President
 
Rev. Adam Russell Taylor is president of Sojourners and author of Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post Civil Rights Generation. His forthcoming book, A More Perfect Union: A New Vision for Building the Beloved Community is out September 14. 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 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

It’s Time To Rethink American Churches

by Adam Russell Taylor 04-08-2021

I believe the church is a critical and indispensable — though not exclusive — vehicle for sharing the good news and advancing God’s beloved community here on Earth. But last week, Gallup caused a stir when it released new research on the trends in Americans’ membership in houses of worship, which fell below 50 percent for the first time in the 80 years. 

God Suffers With Us This Holy Week

by Adam Russell Taylor 04-01-2021

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

Today begins the Paschal Triduum, the three days leading up to the celebration of Easter and Jesus’ triumphant resurrection. This year in particular, Holy Week is a reminder that we often have to linger in some suffering and struggle in order to fully appreciate the joy of Easter Sunday’s deliverance and liberation.

March Madness and the Israelites in the Desert

by Adam Russell Taylor 02-25-2021
Both offer lessons as we emerge from the pandemic.
Illustration of a kid with a foam finger watching a basketball game.

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

MARCH IS MY favorite month of the year and not simply because of the renewal of spring. As a college basketball fanatic, it is also because of the NCAA men’s tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. My passion for college hoops began when I moved to Tucson before my junior year of high school and started attending every home game at the University of Arizona, where college basketball is an obsession. In light of the hardship and devastation that this pandemic has inflicted, it feels overdramatic to say that my spirits were crushed last March when the NCAA made the necessary decision to pull the plug on the March Madness tournament. This year, the NCAA plans to host the tournament in a bubble, following the model of last summer’s NBA playoffs. The tournament will feel incomplete without screaming fans, but the fact that it will take place at all offers a signal that the beginning of the end of the pandemic is within sight.

As our nation moves out of a long, dark winter of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, we can all use a dose of something to look forward to, even if those somethings don’t look identical to life before the pandemic. A bubbled March Madness feels like a fitting metaphor to the critically important space we will be in as vaccines help us turn the tide against this virus and toward a new normal. But the journey between the spring and fall will likely feel like a long and tortuous one, particularly if COVID-19 fatigue devolves into resentment, resignation, or at worst nihilism. With the advent of more contagious and possibly more deadly strains of the virus, social distancing and mask-wearing will be even more necessary to transition from the wilderness of the current pandemic into the promised land of a post-COVID-19 world.

The Church Must Model Lament for Our Grieving Nation

by Adam Russell Taylor 02-25-2021

Samuel Emanuel at the funeral of his son Samuel Emanuel Jr., 55, who died from complications from COVID-19, at Fifth Ward Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, Feb. 13, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

This week the United States surpassed a tragic milestone: Half a million people in this country have died from COVID-19 — a number that, while devastating, doesn’t even take into account the full human toll of the virus. While numbers of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations have begun to fall precipitously (for a variety of overlapping reasons) and nearly 50 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, this dark winter feels like a prolonged wilderness of grief and loss.

This Year Is Dark, But We Still Need Lent

by Adam Russell Taylor 02-17-2021

Photo by Alex Ranier on Unsplash.

I’m latecomer to Lent. It wasn’t until I joined Sojourners in my first role as senior political director in 2004 that I learned from my Catholic colleagues the significance of this 40-day liturgical season in which we spiritually travel with Jesus through his fasting in the desert. In 2021, this time of reflection — so often marked by what we give up — comes amid what already feels like a dark, cold, and perilous winter.

When Christian Media Peddle Lies

by Adam Russell Taylor 02-11-2021

Woman wearing red Make America Great Again hat praying at “Stop the Steal” rally in support of Donald Trump, Nov. 7, 2020. Photo by Brandi Lyon Photography.

This all could have been avoided: More prominent conservative Christian leaders and Christian media could have spoken out against the lie and reported the truth. Instead, many of them fanned the flames that led to this tragedy.

