When Interfaith Alliance began 25 years ago this Sunday, leaders from every faith and of no faith came together in an effort to counter the political religious right. From the campaign trail to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court, we have fought for a quarter of a century to protect true religious freedom for everyone – not just a few. This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we will examine some of the most pressing issues of religious freedom today, including the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow a 40-foot cross to remain on public land.
Every week, Delaware’s Sen. Chris Coons co-hosts a prayer breakfast on Capitol Hill. These prayer breakfasts have a legacy of bring one of the few gatherings that being lawmakers together, regardless of background or party affiliation. Sen. Coons has also been recognized with the National Respect Award by the Secular Coalition for America, and he has been a friend of Interfaith Alliance for many years. This week, State of Belief host Rev. Welton Gaddy will speak with Sen. Coons about the false narrative endlessly promoted by the political religious right – and endlessly amplified by a compliant media – pitting inclusive, progressive values as the natural opposite of fervent belief, to the detriment of both. The senator recently wrote about that false narrative and suggested some prescriptions for change in The Atlantic.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled a 40-foot cross could stay on public land. It was one of the most critical cases of the session and analysts are still parsing through what the decision will mean for religious symbols in other public spaces in the future. Attorney Rabbi Jay Michaelson will join Welton this week to explain what exactly the justice’s said about the case and what the decision means for religious freedom in 2019.
A number of religious traditions are struggling with issues of inclusivity and respect for LGBTQ+ people. It’s a struggle that is particularly challenging within the Muslim community, in which there are only a handful of openly gay Imams. This week, Welton will sit down with one of those imams – Imam Daayiee Abdullah – to talk about the intersection of faith and sexuality and his experience creating a more inclusive faith community. Imam Abdullah is the founder of Masjid An-Nur Al-Isslaah in Washington, D.C., and executive director of MECCA Institute (Muslim Education Center for Creative Academics).
This conversation is part of Whosoever You Love, our semi-monthly series affirming the worth and full value of LGBTQ persons within and beyond religion. This series, 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. And see the full series of interviews at whosoeveryou.love.