Related Posts

Worship as Protest; Protest as Worship

Jimmie Hawkins

Jimmie Hawkins is the advocacy director for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for two offices, the Washington Office of Public Witness and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

The Black church’s early existence was one of duality as faith and activism were two sides of the same coin. It ambidextrously showcased a docile
facial appearance that masqueraded
a rebellious spirit.

Music serves as a connector between worship and protest as much of the music of the Civil Rights Movement came out of the Black church.

Many of the protest movements in the twenty-first century are associated with faith-based organizations. 

The relationship between the Christian church and protest is stronger than ever before. There is little question that the church has evolved in its understanding of its mission. There is little debate that the church must play a role in helping others and express concern for the impoverished, refugees, migrants, and children.

Christian worship stands at the heart of church life. It is the public veneration of God through proclamation of the gospel of Christ Jesus. Its declared mission is to spread the Christian faith to the ends of the earth in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between worship and public protest. Two sections explore the recent evolution of Christian theology from a mission of evangelism to ecclesial advocacy. The first details the evolution of worship from Sunday proclamation to an embrace of protest as a spiritual discipline. The second section categorizes the church’s levels of activism.

From Evangelism to Protest

The church is currently engaged in a reevaluation of what it means to worship God in relation to its traditional mission. Worship and protest share an interlocking relationship as the church’s prophetic voice becomes indistinguishable from community activism. Jesus has always been priest, prophet, and king. But his identity as prophet has rarely maintained equal status. Historically, service in the form of charity manifested the church’s mission to help the poor. But it has rarely translated into a call for justice advocacy to confront the sins of systemic and structural injustice. This failure became problematic because regardless of how much help was provided, charity was inadequate to meet the totality of human need as systems prevented persons from full utilization of communal resources. Today more and more Christians have turned to advocacy to fulfill Christian mission. They are motivated by their faith in a God of justice who demands service to those labeled by Jesus as the “least of these.”

Theologians have long affirmed a connection between faith and justice advocacy, even as it relates to protest. The Latin word protestar means “to declare a public testimony, to bear witness.” Johan Cilliers defined worship as a form of protest. Nico Koopman, a public theology scholar, proposed a linguistic link between worship and protest. Jürgen Moltmann affirmed that all “Christian theology is public theology, for it is the theology of the kingdom of God. . . . [I]t must engage with the political, cultural, educational, economic, and ecological spheres of life, not just with the private and ecclesial spheres.”1 Theologian Shirley C. Guthrie in Christian Doctrine connected the faith of a Christian with awareness that others lack the benefits they enjoy. 

Truly spiritual people] are recognized not just by how much they pray but by how much they pray for the world. They are recognized not just by how much they ‘praise the Lord’ for what ‘the Lord has done for me’ but by how sensitive their praise makes them to the needs and hurts of other people and the protection of the natural environment in which they live. They are recognized not just by how much they read the Bible, but by how their Bible reading influences their business practices, political commitments, and social relationships.2 

A reexamination of justice-oriented Scriptures concentrating on the prophets and the teachings of Jesus have helped redefined the mission of today’s church. Dean Tanya Smith Brice of Benedict College commented, “I think that Christians should . . . use the words of the prophets, from our sacred biblical texts, as support for what we do, as our voice against injustice.”3 Jesus announced in his first public sermon his call to proclaim God’s good news for the poor (Luke 4:18). He criticized religious leaders for failing to realize that custom was of secondary importance to God; justice was the weightier matter (Matt. 23:23). Fan favorite texts are Matthew 25 and James 2, which assure us that faith must be accompanied by works. Welcome for undocumented migrants is grounded in the call to “treat the alien among you as native born” (Lev. 19:34) and to “show hospitality to strangers” (Heb. 13:2). The prophet Micah (6:6–8) answered the question “What does the Lord require of you?” with “justice, kindness, and humility.” Isaiah 58 illustrates the ire of a God who warns any who hypocritically claim to worship God yet who neglect the poor. 

