President
 
Rev. Adam Russell Taylor is president of Sojourners and author of A More Perfect Union: A New Vision for Building the Beloved Community. Follow him on Twitter @revadamtaylor.
 

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

Heed Scripture — And Honor Teachers With Fair Wages

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-08-2022
A row of yellow school buses parked behind a chain link fence.

School buses parked in a row. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

This Tuesday marked back to school day for my two boys, who are entering fourth and sixth grade at an Episcopal school that welcomes students of all faiths. The annual rite — which for our family always seems to involve the Mission: Impossible-style task, led by my wife, of getting all the right books and school supplies in time — left me with mixed feelings, which I suspect many fellow parents share. On one hand, I am excited for all the new school year offers my kids: new teachers, new friends, a new season of athletics, and all the other extracurricular activities that bring my kids so much joy. On the other, I feel the weight of a mounting crisis in our nation’s education system, especially in public schools, where the pandemic revealed such deep and long-standing racial inequities.

Offering Lament and Thanksgiving for the Inflation Reduction Act

by Adam Russell Taylor 08-18-2022

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) speaks with reporters after attending the signing ceremony of “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” at the White House in Washington, D.C., Aug. 16, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Three weeks ago, it seemed impossible that this Congress and this president would be able to get anything significant and lasting done to confront climate change. But this week, President Joe Biden signed major climate legislation — the Inflation Reduction Act — into law. It’s a bittersweet moment.

Christians Should Resist Single-Issue Voting

by Adam Russell Taylor 08-02-2022
The 2022 midterm election must be a referendum on protecting and strengthening our rights.
An illustration of a giant hand preventing hopeful voters from accessing the polls.

Illustration by Ellen Weinstein

ON TUESDAY, NOV. 8, control of federal spending and legislation will be at stake with every seat in the House of Representatives up for election along with a third of the U.S. Senate, not to mention countless offices at the state and local level. Many of these races are critical for determining what the next few years will look like in the United States and beyond.

Christians should resist single-issue voting and instead apply our faith across a broad range of issues that impact human dignity and human flourishing. Our faith should inform and shape how we evaluate candidates and cast our ballots. While many important issues will be on the ballot this midterm—from inflation and the state of our economy to reproductive health, climate justice, our continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a range of racial justice issues, to name just a few—increasingly the fate of democracy itself will be on the ballot. The challenge is that democracy is not often treated as a top-tier issue and can be easily taken for granted. As the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has illuminated with sobering and chilling clarity, our democracy is not a given. A criminal conspiracy by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election and the ongoing efforts to erect new barriers to the right to vote have damaged and continue to imperil our democracy. In the face of these threats, it is important that the midterm election becomes a referendum on whether candidates are committed to protecting and strengthening a more inclusive and just multiracial democracy.

Many state legislatures have recently passed laws making it easier to interfere with and subvert election results, which alongside voter suppression directly threatens the health of U.S. democracy.

God Gave Us Abundance. Why Do People Go Hungry?

by Adam Russell Taylor 07-28-2022
A Ukrainian serviceman holds a gun while walking through a burning wheat field.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a burning wheat field near a frontline on a border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, on July 17, 2022 as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues. REUTERS/Dmytro Smolienko

Proclaiming God’s abundance feels counterintuitive in a world filled with excruciating and growing hunger: In the United States, long-standing food deserts, racial inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a broken social safety system are all contributing to a growing crisis of hunger. Globally, at least 140 million people are currently affected by a dire food crisis; 49 million people are just one step away from famine conditions.

A Pastoral Letter to the Exhausted Majority

by Adam Russell Taylor 07-07-2022
Protesters lie on pavement. One holds a sign that says "We Are Tired of This."

A protester holds a sign outside police headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., on June 17, 2020. Credit: Micah Casella/Alamy Live News.

I know I’m not alone in feeling exhausted. In 2018, More In Common — a nonprofit that researches what’s driving political polarization — found that two-thirds of Americans share a series of characteristics that make them a part of what they call the “exhausted majority.” This group of people is “fed up with the polarization plaguing American government and society,” feels forgotten in the public discourse, and often has flexible views that don’t fit consistently in the Left/Right binary. Yet, they believe we can still find common ground. Sound familiar?

Jesus Prioritized Poor People. Our Politics Marginalize Them

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-16-2022

A spiritual leader marches in the mobilization tour for the Mass Poor People's and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington by the Poor People's Campaign, slated to take place on June 18, 2022. Photo by Allison Bailey/NurPhoto

Movements matter. When we join with others to make our voice heard, we have the power to spark people’s moral imagination and galvanize greater urgency to address issues that rarely show up in headlines or political priorities. This Saturday, the Poor People’s Campaign will convene on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to address one of these overlooked crises: poverty.

Why Christians Need To Watch the Jan. 6 Hearings

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-09-2022
Four men in law enforcement uniforms sit at a table. Behind them, a screen shows protesters on Jan. 6.

