The timely intersection of this divisive election and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought questions of freedom and faith into the forefront of American political discourse. As far-right groups attempt to unilaterally define what it means to be religious, Americans of faith across the political spectrum have been working to make their voices heard. This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we will hear from some key leaders in the battle to promote inclusive, justice-oriented faith in the world today.

When Pastor June Joplin came out in a COVID-era video sermon as a transgender woman to her Baptist congregation in Ontario, the church narrowly voted to end her tenure. Despite the lack of acceptance displayed by her congregants, Pastor June’s journey offers powerful testimony to the mandate of authenticity and honesty in answering the call of the divine – in June’s story, both the call to ministry and the call to transition. It’s a powerful message as we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. You can watch that life-changing sermon at her website. A Gofundme page has been set up to support June’s future ministry.

Dr. Ron Sider is not new to channeling religion into social action. Through his founding of Christians for Social Action and his work on numerous books, Ron has always spoken his mind on threats to religious freedom, including those stemming from President Trump. On the heels of his most recent book, The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump: 30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity, Ron joins Welton on this week’s episode of State of Belief. Ron blogs at

Having effectively worked to activate faith-driven voters in the recent election, Rev. Nathan Empsall and Faithful America have pivoted their work to focus on counting every vote and ensuring integrity in our elections. As the campaigns director of the largest online community of its kind, Nathan shares other recent actions, and how inclusive religious values can inform activism in a time such as this.

And a Word from Welton highlights that in a time of fear and suffering for many, it remains in our own hands to create much of what we most want to be able to be grateful for during the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

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