For many, being a Christian involves societal engagement. Over the centuries mission has evolved from charity to advocacy to protest. Today we observe an interconnectedness between faith and protest so intimate that each has entered the other’s sphere. Worship extends beyond the church sanctuary as protest utilizes many of the elements of Christian worship. Pastor Amy Yoder McGloughlin observed, 

Worship is more than the gathered community engaged in liturgy in a house of worship. It is not bound by a worship order, perfect words, or carefully orchestrated singing. . . . Liturgy flows through the chants and rallying songs. . . . Worship is in the streets, walking in solidarity, crying out for liberation, praying with our feet. . . . And in the chaos of protest, God is present4 

Actions are interchangeable with noticeable similarities between what occurs during Sunday morning services and protest rallies. The assembled crowd becomes a congregation gathered in the presence of a just God, and city streets are transformed into sanctuaries. Leaders use laments, calls for repentance, and speeches that become sermons in everything but name. Call and response is exchanged with street protesters as if they were in church pews. In church and on the streets, prayers plea for the eradication of racism, homophobia, poverty, and militarism. Litanies endorse the necessity of healthcare, gun safety, voting rights, and a living wage. Sunday services demand justice with similar language heard in rallies. First Presbyterian Church, Durham, North Carolina, printed in its bulletin this Affirmation of Faith: “I believe in Jesus Christ, who came to heal us, and to free us from all forms of oppression. I believe in the community of faith which is called to be at the service of all people.” Marching has long been associated with praying. Martin Luther King Jr. called Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel “his rabbi” due to his ardent support of the Civil Rights Movement, marching arm in arm with King. Upon returning to his synagogue from Alabama in 1965, Herschel was asked if he took time to pray while down South. He responded, “I prayed with my feet.”5

The Black church has a long history of conflating worship and protest. Not only are Blacks exposed to the insertion of justice advocacy in worship, but many affirm its appropriateness. Pew Research revealed that 62 percent of Black Americans state a preference for churches to address social justice issues from the pulpit, and 23 percent labeled it as “essential.” Only 38 percent of whites agree that the church should address issues of justice, with as many as 42 percent disagreeing. Only 8 percent see it as “essential.” Almost half (53 percent) of Hispanics think that the church should speak to issues in the community.6 Rev. Shannon Craigo-Snell remarked of a worship service at a Black church, “That worship service was a Black Lives Matter protest.”7

Music serves as a connector between worship and protest as much of the music of the Civil Rights Movement came out of the Black church. The hymn “I’ll Overcome Someday” morphed into “We Shall Overcome.” The Washington Informer reported

African American spirituals, gospel, and folk music all played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement . . . to motivate them through long marches, for psychological strength against harassment and brutality, and sometimes to simply pass the time when waiting for something to happen.8

Mahalia Jackson described how singing inspired protesters. 

Now all through the South the Negroes are singing. They sang while they were put in jail by the hundreds and sometimes the power of their music was so great that the white guards began singing right along with them. They sing in churches and in mass meetings while deputies and sheriffs go around taking names and white gangs burn up their cars.9

Categories of Protest

Five categories of Christian activism provide a history of participation in protest. They are Otherworldly Protest, Law-and-Order Protest, Worship Protest, Pious Protest, and Prophetic Protest. The Christian faith evolved from rejecting to embracing protest. Otherworldly and law and order Christians initially resisted, insisting that the church was a spiritual institution that abstained from worldly protest. Worship, pious, and prophetic worship describe the roles Christian activists have played increasingly becoming more active in protest.

Otherworldly Protest. For centuries the Christian church resisted the adoption of an ideology that compelled Christians to participate in outward societal protest through actions or doctrine. The world’s transformation into a just community was not in the purview of a church aligned with a purely spiritual mission, to claim the world for Christ Jesus. Social reform would be achieved by individual regeneration due to evangelistic missions that led to individual conversion. Its protest against injustice was through the redemption of individuals who would live just lives. Injustice must be expected in an evil, sinful world, and the path to a just society was by the destruction of one’s sinful nature. But many would admit that sin was an impossibility for human will to overcome. God will establish God’s justice at the eschatological day of judgment when God restores creation to its original state of paradise. Ronald White and Howard Hopkins in The Social Gospel wrote of the dominancy of this teaching prior to the Social Gospel Movement. 

[Before 1842] the evangelists’ preoccupation with personal religious experience could nurture an exclusively spiritual faith. Their chief concern was to prepare people for another world, and their most earnest prayer was for a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit which would break the shackles of human sin. Opposition to social evil was often only an occasional skirmish in their war on personal wickedness. Charles G Finley, though always an abolitionist, believed his first work was to save souls [and] not free slaves.10 

It must be noted that not every endorser of otherworldly protest was impotent. Slave preachers often had visions of heaven that motivated them to act within their lifetime. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence Mamiya wrote of the otherworldly visions of slave preachers and abolitionists that resulted in insurrectionist revolts to abolish slavery. 

