This weekend on State of Belief, hear about clergy standing up for marriage equality in defiance of their denomination’s rules; learn about the emergence of atheist churches nationwide; and find out about what some social justice activists are doing about companies’ new trend of scheduling employees to work on Thanksgiving. Download Icon

Same-Gender Marriages in the United Methodist Church
After defying the United Methodist Church’s ban on same-gender marriages, this week, the Rev. Frank Schaefer, a longtime pastor in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was suspended for 30 days, with some strings attached. This isn’t the first such trial, and there are other cases working their way through the church’s judicial system as clergy challenge the denomination’s position on marriage equality. Earlier this month, alongside more than 30 other United Methodist clergy, the Rev. Robin Hynicka, who is the pastor of Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, officiated a wedding of two longtime, male church members. The Rev. Hynicka joins Welton on State of Belief this week to discuss the Arch Street ceremony and the undercurrent of dissent around LGBT equality in the United Methodist church. CLICK HERE FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPT

Atheist Churches on the Rise
Atheist churches may seem like an oxymoron, but they’re popping up nationwide. Congregations of non-believers seeking moral direction outside of religion are growing in popularity. Jerry DeWitt, author of Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey From Faith to Atheism, is a former fundamentalist pastor who founded and now heads a local chapel serving atheists and secular humanists in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He talks with Welton this week about his radical transition and how his secular church is being received in the deeply religious South.

Black Thursday?
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of year when families spend time together, but more and more retail companies are asking their employees to work on “Turkey Day.” The lure of pre-black Friday profits have led companies like JCPenney and Macy’s to open on Thanksgiving. Bishop Dwayne Royster, director of Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER), is speaking out against this new trend. He is on State of Belief this week to discuss social and economic justice, and how employees and employers are balancing family time and work hours this Thanksgiving.

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