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January 14, 2021

Faith and the Faithful in a Time of National Crisis and New Leadership

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On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Capitol was attacked by a mob misled and incited by Donald Trump, the forty-fifth president of the United States, and the following week in that same building will be the site of the inauguration of the forty-sixth U.S. president, Joe Biden. In this moment of horror and change, what are the principles of faith that should guide believers? What are the obligations and opportunities of the faithful in assessing what has happened, and how we move ahead as “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?”

In the midst of violence and attacks on democracy itself, an ongoing pandemic and economic crisis, and a racial reckoning and bitter divisions, how should diverse parts of the Christian community assess their responsibilities for the current crisis, explore ways faith and the faithful can lift up the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40), and contribute to the common good, working with a new administration and a new Congress? Religious values and voters were at the center of the 2020 election. How will faith and the faithful shape the agendas and actions of the Biden-Harris administration and the 117th Congress?

In religious communities, new leaders are stepping up, including new presidents at Bread for the World and Sojourners. African American churches and religious leaders are offering crucial moral leadership as the nation confronts the sin of racism. The Catholic community seeks to promote human life and dignity and pursue justice and peace as the second Catholic president in U.S. history takes office. Faith and the faithful have new importance and potential impact, especially at this time of moral crisis and political change. The Initiative explored these new opportunities, responsibilities, and challenges with a diverse group of Christian leaders who connect their faith and public policy in Washington and across the county. The panelists explored questions such as:

  • How does the attack on the U.S. Capitol, what led to it, and its aftermath challenge the Christian community and the nation?
  • How have faith and the faithful contributed to this crisis? What is needed now from believers, leaders, and citizens?
  • How can faith and the faithful help stand up for democracy, seek justice and peace, heal divisions, and advance the common good?
  • What are areas of agreement, tension, and discussion with the new administration and new Congress?
  • How can the Biden-Harris administration and Congress act on racial, economic, and environmental justice?
  • How should religious advocates address issues of the pandemic and economic dislocation, abortion and the death penalty, hunger and immigration, and religious liberty and pluralism with a new administration and Congress?
  • What actions should the Biden-Harris administration and religious communities take to promote greater justice and the common good, unity, and healing?

Resources

View a list of articles, books, and other resources for this dialogue.

John Carr, director of the Initiative, moderated the dialogue.

This Public Dialogue was part of the Initiative’s Faith and the Faithful series and was supported by the Democracy Fund.

Participants

Gerald F. Seib

Gerald F. Seib

Gerald F. Seib, executive Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal, will lead off the dialogue with an analysis of the current crisis, political context, and roles of religious communities in the elections, aftermath, and way forward. Seib writes the “Capital Journal” column, oversees the WSJ/NBC News polls, and is a member of Blessed Sacrament parish in Washington, DC.

Rev. Eugene Cho

Rev. Eugene Cho

Rev. Eugene Cho is the new president of Bread for the World, the founding pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, and author of Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian's Guide to Engaging Politics (2020).

Kathleen Domingo

Kathleen Domingo

Kathleen Domingo is a leader in the Office of Life, Justice, and Peace for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and previously served with Catholics for the Common Good in San Francisco.

Barbara Williams Skinner

Barbara Williams Skinner

Barbara Williams Skinner is a key leader in the Black Church, the CEO of Skinner Leadership Institute, co-convener of the National African American Clergy Network, and co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Prayer Breakfast.

Rev. Adam Russell Taylor

Rev. Adam Russell Taylor

Rev. Adam Russell Taylor is the new president of Sojourners, former leader of the Faith Initiative at the World Bank Group, and author of Mobilizing Hope: Faith Inspired Activism for a Post-Civil Rights Generation (2010).