the Web Editors 09-15-2016

Image via a katz/

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Sandra Bland’s family was settled for $1.9 million, a family attorney announced on Sept. 15. 

Sandra Bland was pulled over by a state trooper in Waller County, Texas for failing to signal before she changed lanes. 

When Bland made an attempt to record the state trooper’s interaction with her, she was arrested. Three days later she was found dead in her cell by hanging.

Adam Ericksen 08-31-2016

Colin Kaepernick at the 13rd Annual Cartoon Network Hall Of Game Awards on Feb. 9, 2013 in Los Angeles. Ga Fullner /

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand while the National Anthem played on Friday night. He plans to continue his protest into the season. He defended his decision over the weekend, stating that, “This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all – and it’s not happening right now.”

By sitting down, Kaepernick is standing up for those people who remain voiceless. “There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That’s not right.”

Eric Clayton 07-13-2016

Image via Maryland National Guard /

I remember talking to my mom on my walk into work not long after the death of Freddie Gray. She had been watching the news and was wondering what my sense of things was on the ground.

“Are there protests?” she asked. “Are people upset?”

the Web Editors 07-08-2016

Image via Barry Caruth /

In what is being called the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11, five police officers were killed in a mass shooting in Dallas.

Image via Rev. Jeff Bunke / RNS

Orange isn’t a traditional liturgical color in the Episcopal Church.

But on Sunday, June 5, Episcopal clergy across the country are planning to wear orange stoles as a stand against gun violence, inspired by the Wear Orange campaign.

Image via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / File photo / RNS

After 11 years of defiantly occupying a parish building that the Archdiocese of Boston ordered closed in 2004, the people of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Scituate, Mass., are finally handing over the keys. The tenacious protesters, angry their parish would be closed in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, lost their final Hail Mary bid to reopen the church May 16 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case.

Bill McKibben 05-03-2016
buttchi 3 Sha Life / Shutterstock

buttchi 3 Sha Life / Shutterstock

FOR THOSE PAYING attention, this has been a fairly terrifying winter and spring. And I don’t just mean the presidential election. I mean that the signals we’re getting from the natural world indicate we’re crossing thresholds much more quickly than expected.

February, for instance, was the most anomalously hot month ever recorded on the planet, crushing all records. The world had pledged in Paris in December to try to hold global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius—well, February was just about at that level already.

The elevated temperatures were especially noticeable in the Arctic—for long stretches of the winter the region as a whole was as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit above average. (Christmas Eve was almost 50 degrees warmer than normal at the North Pole). Not surprisingly, this meant the lowest levels of Arctic sea ice ever recorded by late March.

Meanwhile in the Antarctic, new data showed that sea level may be set to rise far faster than expected, as the great ice sheets start to slide into the ocean—the water could go up by meters in the course of this century, which would make the defense of most of the world’s great cities a nightmare.

Stephen Mattson 03-16-2016

In today’s political climate we’re witnessing plenty of protesting — there is indeed much to protest. But some Christians, particularly in evangelical circles, believe protesting is sinful, that it’s only something that young, uneducated, unemployed, liberal fools do just for the sake of causing trouble.

Mary Nelson 03-15-2016

“Why did you, American Mother of the Year, commit civil disobedience in front of the Trident nuclear submarine?” a reporter asked the white haired, 78-year-old woman as she left the courthouse.

The woman, accused of being in a little boat blocking a nuclear submarine, answered without a moment’s hesitation.

“I did it for the children of the world,” she said.

the Web Editors 03-03-2016

Image via CNN Breaking News/Twitter

Migrants are stitching their own lips shut to protest the French government’s clearing of the refugee camp in Calais, known as the "the Jungle." Authorities are clearing the southern half of the camp and relocating the refugees, they say in response to unsanitary conditions. They bulldozed a church and a mosque in the camp on Feb. 1.

Lisa Sharon Harper 01-04-2016
jadimages / Shutterstock

jadimages / Shutterstock

If Facebook feeds are any measure of anxiety levels, then we’re reaching a new high. Friends’ posts share news of overt hatred and violence, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades:

  • A seemingly unending onslaught of police killings of unarmed black people.
  • White supremacists shooting people as they pray, setting fire to churches, and shooting into crowds of multiethnic protesters.
  • More than 1,000 mass shootings in the U.S. since the 2012 massacre of children at Sandy Hook.
  • Millions of Syrian and African refugees flowing into Europe—the greatest movement of people across Europe since the Holocaust.
  • The so-called Islamic State ushering in what looks to be a new world war.
  • Oh, and the climate is changing at an alarming rate.

It feels like the world is unraveling.

But what if it is? What if we are, in fact, witnessing the end of the world as we know it? Would that be so bad?

Think about it. The world order, as we know it, rests on deep foundations built by worldwide colonization, imperialism, slavery, patriarchy, exploitation, and ecological consumption. Most of the violence listed above traces back to economic and social systems of dominance—one group over another or humanity’s domination of the rest of creation. White supremacists feel threatened because people of color are finally rising up and saying “No more!”

While 16 mass shootings occurred between 1995 and 2005, there were 38 from 2005 to 2015, according to a recent report by Mother Jones. In recent years, people have pushed against the gun lobby with all their might, but the NRA seemed invincible.

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.” 

the Web Editors 12-02-2015

Image via Brandalism

The French government has banned mass gatherings during COP21 in Paris. So protesters have gotten creative.

The organization Brandalism has posted 600 pieces of artwork and fake advertisements all over the city that mimic real advertisements but actually denounce politicians and corporations for their apathy toward climate change.

