State of Belief - June 13th - 2015

June 14, 2015

The History of Papal Advocacy, a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, the  “Hydra of Homophobia"

This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy will discuss Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical on the environment with scholar Kevin Lowe. He’ll talk to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Founder and Director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia about the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, which has been signed by more than 300 Jewish faith leaders. And finally, Welton will explore what one governor’s attack on his state’s courts might portend for the long-awaited Supreme Court decision on marriage equality – and what threatened defiance to that might look like will react with the Brennan Center’s Matthew Menendez.

Right Wing Bucking the (Judicial) System
After state courts in Kansas ruled against Governor Sam Brownback’s drastic cuts to education funding, he has threatened retaliation: defund the courts! Has this ever happened before? What does it mean for Kansans? And more broadly, are there implications for another judicial ruling – this time by the Supreme Court – that Brownback’s fellow conservatives expect being unhappy with? With a federal decision on same-sex marriage due by the end of the month, and a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showing supporters and opponents of marriage equality alike expecting the Court to recognize marriage as a constitutional right, what might the “defiance” threatened by opponents look like? Welton speaks with Matthew Menendez, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Vatican Activism and “Leaving Science to the Scientists”
According to Catholic presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, the Pope’s upcoming encyclical on the environment is beyond the Church’s area of expertise, and he should just “leave science to the scientists.” (Santorum conveniently forgot that the Pope studied Chemistry before entering Seminary.) However, Santorum is also forgetting the long history of formal papal involvement in global affairs and politics. Scholar Kevin M. Lowe, who’s written on the history of papal advocacy in Religion Dispatches, joins Welton to discuss the Pope’s encyclical, the Catholic voices of opposition, and ways the Vatican has historically impacted global affairs.

The Making and Effect of the Rabbinic Letter on Climate Crisis
Religious figures tackling important— if political— problems isn’t limited to the Pope. 300 rabbis have recently signed the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis. Welton will be joined by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, longtime environmental activist and an instrumental force behind the letter. The two will discuss the origins of the letter, caring for the earth as a Jewish mandate, as well as its intentions, expectations, and the effect of uniting rabbis from all different denominations in hopes of a healthier planet.

The Hydra of Homophobia
Even with relentless progress in the area of LGBT rights – and a widely-anticipated positive Supreme Court decision on marriage equality anticipated later this month – it’s not hard to find instances of religious and legislative efforts to demonize gay people and somehow portray fundamentalists as the victims. The problem of inequality is far from solved in this country and beyond. Welton shares a few thoughts about why this really matters.

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