Social Justice From a Faith Leader Perspective

While we all come to JONAH with shared values around compassion, inclusion, justice, equity, sustainability we individually bring our own faith perspectives to the work. We have much to learn from each other in our differences.

By Jacky Miller

As a Catholic, Christian Faith Leader, I embrace Social Justice that is grounded in scripture—drawing from the Hebrew prophets and in the person and teachings of Jesus. The Hebrew prophets denounce injustice and call for a renewed way of relating to God and being in the world. Jesus, a Jewish Hebrew identifies with the teaching and says that he has been anointed to bring this to fulfillment by proclaiming liberty to captives and commanding his followers to “Love one another as I have loved you.”

In addition to scripture I also rely on Justice principles that are inspired and guided by Catholic Social Teaching which includes many documents written by popes over the years with these seven main themes:

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person.
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation.
  • Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.
  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers.
  • Solidarity.
  • Care for God’s Creation.

I begin with the belief that every person is created in the image of God with goodness and worth. We are created different so we realize our need for one another. We learn how to be human by our association with other human beings. 

Our Christian theology based on a Trinitarian vison helps us imagine a relational universe on unity in community with one another and with God. When this community feels like home to us, hostility toward the other seems foreign, invasive and out of place. 

Social justice then becomes less about what and more about who we are called to prioritize as being in communion with God and one another. So often we get ensnared in disagreements around the “what” in relation to social justice, because it deals with often contentious issues like budgets, taxation, labor laws, social protections, safety nets, etc.

Instead, we should start a space of common ground around who God calls us to be concerned about. In other words, “who comes before what.” Starting with “what” often enables our ideologies to trump our theology and spirituality. As Christians, the building blocks of social justice lie in human dignity, human fairness, and the sacredness of life. The source of social justice is God’s perfect righteousness, justice, and radical love.

Social justice is about being co-creators in the here and now, giving witness to the ultimate just society yet to come. So every time we use our voice and influence to get in the way of injustice — whether it’s human trafficking, economic exploitation, human rights abuses, or people dying needlessly from disease and malnutrition — we provide a foretaste of God’s kingdom to come.