For so many who lived through the events of September 11, 2001, it is difficult to believe that it has been two decades. The pain of those impacted twenty years ago – and those who have suffered since in an era of heightened surveillance, white nationalism, and religious extremism – remains raw, and reminds us of the work ahead to create a safer, more just nation for people of all faiths and none. This week on State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, we will look into how faithful Americans continue to use religion to both hurt and heal their communities.

Historically, organized religion has responded negatively to dissent by shunning, excommunicating, imprisoning, torturing, and even killing those who threaten its authority. For the Catholic Church, one prominent theologian has been a thoughtful source of dissent for five decades. Father Charles Curran, professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University and author of Loyal Dissent: Memoir of a Catholic Theologian, will join Rev. Welton Gaddy, host of State of Belief, to discuss the importance of individual conscience and the buildup to today’s Catholic Church and the culture wars.

Public health shouldn’t be political. But the political religious right continues to manipulate the pandemic for its own gain, to the detriment of vulnerable communities. Welton will sit down with Jack Jenkins — national reporter at Religion News Service and author of American Prophets: The Religious Roots of Progressive Politics and the Ongoing Fight for the Soul of the Country — to examine how this impulse has inspired refusal to accept masks and vaccines in schools and elsewhere.

Some researchers find that people of faith and of no faith are equally happy with their lives. Others say there are measurable benefits to being a believer. Dr. David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northeastern University and author of How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion, will join Welton to talk about how he approaches this question from a scientific perspective.

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