Here’s what’s coming up on the next State of Belief Radio:

For several millennia, the head of the Catholic Church was able to shepherd the global denomination in relative privacy from the gilded halls of Vatican City. While many have complained that the contemporary papacy is too insulated from the adherents of the faith, it’s inevitable that in today’s social media-saturated world, a major public figure is going to be some kind of rock star – even an octogenarian theologian who spent two decades behind the scenes running the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful – once known by a more sinister name, the Inquisition – before ascending to the Throne of St. Peter. So we know the manufacturer of the “popemobile” (Mercedes Benz); we know about the red Prada shoes; and much else that is, frankly, tangential to the awesome religious and political power wielded by Pope Benedict XVI for eight years.

This weekend, we’ll be talking to Dr. Elizabeth Drescher. A specialist on social media and organized religion, Dr. Drescher has also written on the Catholics left behind by the direction their Church has taken in the past decade in the pages of Religion Dispatches Magazine. Dr. Drescher teaches religion and pastoral ministries at Santa Clara University, and is the author of “Tweet If You ♥ Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation” and  “Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible.” She is currently at work on “Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of Religious Nones.”

What about the hierarchical and political implications of Pope Benedict’s resignation? What’s the mood in the Vatican, and on the streets of Rome? And what’s supposed to happen next? We’ll get a briefing from Alessandro Speciale, Vatican Correspondent for Religion News Service, who has been providing excellent coverage of this fast-breaking story at

And we’ll hear about a concerted effort to break the partisan impasse that’s been evident in many quarters on the issue of marriage equality. Famously testifying in support of California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment to define marriage in that state as between one man and one woman, David Blankenhorn has now initiated a campaign to start a new conversation about marriage – and he’s mustered the resources of the Institute for American Values, which he founded in 1987. The audacious goal; to strengthen the institution of marriage with the help of straight and gay couples alike.

That’s all coming up next time, on State of Belief! Here’s how to listen.

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