Hannah Bowman 7-06-2022

Flowers and candles are seen left along the parade route after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill., July 5, 2022. REUTERS/Cheney Orr.

While reducing the prevalence of guns in our society is essential, I am wary of religious gun control efforts that focus primarily on federal gun legislation because laws ultimately rely on frameworks of punitive justice, criminalizing anyone who breaks the law. A holistic approach to gun violence should imagine new alternatives for a safer society — alternatives that go beyond the criminal legal system and gun control laws. To imagine these alternatives, we can turn to the lessons of the transformative justice movement, which seeks to address violence without relying on state violence, police, or prisons.

A diverse crowd of people stand in a church wearing masks during a vigil.

Mourners gather at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church for a vigil on May 15, 2022, the day after a shooting at TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York. REUTERS/Jeffrey T. Barnes 

Before the public outcry dies down — and isn’t sad that we all know it will? — we must boldly and unequivocally denounce the great replacement theory and instead live out the great commandment. The great replacement theory draws on the worst of our nation’s history, falsely implying that nonwhite people are threats to our nation’s future. But the great commandment offers the best of our civic and religious values, reminding us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves; it lends itself to a moral vision of multi-racial democracy in which everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion, is equally valued.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James listens to man who became emotional during a prayer vigil across the street from the TOPS supermarket a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, May 15, 2022. Seth Harrison/USA Today Network via Reuters

“That was an evil, racist, white supremacist,” Reverend Darius Pridgen said from the pulpit at True Bethel Baptist Church on Sunday. “He literally looked for a zip code that had the highest concentration of African Americans.”

Mitchell Atencio 4-14-2022

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.

Supreme Court Justice nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies on the second day of her nomination hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary panel in Washington DC. on March 22, 2022. Photo credit: Patsy Lynch/MediaPunch via Reuters.

Hawley's accusation that Jackson is soft on crime reveals a troubling perspective on people who enact harm. Hawley is one of several Republican senators who sorts the world into two types of people: People who are evil and, if given the chance, will commit horrific, reprehensible crimes over and over again, and people like the rest of us, people who need to be protected from the evil people. According to this line of thinking, ensuring this protection shouldn’t rule out the harshest measures of isolation and punishment the state can enact. We separate “them” from “us” by forever marking them as dangerous.

Blue broken plate on a blue background. Photo credit: Natalia Kokhanova / Alamy. Image via Reuters.

As Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann has reflected, the imprecatory psalms put words to our thirst for vengeance. In praying these psalms, we process our rage and give our violent impulses over to God. “O God, break the teeth in their mouths,” one psalmist prays; “let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime” (Psalm 58:6, 8). I’m all for this kind of prayer. I’m all for praying the entire range of the psalms — even the ones that sometimes make us uncomfortable or aren’t necessarily welcome in church. And if there is any occasion for an imprecatory psalm, certainly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in all of its brutality and sheer horror, is one of those occasions.

Juliet Vedral 2-23-2022

'Lincoln’s Dilemma,' Apple TV+

Lincoln’s Dilemma, released this month on Apple TV+, presents a complicated version of the 16th president. The four-part series portrays Lincoln as a man of his time and place, wrestling with the culture war of his day: slavery.

Greg Taylor 12-29-2021

Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter, by Kelly Brown Douglas

KELLY BROWN DOUGLAS (The Black Christ) is known for widening the circle for disinherited people to identify with the Black Jesus of her mentor, James H. Cone. In Resurrection Hope, Douglas wrestles with how ongoing Black suffering challenges her faith, sparked by questions her adult son asks when yet another Black person is murdered by police or violently assaulted. “How long do we have to wait for the justice of God?” Douglas’ son asks. “I get it, that Christ is Black, but that doesn’t seem to be helping us right now.”

Her son’s visceral theodicy questions cause Douglas to wonder if her Christology of a Black Jesus who identifies with those experiencing “crucifying realities” is enough.

Douglas digs into history and details anti-Black narratives and white supremacy in the very architecture of Christian theology. She traces the development of what W.E.B. Du Bois called “the white gaze.” This white way of knowing “fosters death for Black bodies” by both overt means and the insidious silence of “good white people.”

Faith-Marie Zamblé 12-29-2021
A weary middle-aged Black woman looks up from ironing clothes in a dark room

Caroline, or Change performed at the Playhouse Theatre in London / Alastair Muir / Shutterstock

“NOTHING EVER HAPPEN under ground in Louisiana / Cause they ain’t no under ground in Louisiana. / There is only / under water.” With these words, playwright Tony Kushner draws us into the conundrum at the heart of the musical Caroline, or Change: How do you swim when you’re already so far below sea level? Caroline Thibodeaux (played by Sharon D Clarke in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival production) is our eponymous anti-heroine, a 39-year-old maid and divorced mother of four, trying desperately to answer this question in every area of her life.