[T]he otherworldly orientation of mysticism, accompanied by apocalyptic vision and eschatological beliefs, can have profound revolutionary this-worldly effects. The mystical prophets such as Nat Turner and John Brown foresaw in their apocalyptic visions that the system of slavery could only be overturned by violent means. . . . The Old Testament narratives of Exodus and the prophets and the New Testament apocalypse were for them compelling signals of God’s concern for their freedom.11

Divergent voices objected to this interpretation of the church’s mission as purely otherworldly. Presbyterian scholar Ernest Trice Thompson wrote of Presbyterians, “It was perhaps unfortunate that the churches with the best trained ministry were the least able to meet the needs of the common man. The Methodist congregations included the underprivileged, the uneducated, and uncultured, to whom the Presbyterian minister made little or no appeal.” He concluded, however, “The church must also be concerned with an increased community outreach. In addition, its own welfare is bound up with the welfare of the community. It should, therefore, emphasize the need for a better social and economic life for the community. . . .”12 Martin Luther King Jr., in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” bemoaned, 

In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, ‘Those are social issues with which the Gospel has no real concern,’ and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular.13

Law-and-Order Protest. For centuries denominations, influential congregations, and theologians were reluctant to challenge injustices in society from a scriptural mandate to obey governing authorities.14 Mainline denominations rejected a call to advocacy and prohibited protest against earthly powers and principalities. Church leadership endorsed as biblical the authority of governments, entrepreneurs, and political leaders to be obeyed. Christians must maintain a separation of church and state and obey all human laws that were given by God. Rather than confront members, political authorities, family, or friends, they acquiesced and were silent in the face of discrimination. Many endorsed white supremacy and wrote thesis and doctrinal statements in support of slavery, xenophobia, and misogyny.

Law and order adherents have a desire for systemic change, but by working within the system. Black Baptists underwent a tumultuous breakup when Martin Luther King Jr. split from the National Baptist Convention (NBC) to establish the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) in 1961. He took over half a million members with him. The fraction centered around the tactics of protest as NBC promoted education and job training over marching. NBC president Joseph H. Jackson affirmed the legitimacy of protest but stressed that advancement must also be sought from working within the system. 

The National Baptist Convention is by origin, structure, and mission, a strictly religious body; but it is a religious body with concerns that relate it to human suffering, human needs, and human aspirations. Therefore, it is by nature related to the civil rights struggle. . . . Protest has its place in our racial struggle, but we must go from protest to production.15

Others oppose unwavering support of state actions that are in direct conflict with obedience to the Word of God and God’s will for humanity. In Nazi Germany churches complied with an endorsement of the nationalist policies of the Third Reich. Nazi flags were placed in sanctuaries as ministers preached sermons declaring divine sanction for the actions of the regime. Despite societal pressure, Confessing Churches refused to endorse the racist doctrines promoted by the government. The 1934 Barmen Declaration declared, 

We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords—areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him. . . . We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfil the vocation of the Church as well. We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State.16 

The South African Dutch Reformed Church was firm in its theological support of the racial segregation policy of apartheid. It did not reverse course until the late 1980s when it offered an apology for past legitimization of racial discrimination. In 1986, Church moderator Nelus van Rensburg acknowledged the church’s role in maintaining the system and pledged to help to restructure the nation. “We were very much complicit in propping up Apartheid. We provided the theological base for Apartheid.”17

Worship Protest. A more modern interpretation defines the act of worship itself as protest. This ideology stresses that God’s justice is best sought within the confines of the church, not on city streets. Christians are called to resist evil, but it can only be done faithfully during a worship service. The fact that Jesus is Lord empowers the church as the funneling channel to beseech God’s intervention. Brian Owens, a member of Ferguson Heights Church of Christ, told the Christian Chronicle, 

Worship is our protest. . . . We are not surprised by the lawlessness of man, the arrogance of politics, the irresponsibility of the media, the dishonesty of religious leaders, the false teaching of self-proclaimed modern prophets or the inability of government to bring justice, fairness, equality, and peace to this world. Because, after all, it’s the same system that crucified the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. . . . When the church gathers on Sunday morning, what we have is a protest meeting, a gathering of those who simply will not put up with the arrogant claims of the world anymore. . . . Make no mistake: praise is protest. If it is not protest, it is not praise.18

Bishop Amos, while outraged at the George Floyd murder, maintains that true protest only occurs on Sunday morning. “God calls His people to stand for justice. One of the strongest weapons in that fight is worship. Our worship could be our protest.”19 Adam Kurihara wrote in Seedbed that marches are fine and other aspects of protest can be quite powerful, but Christians must never forget that God is active in and through the church. The most effective way to bring about change is before the throne of the creator of heaven and earth. 

