As the world continues to struggle with matters of life or death in the face of the global pandemic, important religious observances are taking place without the benefit of communities coming together – except in a handful of communities where faith leaders are defying crucial contact restrictions and risking the lives of the faithful and even themselves, challenging God in ways that are impossible to justify.

On this week’s State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, our host Rev. Welton Gaddy will check in with Elisa DiBenedetto, co-managing director of the International Association of Religion Journalists. She’s been on lockdown in northern Italy since that region became the epicenter of the global pandemic in early March. Now, the U.S. is. We’ll hear her thoughts on spending a month sheltering in place, marking Easter alone in a country where religion is central to the culture, and what restrictions on press freedom in the name of public safety may cost us once the crisis is finally over.

When rigid, dogmatic religion becomes unbearable, many believers end up leaving the church entirely. For many others, however, faith in community is too central to give up; and yet moving toward a more authentic, open set of beliefs can be threatening, frightening and isolating. This week we’ll hear from Pastor Colby Martin, who has made this journey as an ordained minister with a background in the Southern Baptist Convention. A moving and passionate speaker, Colby has written an invaluable guide, The Shift: Surviving and Thriving after Moving from Conservative to Progressive Christianity, which will be published on Tuesday. 

Every weekday, Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, is hosting Facebook Live conversations with faith activists and thought leaders working on critical issues of civil rights, justice, and equality. On Monday, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii was on “Stay Home, Stay Focused” to discuss social distancing restrictions, Congress amid COVID, and how communities can stay as healthy as possible through the pandemic. We’ll her some highlights. Watch the series weekdays at 12:15 Eastern Time at https://facebook.com/interfaithalliance and view the archived interviews at https://stayhomestayfocused.org

And finally, we’ll hear a Word from Welton about faith leaders demanding that their followers gather by the hundreds during the pandemic in the name of God – safety be damned. Particularly provocative was the news that Bishop Gerald O. Glenn of Virginia, who summoned his flock to mass gatherings thundering “God is larger than this dreaded virus” has died… Of the Covid-19 virus.

In this time of social isolation, do you know someone who would benefit from hearing the thoughtful, inclusive conversations we offer? Please share State of Belief with them!

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