Deirdre Jonese Austin is a minister, writer, scholar, and womanist whose work focuses on religion, race, gender, and sexuality. You can learn more about her and also read her blog posts at

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‘Abbott Elementary’ on Loving a Church That Doesn’t Always Love You Back

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 05-21-2024

'Abbott Elementary' / ABC

In ABC’s workplace comedy Abbott Elementary, Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph) provides one example of what it looks like for Black Christian women to live out their faith in their everyday lives. 

‘The Color Purple’ Can Survive Alice Walker’s Prejudice

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 01-19-2024

'The Color Purple,' Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

In her support of Icke and Rowling, Walker seems to have lost sight of her own claims about God and humanity that are revealed in The Color Purple and other works.

‘The Hero and the Whore’ Offers Hope for Redemption

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 09-27-2023
Camille Hernandez reinterprets biblical characters through the lens of sexual exploitation.
The picture is of Camille Hernandez's book

Westminster John Knox Press 

HAVE YOU EVER heard a sermon on Dinah? Have you read many commentaries on Hegai? In The Hero and the Whore: Reclaiming Healing and Liberation Through Stories of Sexual Exploitation in the Bible, Camille Hernandez, a trauma-informed educator and minister, interprets the narrative of these lesser-known biblical characters. She also reinterprets the stories of well-known figures — such as Eve, Rahab, and Potiphar’s wife — through the lens of sexual exploitation. For too long, stories of women in the Bible have been interpreted in religious cultures rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. As a result, many Christians have stripped these characters of their agency and voice, demonized them, and sometimes ignored them altogether.

Hernandez provides language to reclaim our own narratives and process our own trauma. She encourages imagining a future where all people are safe and protected from sexual violence and other forms of oppression — both in the church and in society at large.

Pleasure Is a Sacred Gift

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 02-24-2023
Lyvonne Briggs' ‘Sensual Faith’ ​​​​​​​brings our bodies into the light of God.
The book 'Sensual Faith' is cast over a light purple background, hovering in the air. The cover features a painted illustration of the lower half of a woman's face.

Sensual Faith: The Art of Coming Home to Your Body, by Lyvonne Briggs

HAS RELIGION ALIENATED you from your body, demonized your sexuality, or caused you to see your body as a source of shame? If so, it’s time to come home. In Sensual Faith: The Art of Coming Home to Your Body, body- and sex-positive pastor Lyvonne Briggs invites Black Christian women and femmes to reconnect with and feel at home in their bodies, sexuality, and sensuality: “You see, Sis, home is not an address; home is where you feel safe.” Finding home in our bodies is important because, all too often, Christian spaces have deemed our bodies “temptations” and our bodily processes “nasty.” And historically, American society has tried to control Black women’s bodies and sexualities, denying our humanity and womanhood through slavery, sterilization policies, and degrading stereotypes such as the asexual Mammy and the hypersexual Jezebel. So, the type of bodily reclamation Briggs writes of is an act of personal and societal justice.

Similar to theologian Candice Marie Benbow’s Red Lip Theology (2022), Sensual Faith is a womanist work that centers the experiences of Black women of faith. “Womanism” is the term coined by writer Alice Walker in the early 1980s to honor the experiences of Black women, who were often overlooked and excluded by the feminist movement. By utilizing a womanist interpretation of the Bible, Briggs challenges harmful religious messages around women’s bodies: “Womanism says: Your sexuality is a sacred gift. Your body is holy. Just as it is. Pleasure is your birthright.”

‘Red Lip Theology’ Lets Black Christian Women Be Ourselves

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 01-18-2022

In her new book, theologian Candice Marie Benbow takes readers on a journey through some pivotal and transformational moments in her life, highlighting the conversations she had with her mother, the theology informing her, and the sources — such as literature and hip-hop — that have shaped who she is. Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough is an invitation to reflect on the moments, the people, and the religious institutions that have contributed to making us who we are.

How One Worship Leader Made Racial Justice Protests About Christian Persecution

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 10-23-2020
Sean Feucht's worship events run counter to the revolutionary spirit of Jesus.

Sean Feucht performing in Seattle, Sept. 10, 2020. Screengrab from YouTube.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:24. But when our worship is based in a denial of truth and runs counter to the nature and character of God is it truly worship? This is a question I have been pondering in considering a series of worship events organized by Sean Feucht, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, worship leader, and politician.

Who Remains for the Families of the Slain?

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 01-13-2020

This is what slow death looks like for the families of victims of police brutality.

The Long Road to Decriminalizing Blackness

by Deirdre Jonese Austin 06-04-2019
'When They See Us' and the Central Park Five

From Netflix's 'When They See Us'

I watched Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series When They See Us and found myself angered by the people and systems that had a role in the incarceration of five innocent boys. The Central Park Five, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Saalam, and Korey Wise, were wrongfully convicted and later exonerated of a variety of charges related to the rape and assault of a white female jogger in 1989. While the series itself honors the stories of the Central Park Five, in choosing to title the series When They See Us, DuVernay invites us into a broader conversation on the criminalization and mass incarceration of young boys and girls of color, and challenges us to define our own role within this system.