November 21, 2015 – Americans Pessimistic and Fearful

On this episode of State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, Rev. Welton Gaddy will welcome Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, for a look at the 2015 American Values Survey. We’ll hear from Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer, an expert on violence in the name of religion, who says war plays right into the hands of ISIS. And Samuel Gryzbowski, founder of Coexister in France, will discuss how his interfaith work has been impacted by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

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Americans Are Not Doomed… Yet. Maybe? We Hope?
This week the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the findings of the 2015 American Values Survey. With the startling title “Anxiety, Nostalgia and Mistrust,” the report paints a gloomy picture. Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, will join Welton to discuss the survey and how religious and political affiliations starkly color perspectives on race, racism, the economy and more. The differences among Americans seem to be growing greater; hopefully there’s some good news to be found in these results, as well.

Breaking Down the Post-Paris Rhetoric
In the wake of the Paris attacks, Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer wrote Why ISIS War Would Make Paris Attacks a Success for Religion Dispatches. In his compelling article, Dr. Juergensmeyer goes beyond the tired questions of the media: will we retaliate? How will we retaliate? When? What did Trump say? Instead, he takes us back to the most basic question: why would ISIS attack Paris? And if all-out war with the West is what ISIS wants most, then what reasonable alternatives exist that would still disempower the terrorists without sacrificing things that set us apart – courage and character?

Coexisting Together
In continuing the discussion of the Paris attacks, Samuel Grzybowski joins us from France, where he’s the founder of Coexister, the leading interfaith organization in the country. The motto of Coexister is “Different faiths – common action,” which is what Grzybowski seeks to find in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Grzybowski will engage in thoughtful conversation with Welton about the repercussions in France following the terror attacks in Paris using an interfaith lens – as well as offering a French take on the public response in the US.

A Word from Welton: Where Now From Paris?
As many American leaders plumb new depths of intolerance and fear-mongering, Welton reflects on the toll such rhetoric can all too easily take on us as a people, and as a nation. As a keen observer of decades’ worth of misguided policies and self-serving public arguments, the warning he sounds is both credible – and important.