Associate News Editor, sojo.net

Mitchell Atencio is the associate news editor at Sojourners. He first served as a contract reporter for Sojourners in 2020.

Mitchell believes his role as a journalist is to ask compelling questions of the right people, and to tell stories that impact the actions of readers. He loves writing stories of the radical or unique — especially within faith. Before joining Sojourners, Mitchell was a reporter in Kirkland, Wash. At Arizona State University he was a passionate and dedicated member of the award-winning, independent, student-newspaper The State Press. He also graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communications, but he doesn’t care as much about that part.

Although he didn’t stay long enough, Mitchell is proud to have been born in Atlanta and dreams of returning soon.

In journalism and elsewhere, Mitchell advocates for the physical medium. He is a vinyl record collector; a film photographer who shoots, develops, and scans his own film; a magazine subscriber; and a fan of writing letters on the family typewriter. In his spare time, he reads liberation theology, practices Zen, watches a lot of football, and makes coffee with a variety of methods. Mitchell is discalced out of religious commitment; he concedes it probably makes him a hippie. You can follow Mitchell on Twitter @mitchellatencio.

Posts By This Author

Losing Isn’t Inevitable

by Mitchell Atencio 05-06-2022

By Chino Rocha via Unsplash.

This week has been one where loss seems as close as it might ever be — losses significantly more important than tennis matches. Thinking of politics as sports is deeply unhealthy but understanding and identifying when we are losing is important. Loss is never inevitable, but neither is victory.

What Would the End of Roe v. Wade Mean? Christian Leaders Respond

by Mitchell Atencio 05-03-2022

Protestors gathered in in Washington, D.C. on May 3, 2022, after a draft Supreme Court opinion published by Politico suggested the court is considering a decision that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Photo: Jack Gruber / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

On the evening of May 2, Politico reported on a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson which, if it became official, would overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal protections of abortion rights.

A May Day Reading List to Inspire Faith and Worker Justice

by Mitchell Atencio 04-29-2022

Eloy District, Pinal County, Arizona. Mexican irrigator on duty preparing field for flax cultivation. Via the U.S. National Archives Flickr.

Through the years, we’ve written about the ways churches can help workers — and the way workers can help the church.

A Short Ode to Twitter

by Mitchell Atencio 04-26-2022

A screenshot of the author's tweet from March 2020, one month before writing his first piece for Sojourners, and one year before being hired as assistant news editor. Mitchell Atencio/Sojourners

Twitter is a strange thing — if it’s any singular thing at all. If it does come to an end, I hope we’ll look back reflectively and carefully, learning from what we got right, what we got wrong, and growing into the future.

Wipf and Stock To Pull ‘Bad and Boujee’ From Publication, Distribution

by Mitchell Atencio 04-14-2022

A graphic of Wipf and Stock’s logo and the cover of ‘Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology’ by Jennifer M. Buck. Wipf and Stock announced on April 14 that they would cease publication and distribution of the book. Graphic by Mitchell Atencio/Sojourners.

Wipf and Stock Publishers confirmed today that it has initiated the removal and ceased distribution of Jennifer M. Buck’s book, Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology, after days of criticism directed at the book.

Trading Apologetics for Humility

by Mitchell Atencio 04-01-2022

Newly-dug graves for Ukrainian soldiers who were killed in battle during Russia’s attack on Ukraine, are seen at the Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv, Ukraine, March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Proximity and humility are sometimes an answer for our beliefs.

This Spring, Let Truth Bloom

by Mitchell Atencio 03-15-2022

Photo by Biegun Wschodni on Unsplash

This spring, I’m thinking about the season as a blooming period for the complexities of truth. That’s not to say that truth itself is complicated, but that the application, acknowledgment, or apprehension of truth can be a sticky mess. Truth will set you free, but then we get to wrestle with freedom and the responsibility that comes with it: Realizing that racism is ingrained in the church is important, for instance, but acting to rid the church of that sin is paramount.