It’s Time to Be the Conscience of American Politics

President Joe Biden addresses the nation after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Pool/File Photo

I believe fervently in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said that “the church is not called to be the master or servant of the state, but to be the conscience of the state.” In that vein, we will be neither chaplain nor sycophant to our new political leaders. Instead, we seek to be a faithful conscience, serving as a bridge-builder and offering prophetic critique (and pressure) when necessary.

Accountability Is a Prerequisite for Healing

by Adam Russell Taylor 01-14-2021

The U.S. Capitol stands as Democratic lawmakers draw up an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Jan. 11, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

I have been filled with a divine rage since armed insurrectionists, instigated by the president, violently sieged our Capitol last week. There must be accountability. In one move toward that, 10 Republicans joined all 222 House Democrats in voting that President Donald Trump incited an insurrection. He is now the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and the nine other Republicans who joined her described their vote to impeach as a vote of “conscience.” Invoking that word made me thing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s wisdom—

The President Must Be Removed

by Adam Russell Taylor, by Jim Wallis 01-07-2021

President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally in Valdosta, Ga., Dec. 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

As faith leaders, we must call for the immediate removal of Donald Trump from office. There is great danger in the hands of a morally deranged president: the threat of martial law, his ongoing efforts to overturn a free and fair election, the potential of politically conceived war, and the unique danger of his destructive hands on the nuclear codes.

The Deadly Consequences of a Toxic Presidency

by Adam Russell Taylor 01-06-2021

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump protest in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Today we witnessed with shock and moral outrage that our democracy is fragile and in peril. Today we saw an assault on our democracy. We saw a violent insurrection turn what is normally a quiet but sacred procedure to certify electoral votes and ensure a peaceful transfer of power into a dangerous spectacle of sedition and political malfeasance.

Bridging the Political Gap In A Divided Nation

by Adam Russell Taylor 01-04-2021
How we get from polarization to the common good.
Illustration of two people building a bridge from both sides of a canyon.

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

IN HIS FIRST speech as president-elect, Joe Biden outlined four priorities his incoming administration plans to address: systemic racism, the COVID-19 crisis, climate change, and economic hardship and recovery. I am encouraged not just by the breadth of policy detail and ambition in his Build Back Better platform but also by the radically different narrative for the nation and its future. These four pillars should resonate for people across the diversity of the church, and they will require that we generate significant political will, urgency, and accountability within the new administration and Congress to achieve progress on these priorities and more. Along with policy reforms, we also face an imperative to renew our broken and toxic political culture.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus proclaims, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). This profound truth is relevant for the church and for the nation.

Affirmations for the Year to Come

by Adam Russell Taylor 12-29-2020

A few years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions and replaced them with what I call New Year’s affirmations. Resolutions can often feel like weights that cause you to sink under pressure and expectation rather than as flotation devises to lift you up in attaining your hopes and aspirations. Building on what has worked for me personally, I want to share some affirmations for our nation and world as well as for Sojourners work and mission in 2021.

How To Save 100,000 Lives

by Adam Russell Taylor 12-03-2020

A pedestrian passes a notice for the Revival International Center (Centro Internacional de Avivamiento) food pantry, in Chelsea, Mass. July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The U.S. set two disturbing records on Wednesday with more than 200,000 new coronavirus infections reported nationwide and 100,000 patients hospitalized in just one day. This brings the nation’s total to 14 million coronavirus cases and 272,000 fatalities since February. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said yesterday that the next three months are “going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”

The Next Part of the Race

by Jim Wallis, by Adam Russell Taylor 11-18-2020
Adam Russell Taylor succeeds Jim Wallis as Sojourners enters 50th year

Jim Wallis, left, and Adam Russell Taylor

For Adam, for coming home to Sojourners, for giving us the right person at the right time for this great transition, I am grateful. And I look forward to the road ahead for all of us.

