Kairos Center Publications and Research

Kairos Center publications, articles, and research at the intersection of religion and human rights, including work from the Poverty Initiative and Poverty Scholars’ Network on the defining issue of our day, the abolition of poverty.

Books and Book Chapters



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Jesus Led a Poor People’s Campaign: Sermons from the Movement to End Poverty
By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Solita Alexander Riley, Aaron Scott, Rev. Jessica C. Williams, Rev. Erica N. Williams, Willie Baptist, Rev. Dan Chadwick, Rev. Emily McNeill, and Colleen Wessel-McCoy

This new collection of sermons features religious and community leaders committed to the unity and organization of the poor for a powerful social movement to end poverty. As today’s exploitative and oppressive economy is producing an expanding and deepening poverty, we need a revolution of values, particularly a revolution of religious values that champions the building of a broad transformative social movement to abolish the immorality of poverty in the midst of plenty and abandonment in the midst of unprecedented abundance.

Using the Reading the Bible with the Poor methodology, as developed by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in her book Always With Us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor, these sermons draw biblical texts into conversation with the organized poor today. Learn more about the book here.

To order a copy (PDF download or hard copy) of Jesus Led a Poor People’s Campaign, visit our online store.

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Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing
By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, and Rev. Dr. Rick Lowery
2018, Beacon, $18

A collection of sermons, speeches and reflections by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, and Rev. Dr. Rick Lowery that lays out a groundbreaking vision for moral organizing, paired with inspirational and practical essays from organizers in today’s Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

This volume features Rev. Barber’s most stirring sermons and speeches, with response essays by prominent public intellectuals, activists, and faith leaders. Drawing from the history of social movements in the US, especially the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, Rev. Barber and the contributors to this volume, including Kairos Center Director Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, speak to the most pressing issues of our time, including Black Lives Matter, the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the struggle to protect voting rights, the march for women’s rights, and the movement to overcome poverty and unite the dispossessed across all dividing lines. Grounded in the fundamental biblical theme of poor and oppressed people taking action together, the book suggests ways to effectively build a fusion movement to make America fair and just for everyone.

Buy it today:
Beacon Press: https://bit.ly/2BR62ND
Indiebound: https://bit.ly/2zIT2s5
Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2DXWbah
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2zKm4Y2

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Always with Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor
By Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
2017, Eerdmans, $25

Jesus’s words “the poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11) are regularly used to suggest that ending poverty is impossible, that poverty is a result of moral failures, and that the poor themselves have no role in changing their situation. In this book Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis examines both the biblical text and the lived reality of the poor to show how that passage is taken out of context, distorted, and politicized to justify theories about the inevitability of inequality.

Theoharis reinterprets “the poor you will always have with you” to show that it is actually one of the strongest biblical mandates to end poverty. She documents stories of poor people themselves organizing to improve their lot and illuminates the implications for the church. Poverty is not inevitable, Theoharis argues. It is a systemic sin, and all Christians have a responsibility to partner with the poor to end poverty once and for all.

Available from Eerdmans! Read more about the book, and find reviews, book tour information, and other features here.

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The Spirit of Struggle: Writings on Religions and Human Rights
By the Kairos Center
2015, Free download

In preparation for our October 2015 “Spirit of Struggle” gathering, we put together a book of writings on the past, present, and possible relationship between human rights and religions. These are essays drawing on the knowledge and experiences of Kairos Center leaders and others who have taken on this question as part of their research and the movements they’re committed to. Below you’ll find the table of contents, and you can download the whole book as a free PDF by clicking here.

Religion and Human Rights Need Each Other | Larry Cox
Shakti: The Power of the Poor | Shailly Gupta Barnes
Reading the Bible with the Poor: A Biblical Hermeneutic for Social Transformation | Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
Islam and Poverty in the Sahel: An Interview with Sheikh Maman Kiota | Adam Barnes
A Moral Movement for the Nation | The Rev. Dr. William Barber II
Abahlali base-Mjondolo and Building the Struggle From Below | An Interview with Mzwakhe Mdlalose and Dr. Richard Pithouse
Women, Islam, and the Secular-Religious Divide | An Interview with Dr. Sheherazade Jafari

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It’s Not Enough to Be Angry
By Willie Baptist
2015, University of the Poor Press, Kindle E-Book, $5.99

“History has taught … it is not enough for people to be angry. The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.”
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., February 23, 1968

It’s Not Enough to Be Angry offers an assessment of our present enemy and of ourselves, foundational knowledge in the contemporary struggles for justice and dignity. Its basic argument is that the accumulation of capital and centralization of wealth have reached a stage of competitiveness and speculation that has given rise to an unprecedented labor-eliminating micro-electronics technological revolution. This has resulted in a globalized crisis that is not simply cynical but chronic: it is casting huge sections of the middle-income strata down into the ranks of the poor and receding those with poor income to superfluousness. Available at Amazon.com.

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Pedagogy of the Poor: Building the Movement to End Poverty
By Willie Baptist and Jan Rehmann
2012, Teachers College Press, $30

In this book the authors present a new kind of interdisciplinary pedagogy that brings together antipoverty grassroots activism and relevant social theories about poverty, combining the oral history of renowned antipoverty organizer Willie Baptist with accessible introductions to relevant social theories, case studies, in class student debates, and pedagogical reflections. This multilayered approach makes the book useful to both social activists committed to eradicating poverty and educators looking for ways to teach about the struggles for economic and social justice. This book is an essential tool of self-education and leadership development for a broad social movement led by the poor to end poverty. Available at Teachers College Press or Amazon.com.
Download sample chapter. Download table of contents.


