This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy broadcasts from Argot Studios in New York City. Despite grim news reports from this week, today’s guests share what a little common humanity can do. Abe Ata of Melbourne’s Deakin University explains the “I’ll Ride With You” hashtag, an inspiring campaign of support following Sydney’s coffee shop hostage crisis. National Religious Campaign Against Torture executive director Rev. Ron Stief joins the show to discuss the importance of the Senate Intelligence Committee releasing the CIA interrogation techniques report, and what it means moving forward. And Rabbi Irwin Kula stops by to share what Jewish and non-Jewish people alike can learn from Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
From Pennsylvania to Peshawar, Pakistan, news about acts of terror filled the media this week. But when a gunman held coffee shop customers hostage for 16 hours in Sydney on Monday, Australians came together and offered Muslims fearful of Islamophobic remarks or attacks companionship during their commutes. Within four hours, 150,000 tweets using the hashtag #illridewithyou were sent. Abe Ata, an honorary fellow at the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, joins Welton to discuss the importance of this kind of public response and whether it is effective as a deterrent for harassment.
Finding common ground against torture
After a long battle, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its Report on CIA Interrogation Techniques. National Religious Campaign Against Torture Executive Director Rev. Ron Stief explains the ethical and moral consequences of the report and the torture techniques explained in it. He addresses concerns some Americans have that releasing the executive summary of the report puts the U.S. at risk, and offers suggestions for finding common ground for discussion about the issues at hand.
Hanukkah’s universal teachings
The holiday celebrations are officially underway. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday and will continue until December 24. Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of Clal — the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, visits the show once again to discuss the origins and significance of the religious holiday and how it is celebrated. He shares his message for this Hanukkah season, and it is one of hope.
A few updates
With the vacancy for U.S. Surgeon General finally being filled, another important appointment may have been overlooked. The U.S. Senate approved Rabbi David Saperstein as the U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom — the first non-Christian to earn the post. Rabbi Saperstein served on the Interfaith Alliance Board of Directors for several years and was the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is a friend of Welton’s and will do good work to ensure religious faith helps, and does not hurt, people around the world.
We’re happy to report the Water for the World Act of 2014, endorsed by guest Malcolm Morris of Living Water International a few weeks back, has been passed by Congress and is now awaiting signature from President Barack Obama. But at the same time, one of our listeners reminded us that residents of Detroit are also facing a clean water crisis. It is critically important to remember our human rights issues at home as aid is sent to others in need.
Here’s what’s coming up this weekend on State of Belief Radio –
Racial issues are filling the headlines. We’ll focus on effective strategies in the pursuit for justice with the Rev. William Barber, founder of the Moral Monday Movement and head of the North Carolina NAACP. His new book is Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation.
Also, an interfaith pope? With interreligious initiatives in Turkey and across the globe, Pope Francis is engaging shared moral values in ambitious new ways, and we’ll discuss those efforts with Josephine McKenna of Religion News Service.
Conservative faith leaders met at the Vatican this week for “The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” an interfaith colloquium espousing the benefits of living in traditional family arrangements. Welton speaks with Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, about what happened during the meeting and what it means as a follow-up to last month’s Synod on the Family. While the Synod focused on non-traditional families, the colloquium included no participants who were outwardly supportive of LGBT rights. Critics believe LGBT advocates were too quick to believe the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Francis would support non-traditional lifestyles.