We’re only a week into the new year, and as the government shutdown continues with no end in sight, so far 2019 feels a lot like 2018. Only now we’ve entered the so-called “invisible primary” for the 2020 election. This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we’ll discuss the state of religious freedom and look ahead to upcoming challenges and opportunities in 2019.

Like many Christian pastors across the country, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, gave a Christmas Eve sermon about Jesus’s plight as a refugee searching for safe haven and our collective obligation to help those fleeing from danger. While Bishop Budde wrote the sermon in advance, her message was heard first-hand by the person most responsible for redefining US policy towards refugees fleeing to the United States. President Trump was sitting in the front row at Washington National Cathedral as Bishop Budde spoke about the cruelty of turning away those in need of protection. This week, State of Belief host Rev. Welton Gaddy will speak with Bishop Budde about her sermon, the pressure of speaking about policy in front of the policymakers, and the ways in which biblical teachings can be used to justify both love and hatred of the stranger.

For many years, our tradition has been to end each year with a look back at the top news stories of that year with the editor-in-chief of the Religion News Service (RNS). This year we also look ahead and attempt to predict what 2019 has in store. RNS recently published a list of expert predictions for the new year. Welton will take a look back and a look forward with Bob Smietana, RNS editor-in-chief.

As 2019 gets underway, we must also take stock of our advocacy work and priorities for the year. Religious freedom is under threat from multiple sides, with some potential issues slated to make it all the way to the Supreme Court. Welton will sit down with Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, to discuss priorities and the important work that lies ahead.

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