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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign Feb. 28 — the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning.

He emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires "both strength of mind and body."

We welcome Alain de Botton and speak with him about his book, Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion.

Clearstory Collective

        The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts recently launched a new initiative to reach out to people of faith who have become disaffected by the institutional church. It’s called  Clearstory Collective and it promotes opportunities for people seeking faith based communities and  alternative worship.  It is the brainchild of Rev. Christopher Carlisle, the diocesan missioner to higher education.  He spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.

Bancroft Prize-winning historian and legal expert Michael Klarman joins us this morning to discuss his account of modern litigation over same-sex marriage.

After looking at the treatment of gays in the decades after World War II and the birth of the modern gay rights movement with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, Klarman describes the key legal cases involving gay marriage and the dramatic political backlashes they ignited.

In God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, Gene Robinson makes the case for same-sex marriage using a commonsense, reasoned, religious argument.

The debate over hydraulic fracturing in New York will take on a religious and spiritual flavor tomorrow. An event called the Blessing of the Waters will take place at noon tomorrow at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown at the shores of Otsego Lake. The organizer of the event is Reverend Craig Schwalenberg, the Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta.

When award-winning documentary film writer, Jane Barnes, was working on the PBS special series The Mormons, she was surprised to find herself inexplicably drawn to Joseph Smith and the Mormon religion.

Today on Vox Pop, a new poll shows that voters in New York City are less likely to vote for an atheist or a 'born again' Christian than a Muslim or Mormon candidate. What do you think of these stats, and of the effect religion can have on personal and national politics? WAMC's Ray Graf hosts with guest WAMC's Alan Chartock.

Does a political candidate's religion - or lack of religion - matter to you?

Link to the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Global warming is the earth’s response to unrestrained capitalism. Everybody gets to make, buy and use whatever they want without regard to how it affects the sustainability of the environment and everyone in it. Drilling in the Gulf, the Arctic or anywhere, hydrofracking in New York, Pennsylvania or anywhere, turning food like corn into oil that can be burned, all make carbon based fuels that contribute to global warming.