Religion and civil society continue to collide as the Supreme Court considers whether a religious symbol can remain on public land and the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States is at risk of splitting. This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we’ll dissect the oral arguments in the Bladensburg Peace Cross case before the Supreme Court, hear about the latest developments inside the United Methodist Church and get a history lesson on the political and religious divisions playing out in the United States today.

The Bladensburg Peace Cross, constructed in 1925, sits in a busy roundabout six miles from the Supreme Court – and has become the latest symbol in the struggle between religious and secular society. Originally built on private lands with private funds, the site is now public land and is maintained with taxpayer dollars. The Court heard oral arguments this week in a case that could impact the future of religious freedom in the United States. To explain the history of the cross and the developments in the court battle, State of Belief host Rev. Welton Gaddy will speak with attorney and activist Rabbi Jay Michaelson.

Many of our current political and religious debates can be traced back to a particular time in American history. That’s the premise of a new book from historian Dr. Kevin M. Kruse, titled Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974. In the book, he explores how our current divisions can be traced back to multiple inflection points in 1974. Welton will sit down with Dr. Kruse this week to discuss the book, the need to rethink the idea of America as a melting pot and the struggle for the America’s soul.

The United Methodist Church has had a difficult week. At a special session of the church’s General Conference, delegates passed a plan maintaining the global denomination’s ban on same-sex marriages and the ordination of LGBTQ persons, leading to speculation of a split of the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States. To share the latest about the General Conference, where the Church stands now and what the future may hold for Methodists around the world, Welton will speak with Emily Miller, national reporter at Religion News Service, who has been covering the United Methodist Church’s debate on LGBTQ issues.

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