Grab Your Helmets, Let’s Do Some Myth Busting

by Mitchell Atencio 03-04-2022

Brad Stine performs. By Hope4ASU via Flickr.

When I was a kid, Christian comic Brad Stine yelled at me about wearing a helmet while riding my bike. He also yelled about seatbelt and car-seat laws, smoking laws, and gay marriage through his stand-up routine that I sat in the front row for.

Back When the World Was Grayscale

by Mitchell Atencio 02-18-2022

A retro portable television. Via Alamy.

If we analyze our current conditions, avoid circular debates, stop waiting for heroes to save us, speak honestly about our past and present, and try to change today, we might just save tomorrow.

Christian Scholars Think We’re Spending Too Much on War

by Mitchell Atencio 02-02-2022

CODEPINK marches with the peace tank during the Deadline for Democracy protest at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 6, 2021. For this event, a number of social justice organization in the Washington, D.C., area collaborated to shut down access to the Capitol as a means of pressuring Congress to act on key pieces of the Democratic agenda. (Photo by Allison Bailey/NurPhoto)

In the letter, the scholars criticize the budget being set $25 billion higher than President Joe Biden had requested. They write that the country urgently needs to “shift our security and foreign policy strategy” to break cycles of violence, cultivate peace, and practice constructive conflict.

What Does ‘Christian Nonviolence’ Actually Mean?

by Mitchell Atencio 01-25-2022
The cover of "A Field Guide to Christian Nonviolence" features a clenched hand holding an olive branch.

A Field Guide to Christian Nonviolence, by David C. Cramer and Myles Werntz, will be released in February 2022.

For most folks, Christian nonviolence evokes unified images of civil rights marches, Vietnam War resisters, and bumper stickers calling us to “turn the other cheek” or “beat swords into plowshares.” Yet Christian nonviolence isn’t a single school of thought, “but rather a rich conversation wrestling with what it means to live out the biblical call to justice amid the complexities of ever-changing political, social, and moral situations.”

The Perfect Soundtrack for MLK Weekend: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Mitchell Atencio 01-13-2022

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1963 via Reuters. 

One of the best jobs I ever held was assistant manager at Grace Records. I was a founding staff member at the new and used vinyl shop in Arizona, a father and son venture that was a thrill to work at.

Until the Year Wears Out: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Mitchell Atencio 01-07-2022
A deflated smiley-faced balloon in the street

I’m not sure when it becomes too late to wish someone a happy new year. Some restrict the salutation to just the first three days, others extend it out to the first week, or even all of January. I tend to just wish a happy new year until the year wears out (a very fluid standard, I know).

After Investigation, Preemptive Love Founders ‘Will Not Be Returning’

by Mitchell Atencio 01-05-2022
Headshots of Jeremy Courtney and Jessica Courtney, and the Preemptive Love logo. Screengrabs from Preemptive Love website.

Headshots of Jeremy Courtney and Jessica Courtney, and the Preemptive Love logo. Screengrabs from Preemptive Love website.

Preemptive Love Coalition’s board of directors announced on Jan. 4 that the organization’s founders, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney, would not be returning to the organization in any capacity, after an investigation into the Courtneys’ leadership.

Former Staff Accuse Preemptive Love Founders of Abusive Leadership

by Mitchell Atencio 12-16-2021

A model wears a T-shirt available for purchase at Preemptive Love Coalition’s website. Image via preemptivelove.shop

Former employees at Preemptive Love Coalition, an international relief organization, have alleged that its leaders created an abusive environment. On Dec. 15, Ben Irwin, the organization’s former director of communications and public relations, wrote on Twitter and in subsequent posts to Medium, that Preemptive Love’s founders, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney, “abused, gaslit, threatened, and mistreated dozens of staff over the years.”

