Andrew Wilkes

Andrew Wilkes is a former Sojourners policy and organizing fellow, a 2010-11 Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, and the extremely blessed fiancé of Gabriella Cudjoe. He is a recent and proud graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary!

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Another Way is Possible

An interview with Andrew Wilkes on Christianity and socialism.
Andrew Wilkes

Andrew Wilkes

Andrew Wilkes is an African Methodist Episcopal minister who serves on the editorial board of Democratic Socialists of America’s online journal, Religious Socialism. Danny Duncan Collum interviewed him in October 2015. Click here to read more about Christianity and socialism in this month's Sojourners. 

Sojourners: Why have you chosen to identify yourself as a socialist?

Andrew Wilkes: What began to change my thoughts is when I realized that another way of organizing land, labor, and capital is possible and was already happening locally, regionally, and in some respects nationally. Gar Alperovitz’s book What Must We Then Do?, John Nichols’ book The “S” Word, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s witness of a black social gospel and democratic socialism all proved seminal to me.

What does it mean to you to call yourself a socialist? Socialism, on a basic level, prioritizes human rights over property rights and our obligations to one another over conventions about the natural, efficient operations of markets. Socialism means a way of making decisions about the use of resources that seeks to end preventable human misery more than turning an ever-increasing profit. It’s an ethical vision that also entails shared sacrifice for mutual gain—for instance, paying more in taxes to support health care, education, and other services that are free at the point of access.

I do not take socialism to mean the complete abolition of private property, contracts between individual parties, or the utter erasure of markets. Instead, socialism for me means the ascendancy of meeting human needs through public provision, cooperative ownership, and private businesses that include collective bargaining and government regulation. It also means that working individuals who produce goods and services have a significant say in shaping, owning, and influencing the institutions that shape their day-to-day quality of life.

How do you see those ideas relating to your Christian identity and Christian ministry? I joined the Religious Socialists of DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) to find an institutional outlet for my political commitments. I think it’s inaccurate to suggest that the Bible can be marshaled in direct support of socialism. I do think that every Christian has to inquire about the society that best represents or foreshadows the dreams and desires of God for humanity. For me, the kind of socialism I’ve just described is the best society.

#DialInForJustice

by Andrew Wilkes 12-15-2014
Renewed democracy requires new traditions of social action. Image via BrAt82/shu

Renewed democracy requires new traditions of social action. Image via BrAt82/shutterstock.com

To be black in America is to listen to death daily. To hear mothers wailing at unnecessary funerals, to see fathers mourning lost sons, to offer graveside prayers that puncture the heart of God — this is the sorrow song of a people, and a nation, haunted by racism.

Over our heads however, I hear the sweet, dark sounds of freedom in the air, calling for the dry bones of democracy to arise from the segregated sinews of our society. The multiracial chorus of protestors chanting, "I can't breathe," the die-ins, the walk-outs, and the highway-halting actions of youth from New York to Chicago to Tallahassee to Los Angeles represent a thirst and hunger for righteousness that includes and yet transcends voting.

To join within this symphony of justice, I am calling faith communities to participate in a national #DialInForJustice during the month of December. The goal is to call the Unites States Department of Justice and local police departments, communicating our desire to see systemic reforms to policing in America. This initiative seeks to lift up faith-filled voices alongside the already existing trumpet blasts of groups like the Organization of Black Struggle, Dream Defenders, PICO, Sojourners, and so on.

A Handbook for Justice

by Andrew Wilkes 07-09-2014

Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World. IVP Books.

The Church's Alternative Currency

by Andrew Wilkes 03-14-2013

The Economy for Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World. Baker Academic

Power and the Poor

by Andrew Wilkes 11-27-2012

The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. SmileyBooks

How to Proclaim Restoration

by Andrew Wilkes 06-01-2012

Missional Preaching: Engage, Embrace, Transform, by Al Tizon.

Justice for Trayvon Martin: Million Hoody March

by Andrew Wilkes 03-21-2012
Residents attend to a town hall meeting 2/20 to discuss Martin's slaying. Getty

Residents of Sanford, Fla. attend to a town hall meeting 2/20 to discuss Martin's slaying. Via Getty Images.

On February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Fla., George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old boy. Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch "captain," says he was acting in self-defense, and — incredibly — Zimmerman has yet to be arrested or charged with a crime.

However, thanks to the organizing efforts of Mr. Martin’s parents, civil rights groups, media commentaries, and concerned citizens, our latest racialized miscarriage of criminal justice is now getting the widespread attention that it deserves.

On Monday, the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced it would launch an independent investigation into the causes and circumstances of Mr. Martin’s death.

Were You There?

by Andrew Wilkes 03-01-2012

The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James H. Cone.

Three bonus reflections

by Rich Gorman, by Elaina Ramsey, by Andrew Wilkes 09-19-2011

Graduates reflect on how their seminary education impacts their work of social justice today.

The Evil of Indifference

by Andrew Wilkes 08-01-2010
Evangelicals, race, and sexual orientation.

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