In 2018

This week was jam-packed with religion news – members of Congress formed a “Freethinker Caucus,” a chaplain in the House of Representatives resigned and then unresigned, and President Trump marked the National Day of Prayer with the announcement of the new White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. On State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s radio show and podcast, we try to cut through the clutter of the headlines and get under the surface a little bit to get a sense of what’s really happening. So, this week, host Rev. Welton C. Gaddy will expose “Project Blitz” – a dangerous new effort to apply the effective tactics of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to a religious agenda and look back at what’s happened since the Vatican sanctioned American Catholic women religious six years ago.

A new poll released this week finds that while Muslims in America disapprove of the country’s direction, they are still proud to call themselves Americans. The third-annual American Muslim Poll – subtitled Pride and Prejudice – from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding has a wealth of data revealing the effect our national climate is having on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. One of the study’s co-authors, Youssef Chouhoud, will join Welton this week to share insights from this year’s survey and the trends he’s starting to see over the past three years.

With support from the likes of the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has successfully pushed pro-business, anti-environment legislation in states across the country, enshrining their interests and agenda. Now, another effort – “Project Blitz” — is using ALEC’s tactics to push an ultra-conservative Christian nationalist agenda. Welton will speak with Frederick Clarkson, senior research analyst at Political Research Associates about his new report published at Religion Dispatches, “Project Blitz” seeks to do for Christian Nationalism what ALEC does for big business.

In 2012, the Vatican imposed a stunning set of restrictions on a group of Catholic women religious in America. Although their focus on social and economic justice seems to be in line with Pope Francis, who was elected the following year, the past six years haven’t been easy. A new book, entitled However Long the Night: Making Meaning in a Time of Crisis, tells “the story of how an organization found an alternate, contemplative way of working through impasse.” Sister Sharon Holland, vice president of the Service of the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters and contributor to the book, will join Welton on State of Belief to talk about the past six years and what the book calls the spiritual journey of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

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