In 2014

This weekend on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, Welton sits down with four different guests to talk about their views on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which found that certain for-profit corporations could refuse to cover employees legally-mandated access to contraception on the basis of their owners religious beliefs. Clearly, this controversial ruling has deeply disturbed some of our guests – and many of our listeners – so State of Belief is dedicating this entire week to discussing America’s future in this decision’s wake. Download Icon

Dr. Jay Michaelson: The Wishy-Washy, Dangerous Hobby Lobby Ruling
State of Belief welcomes back Dr. Jay Michaelson, a Rabbi, attorney, writer and activist who was invaluable in sharing his insights during the oral arguments on the Hobby Lobby case earlier this year.This week, Jay will discuss – what else? – the disappointing and controversial ruling on this case. He’ll talk about how the Justices seem almost afraid to make a firm ruling and set a precedent – as if they didn’t understand their responsibility to craft rulings that can stand strong constitutionally going forward. Finally, as a leader in a minority faith tradition and as an attorney, Jay will share which of these two parts is most concerned about last Monday’s decision.

“Corporate Personhood” and “Religious Liberty”: Winning Hobby Lobby With False Words
Next, Welton sits down with Sarah Posner, a journalist who writes about the intersection of politics and religion for Religion Dispatches and numerous other publications. She has been closely covering the Hobby Lobby case, identifying some of the misguided arguments driving the so-called “religious liberty” debate in the United States. Sarah shares some of the still-widespread confusion on some of the case’s key issues, particularly around the idea of “Corporate Personhood.” She also talks about the ways in which the media has accurately – or not so accurately – represented the key facts of this case.

Data, Numbers and the Shortsightedness of Hobby Lobby Celebrators
Continuing the discussion, Welton talks next with Rev. Brian McLaren, an author, popular public theologian and speaker who published a column in the wake of Hobby Lobby headlined, “The Numbers Don’t Lie: Opposing the Affordable Care Act Will Lead to an Increase in the Number of Abortions.” Brian writes in defiance of the recent trend of discounting science in favor of religious beliefs, sharing how he sees the facts and numbers adding up. He’ll emphasize for our listeners how the shortsightedness of those who ignore this data in favor of celebrating the Hobby Lobby ruling.

How to Fight the Well-Funded, Far-Right Legal Groups? Get Columbia University on Your Side.
As we try to digest the impact of this Hobby Lobby ruling on future religious freedom claims and on society as a whole, we have to recognize the success that well-funded and well-organized far-right legal groups have had in redefining religious liberty in our courts. However, there is hope. Welton is joined this week by Katherine Franke, the Director of the Columbia Law School Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Public Rights/Private Conscious Project, a group that hopes to develop a coherent case for true religious liberty and church-state separation in the area of reproductive rights in order to fight this right-wing legal contingency. Katherine discusses the impact she would like the project to have on the current rhetoric around women’s and religious rights and how listeners can help support her important work.

The “Big Deal” of Hobby Lobby
Finally, Welton shares his thoughts and observations on the Hobby Lobby case, and explains to listeners who might not be in the “Washington bubble” what the big deal is about the Supreme Court’s decision. Namely, he explains how five Supreme Court justices changed the course of law in our country by allowing the faith-based opinion of a family to take precedent over obedience to American law. He then touches on his fears that using Hobby Lobby as a jumping-off point, these “religious freedom” advocates will now seek legal exemptions that allow them not to recognize the civil rights of LGBT people. Scary stuff, indeed.

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