Let’s remember what worship is. Worship is not just singing songs and hearing sermons, though those are the forms our worship often takes. Worship is not just praying together or receiving communion, though these forms are good and remind us of our union with each other and with Christ. Worship is ultimately a protest against evil, sin, and death. When we worship, we bring our weary, desperate souls together in solidarity as we long for justice, peace, and life. It is a protest infinitely more important than any earthly cause, because, while we don’t know the timing, we do know the outcome. God has told us.20

Pious Protest. Activist Christians who participate in protest according to a strict interpretation of Scripture (biblical literacy) and dogmatic church teachings fall into this category. Protest is done in support of politically conservative issues, primarily abortion, homosexuality, and recently, religious freedom. Christian progressives and secular nonprofits are criticized for being on the misguided path of wokeness and are more akin to secular humanists than people of faith. Adherents find great appeal in Christian nationalism and white Christian Nationalism, approving of its definition that America is a Christian nation governed by Christian principles. A major element in its mission is the erasure of the doctrine of separation of church and state.21 American exceptionalism is upheld at rallies and in speeches and statements. America is favored by God but has lost its way. Almost any action is permissible to bring the country back into a right relationship with God—for some, even violence. At the January 6 Capitol insurrection men carried crosses, Bibles, and signs reading “Jesus Saves.” A line was formed as rioters pressed their foreheads to a giant cross to pray as others laid hands on them as they did so. A woman holding a portrait of a white Jesus wearing a MAGA hat paraded the grounds.22 Sojourners Magazine critiqued Christian Nationalism: “These events work to further a white supremacist evangelical theology, which emphasizes individualism, claims a monopoly on morality, and demonizes those who oppose it. White supremacist evangelical theology is concerned with maintaining white power and privilege.”23

Protest rallies voiced approval of the Supreme Court ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission as a victory for God and religious freedom. The ruling favored Jack Phillips, a Christian business owner who refused service to a gay couple that wanted him to bake a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. He stated before the decision, “I’m being forced to use my creativity, my talents, and my art for an event—a significant religious event—that violates my religious faith. . . . Because of my faith, I believe the Bible teaches clearly that it’s a man and a woman.”24

During the COVID-19 pandemic Rev. Sean Feucht traveled the country protesting the nationwide shutdown of houses of worship by organizing “worship protests.”25 He criticized Black Lives Matter as “violent, destructive, and in opposition to Christianity.” He claimed that his events produced “genuine racial reconciliation.” He complained in The Federalist, “While followers of Jesus are being told we cannot worship in public spaces, violent, paid rioters are taking over our streets and being given license to occupy and destroy entire sections of our cities. Churches are being covered in graffiti and even burned while civic leaders call for defunding the police.” In December 2019, he and other leaders went to the White House where he prayed for Donald Trump. He tweeted, “When the President of the United States invites you inside the White House to worship and pray, YOU DO IT.” 26

Prophetic Protest. Christian activists link protest with discipleship and utilize Scripture as justification for support of progressive policies. The God of the Bible calls the church to speak a prophetic word to the world and calls Christians to God’s work of liberation. The Word must be expressed well beyond the church and cannot be contained within traditional worship spaces. It must be applied in the communities where lives are being disrupted by injustice, violence, and discrimination. Quaker abolitionist activism dates back to the 1600s and continued till the institution was eliminated. There was a total commitment to ending slavery. In 1776 leadership prohibited slaveholding by members. After the country gained its independence, Quakers lobbied Congress with petitions to outlaw slavery throughout the new nation in 1790. They were conductors in the Underground Railroad, transported the enslaved, and hid runaways in their homes and churches. According to PBS, “As a primary Quaker belief is that all human beings are equal and worthy of respect, the fight for human rights has also extended to many other areas of society.”27

The Black church’s early existence was one of duality as faith and activism were two sides of the same coin. It ambidextrously showcased a docile facial appearance that masqueraded a rebellious spirit. While outwardly worshiping a God of unconditional love, it embraced a theology of rebellion. The enslaved worshiped in an “invisible institution” where churches served as worship locations and provided sanctuary for runaways. Spirituals communicated lyrics of faith and coded communiques for the ears of the enslaved. Slave preachers carried two sermons: a submissive message for whites and one of equality for Blacks. Secretly they proclaimed that the same God who delivered the Hebrew slaves would set them free. Frederick Douglass was a lay preacher and abolitionist. He utilized Scripture, music, and sermonic utterances in his speeches. Whether he spoke on Sunday morning or gave a public presentation, his messages were filled with biblical justifications for his abolitionist messages. His biographer, David Bright, wrote that one of Douglass’s favorite illustrations was his “Slaveholder’s Sermon.” In it he mocked a Methodist minister who preached to convince the enslaved of the scriptural mandate of obedience. Crowds would shout for the story in which he used irony to illustrate the hypocrisy of slavery. 

