December 20, 2014 – Spreading light this holiday season

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. This week, the Rev. Pat Bumgardner of the Global Justice Institute briefs us on achievements in 2014 – and aspirations for 2015 – for LGBTQI advocates around the globe. 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.

Global Justice in 2015
LGBTQI persons in the US have seen a great expansion of rights, particularly around marriage equality. At the same time, other parts of the globe have seen significant setbacks. The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Senior Pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York and Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute, is back with us to talk about the Institute’s work, and about where the most urgent need for action can be found.

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.