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

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.

In the Event of a Tainted Election, the Faith Community Must Rise Up

Faithful citizenship sometimes requires that we withdraw our consent and cooperation.

Illustration by Tyler Comrie

THE RIGHT TO VOTE, a foundation of our democracy and a fundamental attribute of citizenship, is under serious threat. In recent years, attacks on the integrity of the electoral system—the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, disinformation campaigns, foreign interference, and more—have weakened its overall infrastructure and cast doubt upon its results. Now we’re seeing repeated attempts, through propaganda and other means, to further undermine the system and discredit in advance the results of the 2020 election.

The president has attempted to co-opt real concerns about the upcoming election, claiming without evidence that it might be “stolen” as a result of fraud tied to vote-by-mail. His efforts deflect attention away from the ways that voter suppression efforts already underway pose a real danger, both to people seeking to exercise their hard-won right to vote and to the integrity of the electoral system itself.

As many have pointed out, there are numerous ways internal or external forces could call the results of the election into question: declaring a state of emergency that disrupts voting, delaying Election Day, interference by hostile foreign powers, tampering with voting machines or databases, and more. All of these represent legitimate threats, but perhaps the most likely scenario is that rampant voter suppression tactics impede enough voters in key battleground states to alter the presidential election outcome and which party controls Congress.

No Justice for Breonna Taylor: The Indictment Didn't Even #SayHerName

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-24-2020

A memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. Picture taken September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Breonna Taylor’s name didn’t even appear in Wednesday’s indictment against Hankison, which raises alarming questions about what case the attorney general made to defend the value of her life. The decision exposes the value gap in our justice system that so often dismisses and degrades the value of Black life and treats police recklessness and misconduct with impunity. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron failed to explain why Hankison felt it was necessary to shoot wildly and blindly into the apartment from the parking lot or the details around how this seemingly faulty no-knock warrant was obtained and executed in the first place.

In Our Flawed Democracy, Voting Is a Renewable Resource

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-17-2020

A pedestrian in Milwaukee, Wisconsin passes a sign urging people to vote. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

When we say the upcoming election is the most consequential election in our lifetime, it is not hyperbole or political spin, but a reflection of  just how stark the choices have become and the perilous nature of the crises that our communities, our nation, and our world faces.

Finding Our Spiritual Vibranium

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-03-2020
A Tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

This season of inescapable Black death has been on a traumatizing repeat cycle — from the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on our community to the senseless and brutal deaths at the hands of police violence — so in that moment my mind and spirit couldn’t process or take another loss, particularly of a Black man who embodied such regal strength and aspirational hope.

This Gets Worse: What Happens If Congress Fails to Act on Pandemic Relief

by Adam Russell Taylor 08-06-2020

The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a fence in Washington, July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott

We must continue to demand that our elected officials secure a deal that adequately helps all who need it, especially as current reporting suggests that the two sides are still far apart on what should be in the final bill.

Trump's Dangerous Election Rhetoric

President Donald Trump speaks to the news media at the White House, July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

This morning President Trump posted the following unconscionable tweet regarding our upcoming election that dishonors Congressman Lewis’ legacy and poses a direct threat to our democracy:

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

The Challenge Civil Rights Giants Leave Us

by Jim Wallis, by Adam Russell Taylor 07-23-2020

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) waits in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda to enter memorial services for Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as a group in Washington, Oct. 24, 2019. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

I spent many hours just looking at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The words that kept coming to me were “courage” and “gratitude,” and the question that surfaced was: What bridge we will now have to cross?

Does the GOP Only Want to Win Elections Through Voter Suppression?

by Adam Russell Taylor 07-21-2020
We are facing a moral crossroads for our nation.

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

VOTER SUPPRESSION IS real, and voter fraud is an exaggerated myth. America should be alarmed about these basic truths, because the reality of voter suppression and the dangerous lie of voter fraud represent a real threat to the legitimacy of the November election and the health of our democracy, which was sick long before the devastating arrival of COVID-19.

In June, Georgia’s primary exposed glaring problems and injustices that do not bode well for the November general election. People in Atlanta—particularly the parts that are predominantly African American—experienced onerous waiting times due to failures with new voting machines, ill-equipped poll workers, and the secretary of state’s failure of leadership. This followed the debacle in Wisconsin, where the Republican-controlled legislature insisted on an in-person primary at the height of the pandemic, forcing people to choose between their health and their right to vote.

The U.S. prides itself as being a beacon of democracy, and yet instead of making it easy for every eligible citizen to vote, some elected officials are erecting barriers to make voting more difficult, which they try to justify with spurious claims of voter fraud. For example, in April President Trump admitted why he and many Republicans oppose the expansion of voting by mail, saying that “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” In other words, according to Trump, making it easier for people to vote, even amid a pandemic, disadvantages Republicans.

For Heaven’s Sake, 'Wear a Damn Mask'

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-30-2020
Clergyman of the Orthodox Church wearing a protective medical mask during Sunday church service. March 5, 2020, Vinnitsa, Ukraine

How did wearing a mask become a partisan act rather than a public health imperative? Tragically, even wearing a mask has fallen prey to our culture wars and political polarization.

