Online Assistant

Ryan Hammill may be the Online Assistant, but he still uses a flip phone without internet access. He comes from that technology backwater known as the San Francisco Bay Area, where he grew up playing baseball, avoiding yard work, and reading with a flashlight under the covers. After high school he lived with monks in the French village of Taizé. Ryan graduated from Occidental College in 2015 where he majored in history and took enough classes for a Russian minor, but didn’t realize it and so never submitted the papers. He was also part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Occidental, an experience that helped him to combine his concern for justice with the evangelical faith of his upbringing. He is thrilled and honored that he gets the chance to continue to think through these issues with Sojourners.

You can also follow him on Twitter as he tweets from his desktop computer @ryanahammill.

Posts By This Author

Martyrs in Orange: One Year Later Coptic Orthodox Church Observes Feast Day of 21 Christians

by Ryan Hammill 02-15-2016

Illustration by Nikola Saric

The men in black uniforms stand behind their prisoners, who kneel on the beach. The kneeling men wear bright orange jumpsuits. The men wearing black, terrorists affiliated with ISIS, hold knives. A subtitle on the video reads: “The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian church.” The spokesman addresses the camera, and then the prisoners are beheaded.

Rise of the Nones in New Hampshire: Bernie First-Ever Non-Christian Primary Winner

by Ryan Hammill 02-10-2016

Image via CJ Hanevy /

Bernie Sanders’ primary victory in the Granite State Feb. 9 made him the first-ever non-Christian to win a presidential primary in U.S. history. In addition, depending on whether you count Barry Goldwater as Jewish (his ancestors were Jewish but he identified as Episcopalian), Bernie Sanders could be considered the first Jewish primary winner in history as well.

Christian Colleges Apply for Title IX Exemptions, Students Hold Protest

by Ryan Hammill 02-09-2016

Image via Joseph Olvera/Eliel Cruz

Students at Biola University and Oklahoma Baptist University assembled Feb. 9 in order to protest their colleges’ requests to be exempt from Title IX requirements that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  As many as 60 Christian schools have submitted similar requests since 2014, when the Justice Department announced that Title IX protections extended to transgender students.

Archbishop Justin on Anglican Leaders’ Meeting: It Was a ‘God Moment’

by Ryan Hammill 01-21-2016

Archbishop Justin Welby. Image via Mobilising Faith Communities in Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict/Wikimedia Commons

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the “first-among-equals” leader of the world’s Anglican churches, has published his reflection on the 2016 Primates MeetingThe Jan. 11-15 meeting of the leaders, or primates, of the Anglican Communion ended with a three-year suspension of The Episcopal Church’s right to represent the Anglican Communion on interfaith or ecumenical bodies and vote on doctrine and polity because of The Episcopal Church’s unilateral decision to recognize same-sex marriage.

QUIZ: Which Kind of Nonviolent Activist Are You?

There are different ways to understand the gospel's call to peace — and that's a good thing. In the last century alone, many influential Christian leaders have grappled with violence, justice, and peace, and ended up all over the nonviolence map. Where do you land? Take our quiz and find out!

That Time C.S. Lewis Predicted the Future

by Ryan Hammill 12-17-2015


Image via John Keogh/Flickr

Lewis calls us to caution, to humility in the face of our quest for power. Just because we can does not mean we should. Even if you’re an optimistic transhumanist professor in England. That Hideous Strength is a devastating picture of that danger, more than fifty years ahead of its time.

We Can Respond to ISIS as Christians or as Americans. But Not Both.

by Ryan Hammill 12-11-2015

Image via /

So what do we do about ISIS? The U.S. and the U.K. have decided that the answer is to bomb them. And it’s looking more and more like the answer will become to send troops.

But what do we do about ISIS? Does it make a difference whether I respond as an American or as a Christian? These days it’s hard to tell a distinction between the two. And that’s the question, and the answer, that scares me most. 


Rally Outside New Trump Hotel in D.C. Denounces ‘The Donald’ and Racism

by Ryan Hammill 12-11-2015

Image via Ryan Hammill/Sojourners.

