Daniel José Camacho is an Associate Web Editor at Sojourners. His work has previously appeared in publications such as Christian Century, Religion Dispatches, America Magazine, ABC Religion & Ethics, TIME, The Guardian, and the Washington Post.
Born to Colombian immigrants and raised in Uniondale, New York, Daniel has a B.A. in philosophy from Calvin College and an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School. He has worked in multiple Christian congregations, at the Long Island civil rights non-profit ERASE Racism, and in Student Affairs at Duke University and Stony Brook University.
Find him on Twitter at @DanielJCamacho.
Posts By This Author
The Saints That Haunt Us
Daniel José Older’s novel is a powerful meditation on love and betrayal in times of revolution.
Who Am I?
I'M HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS of the growing obsession with genetic ancestry tests. 23andMe. AncestryDNA. People can now scrape their inner cheek with a swab, mail it to a company for $99, and brag to you about a cultural or racial epiphany they’ve had based on being 4.7 percent of something. Who knows how this personal genetic information might be used. I suspect these companies respect people’s privacy as much as Facebook does. I’ve heard that governments and police departments are already using this information to track people.
And yet, I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about purchasing a DNA kit for myself. Yes, I know that such tests provide limited and potentially misleading information. Yes, I understand that they fuel problematic framings of race that tie race to genetics when race is actually something socially and politically constructed. But I’m still curious!
I don’t know if I will ever take a test. I ask myself: Should I be contributing to this system? Could I convince Sojourners to pay for my test if I were to write an article about it, thus shifting some of the ethical burden away from me as an individual?
On the Brutal, Violent History of Racism in the U.S. Church
White evangelical support for Donald Trump has led some black evangelicals to a crisis of faith and ecclesial identification. In this moment, Jemar Tisby has risen as a voice that’s unafraid to challenge white evangelicals’ complicity with racism, forging another path for those feeling alienated. Tisby is currently completing his PhD in history at the University of Mississippi. He is the president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, previously known as the Reformed African American Network, and writes widely about racism, the American church, and social justice. In 2017, a New York Times article quoted him saying: “Racism is not a ‘blind spot’ within white evangelicalism. It is part of that tradition’s DNA.” Now, Tisby has published a book tracing that DNA by way of history.
The Limits of Sanctuary
In May 2017, Juana Luz Tobar Ortega took sanctuary at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro, N.C. Originally from Guatemala, she had received a deportation sentence that would have separated her from her husband, four children, and two grandchildren, after living and working in the United States for over 20 years. Juana’s story, which is one among many harrowing stories of families harmed by aggressive immigration policies under the Trump administration, is now the subject of a documentary film.
Shattering Religious Stereotypes Behind the Camera
So far, Aslan’s cable shows — including his Muslim-American family sitcom that was dropped by ABC — have not panned out. But his ambitions to reach a broader audience remain as large as ever. And unlike the somewhat braggadocios and didactic style of commentary that he’s become known for in front of television cameras, he’s eager to change minds while occupying a different place: behind the camera.
On Hell and Knicks Eschatology
In the essay “How The Idea Of Hell Has Shaped The Way We Think,” published in the Jan. 21 edition of the New Yorker, writer Vinson Cunningham examines The Penguin Book of Hell and launches into a stunning and far-ranging reflection on how the doctrine of hell relates to our concerns about the here and now. As a staff writer for the New Yorker since 2016, Cunningham has written on a variety of subjects including Pope Francis, theater, and the NBA. Prior to this, he was a columnist at McSweeney’s and served as a staff assistant at the Obama White House.
On Asymmetrical Polarization
Earlier this week, journalist Yamiche Alcindor asked Donald Trump about whether his rhetoric — and that of his party — emboldened white nationalists. Trump responded, "That's such a racist question." This happened on the same day in which a prominent white nationalist leader posted pictures of himself parading on the White House lawn.
Trump’s response follows a trend. When a reporter asked about his rhetoric contributing to violence, he said: “You're creating violence by your question.” When asked about the offensive ad that he ran in the lead up to the midterms, Trump replied, “Your questions are offensive.”
When White Nationalist Christians Redefined Their Neighbors
Lately, I have been asking myself the following question: How can sincere Christians embrace white nationalism? My question stems less from surprise and more from a desire to understand the mechanics. In church circles and in seminary, I heard about Barth, Bonhoeffer, and those who resisted. But I rarely heard about the majority of white Christians who supported a demagogue whose rhetoric had violent consequences.
A New Study on Evangelical Voters Ignores Racism
A new study published in Christianity Today claims to debunk dominant narratives around the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. New York Times columnist David Brooks shared it and concluded: “Many Evangelicals voted for Trump, reluctantly, because of economics and health care more than abortion and social issues.” If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is.
Can We Afford Economic Justice in the United States?
“How can we afford it?” That’s the perennial question that confronts anyone who dares to propose progressive policy changes. A recent example is CNN’s Jake Tapper grilling congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over whether tax money could fund items on her platform such as Medicare for all, a federal job guarantee, and cancelation of student loan debt. For those who are religious and politically progressive, this question is particularly challenging. While many are good at articulating the moral imperative of providing health care to all or protecting the environment, they can stumble on the issue of economic feasibility. So, when I was told about an economics conference in New York City that might connect to this topic, I was intrigued.
