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CBS set to air 'The Arts Within Religion' interfaith TV special

New York, April 12, 2007 'The Arts Within Religion,' a CBS interfaith religion special, will be  released Sunday, April 22 to television affiliates across the nation as part of the network's quarterly Religion and Culture series.  

The program is produced by CBS in cooperation with Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, whose members  include the National Council of Churches USA, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Islamic Society of North America, Union for Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.  

This special profiles an Islamic Hip-Hop group called Native Deen, who use rap music to promote a message of tolerance and understanding while maintaining their religious and cultural identity. The members, Joshua Salaam, Naeem Muhammad and Abdul-Malik Ahmad call themselves "Native Deen" drawing from the Arabic word "deen" meaning "religion."  Their music and lyrics are meant to inspire peace among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"I think what they (listeners) will see is that this music is something that they can relate to because it has a sound and feel that they're used to. But we're talking from a different perspective," says Naeem Muhammed.

Also featured, The Church of Holy Apostles soup kitchen, where a weekly arts program was created to foster a sense of community and provide those in need a chance to express themselves through music and art.  Holy Apostles, an Episcopal church in New York City, is best known for its ambitious ministry to the hungry.  It serves eleven hundred hot meals a day, five days a week, making it the largest emergency food program in the city.  Since 2005, the church has offered an arts program, known as "ArtSpirit," to guests of the soup kitchen.  We hear from the program's founder, Marion Williams, who shepherds the group from week to week.  She is an artist and a student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

"It's God working through the person, through their own creative energy," says Williams.  "Despite the external circumstances, they still have that spiritual core.  And art can help to open the door to that and channel it into something constructive for their lives."

The program also looks at 'Bharatanatyam,' the classical dance of South India.  This art form originated five thousand years ago in the temples of ancient India. The roots of this tradition are from the Hindu Vedas, the holy books of India.
CBS' John P. Blessington is the executive producer of the special and the producer is Liz Kineke.  The program will air at a variety of times, so viewers are advised to check  their local CBS station for exact time and date of broadcast. 

CBS contact:  Jeremy Murphy, 212.975.4577,
NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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