Since the beginning, The State of Belief has consistently pushed back against elected officials exploiting their positions of power to impose their own personal beliefs on those whom they serve. While that issue remains pervasive, other politicians have demonstrated that there is a better way – how personal faith can inspire devoted public service without crossing the line and violating Church-State separation. This week on The State of Belief, Texas State Representatives Salman Bhojani and James Talarico join host Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, to discuss how they bring personal convictions to the Statehouse while respecting the important boundaries between religion and government.
Rep. James Talarico is a former public school teacher first elected to serve in the Texas House of Representatives in 2018. A Harvard grad, Rep. Talarico has worked to ensure all Texas students have access to a quality education. In his first term, he helped write the most significant reform to the state’s school finance system in 20 years. He went on to pass major legislation to open up millions of dollars for student mental health and character education programs, establish the first-ever cap on Pre-K class sizes to reduce student-to-teacher ratios, and improve the quality and affordability of child care.
Born in Pakistan to a large family, Rep. Salman Bhojani immigrated to the Lone Star State when he was 19 years old. Rep. Bhojani earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas and became a small business owner—purchasing convenience stores across the DFW Metroplex. He’s also an attorney and the first Muslim elected to the Texas State house – as well as the first person of color ever elected to represent House District 92. Rep. Bhojani has led the charge for bills protecting the religiously diverse beliefs of all Texans on matters including the observance of holy days and expanding the faiths represented among credentialed marriage celebrants.
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