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

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.” 

How Will We Teach Our Kids About Jan. 6?

by Adam Russell Taylor 01-06-2022

A person touches the Washington monument as the sun rises over the U.S. Capitol, on the first anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 12-28-2021

Brigitte Tohm / Unsplash

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 12-16-2021
Man stands in destroyed window of a church

A man stands in a destroyed window of a church after an Azerbaijan shelling over the Martuni village amid the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

“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

by Adam Russell Taylor 12-02-2021

Doves and shooting stars decorate the White House on Nov. 29, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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.

Pregnant Hope

by Adam Russell Taylor 11-17-2021
Mary reminds us that, ultimately, the mighty will be brought down from their thrones and the hungry will be filled with good things.
Illustration of two white hands emerging from a rocky pool at night with water cascading down them

Illustration by Cate Andrews

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 11-04-2021

Attendees join hands while singing "We Shall Overcome" during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Nashville on Jan. 21, 1991.

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 10-14-2021

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-30-2021

Opponents of critical race theory attend a packed Loudoun County School board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia, on June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

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”

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-21-2021
We’re looking forward to the next 50 years of speaking truth to power.
An illustration of a tree and its roots with people along the branches and trunk

Illustration by Jackson Joyce

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?

by Adam Russell Taylor 09-14-2021

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 08-26-2021

Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyer's Committee For Human Rights Under Law, speaks at a voting rights rally near the White House on Aug. 24, 2021, demanding that President Biden take actions to support voting rights. Photo by Bryan Olin Dozier/NurPhoto

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

by Adam Russell Taylor 07-20-2021
A southern-African philosophy points the way to a thriving society.
An illustration of nature and humans co-existing in an abstract style.

Illustration by Thiago Limón

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.”