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God and Government
October 01, 2013
Every government on earth has its own approach to religion. Some see it as a partner, others see it as a threat. Some choose official faiths, others scorn that idea. We'll go to 14 nations around the world, meeting people whose lives have been shaped by the ways their countries balance religion and state.

Our series producers are Jocelyn Frank and Jonathan Miller, and our content consultant is Elizabeth Shakman
. We're supported by the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs.
Ruth Morris
China: An Atheist Country, Embracing Buddhism
Life is hard for many of China's religious minorities, where the government is arresting Tibetan Buddhist monks, ordering churches to take down their crosses, banning Muslim head scarves and sending members of Falun Gong to prison. Yet the officially atheist government, which once destroyed temples and jailed religious leaders, is promoting -- and sometimes even funding -- a resurgence of Chinese Buddhism. We begin in Shanghai, with a story from producer Ruth Morris.

Rebecca Nedostup, author of Superstitious Regimes: Religion and the Politics of Chinese Modernity
Ian Johnson,  journalist and author of a forthcoming book on religion in China

Wind Music
China: Mastering the Chinese Pipa
Grammy-nominated artist Wu Man is a master of the pipa, a pear-shaped lute that has survived in China for some 2,000 years. She learned to play it during China's Cultural Revolution, a time when the government actively rejected religious expression. She joins us to reflect on the Buddhism of her grandmother and to play her beloved pipa live in our studios..

Wu Man, the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and a leading ambassador of Chinese music

Michael Sullivan
Thailand: Cracking Down on the Monkhood
Thailand is in crisis. This summer, the military took control of the country in a dramatic coup. The king is nearing 90, and the economy is in the doldrums. And the Buddhist monkhood-- traditionally a stabilizing force in Thai society -- has been shaken by corruption and sex scandals. Now, Thailand's new military leader is pledging to root out corruption--starting in the monasteries, with Thailand's so-called 'misbehaving monks.'

Duncan McCargo, professor of political science at University of Leeds in England 
Justin McDaniel, professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania

Our feature story was produced by Michael Sullivan, with help from Jonathan Miller, Jocelyn Frank, and Laura Kwerel. All photos by Michael Sullivan.

Controlling Religion in Secular Turkey
The founders of modern Turkey thought the best way to keep Islam from competing with government was to take it over. Now critics say the country’s president is using his power not to control religion, but to promote the religion of the majority: Sunni Islam.

Mustafa Akyol, author of the book Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty 
Susanne Güsten, Mercator IPC Fellow with the Istanbul Policy Center

Our story was produced by Dalia Mortada, with help from Jocelyn Frank, Jonathan Miller and Laura Kwerel. 
Dalia Mortada
Turkey: The Rise of Sunni Religious Schools
This fall, Turkish media reports that as many as 40,000 non-Sunni students were automatically enrolled in Turkey's new crop of state-run Sunni schools. An Alevi Muslim student named Fatma was almost one of them. From Istanbul, Dalia Mortada brings us the story of Fatma and her family, who were faced with few options for high school.

Pictured: Fatma's mother prepares breakfast before her daugher's two-hour journey to the nearest secular school in town.

Reported by Dalia Mortada, with production help from Jocelyn Frank and Jonathan Miller