In 30 states, LGBTQ folks are legally allowed to be evicted, fired from their job, or denied services due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This month, a bipartisan group of congressional leaders introduced the Equality Act in the House of Representatives to address the lack of protections for LGBTQ individuals and their families across the country. State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, will explore how this legislation could change thousands of lives and what role people of faith can play in supporting these critical protections.

The Equality Act was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this month with 287 cosponsors from both sides of aisle. This critical piece of legislation is intended to address the lack of equal rights protections for LGBTQ Americans and families across the country, extending protections in employment, housing, services and other frequent areas of discrimination. Interfaith Alliance is one of the many organizations working to ensure Congress passes this important bill. Interfaith Alliance has pushed for protections for the LGBTQ community for years – including long before many faith-based groups were. Katy Joseph, legislative policy and education advisor at Interfaith Alliance, will join State of Belief host Rev. Welton Gaddy to talk about the bill and how the faith community is mobilizing in support of it.

This week we will tackle the particularly sensitive subject of suicide and mental health following several apparent suicides in families already touched by tragedy. Welton will speak with Rev. Violet Johnicker, an Illinois pastor who has made advocating for mental health a central part of her ministry. They will discuss this critical topic from a faith perspective and her belief that we can better support each other and remove the stigma around mental health care. Those who are thinking about suicide or know people who need emotional support are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline is free, confidential and available any time by calling 1-800-273-8255 or by visiting www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

There is no question that the nature of organized religion in this country is changing, as is the relationship between denominations and our secular society. Multiple times a year a new study is released detailing the rapidly-shifting nature of religious affiliation. How that shift is playing out in different denominations varies widely. This week, Welton will welcome Dr. Jana Riess back to the show to discuss how the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is responding to the shifting dynamics, driven in large part by younger Americans. Dr. Riess is the author of a new book titled The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church.

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