Hillsong conference in London. Jeff Gilbert / Alamy

The Secrets of Hillsong, a docuseries streaming on Hulu, traverses some wide-ranging — and alarming — ground, detailing the international megachurch’s history of sexual assault allegations, affairs, child molestation, and cover-ups. In the midst of all this, it might be easy to gloss over something a little less flashy: what one might call, to put it mildly, an unhealthy volunteer culture.

Sierra Lyons 7-05-2023

June 7, 2020 - Washington, D.C. "Jesus was lynched" sign at a protest for the death of George Floyd. Credit: Reuters/Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA.

Despite the many revival services and conferences held every year across the country, it seems white Christians in the U.S. have yet to be radically transformed when it comes to justice advocacy. I’m not looking to label others’ revival experiences as “true” or “false.” Instead, I’m hoping that Christians in general — but white Christians specifically — learn to expand their understanding of what a revival entails. After the harm and reprimand I experienced in the white evangelical church for my dedication to social justice, I have returned to the Black church tradition in which I was raised. Being in this space has affirmed my belief that worshiping Christ and fighting for a more just world go hand in hand.

Ultimately, I think there are times when revival spreads to the streets for weeks on end but because it doesn’t happen within the four walls of a church where there is ambient lighting and bottomless coffee, we don’t recognize it.

Joe George 6-30-2023

'Asteroid City' / Focus Features

In Asteroid City, Anderson buries ineffable grief under layers and layers of artifice.

Zachary Lee 6-29-2023

'Past Lives' / A24

Past Lives is a poignant exploration of both the burden and grace available to us as creatures of free will who are bound to the finality of our choices.

Curtis Yee 6-29-2023

Photo by Ian Maina via Unsplash. 

When I spoke over video call with CEO and editor-in-chief Jason Woodruff in June, he told me that The Pour Over was founded out of “a lack of better options.”

“Traditional news sources promote obsession, they promote anger, they promote division,” the 28-year-old Iowa resident told Sojourners. “That’s why people either become shaped by those [divisions], or they flee and they become uninformed.”

Branded as a “politically neutral” and “trustworthy news source,” The Pour Over is Woodruff’s answer for Christians looking for facts without the spin. It’s a publication that doesn’t take sides and offers a brief biblical encouragement at the end of each story. It highlights the day’s biggest news, approximately takes five minutes to read, and is purportedly punchy.

A closeup of two men yelling at each other. One is wearing a red hat, the other is in a black and white striped prison suit.

A supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump and an anti-Trump demonstrator argue outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump appeared for his arraignment on June 13, 2023. REUTERS/Marco Bello TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

But while we disobey unjust laws to obey the moral laws we have been given by God, there’s a flip side: When human laws do serve the common good or restrain evil, we should obey them.

Ryan Duncan 6-28-2023

Image design by Candace Sanders/Sojourners. Image of hands by Kavya via Adobe.

Though some colors have been removed or added over the years for different reasons, six of the original colors continue to exemplify the shared humanity of everyone who marches under their banner. Each color has a meaning that carries deep significance for the LGBTQ+ community. At the same time, there is a biblical connection to the rainbow that speaks to the promises of God. This Pride month, I feel it’s worthwhile to reflect on what each color has to teach us about God and ourselves.

Patrons inside of The Olive Tree. Courtesy The Olice Tree. 

The working-class town of Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell-FOUNTain), nestled among the farm fields and hills of rural Ohio, in the heart of Rep. Jim Jordan’s legislative district, is not the easiest place to grow up queer. The churches are much more likely to hold to conservative views on sexuality than be LGBTQ+ affirming, and “Trump Won” flags far outnumber rainbow Pride flags.

Matt Bernico 6-26-2023

Image of orca whales in water. Credit: Nitesh Jain via Unsplash.

The situation is dire but U.S. climate policy is not changing. While lawmakers in the U.S. are stuck at tax credits for electric vehicles, a sixth mass extinction event is already here. Electric vehicles and small-scale conservation efforts can’t fix this.

There are two problems at hand: First, there is a material problem. Humans, especially humans in the richest nations, are producing and consuming too much, which not only contributes to pollution, but also increases emissions and causes a never-ending sprawl of unsustainable land use. This ultimately displaces animals from their habitats. The second problem is a spiritual problem: Humans have become so alienated from other nonhuman species that they no longer recognize themselves as a part of creation. Instead, humans view themselves as above it.

Harvard Law School graduates react after receiving their degrees during Harvard University’s 372nd Commencement Exercises in Cambridge, Mass. on May 25, 2023. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

I’m proud to say that I benefitted from affirmative action. These policies, sometimes called “race conscious admission policies,” allow colleges and universities to address unequal access to educational opportunities by taking different aspects of a student’s background, including race, into account among other admission factors. But even with affirmative action in place, in 1994 I joined fewer than 25 other Black men in a freshman class of over 1,000 students at Emory University.

