Joe Kay 10-11-2016

Screenshot, via Washington Post/Access Hollywood.

When we come across bullies and predators in our world, we can respond with revulsion, or with silence. Bullies and predators want to have cheerleaders around them, encouraging their awful words and deeds. If we won’t applaud them, bullies and predators want us to at least abstain from criticizing them. 

That’s why we’ve seen such a pushback against so-called “political correctness” by hate groups.

Andrea Smith 09-19-2016

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When we center healing, we remember that our struggles for social justice are not just about opposing things we do not like, but building the world we would actually like to live in. So many people do not join the hard work of organizing because they see only what they might lose and not what they would gain in world without oppression. That’s why the process is as important as our goal of social justice. Instead of waiting for the infinitely deferred “revolution,” we can start living the revolution now so people can have a taste of what a better world can be.

the Web Editors 09-13-2016

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Sept. 11 left the country in shock, raw, reeling, and devastated from the scale of terror and the overwhelming loss of life. The 15-year anniversary of Sept. 11 provided occasion for mourning, weeping, and sitting with the grieved. But on Sept. 12, many took to Twitter to express the catastrophic effects of the U.S. acting out of its trauma and grief for the past 15 years.

Juliet Vedral 09-11-2016

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Of course, those places were disappearing even when I lived there — that’s part of the charm of New York City, things come and go. In the city that’s very name has been changed to stay current, old things are constantly made new.

But it never became less jarring to note the Twin Towers’ absence on the horizon. 

Mihee Kim-Kort 08-29-2016

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A major tenet of Protestant faith is the act of confession, both as individuals and as a community. Confession can serve as a means to honestly and genuinely express not only one’s failures, or the failures of a community, but to acknowledge and lament the fragility of humanity. What would it mean for our churches to say to our neighbors that we are wholly and painfully aware of the ways in which those who profess to follow the Christian faith have failed over and over in not only the areas of tolerance but compassion? That we do lip service but when it comes to truly knowing and loving our neighbors, we have so much more work in front of us?

Ryan Kuja 05-31-2016

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Rather than something that must be hidden, brokenness becomes a uniting essence. As different as we are, woundedness becomes the very catalyst for transformation, allowing the ladders of hierarchy and walls of division to naturally begin to decay into the common ground of suffering — a suffering that can, and will be, the very site of new life.

the Web Editors 05-27-2016

1. Killing Dylann Roof

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Obama administration’s decision to seek the death penalty for the Charleston shooter: “The hammer of criminal justice is the preferred tool of a society that has run out of ideas.”

2. At Baylor, the Real Story Isn’t Hypocrisy. It’s the Victims of Sexual Assault.

“... this is a story much larger than Ken Starr and Baylor. This story is about power, and money, and institutions that claim to be faith-based but refuse to stand for victims and against violence.”

3. There’s a Software Used Across the Country to Predict Future Criminals. And It’s Biased Against Blacks.

Lives in the hands of algorithms—

the Web Editors 05-20-2016

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Sexual assault in the military has been a major issue for decades, and not only are the victims traumatized — they’re punished for speaking out. Human Rights Watch issued a new report and short documentary exposing how sexual assault and harrassment survivors have been discharged for "personality disorder."

Cathy Breen 04-28-2016

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How to respond to such pain? With action. Seated with others, in an unfinished building we visited in Dahook, was a young Yazidi man who is studying in the university. He plans to reach out to about 5,000 children on the mountain with hopes of educating them. I shared the story of my friends, the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, and the fruits they are reaping from their literacy program with street children.

Abby Olcese 04-19-2016

Screenshot, "The Invitation" trailer

The true purpose of the dinner party, and the reality behind Will’s suspicions, is a slow-burning, tense tale that works best the less the viewer knows going in. Suffice it to say that several characters come to the film with emotional baggage, and while Eden and David’s apparent bliss seems to have cured them of their problems, the source of that bliss — and its results — aren’t exactly as advertised.

The Invitation presents audiences with characters trying to move on from terrible experiences. It also presents two different ways of approaching the healing process, and the failing of a community to support those in pain.

Kylie Beach 03-23-2016

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"Instead of preaching, perhaps what is more appropriate is, in fact, confession of how hard it is to actually love our enemies,” says Pastor Jarrod McKenna.

Though this video reflection for Common Grace’s Love Thy Neighbour campaign was filmed a few weeks ago, its pre-scheduled release today goes right to the heart of enemy love and offers a Christian response to terrorism in the days after shocking attacks in Brussels, Istanbul, and elsewhere.

“This teaching is the most often quoted teaching of the early church, because it is the teaching that sums up the cross the easiest,” he says.

Rabbi Rachel Mikva 03-18-2016

Sometimes it takes a friend to tell you that you’re an idiot. Actually, Anat was kinder than that — in keeping with rabbinic teaching that reproof needs to be done for the benefit of the admonished rather than the admonisher (which is harder than it seems, given the feel-good buzz of self-righteousness).