Unlearning the Doctrine of Discovery
Modern, Euro-American Christianity is deeply implicated in the colonial legacies which have crushed indigenous peoples. Reckoning with this is not easy. The doctrine of discovery provides an example. The doctrine of discovery was a Christian invention which justified dispossessing indigenous peoples of their land, parceling it out among emerging nation-states, and turning it into private property for settlers. In this framework, indigenous peoples are left with either extermination or assimilation.
Survey: White Christians More Likely to Consider Supporting Candidates Accused of Sexual Harassment
A new study by the Public Religion Research Institute reveals deep divides over support for political candidates accused of sexual harassment. The most striking divide may be among major Christian groups.
The survey asked respondents about the likelihood of them voting for someone accused of sexual harassment by multiple people. PRRI provided Sojourners with a breakdown of responses to this question by religious affiliation.
Sarah Smarsh Challenges Narratives About America's Heartland
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Riches Country on Earth is a gripping account traversing family, poverty, geography, history, and public policy. It’s already been longlisted for a National Book Award and is a Kirkus Prize finalist. Smarsh captures the experience of poverty in the deftest of prose: “I knew how to compare prices on tags before I knew how to read words.”
A New Bible App For Those Feeling Left Out Of Christianity
Entering digital spaces that are dominated by conservative Christian resources, Our Bible App is attempting to carve out a unique space. It is explicitly pro-LGBT, pro-women and pro-interfaith inclusivity in its stated mission. “I created this app because I'm tired of feeling left out of Christianity because of my complex identities,” Crystal Cheatham, the app’s founder and CEO, told Sojourners. “I wanted worship materials that talked about an inclusive kind of faith and embraced that same kind of community.”
Catholic Peace Activists Inspire Others To Walk Against Nuclear Weapons
A group of about 20 peacemakers are embarking on an 11-day, 110-mile walk from Savannah, Ga., to Kings Bay, Ga. Named, “Disarm Trident: Savannah to Kings Bay Peace Walk,” the action is a call to abolish nuclear weapons globally and is supporting the seven Catholic activists arrested back in April on the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base back in April.
“We will walk in nonviolence and prayer with the hope of bending the moral arc of the world towards justice and peace,” Kathy Kelly, one of the organizers of the walk, said in a news release.
Can Someone Who Owns 10 Yachts Enter The Kingdom Of God?
Can someone who owns 10 yachts enter the kingdom of God? I’m not sure. Only God can judge a soul. What I can say is that it’s unjust for billionaires—including the wealthiest Christians in human history—to amass obscene profits while gutting the public goods and social safety nets that help ordinary people. Capitalism is so deeply ingrained in our Christianity that it is the default. Yet, this arrangement is neither natural nor inevitable.
In One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America , historian Kevin Kruse highlights how business leaders partnered with Christian libertarians in the 1940s and 1950s to demonize the welfare state and elevate an unfettered market. They associated the New Deal with theft against business owners and with deification of the state. Under the banner of freedom, preachers such as Billy Graham and media moguls such as Cecile B. DeMille linked Christianity with free enterprise.
Christianity Is Experiencing a Patriarchal Crisis
Both the Protestant and Roman Catholic worlds have been rocked in the past couple of weeks by news involving abuse and sexual misconduct. Willow Creek Community Church, one of the first churches to popularize the megachurch model, became the Protestant epicenter when more allegations of sexual harassment about its founder came to light. And six Catholic dioceses are now the Roman Catholic epicenter after an 884-page grand jury report revealed a massive cover-up in which priests abused at least 1,000, and likely many more, children over a period of 70 years.
How the Changing Church Will Define the Future of U.S. Politics
Last week, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter his intent to bar transgender from people serving in the military — a move reportedly heavily influenced by the Family Research Council, a conservative evangelical lobbying organization. The Public Religion Research Institute reports that more than one in five Americans have a close friend or family member who is transgender and more than six in ten Americans say transgender people face a lot of discrimination in the country today. This snapshot captures the dynamics of the Trump era: the anxieties and reactionary measures of religious conservatives within a cultural and religious landscape that is dramatically shifting.
When We Vote Against Peace
The “No” vote on a proposed peace deal in Colombia between the government and rebel group FARC has shocked virtually everyone.
People of conscience and faith here in the U.S. should pay close attention to Colombia for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the struggle for peace there presents a mirror to our own fears and dispositions and to the global logics of the war on terror and drugs. One thing that the results of the plebiscite revealed is that it is hard to change public imagination overnight after spending decades of fueling war, demonizing enemies, and seeing issues one-dimensionally.
Open Letter to the College Senior Detecting Colonial Prejudice
The reality is that modern Christianity in the Americas was built upon the genocide of indigenous people, the theft and commodification of land, and the enslavement of black people. It wasn’t simply an ethical glitch of bad people with otherwise good theology. No. This was praxis, linked with liturgy, linked with worldview, and, beyond that, to imagination. Will you continue to believe that modern “Christianity” is essentially good but was simply misused by bad people? Or, will you have the unflinching courage to critically examine Christianity’s role in horrors, in inequality, even in your own alienation?