Jim Wallis 11-05-2015

Image via /

On their first day in office, newly elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives take an oath on the House floor — to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But before his election as Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan took another oath — this time to the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” a group of several dozen overwhelmingly white, conservative Congressmen from overwhelmingly white, conservative congressional districts.

Specifically, reports the National Review, the oath “extracts Ryan’s word that he will not bring up comprehensive immigration reform ‘so long as Barack Obama is president’ and, as speaker, even in the future, Ryan will not allow any immigration bill to reach the floor for a vote unless a ‘majority’ of GOP members support it.”

In short, in order to become the new speaker of the House, Ryan has vowed to block immigration reform from coming to a vote until January 2017 — at the earliest.

This is the second time Ryan has made a pledge on immigration reform. I remember the first: in 2014, Ryan called me at the Sojourners office, offering to help Christians pass comprehensive immigration reform. That led to meetings in Ryan’s office with key evangelical leaders about how to do that strategically, with Ryan telling us that the “evangelical factor” on immigration reform was something he had never seen before.

He promised us on several occasions that he would help bring immigration reform bills to the floor of the House. Many other Republicans promised the same thing to evangelical pastors who came to visit them from their districts.

Micah Bales 11-05-2015

Image via /

As he poured the gallon jug of kerosene over his head, onlookers reacted with disbelief. Before anyone knew what to do, he lit a match. In one terrible instant, 31-year-old Quaker Norman Morrison set himself ablaze in front of the Pentagon, just 40 feet below the 3rd floor window of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Moments before ignition, Morrison passed his 11-month-old daughter, Emily, to a bystander. His wife and two other children were in Baltimore that day, unaware of what this young husband and father had planned.

Though his terrifying act of self-destruction, Morrison brought the Vietnam War home to a country that was still largely unaware of the widespread atrocities taking place in Southeast Asia. It was hard for most Americans to comprehend the true human cost of U.S. carpet bombing, and the incineration of whole families in the name of peace and security. Even the U.S. military officials leading the war effort did not understand on a visceral level what it meant to burn human beings alive in Vietnam.

Norman Morrison provided a live demonstration.

Leah Gunning Francis

Leah Gunning Francis

Young people ignited by injustice, refusing to back down. A nation waking up to the reality of racial disparities. And a church that can no longer remain silent. This, says Eden Theological Seminary professor Leah Francis Gunning, is the real “Ferguson Effect.” As she protested in Ferguson over the past year, Gunning collected interviews from clergy and young organizers. The result is Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership & Awakening Community (Chalice Press, 2015), a behind-the-scenes look at the role of the church in the Black Lives Matter movement. Sojourners interviewed Francis to learn more about the religious community’s role in supporting and sustaining a racial justice movement started by young activists.

Tony Campolo 08-11-2015
Pope Francis in 2014

Pope Francis in 2014, giulio napolitano /

Someone has said that Pope Francis is really a Protestant. He is, if Protestant is defined as someone who protests. His recent encyclical Laudato si' is a protest against the often irresponsible industries as they pollute the environment.

Pope Francis especially protests the ways in which coal is burned in the production of electricity. He is right to protest. What comes out of the smoke stacks of coal-fed electric power plants is linked to 50,000 deaths a year, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility. Because children and the elderly among the poor are the most vulnerable, the pope, following his namesake, St. Francis, has a special concern for those that Jesus calls "the least of these."


“BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS are killed by the police, too.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a blank stare when I made this statement, even in activist spaces. Occasionally I’ll see a few affirmative nods, but overwhelmingly there is apathy. I leave with a sick feeling, wondering, “Where is the rage and protest for my sisters?” and “Who will fight for my life?”

In May, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100, and Ferguson Action came together for a national day of action for black women and girls. We wanted to shed light on the fact that black women and girls, in all our complexities, have been erased from the broader narrative of police terrorism and modern-day lynching in this country. Cities such as Oakland, Calif., New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Miami all participated in powerful acts of public resistance that involved reading the names of women who have been killed by police and using the hashtag #SayHerName as an awareness tool on social media.

Speaking our sisters’, daughters’, and mothers’ names at a vigil on a day set aside to acknowledge our humanity is powerful, because it says: When the world has forgotten Mya, Aiyana, Tanisha, Rekia (and so many others), we will not forget.

Ryan Herring 08-06-2015

AUG. 9, 2014, is a day I’ll never forget. It was the day that Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson.

For many young people in the United States, especially those of us involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, this was our Sept. 11. We all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the news broke of another police-involved killing of an unarmed black citizen.

I was in the final days of a yearlong internship with Sojourners. My fellow interns and I were on our closing retreat in West Virginia. I was on my phone checking my Twitter timeline when I began to see retweets of images: Michael Brown laid out on Canfield Drive with blood still leaking from his bullet wounds. I remember the anger that instantly came over me. “Not another one!” was all I could think.

As the day wore on, I felt frustrated that I was stuck in a retreat house, forced to sit idly by while the grieving community in Ferguson was antagonized by officers in riot gear with police dogs. I knew then that I had to do whatever it would take to join the people in this fight for justice. I never imagined how this movement would change the way I—and many others—actually do theology.

Lakewood Church / RNS

Joel Osteen preaches at Lakewood church. Photo via Lakewood Church / RNS

Six people were arrested at Lakewood Church June 28 after heckling Pastor Joel Osteen while he was preaching, according to Houston Police.

The individuals are from Wells, Texas, and are associated with The Church of Wells.

Casey Eaglin was at Sunday’s 11 a.m. service and just a few seats away from one of the protesters.

“He jumped up with his Bible and started screaming ‘Shame on you Joel, shame on you Joel’ and Joel kind of just repeated Scripture and they just escorted them out,” said Eaglin.