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A New and Unsettling Force: Reigniting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign
2009, $10

Featuring chapters on the history of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968, the role of religion and the Bible, and the importance of art and culture in the struggle to end poverty, along with an interview of Bertha Burris (Queen of the Mule Train) and sixteen essays submitted by leaders fighting today for what the Poor People’s Campaign was fighting for in 1968. To order a copy (PDF download or hard copy) of A New and Unsettling Force, visit our online store.


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Appalachia: Listening with Our Hearts
2007, $20

Written by the participants in the Appalachia Immersion in January 2007, these fifty-five essays and over one hundred photographs reflect on issues of race, gender, and poverty in Appalachia and beyond. To order Appalachia: Listening with Our Hearts download our order form, which can be mailed or returned electronically to info@kairoscenter.org.



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Katrina: Listening with Our Hearts
2006, $20

The first Poverty Initiative publication contains over ninety photos and forty essays by students, faculty, and community leaders who traveled for eight days in the Gulf Coast just five months after Hurricane Katrina brought to the world’s attention the deep and pervasive poverty in the United States. To order Katrina: Listening with Our Hearts, download our order form, which can be mailed or returned electronically to info@kairoscenter.org.



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Each One Teach One
By Ron Casanova with Steven Blackburn
1996, Northwestern University Press, $30

Ron Casanova (d. 2012) was a Poverty Scholar, artist, and leader in the National Union of the Homeless. In his autobiography he shares the ways in which he defied overwhelming odds and brings inspiration to the movement to end poverty. Through the narration of his own experiences the book includes the police riot at Tompkins Square, the Housing Now march of the homeless on Washington, and community takeovers of housing in Kansas City, New York, and Philadelphia. Available at Amazon.com.



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Sacred Seed
2014, Global Peace Initiative of Women, $20

This collection of reflections and meditations is written by religious leaders inspired by the work of Dr. Vandana Shiva and focuses on the material and symbolic divinity of seeds in their faith traditions and about the on-going attack on seeds in the form of big agribusiness and Genetically Modified Organisms. It includes “And the Last Shall Be First” by the Poverty Initiative’s Adam Barnes, Shailly Barnes, Rev. Kathy Maskell, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. Available from Global Peace Initiative of Women.


Hope for Children in Poverty: Profiles and Possibilities
2007, Judson Press, $16
Edited by Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Unruh, with a foreword by Marian Wright Edelman

This reader explores real solutions through public policy and faith-based organizations. Two chapters were contributed by members of the Poverty Initiative: “Children of Working Parents Growing Up in Poverty” by Charon Hribar and Paul Chapman and “Children Are Not in the Way, They Are the Way” by Blair Hyatt, Kristin Nicely Colangelo, and Willie Baptist.


Common Goods: Economy, Ecology, and Political Theology
2015, Fordham University Press, $35
Edited by Catherine Keller, Elias Ortega-Aponte, and Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre

In the face of globalized ecological and economic crises, how do religion, the postsecular, and political theology reconfigure political theory and practice? Features “The Myth of the Middle: Common Sense, Good Sense, and Rethinking the “Common Good” in Contemporary U.S. Society” by Charon Hribar.


Reading the Bible in an Age of Crisis: Political Exegesis for a New Day
2015, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, $49.

Biblical scholars and activists describe and exemplify the shape of a biblical interpretation that takes contemporary crisis seriously. Succinct opening essays summarize the salient aspects of our critical situation; in later parts, contributions address themes of economic, political, and environmental crisis in dialogue with biblical texts. Features “Reading the Bible with the Poor” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Willie Baptist.


Articles, Reports, and Reviews

Poverty in America is a moral outrage. The soul of our nation is at stake” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II in The Guardian

The Republican tax bill is not just immoral. It is an act of violence” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II in The Guardian

Trumpvangelicals are using faith to bring us to the brink of nuclear war” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II in ThinkProgress

A Response to the Evangelicals Who Support Trump: Have You Read the Bible Lately?” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II in The Nation

Health care bill is a literal death sentence for many poor people” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in Religion News Service

Killing Trumpcare Before It Kills Us: Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis on Connecting Social Issues to Build Resistance,” interview with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in Truthout

You Who Have Neglected: Reading Matthew 23 for #MORALRESISTANCE in an age of Poverty and Inequality” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in Practical Matters Journal

‘The Poor Will Always Be With Us’ Is Jesus’ Indictment of the Rich. Not the Poor” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in Sojourners

Interview with the Poor People’s Campaign: “Half of the US Population is Poor,”” interview with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Willie Baptist in The Dawn

New Testament as Counter-Imperial: A Review of Horsley, Crossan and Fiorenza” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

The Full, Fierce Legacy of Dr. King” by Karenna Gore, Charlene Sinclair and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis in The New York Daily News

Social Movements and Theological Education” by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

“The Power of Religion and Human Rights”: Keynote Speech at the 2017 Bernstein Symposium at Yale University by Larry Cox

Human Rights Must Get Religion” by Larry Cox in Open Democracy

Finishing the Unfinished Business of Martin Luther King” by Willie Baptist and Charlene Sinclair in Justice Unbound

It’s Not Enough to Be Angry” by Willie Baptist in Organizing Upgrade

Ferguson and the Watts Uprising” by Willie Baptist and Foster Pinkney

The Right to Not Be Poor” by Willie Baptist, Shailly Barnes, and Chris Caruso

Message to Trump: Poor people have the answers to solving poverty” by Charon Hribar in The Hill

Why Real Political Power Will Not Come from a Revived Religious Left” by Nicholas Laccetti in Religion Dispatches

The Indian Trail of the Poor People’s Campaign” by Aaron Scott

Groundswell: The Veterans’ and Survivors’ March from Mobile to New Orleans” by Jose Vasquez