The Struggle for Voting Rights Has Not Ended

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-29-2020

John Lewis with fellow protestors at Edmund Pettus Bridge, in JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE, a Magnolia Pictures release. © Alabama Department of Archies and History. Donated by Alabama Media Group. Photo by Tom Lankford, Birmingham News. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Good Trouble is a timely and deeply moving film, particularly in this moment of national awakening and reckoning around police violence and systemic racism, and as we approach what feels like the most consequential election in my lifetime.

‘A Change Is Gonna Come’: Reimagining Public Safety

by Jim Wallis, by Adam Russell Taylor 06-11-2020

A view shows a Buffalo Police vehicle parked in front of the city hall before a protest  in Niagara Square, in Buffalo, June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario

Transforming our policing and reimagining public safety will require much more dialogue, bridge-building, and, ultimately, sustained public pressure.

The Church and the Bible Are Not Presidential Props

by Jim Wallis, by Adam Russell Taylor 06-02-2020

A White House staff member gestures to move the press corps back as President Donald Trump walks between lines of police for a photo opportunity at St John's Church. June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Last night, Donald Trump used and abused a church, and a Bible, as presidential props for a photo-op. In a violent and authoritarian act, the president of the United States took the space of a church and used a picture of a Bible to make a political move.

Political Delay and Denial Has Always Been Deadly

by Adam Russell Taylor 06-01-2020
COVID-19 presents us with a historic opportunity—and responsibility—to heal inequities.

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

AMERICA ENTERED THE COVID-19 crisis in a dangerously divided and polarized place, politically and culturally. But by embracing our interdependence, protecting the weakest members of our society, and showing equal concern for one another, we can emerge from this crisis more unified and committed to reimagining and rebuilding a radically more just and healthy nation and world.

This crisis has the potential to force us out of our selfish hyperindividualism; it instead calls us to demonstrate solidarity and love for our neighbor by protecting ourselves and others by sheltering at home and practicing physical distancing for as long as is deemed necessary for the sake of everyone.

Two decades ago, I preached my first sermon, which reflected upon 1 Corinthians 12 and spoke to the imperative to heal the global body from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which at that time was ravaging the continent of Africa and felt insurmountable. I believed then that the AIDS crisis and our response to it would define my generation, just as the coronavirus will likely be a defining moment for a new generation. I believe there are lessons we can glean from the AIDS pandemic that can help us get through the current crisis.

George Floyd Deserved to Breathe Free

by Adam Russell Taylor 05-27-2020

Flowers are seen at the site where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital in Minneapolis. May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller

I can’t breathe.

These were George Floyd’s desperate cries for help as he gasped for breath and clung to life due to the senseless brutality of four police officers in Minneapolis, one of whom, Derek Chauvin, had his knee and weight crushing Floyd’s neck.

A Test of Global Leadership

by Adam Russell Taylor 04-16-2020
Amid COVID-19, Our Interconnectedness Has Never Been More Apparent

Image via REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Nearly 20 years later, we must again push our government to expand global aid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christians, the moral imperative is clear. But in order to convince the powers at be, we must also argue that protecting the American economy and our national public health requires that we move from investing millions to investing billions — perhaps even trillions — in order to mount an adequate global response.

This Planet Can’t Breathe

by Adam Russell Taylor 03-20-2020
The climate crisis increasingly poses an existential threat to all of us, and yet the impacts will disproportionately hurt the already marginalized.

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

IN 2018, CLIMATE SCIENTISTS reached a consensus that, based on current global emissions, we have roughly 12 years to dramatically reverse course before we cause irreparable harm to our planet and our way of life. These and other predictions cause me to lose sleep at night, particularly when I think about the world that my two sons will inherit.

But this alarming trend is not inevitable, nor are we powerless to change course. Preventing the worst consequences and putting the planet on a zero-carbon trajectory will require a revolution of social and political will. Catalyzing this revolution will require new language, new metaphors, and new messengers.

“I can’t breathe.” These were the prophetic words said by my pastor, Rev. Howard John-Wesley, in a sermon in which he made the case that we are on the brink of ecological destruction. He preached about the thousands of species that go extinct every year. He emphasized that Americans constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but burn 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuels. These and other trends of conspicuous consumption and abuse are driving us toward global catastrophe.

The Time to Act Like a Community Is Now

by Adam Russell Taylor 03-12-2020

Members of a Servpro cleaning crew use hand sanitizer as they take off their protective gears and exit the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the Seattle-area nursing home at the epicenter of one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in the United States, in Kirkland, Wash., March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

As I write this piece, my sons are not at school but home with me, because their elementary school decided to start Spring Break three days early to slow possible transmission of the virus and keep the community as safe as possible. While this has caused some inconvenience, I realize just how fortunate I am — I can work from home when needed and I have access to both sick leave and personal days. This is not the case for the majority of workers in the country. Congress will likely be voting soon on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which would provide urgently needed funding and provisions for free testing, three weeks of paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, supplemental food stamps, and nutritional support to kids who depend on school lunch. I’m hopeful and prayerful that the White House and Congress can transcend politics in this moment and pass this bill, because the virus knows no party and a bolder response is overdue.