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Interfaith CBS Special on April 27
highlights the 'objects of religion'

New York, April 9, 2008 Symbols & Sanctity: the Objects of Religion, a CBS interfaith religion special produced with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches (NCC), The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a consortium of Jewish organizations and The Islamic Society of North America, will be broadcast Sunday, April 27, on the CBS Television Network. Check your local station for exact time.  

Various objects and symbols are central to the various religions of the world they each have meaning and reveal the beliefs of a group of people; they are about God. Many people are not knowledgeable about the objects and symbols of their own religion and are usually without any real knowledge of the other religions of the world. The program presents some of these symbols, their meanings and their histories. 

The Rev. J. Robert Wright, a professor of Church History at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York, shows us various icons used in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, traces some of the images and symbols of Jesus Christ from the earliest days of Christianity to the present day. 

Insights in to the main symbols of Islam are presented in the broadcast by Dr. Faiz Khan, author and lecturer on Islamic doctrine, while Hindu and Buddhist traditions and symbols are illuminated for us by Dr. Diana Eck, professor of Comparative Religion at Harvard and chair of the NCC Interfaith Relations Commission. Sacred writing, chants and symbols each have religious meaning and significance. 

The Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York is celebrating its centennial, and is commissioning a new sefer Torah (Jewish scriptures). The Torah is most sacred to the Jewish faith.  We hear from Senior Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, as well as sofer (scribe) Neil H. Yerman, and the Aptmans, one of the multigenerational families participating in the Torah Project.  

The importance of understanding our own symbols and those of other world religions is highlighted by Dr. Stephen Prothero of Boston University. As Chair of their Department of Religion, he is well aware of the lack of general understanding regarding the meanings and importance of various symbols within our religions. 

Each of the program's guests is aware that God is not fully knowable, and therefore we use symbols and objects which become sacred to us over time. These symbols have varied histories, and some are borrowed from other religions and altered to become an important part of another faith. 

John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer.  

Press Contact: Jeremy Murphy, 212-975-4577,
NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228,




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