This weekend, tune in to State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, to get an analysis of the latest White House scandals, to find out why the political right labeled one man an “anti-Christian extremist,” and to learn what some people of faith are doing in response to one ESPN commentator’s negative reaction to an NBA player’s coming out.
Worse than Watergate?
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the White House with scandals including the response to the Benghazi attack, the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records and the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. While these scandals are significant, some Republicans are hyperbolically referring to them as “worse than Watergate.” Are these scandals a sign of the so-called second term curse? Or are they proof that far-right critics of the president were right all along? Greg Lebel, assistant professor of Political Management at George Washington University and our go-to expert on presidential politics, joins Welton to weigh in on the importance of these scandals and what they could mean for the Obama administration.
Mikey Weinstein, the “Anti-Christian Extremist”
On Monday, 59 sitting members of the United States House of Representatives sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, demanding answers regarding Pentagon officials meeting with “anti-Christian extremist” Mikey Weinstein. The right-wing press accused Hagel and the Pentagon of turning all policy-making that affects matters of faith in the armed forces over to Weinstein personally. An Air Force Academy graduate, former Air Force JAG officer and registered Republican, Weinstein is the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that seeks to ensure the separation of church and state in the United States military. Weinstein joins Welton on State of Belief this week to address the allegations against him and the changing relationship between religious freedom and the military.
NBA player Jason Collins became the first openly gay professional athlete of a major sport when he came out on the cover of last month’s Sports Illustrated. Despite the fact that most media coverage of Collins’ announcement has been overwhelmingly positive, ESPN commentator Chris Broussard personally condemned homosexuality in an on-air broadcast as “walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.” In response to Broussard’s comments and a weak apology, the Religious Institute and Auburn Theological Seminary’s Groundswell network created an online petition to urge ESPN to be more responsible in how it portrays people of faith when it comes to social hot-button issues. Reverend John Vaughn, executive vice president of the Auburn Theological Seminary, will be on the show this week to discuss the petition and how he hopes sports media will handle stories like this in the future.
By Ray Kirstein on May 15, 2013
On the next State of Belief Radio – the Obama scandal-o-rama with George Washington University’s Greg Lebel. What looks like an uncharacteristically clumsy response from an ordinarily messaging-adept administration in the face of Benghazi… The IRS revelations… The AP phone calls subpoena… Second-term curse? Or, at long last, proof that far-right critics were right all along? We discuss, you decide.
We’ll also hear from Mikey Weinstein, the always-outspoken founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He’s at the center of a manufactured controversy about the issue of proselytizing in the armed forces – we’ll find out what really happened at that Pentagon meeting he attended, and much more.
And the Rev. John Vaughn, Executive Vice President of Auburn Theological Seminary will be with us to explain the importance of pressuring ESPN to be more responsible in future coverage of stories that involve gays – and God. In a response to commentator Chris Broussard drawing a seemingly-immutable line between one and the other, a petition addressing this from the Religious Institute, is up now at groundswell-movement.org
That’s all coming up this weekend on State of Belief! Here’s how to listen.
By Ray Kirstein on May 9, 2013
On the next State of Belief Radio – how is it that the language of faith and values seems to stick only to conservative agendas? Examples abound: during a recent videocast trying to rile up opposition to the Boy Scouts of America considering the inclusion of gay scouts and leaders, Texas Governor Rick Perry kept framing the debate in terms of the organization’s timeless values versus some kind of “pop culture” fad of homosexuality. Reports of NBA star Jason Collins coming out as gay ignored the faith and values language he used to do so, even as every genuflection of Tim Tebow is duly reported.
We’ll take a look at that question with Jay Keller, a straight dad with a straight son whose boy scout troop and sponsoring church congregation were rebelling, in writing, against American scouting’s homophobia years before it hit the headlines.
We’ll also hear from T.F. Charlton, who wrote the insightful Religion Dispatches article Why Jason Collins’ Faith is Ignored… And Tebow’s Isn’t after the NBA star came out as gay.
And you’ll meet Guy P. Harrison, author of the new book 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian.
That’s all coming up this weekend on State of Belief! Here’s how to listen.
By Jay Keller on May 2, 2013
Today is the National Day of Prayer. It is a day when Congress has mandated the President to issue a proclamation on the virtues of prayer. Prayer has been a positive and meaningful force for many people, but I don’t think we need our government to let us know that or tell us when to engage in it.
Living in one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world has its quirks. The Seal of the United States has on it our first national motto: E pluribus unum, Latin for Out of Many, One. Adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782, E pluribus unum was considered the de facto motto of the United States by most people until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H.J. Resolution 396), adopting In God We Trust as the official motto. This followed the creation of the National Day of Prayer in 1952, actions likely associated with separating the United States from the godless communists in the Soviet Union.
Looking back at the motto the founders gave us, I think Out of Many, One, meant out of many nationalities, one people: Citizens of the United States of American, not out of many religions one religion.
Matthew 6:6 (KJV), is a verse I have found inspirational: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. To me prayer is personal, a personal connection between the individual and their belief in a higher power. Even among Christians there is great diversity on how one prays, when, where and to whom (Jesus, God, the Saints) Our right to believe, to practice our beliefs as we see fit be they as a person of one faith or a person who does not follow any faith tradition is protected by the US Constitution and amendments. It is our First Freedom. But this freedom was never meant to divide one faith against another, to divide our country by those who follow or don’t a practice a religion. Those who wish to impose prayer, or to make un-American those who pray differently or not at all should be cautious for even within your own tradition; you may find beliefs you do not agree with.
As Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun said: When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.