Resources for socially progressive Christians
December 18, 2018 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I love Jesus, and I also love people in the LGBTQ community, feminism, art, critical thinking and pluralism

Are there books / blogs / communities for Christians like me? I feel strongly about my vision of social justice, but sometimes at church I feel like I have to tone down my passion for these subjects, or that these two categories of interests don't quite fit together. Is there a Christian community that celebrates openness / critical thinking / plurality? Thank you.
posted by Crookshanks_Meow to Religion & Philosophy (33 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
If you are Catholic, I would suggest anything that Jesuits touch - they’re the scientists and thinkers of the church. If not, you may still like their books!
posted by corb at 8:43 AM on December 18, 2018 [8 favorites]

I have been so impressed by how lovely the members and pastor/minister of our local UCC church are. May be worth looking up a congregation near you.
posted by lazuli at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

Not sure if you’re ok with Facebook, but The Christian Left has a group there. (I read and post there and I’m only quasi-Catholic at most — not sure if that’s a plus or minus for you).
posted by holborne at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by spamloaf at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

For a blog, Fred Clark's slacktivist.
posted by damayanti at 8:47 AM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]

There's a very good book called "The Children Are Free" which is about same-sex relationships in the bible. It totally turned around my own thinking about this issue from being a Christian who affirmed gay people "in spite of" what the bible says to affirming gay people because of what is in the bible.

You might also appreciate the writings of Rachel Held Evans, although she is not free of criticism from other progressive and former Christians.
posted by gauche at 8:52 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like the Red Letter Christians site. The ethos is “combining Jesus and justice”. This is a recent article arguing that the bible doesn’t support the binary model of sex and gender.
posted by billiebee at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Are you familiar with the Catholic Worker Movement? I got to know the folks at a Catholic Worker house some years ago, and they were right up your alley.
posted by momus_window at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Seconding Sojourners, slacktivists, and especially the Liturgists. I'm generally on Rachel Held Evans' side, but her writing isn't really for me. Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist has a lot of fans, but I haven't made time to read it yet myself.

You might really like Nadia Bolz-Weber, both her books and her videos. Also: Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Diana Butler Bass, Pete Enns, Peter Rollins--all in overlapping areas of progressive, thoughtful theology.

Specifically on LGBT issues, I thought Matthew Vines' God and the Gay Christian was really helpful for a progressive vision that takes the Bible seriously. I really loved this lecture from Lianne Simon and Megan DeFranza about faith and intersexuality.

For black theology, James Cone is indispensable. I also really benefited from what Cornel West says about faith and social justice. (I read it gathered in one section of The Cornel West Reader.) You'll also maybe want to be familiar with the work that William Barber is doing right now.

There's a lot more out there. Progressive Christianity is a deep well. Googling "feminist theology" or "native American theologians" and similar searches will help you find more. One term you'll want to know, if you don't already, is "liberation theology."

As far as communities--lots of faithful progressive MeFites love their UU churches, but I've always wanted something more clearly Christian. Denominations you might look at include the United Church of Christ, (not to be confused with the Church of Christ--very different things) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). There are also plenty of progressive Episcopalian and Methodist Churches, and surprising outliers in lots of other denominations. It can take a while to find a church that works for you, but you're definitely far from alone. Progressive Christians are out there. And even fairly conservative groups have increasingly large numbers of people who are on board with inclusivity and critical thinking. You can find your people if you keep looking.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:20 AM on December 18, 2018 [19 favorites]

I'll second the suggestion of the United Church of Christ. You'll probably want to look for one that is open and affirming.
posted by maurice at 9:30 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yup, everyone who is saying UCC has it (I go to a UCC church that became open and affirming in 1989, and it was a huge reason we picked that church). You also might want to look at the writings of Emily C. Heath, the art of Ben Wildflower, the tumblr Honey And Wormwood, the podcast The Magnificast, and the following people on twitter:

