State of Belief - June 27th 2015

June 27, 2015

Racism in Our Nation and LGBT Rights Around the World

This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Welton Gaddy reflects on the mass shooting earlier this month in Charleston, South Carolina. He’ll speak with Anthea Butler, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, for analysis of the language being used to report on the tragedy. We’ll also hear from th Rev. Ed Kosak and Cookie Washington for a spiritual perspective from Charleston. Finally, while marriage equality changes the contour of LGBT rights in America, Welton checks in with two advocates about the evolving nature of LGBT rights around the world.

The Unconscious Racism in Our Words and on Our Screens
While many of us struggled to find some sense, some understanding in the murders in Charleston, Dr. Anthea Butler wrote an incisive commentary in the Washington Post. In a piece titled “Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?” she discusses the racist bias, whether conscious or unconscious, that she sees pervading our language and the mainstream media today. Butler, a Contributing Editor at Religion Dispatches and a professor of religion and Africana studies, will join Welton this week to expand on her article and to share her thoughts on symbols of racism such as the Confederate flag.

Reflecting on the Strength of Faith and Forgiveness in the Aftermath of Charleston Shooting
When nine African-Americans were shot and killed in their place of worship last week, many felt angry and vengeful, but the members of the Emanuel AME Church immediately began making statements of forgiveness. The Rev. Ed Kosak and Cookie Washington, who jointly led an interfaith vigil in remembrance of the victims last Saturday at their faith community – Charleston Unity Church – join Welton to discuss the strength of the faith community in Charleston and the ways in which people from different faith backgrounds have been able to come together in support of each other. Washington and Kosak will also share opinions on the discussion of racism and other issues that have surfaced following the shooting.

Gay and Muslim: Parvez Sharma Discusses his Journey to Mecca
Widely recognized as a leader in both the progressive Muslim and LGBT communities, filmmaker Parvez Sharma has just released his latest documentary, titled A Sinner in Mecca, and he will be joining Welton to talk about his experience while on his religious pilgrimage to the holiest city of Islam. While Islam is known for its strict guidelines on sexuality, young, progressive Muslims are working to evolve within their religion. Sharma will share his impactful journey and his hopes of its effects on the future.

What happens at a Pride Festival in a Former Member of the Soviet Union?
State of Belief’s own Ray Kirstein attended the Europride festival in Riga, Latvia last weekend, and will share the experience of attending LGBT seminars and a pride parade that had been threatened with violence in a country not known for its tolerance of LGBT people. Ray will discuss the origins of the most pernicious anti-gay attitudes in Eastern Europe, and talk about the most important things he took away from his time in the former Soviet republic.

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