Based in part on Kushner’s own childhood, Caroline, or Change speaks through the sounds of Motown, gospel, klezmer, and blues—handily packaged by composer Jeanine Tesori—to tell the story of an uneasy friendship between Caroline and her employer’s son, 8-year-old Noah Gellman. The Gellman home becomes a larger metaphor for a country stratified by a brutal socioeconomic caste system, emphasized in the staging by a multilevel set. The structure of 1960s America is made visible, placing each character in predetermined roles, and thus unable to truly see each other.

Jenna Barnett 11-24-2021

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers. If we’re being honest, most of the food tastes better the day after the feast. Cranberry sauce becomes a sandwich spread, ham goes into a breakfast taco, bones go into a pot to make enough broth for several weeks of soup. Some happenings are so big that there’s always much leftover.

But not all leftovers are good. Trauma, for instance, can linger for months or years after the initial act of violence.

JR. Forasteros 11-23-2021

The High Five Interchange in Dallas via shutterstock.com.

Earlier this month, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made headlines by announcing that the recently-passed $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill will be used in part to address racial inequities in U.S. highway design. “If a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and a Black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach … in New York was designed too low for it to pass by, that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices,” he said.

A number of Americans were confused — how can concrete and paint be racist? But Buttigieg is correct: Highways and bridges are examples of structural racism literally built into the American cityscape. Reconstructing more equitable cities will require prophetic imagination and real, political solutions. They will vary from city to city. From suburb to suburb. So if you’re looking for a place to start, look in your own neighborhood.

White nationalists participate in a torch-lit march on the grounds of the University of Virginia ahead of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Va., on August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

A federal jury in Charlottesville, Va., looking into the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in 2017 found defendants liable in four out of six counts and awarded $25 million in damages, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The jury awarded the money to nine people who suffered injuries, the New York Times and the Associated Press reported.

Chris Hoke 11-19-2021

A woman, who only wanted to use her first name, Maria, from Kenosha, Wis., shows her support for Kyle Rittenhouse with a sign at the Kenosha County Courthouse during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Photo by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, via Reuters.

The United States, regrettably, is still struggling to right the longstanding racial bias in our courts and policing. But one area we have entirely failed to examine is who gets labeled as a “gang” and what gets labeled as “gang activity.”

Illustration of strings tied around a history book pulling it in different directions

Illustration by Michael George Haddad

DESPITE THE FACT that critical race theory (CRT) is a complicated academic theory that some scholars use to examine disproportionate outcomes in the criminal justice system, school board meetings across the U.S. have erupted in passionate debates with parents demanding it be banned.

Ironically, CRT cannot be taught to children because it is not age appropriate for K-12—just as we would not teach advanced nuclear physics to schoolchildren. Yet the strategic placement by far-right activists of a narrative that CRT has crept into K-12 education is causing dramatic outbursts of racial anxiety. All this passion could be rerouted to address an important question that everyone cares about: What should children be taught about race and racism in the United States? This conversation, if done well, could actually move our society toward much-needed racial healing.

Gina Ciliberto 8-25-2021

Sister Elise García gives the presidential address at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious 2021 conference. Screenshot by Sojourners. 

Every year the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, an association made up of leaders of institutes for Catholic sisters in the United States, hosts an international assembly. This year, it opened with an apology.

Prasanta Verma 6-10-2021

A recent report by Stop AAPI Hate, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Asian American Psychological Association found that Asian Americans who have experienced racism are more stressed by anti-Asian hate than the pandemic. Further, it found that 1 in 5 Asian Americans who have experienced racism show signs of racial trauma.

Jonathan Tran 5-20-2021

Photo by Johnny Silvercloud | Shutterstock

The question is: How do we broaden our bandwidth for advocating with our African American brothers and sisters while also bringing into view what is happening to Asian Americans in this moment? How does this moment continue the entire history of anti-Asian American racism? How can we expose the ways “racial capitalism” has sought to turn “non-white” races against each other?


Author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, Heather McGhee speaks with Rev. Jim Wallis on the impacts racism has on our economy. Changing the narrative, she says, goes hand in hand with comprehensive policy.

Cynthia R. Wallace 2-03-2021

If the empathy debate teaches us anything, it’s that for all its power, empathy on its own will not solve our problems.

Jim Wallis 12-10-2020

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

At a recent annual meeting, seminary presidents in the Southern Baptist Convention doubled down on the SBC’s dismissal of “critical race theory,” which examines the issues of embedded racism across institutions and culture in American society. CRT shows how white supremacy — the belief that some people are more valuable than other people because of their skin color — is not just a personal prejudice but a structural and societal practice in America.