This week on State of Belief, Welton and his guests reflect on two major news events, the Supreme Court decision on public prayer and the ongoing search to find the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls. He’ll also speak with a longtime ally from Muslim Advocates about the ways Islamophobia has affected the lives of millions of Muslim-Americans. Finally, Welton will share some thoughts on the theological problem with judging religious practices with legal and political rhetoric.
Public Prayer and Religious Freedom: The Impact of Town of Greece v. Galloway
This week, the Supreme Court ruled on the legality of public prayer at government meetings in the controversial case Town of Greece v. Galloway. In their first major verdict on the issue since the 1980’s, the Justices ruled against what many of us hold as a cornerstone of religious freedom: the ability to participate in our government without being required to be a part of an overtly sectarian prayer. Welton will speak with Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, about the importance of the case, potential applications for the ruling, and the possibility that this will further encourage some in majority religious groups to exclude others from the full participation in the public sphere.
Click Here To End Hate: Looking at Anti-Muslim hate on the Internet in the U.S.
Welton sits down with Madihha Ahussain, Staff Attorney for Muslim Advocates, to talk about the work her organization does to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. Having just released a comprehensive new report, “Click Here to End Hate: Anti-Muslim Bigotry Online & How To Take Action,” Madihha is able to share her extensive understanding of the state of anti-Muslim propaganda, especially that brand of hate that thrives on the Internet, and how it affects the lives of millions of Muslim-Americans and others across the country. She also has some practical suggestions for combating online expressions of bigotry.
The Heartbreaking Abduction of Nearly 300 Schoolgirls in Nigeria
The story of the hundreds of girls abducted from their school by the violent extremist group, Boko Haram, is one that has resonated in the hearts of millions around the globe. Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, Executive Pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, N.Y. will share with Welton the work she and her congregation have been doing to address the situation, and what she hopes can be done to promote the empowerment of women across Africa. She’ll also discuss some of the ways that religion has been used, both in the U.S. and abroad, to promote a misguided agenda – and how we can combat it.
A Reflection on Public Prayer
Looking back on the message put forward by conservative activists this week, that the Town of Greece v. Galloway decision allowing prayer in the public realm was a political “win,” Welton will reflect on how some faithful Americans have lost sight of the real meaning of prayer. Let’s remember that Jesus himself found public prayers problematic, saying they called attention to the one praying rather than the substance of the prayer and the personal connection with God. Submitting a sacred act to a civil body for a ruling on its appropriateness, Welton argues, is a loss for those of all faiths.