religious leaders

Image via RNS/[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Black faith leaders and social justice advocates are commemorating the lynching of Anthony Crawford, a man who owned 427 acres in Abbeville, S.C., when he was killed on Oct. 21, 1916.

He had been jailed after a dispute with a white store owner over the price of cottonseed. He was released, but was abducted by a large mob of white men and lynched, his body riddled with bullets.

Image via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/RNS.

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Fencer extraordinaire

Muhammad will wear her hijab as she represents the U.S. in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “The sport let her express her athletic talent, and the uniform allowed her to stay true to her faith,” writes U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Phyllis Tickle. Image via Karen Pulfer Focht/RNS.

They preached and inspired. They wrote and taught. Some lobbied in the halls of government. Others toiled to protect the environment and educate the young. Several died at the hands of persecutors. Here is a list of notable faith leaders — and one champion of secularism — who left us in 2015.

Stephen Mattson 04-03-2014

Christianity consists of thousands of tribes, cliques, and communities — each with different theologies, traditions, and doctrinal beliefs. Within a Westernized society obsessed with celebrity, entertainment, popularity, conflict, and money, it can be easy for Christian groups and communities to clash with each other.

For the modern church, much of its recent legacy has involved conflict, division, and controversy. Christians have developed a love-hate relationship with theologians, pastors, and church leaders — and it’s dividing the church.

Many Christians see their faith journeys as series of either/or situations and decisions — this is bad. Because as much as we want things to be clear, concise, and black-and-white, reality is complex and messy.

Pride, greed, hatred, bitterness, fear, and ignorance often cause Christians to promote distrust instead of unity — but what if Christians were more patient, graceful, and forgiving of each other?

QR Blog Editor 06-27-2013

Religious leaders from across the country revealed their thoughts on yesterday’s DOMA and Prop. 8 decisions. Stating both good and bad opinions, religious leaders touched on various viewpoints and shared examples of how yesterday’s decisions will affect the future of religion across the United States. USA Today reports:

Religious leaders on opposing ends of the gay-marriage debate alternately referred to Wednesday as a tragic and a celebratory day after the Supreme Court's decisions on two same-sex marriage cases.

But the traditional religious opponents of gay marriage remained steadfastly against the rulings, condemning them as far reaching and inconsistent with religious principles.

Read more here.


Daniel Burke 07-20-2012
RNS photos by (left) Roger Barone (TRNS)/Flickr, (right) Flickr

RNS photos by (left) Roger Barone (TRNS)/Flickr, (right) Flickr

President Obama and his likely GOP challenger Mitt Romney called for prayers and reflection after a deadly shooting at a Colorado movie theater, while liberal religious leaders called for stricter gun control laws.

Police have identified James Holmes, 24, as the man who opened fire at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, killing at least 12 and wounding 59 others in Aurora, Colo.

President Obama cut short his campaign trip in Florida, instead delivering a brief address in Fort Myers. “There are going to be other days for politics,” Obama said. “This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”

Obama touched on the fragility of life, his concerns as the father of two young daughters, and urged Americans to "spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us."

the Web Editors 10-28-2011

"Where my feminists at?" on #OccupyWallStreet. Test your global hunger knowledge. Race and OWS. Poverty in your backyard. How to be a "1 Percenter." OWS to march on banks. Romney embraces climate change denial. Magicians say their craft makes them see faith as little more than "hocus-pocus." Catholic University sued by Muslim students. And faith, political leaders find out how far food stamps actually go.

Sojourners Associate Editor Rose Marie Berger addresses hundreds gathered near Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. last week, to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

David Vanderveen 10-04-2011

col-local-currents-David-Vanderveen-by-Gabe-Sullivan-2968Being an Evangelical Christian means accepting grace and being honest about your faith with others.

First, I think you have be honest with yourself and God; and, then, when you’re as true as you can be about both what you actually know and what you actually don’t -- that’s what’s worth sharing.

Cathleen Falsani 10-04-2011


The U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin hearing oral arguments this week in one of the most important church-state cases in decades. In Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the court will consider whether a Lutheran school in Michigan is subject to a federal law banning discrimination based on a disability.

Timothy King 10-04-2011


Scripture constantly should be challenging our assumptions about our lives and in every aspect of society. Transformation is needed on a personal and also a political level. Scriptural priorities shouldn't be glossed over in order to protect political ideologies and comfort zones.

If we believe that what Jesus taught remains just as relevant today as it did when he physically walked among us, then it should still be a comfort to those on the margins of society and offensive to the wealthy and powerful. That doesn't mean that the wealthy and powerful can't be good and faithful followers of Christ, but Jesus did warn them that their walk will be a hard one. Wealth and power bring unique and difficult temptations ... If you never feel uncomfortable when you read the Gospels then you aren't paying attention.

the Web Editors 09-23-2011

troy-davi-amnest-intl-photo"Continuing a cycle of violence through state-sanctioned actions does not bring justice but only creates a culture of death and retribution. As a pro-life Christian, I believe the execution of Troy Davis shows a failure of moral leadership by both our country and the state of Georgia. The doubt surrounding the case of Troy Davis has served as a wake-up call to many in this country that our justice system is flawed and should not hold the power of life and death over any person. Justice should restore and heal, not destroy." -- Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis statement today, Friday Sept. 23


I just returned from a very moving convocation at the Claremont School of Theology where I am on the faculty. We were celebrating the historic founding of a new interreligious theological university that brings together institutions representing the three Abrahamic faiths, along with our newest partner, the Jains. The Jains are an eastern religion founded in India over 2,500 years ago who are perhaps best known for their deep commitment to the concept of no-harm or ahimsa.

