In 2014

On this week’s State of Belief, Welton Gaddy returns to the host’s chair. We’ll hear from a leading LGBT rights activist in Iowa about a growing movement of young conservatives who support marriage equality. We’ll also get the latest on the Internal Revenue Service’s agreement to stand up to pulpit politics, and delve into a new survey exploring how ethical – or not – Americans claim to be. Finally, we’ll hear a few words from Welton about the passing of James Brady, and the nomination of Rabbi David Saperstein as the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Download Icon

The Growing Number of Young Conservatives for Marriage Equality
Once upon a time, organizations like the Moral Majority effectively drew self-described values voters to the polls. However, today’s conservatives – especially the younger ones – are increasingly turned off by the Right’s obsession with managing the private lives of others. A determined group of young activists is making an effort to reprioritize today’s hot-button issues, especially when it comes to LGBT rights, and descended on Iowa this week as a part of a nationwide tour. Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa (Iowa’s largest LGBT advocacy organization) and newly elected Interfaith Alliance board member, met with members of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry while they were in town, and spoke with Welton this week about that meeting and the future of LGBT rights in America. CLICK HERE FOR EXTENDED INTERVIEW VIDEO AND TRANSCRIPT

Pulpit Politics Revisited
Since 2008, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” has garnered the support of rightwing groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council to encourage faith leaders to break the law – and risk the tax-exempt status of their houses of worship – by making political endorsements from the pulpit. Although charged with enforcement in this area, the Internal Revenue Service has for years declined to file any charges. Just last month, however, after a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the IRS finally agreed to begin upholding the law. Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, joins Welton this week to talk about the lawsuit, and what the IRS’ decision means for the future of the intersection of religion and politics.

How Ethical Are We?
A quarter of Americans would report a family next door if they were living in this country illegally, and three percent of Americans would give their child an alibi if he or she committed a crime, according to a new Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll that explored American ethics. Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, the “comic book rabbi,” is on State of Belief this week to comment on some of the poll’s results – including the ethics of lying to children, reading a spouse’s email and the biggest ethical misjudgment in American history. Rabbi Weinstein is the best-selling author of the books Up, Up, and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero and Shtick Shift: Jewish Humor in the 21st Century.

A Word from Welton on Inaction, and Religious Liberty
This week saw the passing of James Brady, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary and was seriously wounded during a presidential assassination attempt. Inspired by Brady’s courageous – and successful – battle for gun safety legislation following his injury, it’s frustrating that more recent gun tragedies, including the Oak Creek Sikh Temple massacre two years ago this week, the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords, and the Newtown murders, haven’t swayed a Congress that seems to be in thrall to the National Rifle Association. Welton’s got some thoughts to share on how the best response to bad politics – is more politics: direct engagement from individual voters.

Welton also celebrates President Barack Obama’s nomination of Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism and former Interfaith Alliance Foundation board member, to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

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