Broderick Greer
Candy Cornball
Unvirtuous Abbey
Union Seminary
Rachel Held Evans
Kaitlin Curtice
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:45 AM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Definitely 2nding Pater Alethias' suggestion of William Barber, who started Moral Monday's in North Carolina a few years ago, and has (with many other clergy) started a new Poor People's Campaign in the spirit of the campaign started 50 years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A bunch of scattered links, mostly Twitter accounts:

  • queering lent is an excellent Lenten Devotional
  • Clergy For a New Drug Policy
  • Wil Gafney
  • Pastor Traci Blackmon
  • Jason Chesnut
  • Tuhina Verma Rasche
  • Fuck This Shit - a profane Advent Devotional that focuses on justice
  • John Darnielle - lead singer of The Mountain Goats - occasionally roasts people with biblical knowledge
  • Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg gives amazing perspective on many justice issues

  • posted by baniak at 10:11 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

    If you're UK-based, the Greenbelt would be a good place to start - their main thing is a big festival over the August bank holiday weekend (this year had Pussy Riot in residence, for example, and they've had most of the people already mentioned in this thread as speakers in the past, including Nadia Bolz-Weber, Broderick Greer and Rob Bell) but they also run events throughout the year and their blog is a good resource for progressive Christian-related things.
    posted by parm at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2018

    Basicaly yeah -- if the Unitarians are not Jesus-loving enough for you, UCC might be more your flavour of progressive Christianity.
    posted by DarlingBri at 10:32 AM on December 18, 2018

    Seconding the Liturgists! They have gatherings around the country that might be exactly what you're looking for and the podcast is wonderful :)
    posted by orangesky4 at 10:50 AM on December 18, 2018

    An amazing Twitter follow (if you aren't already) is Nicole Cliffe. A wonderful, funny and deeply kind person, she is also an atheist who converted to Christianity. Her Twitter feed is generally non-religious, but I thought you might be interested in a person who is both progressive and religious while at the same time just living life in (what appears from the outside, at least) a delightful way.
    posted by Rock Steady at 11:40 AM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

    I'd look at people/groups who are associated with the Wild Goose Festival. That's where many of the artsy, social-justice-loving, liberal Christians I know hang out.
    posted by belladonna at 11:41 AM on December 18, 2018

    After being away from religion for many years, me and my trans son are enjoying the local UU church.
    posted by heathrowga at 12:33 PM on December 18, 2018

    United Methodists have the Reconciling Ministries Network, which specifically formed around LGBTQ issues in the church, but is also broadly progressive and a good indicator of what kind of UMC you’re getting. When I travel and want to attend church I always look for a reconciling congregation, and I’ve had universally good experiences.
    posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2018

    I have two friends who are doing some interesting and thought provoking things in this space.

    The first is one of the hosts of the podcast "For Collared Girls," a podcast examining the role of women of color and people of color generally in the Protestant church along with really thoughtful conversation about working for justice, intersectionality and a whole host of other topics.

    Another friend blogs at There are More Things in Heaven and Earth. Really, really intelligent and thoughtful analysis of various theological questions from someone who was raised in a conservative Evangelical church and who has evolved in his views over the years. For example, he wrote an incredibly detailed analysis of evidence for the Christian role in defending diverse gender identities.
    posted by goggie at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2018

    Some Quaker meetings are fairly Christian in focus and culture, but this is very meeting-dependent. (Do make sure you're attending an unprogrammed meeting -- there are very Christ-centric, evangelical Quakers who are not the progressive hippies you are thinking of when you think of Quakers. When people say Nixon was a Quaker? Yeah, not the forward-thinking ones.)

    I see someone above mentioned Catholic Workers. It's been some time since I read it, but I think you might be interested in Dorothy Day's autobiography.
    posted by kalimac at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2018

    Thirding Unitarian/Universalist/Unitarian-Universalists. They're just oozing passion for social justice.

    The "Principles and Sources" of Unitarian Universalism. Individual congregations range from predominantly Christian to predominantly Humanist.