Taj M. Smith 6-22-2023

Hands graphic via Alamy. Design by Mitchell Atencio/Sojourners.

Speech opens a door to previously unknown experiences. In a way, speech — or language — makes and unmakes the world as we know it. When I speak about myself, I tell you the truth of who I am.

So, in an era where people of faith, specifically Christians, are popularizing anti-trans language, it feels like my responsibility to say something — anything — to lift up those of us who identify as transgender and Christian. The truth I want to communicate here is this: God made me to be trans.

Mihee Kim-Kort 6-21-2023

Image by Ann Wentworth via Adobe. Design by Tiarra Lucas / Sojourners.

“To live fully and authentically.” It’s a phrase that resonates for me as someone who came into their queerness later in life. For a long time, the possibility of living fully and authentically felt just beyond my reach; I felt I was skimming the surface of my being and longed to be fully immersed — soaked and drenched — in who I am. But I was afraid. What would living authentically mean for my place in the world? As a second-generation Korean American who has long struggled to be seen and accepted, I wondered if being queer would foreclose this possibility.

Susan M. Shaw 6-20-2023

Southern Baptist Convention at the New Orleans Ernest N Morial Convention Center. Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Credit: Scott Clause/USA TODAY Network/USA TODAY NETWORK.

Saddleback Church in Southern California was kicked out of the SBC in February 2023 for ordaining three of its longtime female staff members as ministers in 2021. Saddleback founder and former pastor Rick Warren appealed the church’s ejection at the 2023 conference.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler rebutted Warren’s appeal, arguing that the issue of women’s ordination is a matter of “biblical commitment” and “biblical authority” that allows no room for compromise within the SBC. About 88 percent of messengers” — Southern Baptists’ language for delegates — then voted to reaffirm the church’s expulsion.

JR. Forasteros 6-20-2023

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ still via Sony Pictures Publicity. 

Who gets to belong? This was the question Miles Morales asked himself in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The smash-hit film introduced superhero movies to the multiverse, the idea that multiple universes exist parallel to each other, marked by only minor differences between them.

Emma Cieslik 6-15-2023

Image of Mary wearing a rainbow shawl. Image bernardojbp via Adobe, design by Candace Sanders.

Although the Roman Catholic Church might disagree with me, my Catholic faith revolves not around a man but rather a woman. Her hair is covered in an opaque veil; she wears a long white gown under a blue mantle. Her hands are outstretched and rays of light radiate from her fingertips, pouring down at her sides. Her name is Mary, mother of God, and within her rests the fulcrum of my queer Catholic joy and trauma.

Promotional poster from docuseries ‘Shiny Happy People.’ / Amazon Studios

Families like the Duggars go to great lengths to ensure their kids never learn to give anyone the middle finger — and I can only imagine the Duggar children would have been strictly punished if they had. But as a Christian and a father, I believe it’s neither possible nor desirable to exert total control over my children’s education and experience of the world around them.

Images by C-Kav and Vitaliy via Adobe. Design by Candace Sanders.

Last weekend, for the very first time in my life, I dyed my hair. I walked into a woman-owned barbershop and gave them permission to change my short hair from its usual very dark brown to an extravagant, and for me, shocking, blonde. Someone else’s hands ran over my tender scalp, creating something new.

Michael Woolf 6-14-2023

Congregants from Lake Street Church of Evanston and Second Baptist Church in Evanston, Ill., greet one another. Image credit Christopher Walker.

Recently, a report from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that Black Protestants are the only Christian group in which a majority — 63 percent — believes that congregations should get involved in social issues even if doing so means having difficult conversations about politics. This tells me that white congregations, in contrast, believe that churches are best left as places of solace, where difficult conversations do not take place. Ultimately, this allows for white supremacy to remain intact within these houses of worship. I am the senior pastor of Lake Street Church of Evanston, a predominantly white church, and our path out of white supremacy has required us to take the lead from Black congregations on a variety of social justice issues.

Fletcher Harper 6-09-2023
A man stands in the Empty Sky 911 Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey looking towards the One World Trade Center tower in lower Manhattan in New York City shortly after sunrise as haze and smoke hangs over the Manhattan skyline

A man stands in the Empty Sky 911 Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey looking towards the One World Trade Center tower in lower Manhattan in New York City shortly after sunrise as haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada hangs over the Manhattan skyline on  June 8, 2023. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Some insurance companies still use the phrase “act of God” to describe fires or other natural disasters for which no human agent can be held responsible. But we need to stop putting God on the hook: These disasters are happening because governments are drunk on the fossil fuel industry’s deadly Kool-Aid.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Elizabeth Weinberg draws connections between things many of us haven’t thought to link together. In her 2022 book, Unsettling: Surviving Extinction Together, a whale’s excrement is not just feces but the nourishment that fuels whole ecosystems.