Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!  Happy Kwanza! This weekend on a special holiday edition of State of Belief, find out if Americans really are offended when they’re wished “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas;” hear the “Twelve Tweets of Christmas;” learn about one Texas’ pastor’s rather unconventional journey to the pulpit; and get insight into what everyday Catholics think about Time’s Person of the Year – Pope Francis. Also hear a special word from Welton about pluralism and religious diversity during the holiday season. Download Icon

A War on Christmas? “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas”
Dire warnings of a massive “war on Christmas” have become something of an odd holiday tradition. As much as conservative pundits and late night comedians like to perpetuate this fictional narrative, do everyday Americans really feel like there’s an attack on Christmas? And how universal is the holiday today? Public Religion Research Institute, which frequently takes on “conventional wisdom” to find out the truth of the matter, tackled the so-called war on Christmas in a new survey conducted in partnership with the Religion News Service. PRRI’s CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones is on State of Belief this week to share some of their eye-opening findings about Christmas in America.

The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less
Four years ago writer Dr. Jana Riess began meticulously distilling every chapter of The Bible into 140 characters, creating “The Twible.” Now Dr. Riess has compiled those tweets into a new book: The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less. . . Now with 68% More Humor. She joins Welton on this week’s State of Belief to talk about her new book and to share “The Twelve Tweets of Christmas.”

“Tradition is fine, but sometimes it just gets in the way”
“Tradition is fine, but sometimes it just gets in the way,” according to one Texas pastor who has built a remarkable ministry of no-nonsense theology, nurturing community and a passion for social justice. Pastor Rudy Rasmus followed an undeniably non-traditional path to the pulpit of Houston’s 9,0000 member, improbably diverse St. John’s United Methodist Church. Tune in to State of Belief this week to hear Pastor Rasmus’ story and the journey that took St. John’s from 9 members to 9,000 members.

Pope Francis, Person of the Year
Both Time Magazine and the LGBT magazine The Advocate named Pope Francis their “Person of the Year.” Members of the Religion Newswriters’ Association voted him the number one newsmaker of 2013 and Huffington Post deemed the new Pope the year’s top religion story. But what do everyday Americans think about Pope Francis, who celebrated his 77th birthday this past week? Journalist Sarah Posner has been looking at how people in the pews – as well as disaffected Catholics and people of other faith traditions – view this still-new pope. She talks to Welton this week about her observations and analysis.

A Word from Welton: Pluralism During the Holidays
Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a country in which one group of people is able to put up a billboard and others of differing beliefs have the freedom to respond? In a year marked by debates about “religious liberty,” Welton reflects on the richness of the pluralism and religious diversity that always seems to be most evident during the holidays.

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