U.S. Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone, DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, and US Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn watch a video of the Jan. 6 attack during a July 27, 2021 hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

When the hearings air at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on major broadcast networks and many cable news channels, I will be watching. And I hope you watch too, even if you don’t consider yourself a political wonk. These hearings will be crucial for the future of our nation and our democracy; it’s imperative that Christians tune in and encourage others to do the same.

Frederick Douglass, the Prophet Isaiah, and Healthy Patriotism

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-06-2022
Required readings for resisting destructive forms of patriotism that bleed into extremist nationalism. 
Illustration of many hands of different skin tones clutches pieces of an American flag

Illustration by Ken Davis

AS WE APPROACH Independence Day, I’m anxious the holiday will be overshadowed by the pitched battles waged around what we teach about our nation’s history, continued assaults on our democracy, and the struggle over how we understand and express patriotism. In the face of these trends and the alarming prominence of white Christian nationalism, it is imperative that we resist destructive forms of patriotism that bleed into nationalism. Instead, we should embrace a redemptive patriotism that celebrates the noble promises the country was built upon, even while we acknowledge and repent for the ways the country has fallen so short of living up to those ideals and extending them to everyone. Nationalism is often rooted in a revisionist and censored telling of history and fueled by a hatred and fear of the “other.” In contrast, a healthy patriotism must always be tied to the project of building a more just and inclusive America. By rededicating ourselves to this cause, the Fourth of July can serve as a day that fosters greater unity and advances shared ideals, rather than one that reinforces our divisions.

Frederick Douglass and the biblical prophet Isaiah lend us seemingly timeless tools to resolve this conundrum. In 1852, nearly a decade before the Civil War, Douglass, formerly enslaved until his escape, was asked to address the citizens of his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., on the nation’s 76th anniversary. This famous speech—“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”—should be required reading for every American.

Our Numbness to Gun Violence Is a Spiritual Failure

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-02-2022
Plush toys on red chairs covered with flowers and candles.

Plush toys on chairs placed in remembrance of the victims of the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 29, 2022. REUTERS/Veronica G. Cardenas

Four days. That’s how long researchers have found that people’s sadness and outrage last after each major gun massacre in America. Perhaps this is our own defense mechanism kicking in or maybe we have become far too desensitized to this time loop of horrific gun violence. But anger that dissipates after four days dishonors the lives that are stolen. Four days isn’t enough time to sufficiently process and grieve. And it’s not nearly enough time to galvanize the political will necessary to overcome political fecklessness, particularly the degree to which the GOP remains captive to fierce advocates for gun rights.

Christians Can’t Be Lukewarm in Denouncing ‘Replacement Theory’

by Adam Russell Taylor 05-18-2022
A diverse crowd of people stand in a church wearing masks during a vigil.

Mourners gather at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church for a vigil on May 15, 2022, the day after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York. REUTERS/Jeffrey T. Barnes 

Before the public outcry dies down — and isn’t sad that we all know it will? — we must boldly and unequivocally denounce the great replacement theory and instead live out the great commandment. The great replacement theory draws on the worst of our nation’s history, falsely implying that nonwhite people are threats to our nation’s future. But the great commandment offers the best of our civic and religious values, reminding us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves; it lends itself to a moral vision of multi-racial democracy in which everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion, is equally valued.

As a Christian, I Want to Reduce Abortion, Not Overturn Roe

by Adam Russell Taylor 05-12-2022

An image of a stained-glass window. By Daniel McCullough via Unsplash

Deeply flawed and alarming. That was my reaction last week as I read the leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion that would repeal Roe v. Wade, unravelling nearly 50 years of judicial precedent and placing abortion rights into the hands of state lawmakers.

Rereading Paul's Letter to Corinth Amid 1 Million U.S. COVID Deaths

by Adam Russell Taylor 05-05-2022

People visit Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg's "In America: Remember," a memorial for Americans who died due to COVID-19 on October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Since the pandemic upended life as we knew it over two years ago, I have found the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth particularly instructive. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul provides one of the most poignant metaphors in all of scripture, comparing the health of the church to that of the human body — a comparison that also applies to the health of our broader communities, nation, and world.

A Prayer To Help Us Pause in Holy Week

by Adam Russell Taylor 04-14-2022

Christian pilgrims kneel and pray with a cross on Good Friday in 2015 on the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus carried his cross to his crucifixion, in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: Debbie Hill/ UPI / Alamy

So as we move through Holy Week, I want to offer a prayer that pauses at each step along Jesus’ journey, from his agony in the garden to the triumphant joy of Easter. As we anticipate Christ’s ultimate victory over sin, death, and injustice on our behalf, let us find the courage to linger in the uncertainty, the suffering, and sacrifice that builds up to the glory of the resurrection.

God Loves Trans Kids. Recent Laws Do the Opposite

by Adam Russell Taylor 03-31-2022

Andie Myers wears a facemask with a transgender pride flag at the Women’s Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships at Harvard University on Feb. 19, 2022. Photo: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

March 31 marks the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. I will confess that I only recently became aware of this day, which is “dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of transgender and gender nonconforming people while raising awareness of the work that still needs to be done to achieve trans justice,” as GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGTBQ issues in K-12 education, puts it.