While each partner institution will continue to train religious leaders in their own traditions, the Claremont Lincoln University will be a space where future religious leaders and scholars can learn from each other and collaboratively seek solutions to major global issues that no one single religion can solve alone. The CLU's founding vision of desegregating religion was reflected in the extraordinary religious diversity present at the convocation held in a standing room-only auditorium. I sat next to a Jewish cantor and a Muslim woman who had tears flowing down her face as we listened to the prayers offered in all four religions along with a reflection from a Humanist speaker.

Margaret Benefiel 09-06-2011

Yesterday, the U.S. and Canada celebrated Labor Day, a day honoring workers. What does it mean to honor workers at a time of high unemployment, job insecurity, and the threat of lay-offs? In the U.S., the unemployment rate remains just over 9 percent, with no decrease of the rate in August and the recovery of jobs apparently stalled. As President Obama prepares to deliver his "jobs speech" this week, he faces immense challenges.

In the U.S., the first celebration of Labor Day was held in 1882 in New York City, organized by the Central Labor Union. In Canada, Labor Day can be traced back even further, to when Toronto Typographers went on strike for a 58-hour work week in 1872. Religious leaders, both nationally and internationally, recognizing the sanctity of labor, joined labor leaders in calling for justice for workers. Pope Leo XIII, for example, issued Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labor) in 1891, building a biblical foundation for the dignity of the worker.

Steve Clemens 08-31-2011

Rose Berger from Sojourners magazine spoke to the hundreds of us gathered in Lafayette Park just before we processed to the fence surrounding the White House. She mentioned the irony of building a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by the powerful political forces who disregarded or dismissed his message during his lifetime -- we only honor him after he is safely dead. How ironic also that the dedication of the monument was postponed by the most recent example of significant climate change. Will evidence of climate change begin to also signal political change?

Rose called on us to take up the banner of the Living Spirit of Dr. King within ourselves and allow it to inspire us as we risked arrest by calling on President Obama to take a clear stand to help protect our environment and begin to make a U-turn from the climate change path we are traveling as a nation and culture. We are part of a two-week vigil and civil disobedience action calling the president to deny permission for building the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from the environmentally devastating tar sands/oil shale development in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas.

Rose Marie Berger 08-24-2011

I want to beat televangelist Pat Robertson to the jump on yesterday's East Coast earthquake.

Robertson is genius at knowing the mind of God when it comes to natural disasters. He blamed the Haiti earthquake on a God-offending "pact with the devil." Hurricane Katrina was God's pay-back for abortion in America.

Having spent some time with the Lord recently, I feel there is a message for President Obama: It is God's wrath that shook the White House yesterday. This was a 5.8 wake-up call.

Why is God all wrought up this time? What is it that God wants President Obama to do? Well, my friends, the issue is climate change. Global warming. Specifically, the Keystone XL "Dirty Oil" pipeline.

Jim Rice 07-19-2011

Kindle 3photo © 2010 Zhao ! | more info (via: Wylio)Sales of printed books are down 9 percent this year, supplanted in part by digital versions on Kindles, Nooks, and even iPhone apps. But the real threat to long-form, hard-copy reading -- that is, paper books -- is inside our heads, according to Johann Hari, a columnist for the Independent in London.

"The mental space [books] occupied is being eroded by the thousand Weapons of Mass Distraction that surround us all," Hari told me last week. "It's hard to admit, but we all sense it: it is becoming almost physically harder to read books."

[Okay, I admit I didn't actually talk with Hari. The quote is from his newspaper column. But pop over to Twitter, and you can see how, in effect, he gave me permission to paraquote him at #interviewbyhari.]

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, long-form reading. Hari quotes David Ulin, author of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, who wrote that he "became aware, in an apartment full of books, that I could no longer find within myself the quiet necessary to read." Ulin wrote that he would sit down with a book, and find his mind wandering, enticing him to check his email, or Twitter, or Facebook. "What I'm struggling with," he writes, "is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there's something out there that merits my attention."

Jim Wallis 06-23-2011

Last evening, President Obama made his long-awaited announcement on beginning withdrawal of the 103,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Eugene Cho 06-20-2011
It's likely that some of you will take offense at the title of this post. But if you read through the post, it'll certainly make more sense in the larger context.
Kathryn Reklis 06-20-2011
As I play with my young son, walk to the grocery store, or wait for a subway, I feel the presence of emails I haven't answered, Facebook invites I haven't responded to, tweets I haven't sent.