In America Bibles and slaveholders go hand in hand. The church and the slave prison stand together, and while you hear the chanting of psalms in one, you hear the clanking of chains in the other. The man who wields the cowhide during the week, fills the pulpit on Sunday. . . . The man who whipped me in the week used to . . . show me the way of life on the Sabbath.28

Black ministers serve as leaders of congregations and at the same time as justice activists. In their minds, there is absolutely no distinction, as both roles are in service to God and community. Even today, across America local NAACP leaders are clergy from community congregations. Rev. Michael Thurman declared in an interview for PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly that being a pastor was equivalent to being a civil rights leader.29 He believes that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor for Ebenezer and also for the nation. The church instilled in him the “knowledge that God was a God of justice, God was a God of mercy.” A Black Lives Matter sign was ripped from the marque of Metropolitan AME Church during the Epiphany riot at the Capitol on January 6. The church’s pastor, Rev. William H. Lamar IV, commented on Twitter, “We have not been distracted by signs, sounds or fury for nearly two centuries. . . . We worship. We liberate. We serve.” 

Black church theology impacted religious institutions globally. The fever spread to white denominations as congregations expressed faith in a liberating God and directed members towards advocacy. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has adopted Matthew 25 as a mission statement and posted a Black Lives Matter banner on its headquarters. Its webpage publicizes its advocacy ministries: the Washington Office of Public Witness, the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, and the Advocacy Committee on Social Witness Policy.30 The United Church of Christ asked the question, “Why should I care about advocacy?” It answered, “In the challenges before us today, we, as people of faith, can hear the echoes of prophets and believers who, throughout history, lifted up a vision of right relationship within human community and with God. . . . In the prophetic tradition, justice in human community is inextricably linked to being in right relationship with God.”31 The United Methodist Church posted, “The United Methodist Church has a long history of advocating for social justice. . . . The early Methodists expressed their opposition to societal ills such as slavery, smuggling, inhumane prison conditions, alcohol abuse, and child labor. Today United Methodists work, march and pray for racial justice, environmental care, and fair treatment for everyone.”32 The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a web page entitled “Healthcare in the Pulpit.”33

Many of the protest movements in the twenty-first century are associated with faith-based organizations. The Moral Monday Movement was started in North Carolina between 2013 and 2016. Its successor movement, the Poor People’s Campaign, continued a nationwide effort and was coordinated by Bishop William Barber II and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. In support of voting rights, faith-based protesters held Election Day Communion Services in support of the right to vote. Christians gather together around the bread and cup to proclaim we are still one body. It’s worship as protest. The Border Church conducts communion services on the United States and Mexican border with migrants. The New Sanctuary Movement provides safe haven for undocumented immigrants to protest the maltreatment of those seeking a better life. Other contemporary movements did not originate from faith-based organizations even though some founding members were people of faith. The youth-led March for Our Lives and Sandy Hook Families address gun violence and its prevention. 

The relationship between the Christian church and protest is stronger than ever before. There is little question that the church has evolved in its understanding of its mission. There is little debate that the church must play a role in helping others and express concern for the impoverished, refugees, migrants, and children. Jim Wallis, in The Great Awakening, wrote of the prophetic activism of denominations and people of color. 