All 3 Men Found Guilty in Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

by Madison Muller, by Mitchell Atencio 11-24-2021

A woman reacts outside the Glynn County Courthouse after the jury reached a guilty verdict in the trial of William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael, and Gregory McMichael, charged with the February 2020 murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, in Brunswick, Ga., November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A jury in Brunswick, Ga., found all three defendants guilty of murder Wednesday for chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery while he was out on a run in February 2020. Faith leaders across the country showed gratitude for the verdict while noting the grief for Arbery’s family and the work of justice still to be done.

Nothing New Under the Sun: What Our Editors Are Reading

by Mitchell Atencio 11-19-2021

By Jason Blackeye via unsplash.com. 

Even with the mass upheaval of our societal patterns and expectations brought by the pandemic, and the spread of global protests against racism and police brutality, our material conditions are not changing at the pace of our rhetoric.

‘God Is Weeping’: Faith Leaders React to Rittenhouse Verdict

by Mitchell Atencio, by Betsy Shirley 11-19-2021

Judge Bruce Schroeder listens during Kyle Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Nov. 19, 2021. Sean Krajacic/Pool via Reuters.

Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of homicide, attempted homicide, and reckless endangerment by a Wisconsin jury on Nov. 19, following a trial that lasted nearly two weeks.

Rittenhouse, then 17, shot and killed two people and injured a third in Kenosha, Wis., during August 2020 protests against police brutality and racism after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back in the presence of three of his children, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

The defense team argued that Rittenhouse, now 18, traveled to the protests to provide medical aid and defend a used-car dealership from property damage; they argued that Rittenhouse only fired his weapon in self-defense.

“Kyle was a 17-year-old kid out there trying to help this community,” Mike Richards, Rittenhouse’s defense attorney, said in his closing statements.

The prosecuting attorney, Thomas Binger, told the jury, “This is a case in which a 17-year-old teenager killed two unarmed men and severely wounded a third person with an AR-15,” saying that Rittenhouse was not defending his home or family, and that Rittenhouse had stayed out past Kenosha’s citywide curfew.

Rittenhouse’s case elevated national conversations over self-defense, vigilantism, and gun access.

Web 3.0 and the Church

by Mitchell Atencio 11-17-2021
New internet technologies present new options—and questions—for Christians' work for justice.
An illustration of differently shaped blocks floating above the entrance to a church

Illustration by Glenn Harvey

IN 1995, Bob Sabath, then-administrator of Sojourners’ new website, wrote about how the World Wide Web might expand and change faith communities. “This next decade may show that the greatest social impact of the computer is not as an office automation tool, but as a communication tool, as a community-building tool.” Sabath, a founder of Sojourners and now director of web and digital technology, wrote that the web “could become a useful tool for helping us find each other and the resources we need to do the work we feel called to do.”

This was a prescient view on a technology that was only at its early stages. Of course, no one could predict exactly how monumentally transformative that technology would be. Sabath wrote during “Web 1.0,” also known as the “read-only” era. Web 1.0 essentially provided digital brochures (or, for churches, bulletins); it gave users a way to access and read information but minimal opportunities for interaction.

Web 2.0, or the “read-and-write” era, gave people a way to interact with others and generate their own content. Myspace, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all represent read-and-write usages, but do so with online forums and web applications. It’s the type of internet most people are familiar with, even if not by name.

The currently developing era of the internet is known as Web 3.0. While definitions vary, decentralization is often a key component of technologies that fall under Web 3.0. Blockchains are one of those technologies, and they enable cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin and Ether) and nonfungible tokens (NFTs)—the digital art that exploded in popularity over the last year.

The Unorthodox Love of Venus and Serena’s Father

by Mitchell Atencio 11-17-2021

Demi Singleton as Serena Williams, Will Smith as Richard Williams, and Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘King Richard.’ Photo credit: Chiabella James, courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

The film opens when Venus and Serena are already near teenhood and tennis stardom. We don’t suffer through scenes of the two first learning to swing a racket, and this allows the movie to focus on the true challenge the sisters faced: the classism and racism of rich, white, tennis institutions that had little time for two Black girls from Compton, Calif. — an issue that has improved but still exists in U.S. tennis.