    Not sure what country you're in but here's a link dump:

    the Unitarian Universalist Association (United States)
    and their magazine UU World

    the Canadian Unitarian Council

    the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (U.K.)

    the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (focus on human rights & social justice),
    USC Canada (focus on agriculture & related issues),
    and the Unitarian-Universalist United Nations Office

    If there isn't a congregation near you (or if the local congregation isn't to your taste) there's also quite an active online presence, including Facebook groups.
    posted by Secret Sparrow at 2:34 PM on December 18, 2018

    If you are in the UK I can tell you whether I'd recommend your local Unitarian congregation they are more Christian on average than American UUs. Some would definitely be a good fit, others not so much.

    Otherwise, in the UK, try looking at Inclusive Church congregations. The name relates mainly about being inclusive to LGBT people but that strongly correlates with being otherwise socially progressive.
    posted by plonkee at 2:46 PM on December 18, 2018

    Check out Sojourners (
    posted by 4ster at 3:29 PM on December 18, 2018

    I've had good luck with many UCC, United Methodist, Episcopalian, ELCA (Lutheran), and Presbyterian congregations.

    My usual method when moving to a new place is to check the listings of churches that are queer-friendly. Obviously social justice includes more than LGBT issues alone, but I find it to be a useful proxy for finding congregations that are open, progressive, and care about justice issues. Plus there are a lot of queer Christians who keep track of this sort of thing, so it's easy to Google -- there are several lists online of such churches. Once I've got my list of options in my area, I visit a few and find a church that works for me.

    The list is especially helpful for churches with congregational polity (meaning, the congregations themselves make a lot of independent decisions, rather than having the top-down structure of Episcopalians or Catholics), like the United Methodists or Baptists.
    posted by cnidaria at 3:47 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

    I'm an unchurched progressive Christian. I second (or third or whatever) The Slacktivist, Rachel Held Evans and Nicole Cliffe.
    posted by lhauser at 7:38 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

    The podcast Cafeteria Christian.
    posted by SarahElizaP at 8:39 PM on December 18, 2018

    I follow John Pavlovitz's blog, Stuff That Needs to Be Said. His "About" section describes him as a writer, pastor and activist. I first found his blog in November 2016. Although I was raised Catholic and now consider myself an atheist sort of, I find it comforting to read a Christian who sincerely believes that all people are part of our human community. I am encouraged by the way he challenges American Christians and calls them on their self-righteous bullshit.

    I highly recommend reading his posts from late 2016. He kept me believing that there are true Christians among us.
    posted by Altomentis at 10:51 PM on December 18, 2018

    Watch the talks from OneChurch AZ on You Tube
    Check out
    posted by SyraCarol at 3:15 PM on December 21, 2018

    Quaker here (of the unprogrammed variety, to build on kalimac's suggestion above, you might want to try this link for a meeting near you). My meeting is very LGBTQ friendly, and unlike the vast majority of mainline Protestant denominations and the Catholic Church, women have held an equal role in the spiritual and administrative life of Quakerism since day one. Quakers have a long and colorful history of involvement in social justice movements, particularly within the abolition of slavery, the suffragette movement, the civil rights movement, and anti-militarism/pacifist endeavors.

    Your mileage may vary, but the Unitarians I know get a little itchy when folks talk about Jesus in a Christian-centric way (in my area, the UUs are often people who are atheist-adjacent but want the community of church and a social justice orientation). I know Christian feminists who are happy in More Light (ie LGBTQ friendly) Presbyterian churches and some more liberal Episcopalian congregations.

    I am also a leftist and really enjoy the religious left podcasts The Magnificast, Religious Socialism, and Friendly Anarchism.
    posted by mostly vowels at 9:57 AM on December 24, 2018

    Queer Theology provides a supportive community and in-depth resources for queer Christians and straight supporters.
    posted by ElisaOS at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2019

    « Older Help me buy a digital piano   |   How to proceed with a new friendship after feeling... Newer »
    This thread is closed to new comments.