Part of the good news is that many evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are leaving the Religious Right while retaining their commitment to live out their faith in the world. . . . Catholics . . . are rediscovering the depth and breadth of Catholic teachings on social justice and the transforming idea of the common good. . . . [M]ainline Protestant churches . . . discover their mission in the world. [A] new generation of Black pastors . . . want to move beyond merely eulogizing the civil rights movement and make their own history for justice. Similarly, young Latino pastors, many of them Pentecostal, are making the critical connection between evangelism and social justice. New generations of Asian-American Christians are moving beyond the protective conservatism of their parents to a more outward-looking faith directed into their communities. Emerging immigrant churches are rapidly changing the demographics and the perspective of U.S. Christianity. . . . Jewish renewal is under way in many synagogues, where I have found worship as lively as in any church, and where people are rediscovering their own traditions of shalom (peace, wholeness, and justice) and tikkun (to repair and heal the world). 34


1. Jürgen Moltmann, quoted in Dion Forster, “Worship as ‘Protest’: Johan Cilliers as a Public Theologian?” Stellenbosch Theological Journal 5, no. 2 (2019),

2. Shirley C. Guthrie, Christian Doctrine (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994), 300.

3. Tanya Smith Brice, quoted in Bobby Ross Jr., “Worship Is Our Protest,” Christian Chronicle (December 17, 2014),

4. Amy Yoder McGloughlin, “Protest as Worship,” Anabaptist Witness 10, no. 1 (April 2023),

5. Michael Schmidt, “Pray With Your Feet During COVID-19 Crisis in New York,” American Jewish Committee Global Voice (May 26, 2020),

6. Besheer Mohamed and Kiana Cox, “Before Protests, Black Americans Said Religious Sermons Should Address Race Relations,” Pew Research Center, June 15, 2020,

7. Shannon Craigo-Snell, “The Liturgy of a Black Lives Matter Protest,” Christian Century (June 8, 2020),

8. Micha Green, “Music and Faith Set the Tone for Black Resistance,” The Washington Informer ( February 22, 2023),

9. Milton C. Sernett, Afro-American Religious History: A Documentary Witness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1985), 453, 455.

10. Ronald C. White Jr. and Howard Hopkins, The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in Changing America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976), 7–8.

11. C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya, The Black Church in the African American Experience (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990), 203.

12. Ernest Trice Thompson, The Changing South and the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1950), 24, 25, 84.

13. Martin Luther King Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail,”

14. Romans 13:1–7; 1 Timothy 2:1–3; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13–17.

15. Milton C. Sernett, ed., Afro-American Religious History: A Documentary Witness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1985), 424, 429, 428.

16. Brian Kaylor, “Worship Is Protest,” WordWay (September 9, 2020),

17. Laura Waardenburg, “The Dutch Reformed Church and Its Contribution to Apartheid,” European Academy of Religion and Society (December 7, 2021),

18. Ross, “Worship Is Our Protest.”

19. Ross., “Worship Is Our Protest.”

20. Adam Kurihara, “Worship As Protest,” Seedbed (February 7, 2017),

21. John Blake, “An ‘Imposter Christianity’ Is Threatening American Democracy,” CNN, July 24, 2022,

22. Uncivil Religion, January 6, 2021,

23. Deirdre Jonese Austin, “How One Worship Leader Made Racial Justice Protests about Christian Persecution,” Sojourners Magazine (October 23, 2020),

24. Adam Liptak, “Cake Is His ‘Art.’ So Can He Deny One to a Gay Couple?” New York Times, September 16, 2017,

25. Julia Duin, “‘This Is All About Jesus’: A Christian Rocker’s COVID Protest Movement,” Politico Magazine, October 25, 2020,

26. Austin, “How One Worship Leader.” 

27. “Quaker Activism,” PBS History Detectives,,many%20other%20areas%20of%20society/.

28. David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018), 114, 115.

29. Kim Lawton, “Reverend Michael Thurman,” Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, January 13, 2006.

30. Presbyterian Mission Agency, “Advocacy and Social Justice,”

31. United Church of Christ, “Advocacy Basics: What Is Advocacy?”,participating%20in%20nonviolent%20direct%20actions/.

32. United Methodist Church, “Advocating for Justice,”

33. African Methodist Church, “Healthcare in the Pulpit,”

34. Jim Wallis, The Great Awakening (New York: HarperCollins Books, 2008), 14–16.


    Naming God at Baptism

    Naming God at Baptism

    We want to know the name of God. It makes sense that religious people try to ensure that when they address their God in praise or petition, whether during rituals in the assembly or in the personal prayer of their hearts, they are calling on God using the right name. We want to honor the deity of our choice; we wish to stand within a hallowed tradition; we are glad to unite with others of our faith community.

    read more
    Naming God at Baptism

    Why Baptism Matters for the Work of Dismantling Racism

    Perhaps my favorite definition of the word sacrament is “the visible sign of an invisible grace.” Coined during the Council of Trent by Augustine of Hippo, the North African theologian on whose theology much of Western Christianity laid its foundations, it remains one of the most used definitions in both the Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions.

    read more