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Even as the United Methodist Church was preparing for the trial of the Rev. Frank Schaeffer for performing a same-sex wedding ceremony for his own son, Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia joined in challenging the current position of the denomination by hosting the marriage of two longtime male members on November 9th. And what’s more, over 50 clergy joined Arch Street Senior Pastor, the Rev. Robin Hrynicka, in co-conducting the ceremony. This week, a Methodist jury found Rev. Schaeffer guilty, and sentenced him to a 30-day suspension – a sentence that anticipates his renouncing his commitment to equal blessings for LGBT couples. We’ll talk to Rev. Hrynicka about the trial, about the ceremony at his own church, and about why he considers the risks not only worth it – but necessary.

Earlier this year, two British comedians launched what’s come to be known as an “Atheist Church” in the UK. That’s led to a series of gatherings worldwide under the umbrella of “Sunday Assembly.” It’s been happening mostly in large cities, where diversity of viewpoints and beliefs is part of the atmosphere. But what about a small city in Louisiana – the heart of the Bible Belt? And what if a secular congregation there were led by a former local fundamentalist pastor? It’s not a hypothetical. The city is Lake Charles, the congregation is the Community Mission Chapel, and the founder is Jerry DeWitt, whom you’ll meet on this week’s State of Belief. Jerry’s written a book about his experiences, titled Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism.

We’ll then head back to Philadelphia to discuss workers’ rights with Bishop Dwayne Royster, Executive Director of POWER –¬†Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower and Rebuild. More stores than ever have announced they’ll be open on Thanksgiving day evening – and even morning, denying employees the chance to celebrate the holiday with their families. Has it really come to this – commerce over all else? What about the values so many of us espouse – is there no hope for our culture to reflect them anymore? We’ll look for answers together.

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