Taylor previously led the Faith Initiative at the World Bank Group and served as the vice president in charge of Advocacy at World Vision U.S. and the senior political director at Sojourners. He has also served as the executive director of Global Justice, an organization that educates and mobilizes students around global human rights and economic justice. He was selected for the 2009/2010 class of White House Fellows and served in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs and Public Engagement. Taylor is a graduate of Emory University, the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology. Taylor also serves on the Independent Sector Board, the Global Advisory Board of Tearfund UK, and is a member of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute Civil Society Fellowship. Taylor is ordained in the American Baptist Church and the Progressive National Baptist Convention and serves in ministry at the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va.
Posts By This Author
Will We Let the Filibuster Ruin MLK's Dream?
We can honor King’s vision by working to restore the voting rights that he knew were so central to dismantling racism in this country. As King proclaimed, “Voting is the foundation stone for political action.”
How Will We Teach Our Kids About Jan. 6?
Remember the sobering images of the U.S. Capitol building attacked and overrun by rioters and insurrectionists; those images can feel unfathomable unless we remember the breadth and depth of racialized violence in our nation’s history. History is about both the what and the why. Given the volumes of footage and visible evidence, it is difficult to refute what happened on Jan. 6, 2021. The deeper struggle will be understanding why it happened.
Let’s Measure the New Year in Love
While this prayer may sound overly sentimental in the face of great peril and challenge, love has the power to cast out fear and undergirds the very pursuit of justice and peace. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”
We Have Nonviolent Tools to End Conflict. We Just Don't Use Them
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,” Isaiah prophesies of the coming Christ child — a child who will be called “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). That Prince of Peace would later proclaim in his Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Advent calls us to explore how we can pursue peace in our own lives — how we can better become instruments of peace in our communities, nation, and the world. Right now, the prospect for peace feels particularly challenging in light of an ongoing pandemic, rampant violence, and intrastate conflict across the globe.
Advent Reveals the Paradox of Our Faith
Christians believe that God’s reign of righteousness, steadfast love, peace, and justice is not just a promise relegated to the future. Instead, we see glimpses of that heaven in the here and now, even as we face the realities of suffering and grief all around us. This means that Christ’s birth in Bethlehem makes it possible for us to co-labor with God in yanking pieces of heaven and bringing them closer to Earth.
DURING ADVENT, I always love reading and reflecting on Mary’s Magnificat, which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” This song is more well-known and treasured within the Catholic Church than in my own tradition; I didn’t fully learn to appreciate it until I started delving deeper into Catholic social teaching. It is easy to gloss over how radical and profound this song of praise is (“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty”), both when Mary proclaimed these words as well as for us today. This song, which is only found in the gospel of Luke, comes just after Mary greets her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist and whose baby moves within her womb.
Mary’s song provides a timeless dose of pregnant hope during a year that has been characterized by so much peril, loss, and hardship. As we prepare to put 2021 behind us, it is important to take the time to properly lament the tragedy and heartache of this pastyear, including the hundreds of thousands of largely preventable deaths to COVID-19; the ways our democracy and the right to vote have come under increasing assault; the stark, often-devastating reminders of our mounting climate catastrophe; and so much more.
One Year After The Election, I Won’t Let Nobody Turn Me Around
I remember the flood of emotions I felt almost a year ago when I heard that the major news networks were calling the 2020 election results: overwhelming relief and renewed hope. Far beyond a victory for then-to-become President Joe Biden, it felt like a victory for our democracy — and an imperative to resuscitate, revitalize, and reinvent that democracy.
Fast forward a year: I’m filled with a festering weariness and escalating heartache.
Destroyed for Our Lack of Knowledge
Most of the U.S. public doesn’t “know anything at all” about congressional Democrats’ Build Back Better infrastructure plan, according to a CBS poll released this week. Even though the provisions the plan contains could help countless families, the language of “infrastructure” is both distant from our daily lives and too obscure to generate a sense of urgency. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” the prophet Hosea warns (Hosea 4:6). How true that rings now.
