Today it's another edition of our monthly series called Living Questions – a series produced in collaboration with the ICJS, the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies here in Baltimore – that explores the role of religion in the public sphere.
On today’s program, we’re going to be looking at the impact of the 112-day-old Trump Administration on religious freedom and tolerance in the United States. Much has been said and written about the polarization in American political dialogue since the November presidential election, but we’re going to focus on how Donald Trump’s election victory has affected the way diverse religious groups interact with the larger society, and how presidential actions may have improved or worsened the climate of religious freedom -- one of America’s bedrock values.
Joining Rob to examine these questions are three leaders in their respective faith communities:
John Gehring is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, which describes itself as a non-profit “strategy center…advancing faith in the public square as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good.” He is also a contributing editor to Commonweal Magazine, and the author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church, published in 2015. His analysis has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Commonweal, and the National Catholic Reporter. John Gehring joins us from NPR studios in Washington.
Joining Rob in Studio A is Rabbi Daniel Cotzin Burg. He has been the Rabbi at the Beth Am Synagogue in Reservoir Hill here in Baltimore since 2010. He is a fellow in the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and is a contributing author to Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation about Rabbinical Education. He is a trustee of the ICJS.
Also in the studio is Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat. A native of Syria who has lived in the United States for nearly 30 years, Imam Arafat serves as the President of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland, and is the president and founder of the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation, a non-profit group that provides religious and cultural training, consultation and orientation services for foreign exchange students and for the staff of the State Department’s Youth Exchange Study Program.