October 25, 2014 – Religion for better, not for worse

This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy invites Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer to discuss why young Americans and Canadians are trying to join ISIS and the possible connection to the shooting in Ottowa this week. Religion News Service’s Kevin Eckstrom explains what actually happened at the Vatican Synod on the Family, and if secular news media were successful in conveying this information. Also, hear how one gay rights activist is deflating the culture war over marriage equality with kindness, and the work five ordinary people have done to fight extreme poverty and world hunger. Download Icon

Attacks on the Canadian Parliament
Following the shooting of a soldier at Canada’s National War Memorial and an attempted attack on Parliament, investigators are searching to discover the extent of gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s connections to ISIS and how much religion was a motivating factor. Welton speaks with Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer, author of the book “Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence,” about why some young people in North America might seek out ISIS’ radical message.

Majority still rules at the Vatican
The Vatican Synod on the Family sparked worldwide media frenzy – and confusion – the past several weeks. Religion News Service Editor-in-Chief Kevin Eckstrom offers some clarity on what actually happened. Though initial reports praised the Vatican’s openness for its seeming moves toward a greater openness regarding of divorce, homosexuality and family planning, no real change occurred. But while conservative bishops seem to have won a battle, more progressive forces – Pope Francis among them – may have moved closer to winning the war.

Sending an olive branch
Last week, Matt Stohlandske published his column “I’m a gay rights activist. I want to give $150,000 to someone who opposes gay marriage” in the Washington Post. Matt is gaining notoriety for working to raise $150,000 to cover the punitive fee imposed on Melissa and Aaron Klein, the Christian bakery owners from Portland who refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding, to keep their family from going bankrupt. Now an advisory board member with Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, he explains to Welton how steps like this may be the only way to end the us-versus-them mentality on the issue of marriage equality. CLICK HERE FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT

A film to end world hunger
“Every three seconds, someone dies from hunger and extreme poverty,” the trailer for Dan Karslake’s film Every Three Seconds reminds viewers. But rather than focus on the negative, Dan’s project celebrates the work five activists have done to improve the livelihoods of people around the world. Welton invites Dan to share their inspirational stories on the show, noting the way ordinary people’s actions have had an extraordinary effect. Listeners can organize their own movie screenings or purchase the film for home viewing.