Teaching Anti-Racism Won’t Shame Kids. It Will Empower Them
Perhaps you have seen the photos: Protesters at school board meetings holding signs that say “Stop Teaching Critical Racist Theory To Our Kids” or “I Am Not An Oppressor.” At the heart of these protests is opposition to teaching children about the United States’ shameful racial history — a history that repeats itself in systems and structures today. Many of these protests appeal to white parents’ fears that reckoning with our nation’s past sins and injustices will make their kids feel ashamed or that — in some twisted logic — this reckoning is itself “racist.” I’ve watched this growing campaign with anguish; I believe that cultivating a greater commitment to anti-racism within the next generation will empower our kids, not instill shame.
Five Decades of “Creative Maladjustment”
A TREE'S LONGEVITY and fruitfulness are tied to the health and strength of its roots. I’m deeply grateful for the deep roots of Sojourners. For the past 50 years, Sojourners has provided a countercultural Christian witness for peace and justice. We have been rooted in a commitment to relentlessly making the case that faithful discipleship involves a transforming and redemptive relationship with Christ, which then empowers and enlists us to serve as change agents in the world to advance God’s reign of peace, justice, and radical love.
Martin Luther King Jr. captures the ethos and charism of Sojourners in his sanctified remix of Romans 12, in which he proclaims that the “saving of our world from pending doom will come not through the complacent adjustment of a conforming majority but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” Sojourners’ 50-year history is full of examples of creative maladjustment and transformed nonconformism—from our founders’ early opposition to the Vietnam War, which led to them being pushed out of divinity school and starting The Post-American (the precursor to Sojourners magazine), to our prophetic actions to end the nuclear arms race and seek peace in Central America, our work in the anti-apartheid struggle, our efforts against the war in Iraq, our current battles against voter suppression, and so many more.
Is a ‘Redemptive Patriotism’ Possible?
People in the United States have deeply conflicting understandings of our nation’s history: Are we a nation that guarantees “liberty and justice for all”? Or are we a nation that will continue to confine this promise to only certain Americans, falling short of realizing this promise for all? When we explore these questions, we start to see that many injustices that show up today have been with us since the nation’s founding.
How Voting Rights Became a Privilege For Some, Not a Right for All
On Tuesday, as the House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, I was filled with hope for our democracy. But overshadowing that hope was moral indignation, as I realized that not a single Republican member voted in favor of the act — further proof that voting rights has metastasized into a hyper-partisan issue in 2021, despite its long history of bipartisan support.
The Antidote to Individualism
In a real sense all life is interrelated. All [people] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. ... This is the interrelated structure of reality. —Martin Luther King Jr.
WHEN I STUDIED abroad in South Africa in 1996, I learned much about the power of interdependence and mutuality. There I encountered and experienced the southern-African philosophy of ubuntu. Through Nelson Mandela’s moral leadership and embodiment of ubuntu, the nation was led through transformational change. Like Dr. King, Mandela refused to hate his enemies, including those who kept him imprisoned for 27 years, as he envisioned a future South Africa that included Black and white together.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu summarized ubuntu in what became a marker of both a movement and a philosophy: “I am because we are.” Mpyana Fulgence Nyengele, author of Cultivating Ubuntu, offers this definition: “Ubuntu is the substance and core being of a person and speaks particularly about the fact that we cannot be fully formed as human beings in isolation.” Rather, as Stephen Lewis, Matthew Wesley Williams, and Dori Baker share in Another Way, Nyengele explains that “it is only through our communal participation and interaction with other people that we begin to develop trust, compassion, caring, humility, kindness, and forgiveness, which are all qualities of what it means to be human and humane toward others. Similar to the fruit of the spirit, ubuntu is possible because ntu or Spirit ‘orients persons toward life-giving choices, actions and behaviors.’ ... Therefore, ‘ubuntu promotes and enhances the abundance of human life in community and beyond.’”
I think of ubuntu as an expanded, vivid version of the Golden Rule: We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Or, as King so often put it, we are to be “our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.”
