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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.
SuperJew | Wikimedia
Israel: Just How Jewish Is 'The Jewish State'?
In late 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a controversial bill that would officially declare Israel a Jewish state. Many Israelis saw Netanyahu’s proposal as an attack on non-Jews, who make up around 20 percent of the population. But Israel has been calling itself "the Jewish state" since the very beginning--so what did Israel’s founders mean by that, and why it so controversial? To experts debate.

We begin with a look at  Israel's government-run system for organ donation, which brings in donors at just a quarter of the rate in the United States. Many doctors worry that the heavy influence of Orthodox Jewish thinking in the country's legal code is hurting the survival rates of those in need. Produced by Dalia Mortada.

Michael Karayanni, Palestinian Israeli and professor of law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
Michael Brenner, German Jew and director of the Center for Israel Studies at American University

The photos below are from our story on organ donation in Israel, all taken by Dalia Mortada.

Israel: In the Studio with David Broza
David Broza launched his career in 1977 and is now one of Israel's best-known musicians and activists. While he doesn't go to synagogue every week, he finds solace in the quiet stillness of prayer, a practice he first discovered as a rebellious teenager. Now nearly 60, he tells us that "the art of contemplation...has stuck with me til today."

Take a listen to all of the songs he performed just for us, live in studio:
Public Domain | Wikimedia Commons
Uganda: The Anti-Gay Law Debate
Uganda is considering a law that won’t just criminalize being gay--it will require citizens to report the names of anyone they suspect of homosexual activity. Among the bill’s most active supporters are Christian churches, which are deeply woven into the social and political fabric of Ugandan society. We begin in the capital city of Kampala, where the debate has led citizens to think about just how much their government should be legislating morality. Kimberly Adams reports.

Joshua Rubongoya, professor of political science at Roanoke College
Jason Bruner, assistant professor of global Christianity at Arizona State University 
Uganda: James Makubuya, Reclaiming the Adungu
Musician James Makubuya grew up in Uganda as a devout Catholic. Though he was encouraged to study Western musical instruments, he insisted on learning traditional African harps and drums, and when got older, he pushed to integrate traditional instruments into Catholic services. He sat down in the studio with one of his favorite instruments--a harp called an Adungu--to play some sacred songs.

James Makubuya, ethnomusicologist at Wabash College

Enjoy all the songs James played for us in the studio:

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