The Faithful Response This Amoral Moment Requires

By The Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson

It is a time of moral crisis with attacks on human dignity, family sovereignty, and the execution of an increasingly ruthless and unjust immigration policy. Each of us is called to reflect on our resources, our capacity, and our mandate for moral action.

As the President of Auburn, we are committed to providing support and infrastructure for the multifaith movement for justice ‘for such a time as this.’  As a minister, this moment and my spiritual tradition demand that I, personally, show up and speak out. More than ever I have been required to hold both of these identities; to pull out my vestments in the public square and recommit myself to the relationships and partnerships that we have been building. Relationships that bridge the differences that are being weaponized to keep us apart, and work for a just future that we all long for.

Thank God, I have not felt alone. You, also, have not been silent or still.

Thank you for leading and for working alongside Auburn with a multifaith movement for justice. So much has been happening and I feel compelled to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work, love, and dedication that we have witnessed across the country. Below are some of the ways that your partnership in our community has allowed Auburn to speak out on many different media platforms; and to facilitate, organize, and accompany a full complement of faith and justice movement partners.  This work is ongoing, and the list continues to expand as more and more people rise up and resist.

Leaders Writing

Our team continues to use our Voices Platform to influence the public square.

Auburn Senior Fellows have spoken out as individuals—Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño and Brian McLaren both published Op-Eds—and in powerful collective witness published by Red Letter Christians, Sojourners, and Voices.

Are you interested in publishing your thought leadership, writing excerpts, and responses to these movement moments on Voices?
We invite you to send your ideas to us. Email David Beasley, [email protected] with the subject line, “Voices Pitch: [title of your pitch]”


A woman, baby, and man hold a poster with text that says "Free Our Future"

Photos by Angela Jimenez Photography for Auburn Seminary/Mijente

Auburn Senior Fellows and Staff helped organize actions across the country:

JUNE 28. Washington D.C. – hundreds of faith leaders, politicians and celebrities were arrested.

JUNE 30. Nationwide – #FamiliesBelongTogether actions across the country were supported and lead by people of faith;

JULY 2, San Diego, CA – Mijente, a Latinx group that uses an intersectional justice analysis to oppose and reverse the expanding criminalization of migrant/immigrant communities organized an action and #FreeOurFuture policy platform that included a strong faith component.

JULY 23 and ongoing, Nationwide – Auburn Senior Fellow, Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, created a coalition of people of faith to raise funds to help reunite families by giving to fund emergency support services through the International Rescue Committee and to build up bond funds to free a parent from detention with our partners at the New Sanctuary Coalition’s Bond Fund will help to secure the release of a parents.

JULY 24, Washington D.C. – I worked closely with Auburn Senior Fellow, Bishop William Barber and Senator Elizabeth Warren to bring together a diverse group of faith leaders including Auburn Senior Fellows with Senator Warren, Senator Sanders and Senator Booker at a Press Conference to express concern about the danger Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination poses to the rights of historically marginalized communities. Watch our remarks on Auburn Voices.

Auburn community members used our action platform, Groundswell Movement, to organize and amplify several campaigns:

The Boston Declaration team, a national alliance of public theologians and religion scholars, launched a campaign as a pillar of their organizing in a new planned action, “El Grito de la Frontera/The Cry of the Border,” a 4-day trip of prayer, training, action, and worship in El Paso, TX.

Church World Service ran a parallel Groundswell campaign on ending family detention for people active in local congregations and committed to sanctuary and immigration justice. This campaign was endorsed by Auburn Senior Fellow Bishop Minerva Carcaño.

Freedom Road led Evangelicals in opposing the rushed nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Inspired by Auburn Senior Fellow Lisa Sharon Harper, Evangelicals are pledging to pause the culture war that centers abortion but doesn’t address poverty.

Repairers of the Breach challenged Evangelical leaders who support the administration’s border policy to a live, televised debate with Auburn Senior Fellows Bishop William Barber II and Bishop Yvette Flunder as well as Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Min. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

The Sikh American Veterans Alliance is rallying support for more than 120 migrants being held in a federal prison in Sheridan, OR, and deprived of their rights to religious freedom, legal representation, and medical care.

The Good News

This time has been devastating for many of the most vulnerable of our neighbors. Yet, it has also made us stronger.

More people from all walks of life are joining the fight for justice: Different groups are speaking to different audiences, new leaders are awakening new power and possibility in their communities, and unlikely partners are forging new alliances across difference and giving urgent relevance to the spiritual mandate to love your neighbor.

Auburn has deepened relationships with millennial faith leaders, who have convened hundreds into a faith contingent or ‘faith flank’ alongside those most directly affected: people on the borderlands who are daily criminalized and dealing directly with family separation.

It takes many people, of many faiths, with many approaches, to heal the world. In a rapidly changing legal and political climate, we are doing good and ambitious work. Thank you for joining our call to respond to this time, even as we create. together, a vision of a just and generous future for our nation.


The Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson, president of Auburn Seminary, has spearheaded innovative educational programs, ranging from convening CEOs on ethics in business practice to infusing mainstream media with compelling faith voices on issues such as a moral economy, sex trafficking, immigration, gun violence, LGBT equality, Islamophobia, and antisemitism.

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