The author notes that prophetic activism has arisen as a response to globalization of capital and production and the huge gap between the rich and the poor in wealthy countries and the deepening economic crises in poorer countries. This is in direct opposite to the Christian Right who gained national power by vilifying the welfare queens, urban black and Latino men, gays and lesbians, undocumented immigrants, and Muslims.
Prophetic activism is characterized by:
- A commitment to nonviolent social change: influenced by Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha or active nonviolence and Martin Luther King Jr’s civil rights movement.
- The incorporation of aspects of liberation theology, especially among the Catholics.
- The openness to diverse spiritual practices and to working with people of other faith traditions.
- The use of popular education and bottom-up organizing to bridge the gap between the marginalized and the privileged.
- A concern for the well-being of the marginalized and for upholding basic human rights for all.
After elaborating on how prophetic activism is grounded in the Hebrew Bible and Jesus’ teachings, Slessarev-Jamir discusses five arenas of prophetic activism in the United States: congregational community organizing influenced by Latin American liberation theology, religious worker-justice work, immigrants rights (activism along the border with Mexico and the new sanctuary movement), religious peacemaking, and finally global justice.
The book concludes: “prophetic activism greatly enriches religious life in America by creating meaningful opportunities for religious people to connect their spirituality to a variety of just causes.” Faith without action is dead, the liberation theologians have taught us.