Speakers at the rally included representatives of the Islamic and Christian communities, the National Organization for Women, Code Pink, and Ghada Mukhdad, a Syrian refugee and member of the Syrian Civil Coalition which, according to their website, is a “lobby of Syrian civil society organizations, activists, and initiatives” that seeks to address “the increasing gap between the needs and priorities of the Syrian society on one hand and those making decisions concerning Syria.” 

Why Are We Still Misquoting Faith Leaders to Justify War?

by Ryan Hammill 12-04-2015

Image via  /

I wonder if Pope Francis knows that he’s being used to justify bombing Syria.

After an all-day debate on Dec. 2, the House of Commons authorized the British government to begin bombing ISIS in Syria. Hours later, RAF Tornadoes attacked an oil field in eastern Syria.

During the debate, Caroline Spelman, the member of parliament who represents the Church of England in the Commons, noted that, “The Archbishop of Canterbury made it clear that, in his view, force might be necessary to keep the refugees safe.”

Then, citing Pope Francis, she said, “‘Where aggression is unjust, aggression is licit against the aggressor.’ These are views which I share, which is why I will support the motion.”

The Conversation on Race in America Is About to Take a New Turn

by Ryan Hammill 11-20-2015

Screenshot from trailer for 'Shining a Light'/A+E

After the shooting that left nine members of Emanuel AME Church dead on June 17, an employee at A+E Networks asked, “Can’t we do something?”

Tonight, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, and many other musicians will provide an answer. In partnership with United Way and iHeartRadio, A + E Networks is hosting “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America.”

This is more than just another benefit concert.

“This is going to invent a hybrid, a new form,” the famous producer and director Ken Ehrlich said.

Why I Wish Today's Republicans Were More Like Ronald Reagan

by Ryan Hammill 11-19-2015

Image in public domain

President Reagan was not the Evil Emperor — even for progressives. He granted amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants, vocally supported federal gun control, and would probably be written off as a RINO by today’s conservatives for backtracking on his own tax cuts.

And while more flexibility on these issues among the Republicans of today would be commendable and a relief, I think Nov. 19 is the perfect day for the ghost of the Gipper to come haunt his party on an entirely different issue.

That’s because exactly thirty years ago today, on Nov. 19, 1985, President Reagan arrived in Geneva, Switzerland to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, face-to-face. The event was carefully planned and statements meticulously edited for the press and the television cameras. It was the first time in six years that the leaders of the world’s two superpowers had met in person. Huge obstacles loomed between the two leaders. With the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the arms race, and Reagan's “Star Wars” missile defense program all causing tension, was it even worthwhile to meet?

France Steps Up Welcome to Refugees, While GOP Tries to End It in U.S.

by Ryan Hammill 11-19-2015

Image via  /

French president François Hollande announced on Nov. 18 that France will continue to resettle refugees.

Over the next two years, Hollande said that France would welcome 30,000 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, among others. This is even more than his September commitment of 24,000.

Survey Says Americans More Pessimistic Than Ever. But Here's Why There's Hope.

by Ryan Hammill 11-17-2015

Image via  /

Even though the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, 72 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. is still in recession, a figure unchanged from 2014. While that figure has remained steady, this year has seen a dramatic spike of discontent regarding economic inequality. Over the past four years, only slight majorities (53 to 55 percent) have agreed that “One of the big problems in this country is that we don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.” But in 2015, 65 percent of Americans agreed.

And Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly agree, at least on this: The federal government is looking out for the rich. The American Dream, seemingly in question since the Great Recession, is now only an idle daydream for most.

And as Americans give up on the American Dream, they grow more suspicious of immigrants. In 2012, 57 percent of Americans believed that immigrants strengthened the U.S. That number has now, dangerously, fallen below a majority, to 46 percent. And it has gotten personal — more people report being bothered when they encounter non-English speakers.

Bill Cosby and the Question of the Honorary Degree

by Ryan Hammill 10-28-2015

Image via  /

As sexual assault on college campuses became a national conversation in the U.S., dozens of women came forward with stories that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them — and in many cases, that he drugged and raped them.