For This Vulnerable Nation, Lord, Hear Our Prayer

by Jim Wallis, by Adam Russell Taylor 11-12-2020

Yesterday our nation saw 144,000 new COVID-19 cases, a staggering and heart- wrenching number, particularly as our nation tries to turn a corner after such a bruising election. While we both felt an overwhelming sense of relief and hope when news broke Saturday that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared winners of the election, events of the past few days show that this continues to be a season for fervent prayer, vigilance, and, if necessary, faithful action.

Reading Isaiah as the Nation Waits

by Adam Russell Taylor 11-04-2020

Poll workers process absentee ballots the night of Election Day at Milwaukee Central Count in Milwaukee, Nov. 3, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

It was a fitful night of what I can only generously describe as sleep. Maybe you can relate. I drifted off to sleep early, only to be awakened at midnight by my wife, who had received the latest election alert on her phone. My 7- and 9-year-old sons were also one edge almost all Election Day, worried about my day trip to Philadelphia and showing an uncanny degree of interest in the constant news coverage.

Be Calm. Be Vigilant.

by Adam Russell Taylor, by Jim Wallis 11-03-2020

Voters line up outside a polling location at the Church of Saint Luke & The Epiphany on Election Day in Philadelphia, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo by Ben Von Klemperer / Shutterstock

Nearly 100 million Americans have already cast their ballots. It’s a staggering and hopeful number that makes this Election Day unlike any other. Today, the nation decides whether it will follow the path to a more inclusive, multiracial democracy — or spiral further into the violent abyss of white supremacy. Today we decide what kind of nation we want to become.

Democracy Is on the Ballot

by Adam Russell Taylor 10-29-2020

A person casts his ballot for the upcoming presidential election during early voting in Sumter, S.C., Oct. 9, 2020. REUTERS/Micah Green/File Photo

Racism is on the ballot next week. Democracy is on the ballot next week. These two things two are inextricably linked because racism has disfigured American democracy from the founding of our nation. The road to a more perfect union has been long and uneven. And this road requires that we continually become a more perfect democracy and more just nation. And while our democracy will never be perfect, we must continually defend the rights, institutions, and laws that help safeguard our freedoms and advance the common good. Increasingly this election represents a test of whether we embrace and will work to realize a truly inclusive, multiracial democracy with liberty and justice for all.

Can We Find Emmanuel During a Pandemic?

by Adam Russell Taylor 10-21-2020
Silver linings worth fighting for.
Illustration by Jackson Joyce

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, he writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). This passage can easily be misconstrued to mean that adversity and hardship are ordained by God. A more faithful interpretation is that God can generate good out of even terrible circumstances. In light of this eternal truth, throughout this troubling year I have found hope and resilience by discovering silver linings in the midst of uncertainty and anguish.

One of the most important blessings has been extra, uninterrupted time with my family. A frenetic travel schedule in the spring came to a screeching halt in March, and I haven’t been on a plane since. My daily two-hour commute to my kids’ school and to work also vanished. I have tried to pour much of this precious gift into my family, particularly as my two young sons adjusted to the new COVID reality, including virtual classes that tested all our sanity. Our family spent the early months of the pandemic playing many games together and watching every Marvel movie made and our favorite kid-appropriate sports movies, from Remember the Titans to Miracle to 42.

When One Part Suffers, the U.S. Looks Away

by Adam Russell Taylor 10-08-2020

Workers wearing protective suits bury a coffin at the Muslim burial area provided by the government for victims COVID-19 at Pondok Ranggon cemetery complex in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Pope Francis has a penchant for impeccable, maybe even providential timing. His encyclical Laudato Si’ came out just months before the 2015 Paris climate summit and played a key role in influencing public opinion and galvanizing political will behind bolder climate action to protect “our common home.” Now, less than a month before the most consequential U.S. election in generations, the pope’s new encyclical provides a powerful rebuke to a politics of division, fear, and hate while also casting a vision for the human family that is deeply relevant to applying our faith to U.S. leadership in the world.