Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove directs the School for Conversion in Durham, N.C. He is a member of the National Steering Committee of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and author of the forthcoming Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom From Slaveholder Religion.

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My Encounter With The Right-Wing Rage Machine

Image from Warren Wong. Unsplash. 

Whoever makes the bomb or pulls the trigger is culpable, of course. But he does not act alone. The social media trolls are as complicit in this violence as the mobs who gathered to watch the spectacle of lynchings. Fox News and Breitbart are as connected to these attacks as 19th century newspaper editors were when they ran sensational stories about black men ravaging white women to rally the Red Shirts who overthrew Reconstruction governments. Politicians who push stories that sow division today, from the White House to the County Commission, will stand in history alongside the Southern gentlemen of the 1960s who never ordered the death of a single civil rights worker but stoked the rage that ultimately erupted in the murders of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others.

We Must Go Beyond Trump and Reconstruct Our Democracy

In the richest nation in the history of the world, 140 million Americans are poor or low income — one emergency away from not being able to meet their basic needs. We cannot be distracted by arguments about which president or party in recent history had more quarters with over 4 percent economic growth while Congress seriously considers cuts to programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Donald Trump is not on the ballot this November, but the fate of poor people in America certainly is. In state legislature and congressional races, we must ask ourselves which candidates are willing to challenge the lies that keep millions of our neighbors in poverty.

Rejecting the Religious Liberty of Slaveholder Religion

How did religious liberty come to mean nearly the opposite of what its founders intended?

Waiting for God in Sanctuary

Image via Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

When the Magi told King Herod about the heaven-sent child they’d come to honor, Herod also issued an executive order — kill every Hebrew child under 2. Herod’s henchmen would have slaughtered the Christ child along with the others had his parents not acted quickly to cross a border and protect their baby. Mary and Joseph were dreamers before Jesus. To prepare for Christmas is to remember Mary and Joseph’s dream and the civil disobedience it inspired.

Is a Contemplative Life Still Possible?

Image via Ali Yahya

As we face the 21st century realities of ISIS-backed terrorism and reactionary Christian nationalism, we are grappling with the nature of evil, as Merton and others did in the late 1930s. Given the similarity of our contexts, Merton’s insight is prescient. "There was something else in my own mind,” Merton wrote as he watched World War II coming, “the recognition, 'I myself am responsible for this. My sins have done this. Hitler is not the only one who has started this war: I have my share in it too.'"

Subverting Democracy Is Not Partisan. It Is Immoral.

Activists Speak Out on N.C.'s 'Racially Discriminatory' Voter ID Law, Struck Down Last Week

Moral March in Raleigh, N.C., in Februar 2014. EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com

Since the summer of 2013, we have called this law — which the 4th Circuit struck down on Friday — a monster voter suppression bill. It was the first and the worst of many voter suppression measures to pass through state houses since the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision stripped the Voting Rights Act of its power to guarantee fair elections in this country. In many ways, it performed the new Southern Strategy of James Crow, Esq., which attempts to hold onto power as white voters become one among many minorities in this country. It is a strategy that necessarily depends on old fears, racism, and divide-and-conquer tactics.

Interrupting Injustice with Action in North Carolina

Just as we are called to speak the truth in love, we also act in love. Yes, we are interrupting business as usual. Yes, we are refusing to cooperate with the orders of law officers. But we are doing it out of love for our transgender neighbors who want to use the bathroom in peace. We are doing it out of love for the poor and working people who must choose between buying medicine and getting groceries. We do it out of love, even, for political leaders who have become so deluded by power that they may truly believe they are standing for righteousness.

The Racism Lurking Behind N.C.’s Anti-LGBT Law

2014 Moral March in Raleigh, N.C.

2014 Moral March in Raleigh, N.C. EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com

Meeting for a one-day emergency session last week, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed HB2, which has been widely criticized as the nation’s worst anti-LGBT bill. In supposed defense of the general welfare, conservative lawmakers moved to stop a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender citizens to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. But their call to “protect our women and children” echoes language of the white supremacy campaign that overthrew local governments in this state 120 years ago. Both then and now, the call to defend families against imagined predators is a crude power grab.

5 Ways to Teach Kids About Justice

How do we help the youngest members of the church understand the gospel's call to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves?
CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock

CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock

READERS OFTEN ASK US: How can I incorporate a hunger for justice into my child’s spiritual formation? How do we help the youngest members of the church understand the gospel’s call to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves? Sojourners asked five Christian parents engaged in various forms of justice work to share their best tips for helping children put their faith into action. Here’s what they said. - The Editors

1. Look for Teachable Moments

by Kate Ott

MANY PARENTS FEEL unprepared to talk about sex or faith with their children. I was one of those parents until I realized age-appropriate sexuality information could empower my children and keep them safe. I also realized that teaching my kids about sexuality meant more than talking about “sex.” After all, if I didn’t talk to my kids about how Christian values of love, justice, and mutuality guide the care of our bodies and our relationship choices, who would?

So rather than planning for a single “big talk” or waiting until I know all the answers, I practice parenting through teachable moments. For example, in our house we talk about how clothing choices and hygiene reflect our thankfulness for our bodies as part of God’s good creation (including remembering to brush teeth!). As a parent, when I take a picture of my kids, I ask them for permission before posting it on social media; this encourages thinking-before-posting and consent as an active yes. And when we’re watching TV or listening to a song in the car about attraction or a relationship, I ask questions like: How would you feel in that situation? Do you think that person values their body? Does that seem like a mutual decision/relationship? Is that kind of love balancing God, neighbor, and self? In the short conversation, I always say something like, “Being in a relationship takes a lot of work and requires communication, honesty, commitment, and mutuality.” This models how to use one’s values to assess relationship choices.

Why It's Possible to Reject the Klan and Still Support Racism

Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington D.C. in 1926. Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com

If Donald Trump is telling the truth, he only recently learned that David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is an avowed segregationist. Apparently, the KKK and its history have faded from many white Americans’ memory. Jeffrey Lord argued on national television this week that the Klan is an invention of “the left.” As native sons of the South, we could forgive these men their ignorance. (“Bless their hearts. They ain’t from around here,” is the polite way to say it.) But we can neither forgive nor ignore the way 400 years of white supremacy have been naively reduced to whether a candidate will disavow the support of a hate group leader. Racism lives on in policies that perpetuate racial disparities, with or without the KKK.

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