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FROM THIS EPISODE

One of the biggest costs of America's wars over religion is ignorance. Polls show that many Americans know little about the world's major religions, including their own. On this rebroadcast of today's To the Point, guest host Sara Terry explores the role that the study of religion play in schools. Do the media have a responsibility to do more in-depth reporting on religion as a way to better understand the role that religious beliefs play in conflicts and foreign policy? Also, homicides from to their lowest level in over 40 years, and the election crisis in Ivory Coast could mean renewed conflict in West Africa.

Banner image of Students at Harry S. Truman Elementary School in Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Office Max

Producers:
Gary Scott
Katie Cooper
Karen Radziner

Making News Homicides Drop to Levels Not Seen since 1967

For the first time in more than four decades, Los Angeles is on track to end the year with fewer than 300 homicides, the lowest number of killings since 1967 when the population was 30 percent smaller. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1992, the year of the LA riots, when tensions between police and low income parts of the city were at their height, there were 1,092 killings. In 2010 there have been 291 so far. Freelance journalist Celeste Fremon is author of G-Dog and the Homeboys.

Guests:
Celeste Fremon, WitnessLA.com (@witnessla)

G-Dog and the Homeboys

Celeste Fremon

Main Topic The Cost of Ignorance: Teaching Religion in Public Schools

Public nativity scenes and debates about language dominate the culture wars this time of year but, amid the skirmishes over proper greetings and public displays of religious belief, one of the most overlooked casualties is the fact that Americans are surprisingly ignorant about the world's major religions. While America's separation of Church and State prohibits teachers in public schools from lead students in prayer, what about teaching about prayer and the world's major religions? Is there a need for comparative religious studies and critical analysis in an era when religious values play an increasing role in global conflicts? How should schools be educating children about religion?

Guests:
Andrew Rotherham, Co-founder, Bellwether Education
Ira 'Chip' Lupu, Professor of Law, George Washington University
Reza Aslan, University of California, Riverside (@rezaaslan‎)
Richard Land, Southern Baptist Convention (@erlcsbc)
Diane Winston, Professor of Media and Religion, USC

Reporter's Notebook The Latest on the Turmoil in Ivory Coast

Nearly a month after the presidential run-off election in the Ivory Coast, President Laurent Gbagbo shows no sign of giving up power, even though his opponent, Alassane Ouattara, is widely perceived as the victor. The African Union, United Nations and the United States have all called for Gbagbo to step down, and West African presidents have warned they will intervene with force if he does not give up office, potentially renewing conflict in a country where civil war came to an end eight years ago. John James is BBC correspondent in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Guests:
John James, Correspondent, BBC

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