It was the response of Jewish organisations that was possibly most telling the day after last year's Tree of Life shooting. President Trump wasn’t welcome in Pittsburgh unless, that is, he denounced the language of white nationalism.
The attack on the synagogue, according to The Washington Post, ‘wasn’t unimaginable but inevitable’, and anecdotally the build-up of anti-Semitic attacks in the US may just back that up. The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent rise in incidents in 2017.
The Tree of Life synagogue sits in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, and has been described as an urban shtetl; we meet the Jews who share this small section of the city.
David McGuire asks Rabbi Jeffrey Myers how the shooting of 11 of its members affected the Squirrel Hill community.
Under the provocative #jewishresistance, liberal Jews have challenged other Jews to stand up for their faith, but the reality is that they aren’t united, they are split religiously and politically. The accusation is that Orthodox and Conservative Jews are remaining silent when it comes to the rise of anti-Semitic language.
Jews across the USA say they now feel as threatened as they have done for many years, and as they face external intimidation, there is a growing gap between the two sides of the faith in the USA.
Producer and Presenter: David McGuire
Picture: A shop front in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, USA. Credit BBC
Kenya’s Quakers: Best of Friends
Kenya is home to the majority of the world's Quakers and it is vibrant and noisy, much different from the quiet, contemplative religion most of us know.
Audrey Brown has been to the spiritual home of the Quaker faith, Kaimosi to learn how it landed, spread and flourished.
The faith is growing at rapid rate across East Africa, fighting for converts with other Christian faiths and Quakers in Europe have recently been debating whether God has a place in its worship, but that's not the case here in Kenya, God is at the front and centre of their boisterous services. there aren't many moments of silence here.
Audrey meets the Kenyan worshippers as well some visiting German Quakers and listens in as they debate the importance, or not, of God.
Picture: A Quaker in Kenya Credit: BBC
Making friends with the KKK
Daryl Davis collects Ku Klux Klan memorabilia – KKK robes, hoods and masks. He says they are given to him by those leaving the white supremacist organisation, after he has spent time befriending them and persuading them to change their views. Heart and Soul hears from Daryl about what drives him, his Christian faith and concerns about racial division within the church, and from Scott Shepherd, one of those he helped to leave the KKK.
Mike Wooldridge asks if Daryl is doing ‘the right thing’. His critics complain that his testifying in court in defence of violent extremists is a step too far, and that he would be better joining with others in calling for political change. But Daryl maintains that the sometimes risky meetings he initiates, for which he calls upon God’s protection, are a good way of changing people’s minds.
(Photo: Daryl Davis, 59, poses with a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe in the foreground, 2017. Credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
My son’s killer, next door
On 12 February 1993 Mary Johnson’s only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was murdered. The perpetrator was 16-year-old Oshea Israel, who received a 25-year sentence for second degree murder. Many years later Mary visited Oshea in prison, and after his release in 2010 they lived as neighbours in the Northside community of Minneapolis – and developed a strong bond. Mary, driven by her Christian faith, now runs From Death to Life, an organisation she founded to promote healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who have caused harm.
Mike Wooldridge hears from Mary, who says Oshea is her ‘spiritual son’, from Oshea who explains how transformative the initial meeting with Mary was, and from the mothers of murderers and victims of murder as they come together to share their pain.
Faith v America’s Opioid Epidemic
When people talk about America’s opioid epidemic, they often focus on the record number of drug related overdose deaths – 72,000 last year – or the growing number of court cases against the drug manufacturers. But for a lot of people there is another story – that of their personal struggle against addiction. And for many of them, that means holding fast to their faith. What part can faith play in helping those who are determined to make a change, and how does it contribute to the fight against the opioid epidemic in America?
In Louisville, Kentucky, the churches play their part in the recovery services. Louisville is sometimes called the recovery centre of Kentucky, and we find out more about different approaches, and also contrasting views in treatments. Medication assisted approaches use the drug Suboxone but some centres do not agree with using drugs to treat drugs. Some depend on faith alone.
The programme explores the challenges that face individuals who want to help themselves and the decisions they take in order to change their lives.
Image: A train passes through Lawrenceburg, Kentucky (Credit: Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)