Embodied Solidarity: Engaging Christians in Protest

Protests, demonstrations, and solidarity encampments are currently center-stage on college campuses in the U.S. and worldwide. With an upcoming presidential election mirroring many of the concerns of the previous two elections, more are surely coming.

Christian faith communities have an uneven relationship with protest movements. Hesitation to respond to injustice in embodied ways is likely related to their uneven sense of what these movements mean. 

As a seminary professor, former pastor to a congregation with a long social justice history, and an erstwhile chaplain at Harvard and MIT, protests, demonstrations and other embodied acts of solidarity-toward-justice have been part of my life for the last decade.

Though, honestly, I have never heard of a protest movement that I immediately wanted to run toward. Usually, I would rather not. But being true to my sense of call as a minister and scholar of congregational and community care have drawn me into the fray of many protest movements. This has left a lasting mark on my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. 

I have been upfront in protests, speaking from megaphones.
I have followed others into demonstrations, unnoticeable among the crowd.
I have engaged in low-profile acts of embodied solidarity that had greater risk attached than joining the mass movements in the streets.

But I am not a protest expert or a community organizer. I am a minister and professor who believes that protest, demonstrations and embodied acts of solidarity are not the only means of striving for justice, but they are sometimes useful ones.

Faith communities and those who lead them must consider how to invite your people to these movements when necessary. 

 Aside from a few

Cody J. Sanders, PhD, is a Baptist minister serving as associate professor of congregational and community care leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN. Previously a parish pastor and higher education chaplain at Harvard and MIT, he is the author of several books on religion, ministry, and LGBTQ+ concerns.

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