Layton E. Williams

Audience Engagement Editor

Layton Williams is our Audience Engagement Editor. Her work combines data analysis, creative communications, new media strategy, and relationship building to grow the Sojourners community in both breadth and depth.

She is also a writer, focusing on intersections of faith, justice, politics, and culture with an emphasis on sexuality and gender. In addition to Sojourners, her work has been published by Religion Dispatches, Believe Out Loud, Reconciling Ministries Network, and Presbyterians Today, among others. 

Before moving to D.C. and joining the Sojourners staff, Layton served as the Pastoral Resident at Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago. She grew up in Atlanta, then lived in Austin, Texas, for six years where she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer and nonprofit educator prior to attending seminary. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia and an M.Div from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2014.

Beyond the realms of faith, justice, and writing, Layton’s interests include improv, pop culture trivia, travel, and discovering new passions. Find her on Twitter at @LaytonEWilliams. 

Posts By This Author

10 Bible Passages That Teach a Christian Perspective on Homosexuality

by Layton E. Williams 06-08-2017

The long history between the church and LGBTQ people is one fraught with tension, pain, and, sometimes, violence. Those who believe that homosexuality is a sin often point to several well-known Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments. Most of the Christian debate about human sexuality has centered on interpretation and emphasis of these passages.

In his book God and the Gay Christian , Christian LGBTQ activist Matthew Vines challenges LGBTQ-condemning interpretations of these Scriptures — sometimes referred to as “clobber passages.” But these clobber-texts aren’t the only Scriptures that can guide faithful Christians as we seek a godly understanding of sexual and gender identity.

Margaret Atwood on Christianity, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ and What Faithful Activism Looks Like Today

by Layton E. Williams 04-25-2017
Margaret Atwood holds a slate while laughing with Elizabeth Moss during filming of The Handmaid's Tale series.

Image courtesy of Hulu.

Williams: ... You alluded earlier to how groups purporting to be Christian, like in your novel, are not really a legitimate representation of Christianity. I'm wondering if you could say a bit more about how you believe faith can also be a force for good? And whether it can serve as a primary vehicle for justice?

Atwood: No question. I mean, early Christianity was egalitarian. And it was also very courageous because it underwent various persecutions, as you know, and so it also had its own underground. … Of course faith can be a force for good and often has been. So faith is a force for good particularly when people are feeling beleaguered and in need of hope. So you can have bad iterations and you can also have the iteration in which people have got too much power and then start abusing it. But that is human behavior, so you can't lay it down to religion.

Obedience Does Not Mean Submission to Violent Power

by Layton E. Williams 04-13-2017
Redeeming Good Friday for Survivors
a stained glass window depict Jesus on the cross.

Submissive obedience is deeply embedded in Christian theology. The origin of sin is attributed to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden. Jesus, by contrast, is described as “obedient unto death” — an example we are taught to emulate. God is depicted as all-powerful, all-knowing, a king and lord and father with relentless control over all things. And we — broken, limited, and prone to mistakes — are meant to trust God in all things, and give ourselves over completely to God’s divine power. This call to submissive obedience is exemplified, more clearly than anywhere else, in Jesus’ willing submission to torture and death on the cross.

Good Friday is an invitation for us, every year, to ask: What is actually good about Jesus’ death on the cross? What about it is salvific, and what is it saving us from?

Princeton Seminary President Talks Tim Keller, Women’s Ordination, and How One Award Ignited Christian Twitter

by Layton E. Williams 04-12-2017

Princeton students listen to Tim Keller's lecture on campus, April 6, 2017. Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary. Photographer: Kevin Birch

Yesterday, we spoke with Princeton Seminary president Dr. M. Craig Barnes about the controversial decision to rescind the award — which he revealed to us was actually Keller’s suggestion — and his hopes for the school moving forward.

Four Transgender Women Were Killed Last Week in the U.S.

by Layton E. Williams 03-02-2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that these latest crimes bring the total number of trans women murdered in 2017 to seven. That is a higher number than at this point in 2016, a year that saw trans deaths on the rise: Twenty-seven transgender people were reported murdered in 2016, more than any previous year. 

How Overworked Clergy Culture Undermines A Healthy Theology Of Sacrifice

by Layton E. Williams 03-01-2017
Two priests preside at Ash Wednesday service

We are steeped in a culture that celebrates endless work and the denial of one’s own health. Christian faith leadership demands a counter-witness. Ministry life should reflect a theology of service and commitment both to God and other people, but it should also embody healthy balance and spiritual sustainability for the long work of learning faith and reflecting God’s grace to a world hungry for it.

Where Is Your Jesus When You Ban Refugees?

by Layton E. Williams 01-29-2017

I want to ask: Where is Jesus when you call for a ban and a wall? But the answer is clear. Jesus is with them: the ones we’ve turned away, the ones we allow to suffer out of fear and hate. Jesus is holding the hand of the scared child being detained in an airport backroom. Jesus is breaking bread with our neighbors on the far side of the wall and our siblings seeking refuge across the world. And Jesus is saying to us, “come and follow me.”

What Does the Women's March Mean for the Future of Feminism?

by Layton E. Williams 01-19-2017

This weekend, hundreds of thousands will flood the streets of Washington, D.C., to take part in the Women’s March on Washington, a massive rally that organizers describe as an opportunity to “stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

The march calls for unity, and indeed, such a public event has the power to shape and energize the future of feminism, at least in the months ahead. But many are asking who that future will serve, and who might be left behind.

Thanks, Obama

by Layton E. Williams 01-13-2017

Image via U.S. Embassy, Jakarta/Flickr

From President Obama, I have learned to be an activist, to fight for change, and to believe that change is possible even on the darkest days. I have learned to cry out against injustice and name the evils in this world for what they are, to speak bold truth about what I believe is right even when it feels dangerous.

3 Things 'Rogue One' Can Teach Us About Resistance in 2017

by Layton E. Williams 01-06-2017

Rogue One meets us where we are. In a divisive time, when prejudice reigns with renewed power and threatens a destructive future, and where unquestionably moral leaders can be hard to come by, those of us seeking to faithfully resist injustice would do well to look to Rogue One for what it has to teach us

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