Prophetic Activism: Progressive Religious Justice Movements in Contemporary America

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While the links between conservative Christians and politics have been drawn strongly in recent years, coming to embody what many think of as religious activism, the profoundly religious nature of community organizing and other more left-leaning justice work has been largely overlooked. Prophetic Activism is the first broad comparative examination of progressive religious activism in the United States. Set up as a counter-narrative to religious conservatism, the book offers readers a deeper understanding of the richness and diversity of contemporary religious activism.

Helene Slessarev-Jamir offers five case studies of major progressive religious justice movements that have their roots in liberative interpretations of Scripture: congregational community organizing; worker justice; immigrant rights work; peace-making and reconciliation; and global anti-poverty and debt relief. Drawing on intensive interviews with activists at all levels of this work—from pastors and congregational leaders to local organizers and the executive directors of the national networks—she uncovers the ways in which they construct an ethical framework for their work. In addition to looking at predominantly Christian organizations, the book also highlights the growth of progressive activism among Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists who are engaged in reinterpreting their religious texts to support new forms of activism.

Religion and Social Transformation series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rooted in scripture and transcendent faith, and defying the staid expectations of analysts and pundits—this is why faithful activism will always be more interesting than a candidates' debate."-Julie Polter,Sojourners Magazine

Prophetic Activism could be called ‘Groups That Make a Difference,’ like Sider and Unruh’s Churches That Make a Difference. It stands out because it analyzes change-groups with goals ranging from worker justice to immigrant rights, peacemaking, and global justice, identifying strategies that bring healing to a nation whose soul badly needs healing. Enormously instructive for people who know we need change for human rights in a big way, one victory at a time. This work shows that Evangelicals, too, have become increasingly active, with crucial biblical interpretation.”

-Glen Stassen,Fuller Theological Seminary

Prophetic Activism provides an informative portrait of left-leaning religious activism. Those who want to better understand what that activism looks like—its major organizations, its strategies and tactics, its similarities to and differences from secular activism, and, most importantly, its potential and limits—will learn much by reading this book.”

-Mark Chaves,author of Congregations in America

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814741238
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/13/2011
  • Series: Religion and Social Transformation Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 287
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Helene Slessarev-Jamir is the Mildred M. Hutchinson Professor of Urban Studies at the Claremont School of Theology. She is the author of The Betrayal of the Urban Poor.

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Table of Contents

Acronyms and Abbreviations
1 An Introduction to Prophetic Activism
2 Identifying the Qualities of Prophetic Activism
3 Organizing in Borderlands Communities
4 Religious Organizing for Worker Justice
5 Immigrant Rights Activism
6 Peacemaking
7 Global Justice Organizing
8 Conclusions
About the Author

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