It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s… Jesus?! This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we’ll learn about a controversial comic book that wants to look at Jesus in a new light. We’ll also get an update on the latest attempts to roll back LGBTQ rights, and hear from one of the religious leaders on the front lines of expanding inclusion and pursuing justice for all.

Nearly four years after the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark civil rights case Obergefell v. Hodges, making marriage equality the law of the land, multiple state legislatures across the country are still attempting to roll back the rights of LGBTQ people. Lawmakers in Tennessee, for example, have put forth a bill titled the “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.” And in Kansas, legislators introduced a bill to define same-sex marriage as “parody marriage.” To help keep track of the overwhelming torrent of attempts to reverse civil rights, State of Belief host Rev. Welton Gaddy will speak with Brie Shea, legal research associate at Rewire.News, who has been tracking and analyzing anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country.

Throughout Black History Month, we usually look back to remember the leaders of the past. On questions of civil and minority rights, we are likely living in historic times in our own right. And so we want to also focus on today’s leaders who are amplifying a prophetic message that inclusion, celebration of diversity and justice are not merely options for faith-inspired leadership, but at the very core of what that means in 2019 America. Welton will sit down with one of those inspirational leaders this week on State of Belief. Bishop Yvette Flunder is the presiding bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and senior pastor of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland, California.

We’re including this important Black History Month conversation in our semi-monthly series affirming the worth and full value of LGBTQ persons within and beyond religion. This series of conversations, so important at a time when anti-LGBTQ sentiment is being stoked for nakedly partisan political purposes, is supported by the Arcus Foundation, dedicated to the idea that people can live in harmony with one another and the natural world. Learn more about Arcus and its partners at ArcusFoundation.org.

In an alternate universe, Jesus Christ has returned and is appalled by what he sees among humankind. That alternate universe is titled Second Coming, a comic series by Mark Russell and Richard Pace. Until recently, Second Coming – the story of Jesus returning to Earth and teaming up with a superhero named Sun-Man to learn how to be the messiah he was meant to be – was scheduled to be released under DC’s Vertigo imprint. Conservative Christian groups got wind of the series, and demanded changes which ultimately resulted in the co-creators pulling their work before it hit shelves in what they call an amicable parting of ways. Welton will speak with Mark Russell about this experience as well as the future plans for Second Coming.

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