Can the religious left be as effective in Washington as it’s been on the streets?
Jack Jenkins’s book is informative and persuasive, if not exactly unbiased.
In his fascinating new book, Religion News Service reporter Jack Jenkins documents an impressive array of political organizing and activism from the American religious left since the Obama years. American Prophets will be the authoritative account of this eruption of activity and moral energy.
Jenkins offers lively accounts of the organizing efforts of religious left leaders and those they have inspired. He profiles Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, William Barber and Liz Theoharis of the Poor People’s Campaign, Sharon Brous of the Jewish Emergent Network, Linda Sarsour of the Women’s March, and Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life. He talks with Traci Blackmon about her racial justice work and Gene Robinson about his efforts toward LGBTQ equality. He chronicles the New Sanctuary Movement, the Water Protector movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement. He reports on those who have staffed recent Democratic faith outreach efforts, such as Mara Vanderslice Kelly, Joshua DuBois, and Michael Wear. He takes his readers on moving visits to momentous sites of recent religious activism, including Ferguson, Charleston, Charlottesville, and Standing Rock.
The thesis running through the book is that the religious left has reemerged with power and passion in recent years—and that it provides much of the energy for progressive social change movements in areas including racism, climate change, sexuality, health care, Indigenous rights, poverty, immigration, and women’s rights. Thus, Jenkins argues, the religious left is a force to be taken seriously, especially amid the awfulness of the Trump years and the compounded awfulness (because they should know better) of Trump’s religious apologists. “Far from being a historical relic,” he writes, “the Religious Left I have come to know exerts growing influence on modern Democratic politics” and well beyond.