On behalf of all of us here at State of Belief, have a Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa.

This weekend, tune in to Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast State of Belief to find out why rhetoric that blames tragedies on a lack of faith needs to be challenged; to discover the truth about Santa Claus; and to learn how to get the most out of Christmas when you’re not Christian. Also, a special word from Welton on finding a glimmer of hope after last week’s tragic shooting in Newton.

“Guns and Babies: What Newtown Does NOT Teach Us”
It’s a sad fact that no matter what the tragedy – be it the earthquake that hit Washington, D.C, last year, or Hurricane Sandy, or, most recently, the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut – someone opens his mouth claiming that a lack of national devotion to the Almighty caused the disaster. Dr. Anthea Butler joins Welton on State of Belief this week to talk about why this rhetoric cannot go unchallenged and her recent Religion Dispatches piece: “Guns and Babies: What Newtown Does NOT Teach Us.” Dr. Butler is contributing editor at Religion Dispatches Magazine, and associate professor of religious studies and graduate chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Truth about Santa Claus
Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus…or at least, there was. The Santa Claus we know today was re-imagined by the Coca-Cola company and relocated from Turkey to the North Pole. Joining Welton on this week’s show to talk about the charitable, church-history-making bishop who became Santa Claus is Dr. Adam English, the author of the new book The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra. Dr. English is also an associate professor of theology and philosophy at Campbell University Divinity School in North Carolina.

Getting the Most Out of Christmas When You’re Not Christian
This time of year, everything seems to just scream “Christmas!” So, what’s a Jew to do, especially when Hanukkah comes a lot earlier than Christmas? This week, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield shares with Welton his experience navigating Christmas while being Jewish in America and his thoughts on a deeper shared sense of purpose this time of year. Rabbi Hirschfield is the president of Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Click here for extended interview video and transcript.

A Word from Welton: Lessons from Newtown
It’s tragic that it takes something as unthinkable as the Newtown tragedy to spur people into action. But in an age when it has started to seem that nothing can spur people into action anymore, there is a glimmer of hope in what is happening in the midst of our collective grief.

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