Our Democracy Is Not a Given
As many people in the United States prepared for the holiday weekend, the Supreme Court’s conservative 6-3 majority upheld two laws that restrict voting in Arizona. The first law the court upheld disenfranchises voters if they cast a ballot in the wrong precinct, invalidating not just their votes for local races, but also their entire ballot, including votes cast in U.S. presidential elections or Senate races, even though all eligible voters in Arizona can vote in those races regardless of the district where they live. The other law prohibits most people from delivering another voter’s absentee ballot to a polling place, making it a crime for anyone but a family member or caregiver to do so.
How Has the Pandemic Changed You?
HOW HAS THE pandemic changed you? This question can feel loaded, as though our answers should contain revelatory insights or transformational changes in our mindsets or lifestyles. My answers have varied. Since the pandemic forced my intense travel schedule to come to a screeching halt, I’ve realized just how unsustainable that schedule, with its impact on my family life, had become. I look forward to returning to traveling soon, but I am determined to be much more selective about it. I also often reflect on the ways that my family deepened our love for nature during the pandemic, breathing in the beauty of God’s creation. These are just a few of my answers.
But for some of us, the question elicits anxiety about going back to the broken “normal” of pre-pandemic times. For many, lurking behind the question is a recognition that some of the ways COVID-19 has changed us may not be for the better, and some of our struggles during this time may not simply go away because we are vaccinated and can now resume social activities. Sadly, the pandemic amplified a preexisting mental health crisis in this nation. A New York Times article by organizational psychologist Adam Grant popularized a new term: “languishing,” which describes the state of feeling aimless, joyless, and unfocused. This captures a wide continuum between flourishing and full-scale depression. Languishing can also have a deep spiritual dimension: We feel a sense of spiritual fatigue and emptiness or even feelings of abandonment and anger toward God. They can be compounded by the inability during the pandemic for most of us to experience in-person fellowship and worship.
The Moral Case for Suspending the Filibuster
The filibuster, a rule that has typically been used by minority parties to delay or block legislation, often by making long speeches, can easily seem like an arcane and distant issue. While there is a compelling case to end the filibuster, that will be difficult to near impossible any time soon. But the Senate could act with urgency to suspend the filibuster for bills that directly address voting rights and democracy reform; doing so may be the last hope in the short term to strengthen our democracy and prevent future elections from being stolen.
For Lasting Peace, U.S. Must Stop Enabling Israeli Occupation of Palestine
The images of civilian deaths and escalating violence in Israel and Palestine are heartbreaking. As this moral, political, and humanitarian catastrophe continues, we must urge our elected leaders to call for an immediate cessation of the current wave of violence, while also building the political will to interrogate the root causes of the crisis.
Protect People, Not Patents
It is painful to know that here in the U.S., some states have vaccines that are going unused when vaccine shortages exist around the world.
Building on the Big Lie
THE NATION'S COMMITMENT to “one person, one vote” is under assault. In the months after the horrific Jan. 6 violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we have seen the greatest effort to restrict the right to vote since the Jim Crow era. A sobering report by the Brennan Center for Justice tracks the surge of legislation proposed by Republicans in statehouses across the country that would further restrict access to voting, all supposedly in the name of election integrity. As of April, Republicans in 47 states had proposed, introduced, or carried more than 360 bills that would further restrict the right to vote by limiting early and mail voting, imposing further ID requirements, enabling voter purges, and other tactics. The good news is that there has also been a push to expand voting rights, with 47 states having introduced 843 bills to expand voting access. The challenge is that in 24 states in which Republicans have a majority in state houses and hold the governorship, many of the voter suppression bills will be difficult to overturn without a surge of public awareness and outrage.
Voter suppression has been a fixture in our democracy since the founders limited the right to vote to land-owning white men. The passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act extended the right to vote to everyone, including Black citizens who were disenfranchised through violence and Jim Crow laws. Now, more than 55 years later, we are witnessing a resurgence of voter repression efforts.
U.S. Policing Is Broken. Christians Must Reimagine Public Safety
Chauvin’s conviction was a relief, but our policing and justice systems still need a radical overhaul.