This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, our host, Rev. Welton Gaddy, examines how families and congregations can best support transgender youth; explores how Louisiana politics impact national politics (viz. Rep. Steve Scalise, Gov. Bobby Jindal); and with the Feast of the Three Kings just behind us, a book that presents ancient writings to argue the Epiphany story has a message far beyond the Christian faith.

The Death of Leelah Alcorn
Welton and the Interfaith Alliance team have been strong advocates for many years for the rights of transgender people in America, and transgender youth in particular. The sad fact remains that the statistics regarding suicide and depression among transgender youth are staggering. This week Welton sits down with Dr. Justin Tanis, managing director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion to reflect on the recent tragic suicide of Leelah Alcorn and the response from people across the country. Justin will share his thoughts on what all Americans, and faith communities specifically, can do to help create a more supportive and accepting nation for transgender youth.

The Peculiar Politics of the Pelican State
This month marked Welton’s official retirement as president of Interfaith Alliance, which means he’s spending a lot more time back home in Louisiana – just in time for Louisiana to see some of the most bizarre political controversies of the day. From the revelation that Congressman Steve Scalise spoke to a white supremacist organization affiliated with David Duke in 2002 to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ongoing insistence on bringing Christianity into American political life, Louisiana won’t let Welton take a break from his work to defend religious freedom. To help Welton and the rest of us get a handle on the latest political and religious controversies in the Pelican State, we’ll hear from University of Louisiana professor and leading political scientist, Dr. Pearson Cross.

The Revelation of the Magi
First translating apocryphal texts found in the Vatican library, Dr. Brent Landau has presented a very interesting – and relevant for Christians and non-Christians alike – take on the story of the Three Wise Men in his excellent book Revelation of the Magi. Epiphany was observed this past week, and so its timely that Welton is welcoming Dr. Landau to our show and discuss what he sees as the importance of this story.

Saying Goodbye to Two Giants of Religious Freedom
The past week saw the loss of two tireless champions of religious freedom: Governor Mario Cuomo, whose legacy of coupling his faith and his progressive politics laid the groundwork for the contemporary struggle for religious freedom; and Dr. Maher Hathout, former Interfaith Alliance board member and founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, who spent his life defending the rights of American Muslims and mobilizing American Muslims to seek social justice in America. Welton finishes off this week’s show with a few words of remembrance for these two dear friends and fierce allies.

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