This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy gives thanks for our listeners and explores the meaning behind Thanksgiving. Dennis Zotigh, an American Indian and cultural specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian, shares his perspective on the holiday. Author Dr. Peter Gardella is on the show to discuss how early American settlers viewed religious liberty, and how it shapes our views now. Last but certainly not least, Rev. Frank Schaefer tells the story of his seven-year struggle with the United Methodist Church after performing his son’s same-sex wedding, following his reinstatement to the church last month.
Thanksgiving and receiving
Revisionist American history paints a picture of settlers and the Wampanoag people harmoniously sharing a meal at the first Thanksgiving. Dennis Zotigh, a Kiowa, Santee Dakota and Ohkay Owingeh Indian who works at the National Museum of the American Indian, discusses the legend of Thanksgiving from a different perspective. Because American Indian spirituality is deeply connected to nature, indigenous people may have made themselves vulnerable by sharing their knowledge of the land with settlers.
Is religious freedom sacred?
The pilgrims traveled to what is now the United States in search of religious freedom. In the absence of a state church, Americans have developed a civil religion that blends, rather than separates, the two institutions. Dr. Peter Gardella, author of American Civil Religion: What Americans Hold Sacred, examines the religious freedom – and what else – the early settlers came in search of. Peter and Welton explore the connections between the settlers’ idea of the role religion should play in the New World and the role it plays today.
Love and loss in the Methodist Church
Seven years after he officiated his son’s same-sex marriage — and after enduring a trial, appeals and a defrocking before his ultimate reinstatement — Rev. Frank Schaefer shares his emotional and spiritual journey on this week’s show. Rev. Frank details his experiences and his disagreements with the Church in the new book Defrocked: How a Father’s Act of Love Shook the United Methodist Church. Though he was refrocked in October following the final decision of an appeals court, he almost lost his ministry in the process. Frank tells Welton why defying his denomination was the only option he could choose as a parent and as a faith leader.