Celebrating Labor Rights, on May Day and Beyond

by Adam Russell Taylor 03-23-2022
Let’s honor working people by advocating for policies that put workers over greed.
Illustration of a multiracial group of people with their fists raised

Illustration by Poan Pan

ON MAY 1, tens of millions of people across the globe celebrate International Workers’ Day, often called May Day or International Labor Day. Countries around the world have made May Day a major holiday, but its origin as a day to fight for and honor the rights of workers has strong roots in the United States and the struggle for the eight-hour workday. During the Great Depression, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin chose May Day 1933 to launch the first issue of The Catholic Worker, a newspaper dedicated to the proposition that it is “possible to be radical and not atheist”—an idea that has also been central to Sojourners these past 50 years. In fact, a radical commitment to labor rights and economic justice is because of our faith, not in spite of it.

The dedication and sacrifice of labor activists has led to hard-won rights—including the eight-hour workday, the weekend, safe working conditions, an end to most child labor, and more—rights far too many of us can take for granted. And yet standing up for the dignity and rights of workers remains incredibly important because these rights are not enjoyed by everyone equally and have been relentlessly eroded over the past four decades. The struggle for labor rights has shifted amid an evolution in the nature of work, with many workers exercising greater agency in the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving behind jobs that are often underpaid, unsafe, or underappreciated.

Inflation Is a Justice Issue. Biden Must Address It in State of the Union

by Adam Russell Taylor 02-24-2022
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress April 28, 2021

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applaud, April 28, 2021. Chip Somodevilla/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The State of the Union, the annual televised presidential report to Congress, can easily devolve into political theater. But at its best, the address provides the president a critical opportunity to galvanize the nation to overcome shared challenges. When President Joe Biden delivers his first official State of the Union on Tuesday, in addition to addressing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I hope he seizes the moment by tapping into the values that animate his Catholic faith — including the values of solidarity and a “preferential option for the poor.” Solidarity, as understood through Catholic social teaching, is based on the understanding that we are one human family — our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We see this preferential option for the poor in Jesus’ dual call to care for the most vulnerable (Matthew 25) and combat injustice by being “good news to the poor” (Luke 4).

As Russia Advances, Ukraine's Churches Say ‘No’ to Military Solution

A woman attends church in Kyiv, Ukraine

A woman attends a liturgy at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ of the Greek Catholic Church, after Pope Francis called for an international day of “prayer for peace” to stop the Ukraine crisis, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Jan. 26, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

The forces that incite and fuel war can feel inevitable. Even as the Olympics events proceed — a time traditionally greeted by at least temporary truces — reports show that the Russian Federation is once again amassing troops and military hardware along its border with Ukraine. U.S. military and intelligence assessments estimate that a conflict could result in as many as 50,000 Ukrainian civilian casualties and create up to 5 million refugees — all because of a power struggle between NATO, Europe, the United States, and Russia for dominance in the region and control over fuel supply chains. While the forces of imperialism seem inescapable, the role of the church is to show the way out.

Making Black History on the Supreme Court

by Adam Russell Taylor 02-03-2022
Supreme Court Building

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, D.C., Jan. 26, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Given widespread efforts to erase or whitewash parts of U.S. history — as school board meetings across the country become battlegrounds over what and how the next generation will be taught that history — Black History Month serves as a corrective to ensure our understanding of history includes the good, the bad, and even the ugliest parts. While the history of Black people in the United States should be studied year-round, February — which every president since Gerald Ford has proclaimed as Black History Month — also presents a critical opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Black Americans proactively, honestly, and specifically.

Stepping Away From Extremism

by Adam Russell Taylor 01-31-2022
Two electoral reforms that will advance the common good in the 2022 midterm elections.
Illustration of voters standing in a field marking an enlarged ranked choice ballot

Illustration by Maxim Usik

THE MIDTERM ELECTION season is already underway, with a great deal at stake. In the face of the rush of political ads, phone calls, debates, and more, I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s timeless words that the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These fruits, or virtues, don’t easily translate into the messiness of politics, but they are desperately needed today. Sadly, our electoral system increasingly rewards and perpetuates antithetical “fruits”—such as contempt, vitriol, hate for the “other side,” and fear. The root causes include media echo chambers, gerrymandered districts, disinformation promulgated on social media, and partisan primaries—the negative aspects of which receive precious little attention. Until we change the perverted incentives that have become hardwired into our electoral system, our politics will remain stuck in a vicious cycle of acrimony and stalemate.

Will We Let the Filibuster Ruin MLK's Dream?

by Adam Russell Taylor 01-13-2022
A statue of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. outside Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Ala., the starting point of the 1965 marches for voting rights.

A statue of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. outside Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Ala., the starting point of the 1965 marches for voting rights.  Ian Dagnall / Alamy

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.”