State of Belief - July 18th - 2015

July 19, 2015

From Charleston to Pluto: Looking To The Heavens and Close To Home

This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, Interfaith Alliance Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline is filling in for Welton Gaddy as host. We’ll check in with PICO National Network’s Pastor Mike McBride about his organization’s broad response to the tragedy in Charleston. We’ll hear from Celene Ibrahim-Lizzio about a new training program for the next generation of interfaith leaders. And Jack and Rabbi Elliot Dorff will reflect on NASA’s mission to Pluto and our spiritual connection to the stars. Finally, Jack leaves us with some thoughts about the American flag and the historical role of religion in American public life.

Faith in Times of Tragedy
When tragedy struck Chattanooga, Tennessee this week, too many of us had still not healed from last month’s tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Miraculously, though, the struggle to move forward has manifested itself not in hatred, blame, or anger, but, instead, in a new sense of community and support. We have taken the Confederate battle flag down from the South Carolina statehouse and approached the discussion of racism across the country with new, more understanding, eyes. Today the Director of PICO Network’s LiveFree Campaign and pastor of “The Way” Christian Center in West Berkeley, CA, Pastor Mike McBride, joins us to discuss PICO’s activism since Charleston, the meaning of activism, and how to bring faith-based messages to more secular communities.

The Necessity and Future of Diversity in Belief
Exciting interfaith initiatives have sprung up all over the world as we grow to more fully respect the diverse beliefs in our global community. Nowhere is this newfound necessity more clearly understood than in programming at Newton Andover Theological Seminary and Hebrew College in Boston, Massachusetts. We’re joined today by Islamic Scholar-in-Residence, Celene Ibrahim-Lizzio, to talk about the history of collaboration between these two institutions, and a new interreligious leadership degree program that seeks to meet the need for a new generation of interfaith community.

How and Why We Decide Who and What to Believe In
This week marked an exciting discovery as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft became the first mission to reach the dwarf planet, Pluto. In light of this new innovation in the scientific community, we ask ourselves what it is about the sky and stars that inspires so much belief and questioning. We’re joined by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, professor of Jewish Theology at the American Jewish University, to ask what we really are looking for when we look up to the sky, the celestial aspects of Jewish teaching, and the relevance of new space discoveries to faith leaders and scholars.

American Christianity: Our State Culture, If Not Religion
In the final part of our show, we will reflect on Christianity in America. Though it is officially stated that, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” there is no denying the presence of a Christian culture in American society. However, how does that change when America’s openness towards new definitions of equality, freedom, and accessibility translate into openness towards new, diverse sets of faith in our culture? Rabbi Moline will discuss Christian culture in America’s history and why it is so important to celebrate the diversity of faith in American society.

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