In response, some colleges that awarded Cosby an honorary degree have rescinded the award. Fordham and Marquette were the first two to do it, but with Springfield College’s recent announcement this week that it was revoking the comedian’s honorary degree, that number has grown to 12.

Still, a majority of the schools that awarded him a degree — at least 60 — have not revoked the honor. Vulture contacted more than 40 of these schools and listed their responses on their site. Some colleges replied that they were currently having discussions about the matter, while others made statements similar to George Washington University’s:

“It has never been the university’s practice to rescind an honorary degree.”

Change Is Afoot Among Evangelicals on Death Penalty

by Ryan Hammill 10-19-2015

Image via  / Shutterstock

The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents over 45,000 churches from almost 40 different denominations, published a resolution Oct. 19 that substantially revises their position on the death penalty.

The resolution casts serious doubt on the fairness of the U.S. criminal justice system, citing, among other things, the use of DNA evidence in the exonerations of 258 people in the first decade of the 21st century. While levelling a substantial critique of criminal justice in the U.S., the resolution does not call for an end to the death penalty, but instead acknowledges both sides as legitimate positions.

I'm a 24-Year-Old Cynic. Here's How I'm Coping.

by Ryan Hammill 10-14-2015

Image via  / Shutterstock

When literary critic Steve Moore praised the novel Infinite Jest for its “sardonic worldview perfect for the irony-filled nineties,” the exasperated author, David Foster Wallace, replied that that was “like saying a ‘kerosen[e]-filled fire extinguisher perfect for the blazing housefire.’”

The ’90s may be over, but the scorching irony of our sardonic age shows no sign of dying out as David Foster Wallace may have hoped.

That we still need writers — and artists, thinkers, and plain old human beings — putting out fires of cynicism is clear enough to me. Not because I hate it. The problem is that I love being the cynic.

Bombing the Good Samaritan: U.S. Destroys Hospital in Afghanistan

by Ryan Hammill 10-06-2015

Image via  / Shutterstock

When I heard that a U.S. military plane blew up a hospital in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, I assumed that it was a mistake, albeit a deeply tragic one. That’s what NATO claimed.

“The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” their statement said.

In the heat of the battle, bombs fell where they weren’t supposed to fall.

But the “collateral damage,” 22 dead and 37 injured civilians, may not have been hit on accident.

Thinking Long Thoughts with Marilynne Robinson

by Ryan Hammill 09-14-2015

Image via S. Tore/Flickr

The Library of Congress’ National Book Festival featured more than 100 authors, but Pulitzer Prize-winning Marilynne Robinson (and Nobel Literature Prize dark horse — but I have my fingers crossed) was my clear highlight. She spoke for an hour with The Washington Post’s Book World editor, Ron Charles, about her newest novel Lila, public discourse on religion, and why we’ll never get to read any of her sermons.

In one of his first questions to Robinson, Charles asked why she seems to be one of the few contemporary American novelists who depict religion in a positive light.

It’s true, she said. With the proliferation of the out-of-touch pastors and abusive priests in our national literature, an observer would think that Americans are an irreligious bunch. But many Americans have a deeply-treasured friendship with a minister.

“It is part of our national character to ridicule what we value,” she said.

“And this makes it difficult to articulate what we actually value.”

The New Stephen Colbert: Humor Meets Honesty

by Ryan Hammill 09-09-2015

Image via CBS/YouTube

This simultaneously funny and touching interaction opened a space for Colbert to ask Jeb Bush, somewhat abruptly, “In what ways do you politically differ from your brother George?”

Bush tried to joke, but this time, Colbert was serious. He insisted on a real response.

And because he was not asking Jeb to criticize his brother, only to point out a political difference, the governor must have felt obliged.

“He didn’t veto things,” Bush said.

“He didn’t bring order, fiscal restraint.”

With a combination of satire and earnestness, Colbert finagled an honest, illuminating answer from Jeb Bush about George’s legacy, something most media figures would have had a much harder time doing.