“I Believe” About Me and You

Driving through Washington D.C. one Sunday morning, I spotted a church with a parking lot, which was jammed. I can’t … Continued

Driving through Washington D.C. one Sunday morning, I spotted a church with a parking lot, which was jammed. I can’t recall the exact church now, but I think it was one of the Protestant denominations. However, I do remember wondering, “What do those people believe?“ “What’s that church look like inside?” “What’s their service all about?”

I was born and raised a Roman Catholic, drifted away after I graduated from college, and returned as a “recovering and practicing Catholic” some years ago.

As a professional interviewer – now as host of the PBS television series THIS IS AMERICA – I always seek out very basic information — kind of a 101 course – on the guests and topics of our programs.

It was on that Sunday morning I was “inspired” (perhaps) to create a new television series. The series is called I BELIEVE. The premise is simple.

Each week we visit a different church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or house of worship to learn about that religion or faith.

The centerpiece of each program is a one-on-one conversation with that house of worship’s religious leader about the basics of his or her faith. We also take our cameras inside to look at the worship space and learn a little about and show a typical service.

We end each of our programs by asking the religious leader, “What does your faith mean to you?” The answers are wonderfully warm, honest, and meaningful. It’s an important question to ponder. Watch and listen to a couple of our I BELIEVE programs to hear their answers and get you thinking about what your own faith means to you.

People seem willing nowadays to learning about other people’s beliefs, which are different than their own. Ignorance and fear breed superiority and toleration. Our goal is to offer information, not to create news or controversy. So by offering a “religion 101 course,” we hope the outcome is understanding and respect.

Although I’ve been told otherwise in a couple of our interviews, I personally hold the belief that just as “all roads still lead to Rome,” all religions are organized attempts – in good faith (no pun intended) – to bring man and God closer together.

While there are always a few bad apples in every barrel – and maybe even a couple of bad barrels – most people are doing the best they can. Their religion, faith, or belief system – while it may not be ours – helps them appreciate and navigate through the good, bad, and so-so times of life in a very imperfect world.

We’ve made a commitment to produce 26 episodes. When we finish production in early September we will have produced I BELIEVE programs Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, Washington, Maryland, Virginia, California, and Seoul, Korea.

The programs include: Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American, Orthodox and various Protestant denominations including Lutheran, Evangelical, Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, Assemblies of God, Episcopal, Unitarian-Universalist, Quakerism, African Methodist, Episcopal, Christian Science, and United Church of Christ.

I BELIEVE continues to be one of the most exciting projects with which I’ve been involved over my entire broadcasting career. Pick a religion you know nothing about and learn. It’s ibelieve-tv.com. You are invited to attend.

Dennis Wholey is a veteran television talk show host and producer who has been interviewing political leaders, celebrities, news makers, authors, journalists, and experts for television, radio and books for more than 25 years.

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  • Norrie Hoyt

    Dennis,I’m sure your project is valuable and interesting, but I see one major defect in it:You should include people who DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING.Like me. I call myself an agnostic Buddhist sympathizer.I think that Buddhist ethics are the best ever devised. I think the Buddhist psychology of the human mind, created 2,500 years ago, is still valid and unsurpassed.But I don’t BELIEVE in reincarnation, karma, the seven planes of existence, and other traditional Buddhist beliefs. I THINK it’s entirely possible that these things exist, but I don’t BELIEVE that they do – I’m agnostic as to that.The absence from your project of people who don’t positively believe in some established credo implicitly suggests that everyone does, or should, positively believe in some religion or philosophy.I believe that your implicit message is in error.I think, if you investigated, you’d find that there are millions of intelligent and thoughtful people who, like me, think that anyone who has a positive belief in the truth of a religious or similar system, is ignorant and deluded (that includes all of the believers in the churches, mosques, synagogues and temples that you visited).I also think that most Americans, whatever they may profess when asked, realize that they are at heart agnostic, and really know nothing at all about the ultimate nature of things.Good luck with your project, which will certainly be interesting and informative, though I do think that in its present exclusionary form, it is incomplete and misleading.Best wishes to you.

  • Roger

    Another mindless program offering from Dennis “no intellect” Wholly. He’s been cranking garbage by asking questions of second rate locals for years. I stopped contributing to Public Television here due to trash like his. And now he’s dreamed up a new scam to bilk coffers and generate a paycheck. Get a job Wholly.

  • ThinkAboutIt

    Let me save you time,People don’t want to believe their lives are insignificant, Even though science has found NO evidence for supernatural deities, people are encouraged that it doesn’t hurt to hope for a little magic. Unfortunately magical thinking can make for destructive politics — for example electing George Bush and making people say about global warming “oh well — isn’t the world supposed to end anyway?”.That’s why I don’t care to partake in the opium of magical thinking. We have to many real problems in the world we need some SOBER people around for….If it weren’t for that, I’d say,go ahead and believe in your Fairies — whatever is fun for you!

  • ThinkAboutIt

    Let me save you time,People don’t want to believe their lives are insignificant, Even though science has found NO evidence for supernatural deities, people are encouraged that it doesn’t hurt to hope for a little magic. Unfortunately magical thinking can make for destructive politics — for example electing George Bush and making people say about global warming “oh well — isn’t the world supposed to end anyway?”.That’s why I don’t care to partake in the opium of magical thinking. We have to many real problems in the world we need some SOBER people around for….If it weren’t for that, I’d say, go ahead and believe in your Fairies — whatever is fun for you!

  • mustard seed

    Dennis,I encourage you to include true believers in your discussions rather than those that are smart but ultimately subordinate to the format and context of the show–which seems to be more about making nice. The premise of the show is interesting, but the resulting conversation is too watered down to be significant. Please consider inviting an Apologetic (like Hank Hannegraffe) represent the Christian view at some point, and others in other faiths, who are more specific in their views, but are also able to engage in respectful conversations with others.Thanks

  • mustard seed

    Dennis,I encourage you to include true believers in your discussions rather than those that are smart but ultimately subordinate to the format and context of the show–which seems to be more about making nice. The premise of the show is interesting, but the resulting conversation is too watered down to be significant. Please consider inviting an Apologetic (like Hank Hannegraffe) represent the Christian view at some point, and others in other faiths, who are more specific in their views, but are also able to engage in respectful conversations with others.Thanks