, and people who describe themselves as “unaffiliated” now make up sixteen percent of the population.

With the resignation of Pope Benedict, the controversy surrounding the role of nuns in the Catholic religion and the ongoing issue of how the church handles a sexual abuse scandal that goes back decades, the next leader of the Catholic church will be leading at a challenging time.

But some things endure – like the millions of people who travel to a little cave in France hoping for a miracle.

6 million people come to Lourdes in an average year – 150 years after a little girl named Bernadette claimed to have been visited by the mother of Jesus Christ.  John Laurenson reports on how Lourdes has become a rallying point for Catholics around  the world. 

Religious belief is challenging Chinese authority in the occupied country of Tibet, where efforts to stop 

protest self-immolations have simply failed. Tibet Connection producer Rebecca Novick spoke with Dr. Robert Barnett, Director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University, and discovered the inspiration for the voluntary burnings actually comes from Chinese propaganda.

The Chinese government recently arrested seventy people in ethnically Tibetan areas in an effort to stop the protests. About a hundred people have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Chinese rule, and most of them have died. The Chinese government blames American radio for the protests, saying it paints the protesters as heroes.  Find out more at tibetconnection.org.

Coming up, building shelters for Christ in Mexico. And the mystery of Nefertiti.  

Drug violence continues to claim lives in Mexico. Ciudad Juarez  is ground zero in the drug war. The city –

   which is on the border with the US - had more than 3,000 murders last year – making it the deadliest city in Mexico. The violence has driven most humanitarian and aid groups away. One of the few that remains is Casas por Cristo, or Homes for Christ. Based in El Paso, Texas, Casas por Cristo builds homes on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez. As Monica Perez Uribe reports, in the communities where Casas por Cristo works, violence is not the only concern.

That story comes to us from the World Vision Report.

And finally, you have probably heard of Nefertiti. But did you know that she was part of a religious reformation in Egypt? And that she may have actually ruled as a man?  Writer and a musician Gilles Malkine has more.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.

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