According to the Broken Silence survey (commissioned by Sojourners and IMA World Health), faith leaders play a key role in preventing and responding to such violence. Though a majority of respondents reported feeling ill-equipped to deal with issues of sexual and domestic violence in their congregations and communities, an overwhelming majority of faith leaders (81 percent) indicated that they would take appropriate action to reduce such violence if they had the training and resources to do so.

This gap is precisely why seminaries and divinity schools are essential to addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault. Your theological schools can and must take the lead on educating more faith leaders about sexual and gender-based violence.

Shane Claiborne 02-16-2016

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This week marks 25 years since the horrific U.S. bombing of the Amiriyah shelter in Iraq. At least 408 women and children died.

As we consider what has helped fuel the rage and hostility of extremists like ISIS, we can point to concrete events like the bombing of Amiriyah. It clearly does not justify the evil done by ISIS, but it does help us explain it.

This week's Wrap was guest curated by Sojourners contributor Adam Ericksen. Read along for his top stories and notes from the week!

There was a lot of negativity in the news this week, but mercy also filled the airwaves. In case you missed it, here’s a list of some merciful events from the week:

1. Pope Francis Opens the Door to ‘Year of Mercy’ in a Time of Fear

Sure, we have some differences, but we’re still crushing on the Pope. “To pass through the holy door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.”

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The British government is launching an independent five-year inquiry under the leadership of a prominent New Zealand-born jurist to examine whether private and public institutions, including churches, failed to protect children from sex abuse.

At a news conference in London on Nov. 27, Justice Lowell Goddard, who will head the inquiry, said the investigation would focus on high-profile allegations of child abuse involving current or former members of Parliament, senior civil servants, and government advisers.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asked Goddard to investigate the Church of England first, saying that he would order his own inquiry if there was a lengthy delay, the Anglican Communion News Service reported.

Jenna Barnett 11-19-2015

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All of us are understandably sad about Paris — devastated. Many people have used striped profile pictures, candles, and flowers to express our collective solidarity. But in the wake of tragedy, almost half of the governors of the U.S. have responded with fear, announcing that they will do whatever they can to thwart the acceptance of Syrian refugees — from cutting funding for nonprofit resettlement agencies, to demanding religious screening tests.

If there’s one thing I learned from some of my friends who are refugees, it’s how to respond to grief. And there’s no one approach and they didn’t always get it right. But sometimes they did: Some refugees, in the shadow of shocking sadness, sang more than usual, prayed louder, invited more friends over for dinner, cooked their parent’s recipes. None of them responded with terrorism.

Heather Evans 11-16-2015

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To leave the trafficked sex industry is to encounter many barriers. Among those is the need for employment opportunities and the opportunity to learn a trade while gaining skills to earn an independent income.

Consider this: A woman leaves a trafficker, through his arrest or her own personal escape. This trafficker created total dependence — someone who, amidst abuse and exploitation, provided for her. She usually had no control of this money, and gave over anything she made for his earnings. Her needs are met — but she is completely dependent on him for survival.

Then she is separated from her trafficker, and she has nothing: No income, usually a limited education, and at times minimal job skills to report on a resume. Her survival reflects her strengths and resources — but how does she capture resilience for prospective employers? What does she do when she carries a criminal record history?

One survivor described this experience to me, saying, “I look horrible on paper.”

Micah Bales 11-16-2015

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Just like you, I was horrified when I learned of the terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. The scale, precision, and barbarity of these crimes are hard to fathom.

My first reaction was sadness for the victims and a desire for peace. My second was a sense of mild panic. If they can do this in Paris, they can certainly do it in my city!

My third reaction, one I’m not particularly proud of: I thought about how much I’d like to see the people responsible for these acts hunted down and destroyed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 9/11 lately. I remember the way that we as a nation went through a similar three-step process. We went from shock and sympathy to fear and paranoia, and finally to the conviction that we must annihilate those who attacked us.

It all happened so quickly.

Heather Evans 11-13-2015

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Our initial vision included a basic goal of raising awareness and seeking to coordinate efforts for a unified response that would comprehensively address this form of modern-day slavery through prevention, awareness, action, and aftercare. But as our awareness efforts soon led many trafficking survivors to us, statistics and stories were replaced with personal, local faces that would need our help and in turn, would change our lives.

Interacting with trafficking survivors is a cross-cultural experience. Many of their stories are riddled with addiction, abuse, neglect, out-of-home placement, loss, rejection, and suffering. (And this does not even begin to address the culture of the commercial sex industry.) The language of “the life,” the rules of “the game”, and the many nuances of a relationship with a trafficker — whether known as daddy, boyfriend, boss, abuser, or lover — are only a few of the cultural differences for a woman coming out of the commercial sex industry.

As I sit with a woman who has secrets, stories, and experiences that are much different than my own, what can I offer? The world views her as dirty and as choosing this lifestyle. Others view her as to be pitied and a cause to be rescued. What does she need? What do we need to understand about women who have a history of prostitution or sex trafficking?

Recently I asked another woman this question. Separated from her trafficker for only two months, she had a fresh understanding.