This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy talks Christmas In America with the Pew Forum’s Jessica Martinez. He also welcomes back Jerry DeWitt, founder of the Community Mission Chapel, to see how his congregation celebrated Christmas and what he learned after the chapel’s first year. Artist, public speaker and author Frank Schaeffer explains what it means to be an Atheist who believes in God, and we’ll replay an interview about the real Santa Claus – Old St. Nick.

Survey says: Christmas still about the Nativity
The Pew Center’s Religion and Public Life Project released a survey meant to uncover the true meaning of Christmas — or what it means to Americans, at least. Secular and religious people were surveyed to reveal a fascinating set of beliefs around the commercial and Christian holiday. Dr. Jessica Martinez, research assistant at the Pew Forum, shares findings about everything from public religious displays to why 64 percent of respondents say the story of Jesus being laid in a manger is literally true.

A search for peace and meaning
Frank Schaeffer, with family origins in a religious right dynasty, artist and best-selling author, has written a book titled, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Create Beauty, Give Love and Find Peace. With a resolute focus on rebutting religion’s desperate need for black-and-white identity and allegiance, Schaeffer shares with Welton what he sees as a more human approach to identity and values.

The real Santa Claus
A few years ago, Welton spoke with Dr. Adam English, author of an illuminating book about the real-life origins of today’s ubiquitous Santa Claus. We’re re-airing this fascinating conversation with the author of The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra.

One man and his mission
One year ago, we met Jerry DeWitt shortly after he founded the secular Community Mission Chapel and author of the book Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism. A Humanist congregation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the community has survived in an improbable place. DeWitt discusses the lessons he’s learned during his first year, including how the congregation handled an issue of harassment a family faced in recent months. And as a former Evangelical pastor, he shares how he celebrates Christmas personally and with his congregation.

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