Submitted by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
New from San Juan author Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is “Beyond Hashtag Activism.”
The internet and social media have changed the face of social justice advocacy with hashtag campaigns. These movements have accomplished much in raising awareness and spreading the word about important justice issues like global poverty and gender discrimination.
Hashtag activism can be understood as the social media world’s engagement of thousands of internet users who express their opinions, stand in solidarity around certain issues, and show support for causes they care about via different social media platforms. Hashtag activism is a great place to start, but our social justice advocacy must move beyond the limits of likes, sharing, and click rates.
“Beyond Hashtag Activism” seeks to enter into social media realities while calling readers and the church toward a more comprehensive perspective on justice issues. Much has changed over the past decade in terms of Christian engagement with social justice in the United States. On one hand, American Christians have made significant progress through the support of international development organizations like World Vision and Compassion International in addressing the realities of global poverty. The number of children dying every day from preventable causes has decreased over the past several decades by half. Much work is still to be done, but progress is being made.
On the other hand, Christians in the U.S. have never been more divided on issues of social justice. Conservative evangelicals have claimed social justice is dangerous to the core tenets of the gospel. In contrast, a gathering of progressive evangelicals met in Chicago in September 2018 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern.
Bible-believing evangelicals of color are becoming increasingly disenfranchised with “white Christianity” and are giving up on movements toward reconciliation. Racial and political divides became more extreme with the election of former President Donald Trump.
“Beyond Hashtag Activism” enters into the dual realities and growing divisions within evangelicalism in the U.S. It articulates a holistic reading of the gospel that is inclusive of core principles of social justice, including responding to the needs of the poor in the U.S. and globally; addressing the realities of racial inequities and white supremacy; acknowledging and calling to account the mistreatment of women domestically and internationally; and wrestling through questions on the horizon with which the evangelical church will have to address.
The only way the church will be able to have effective mechanisms and strategies for responding to any type of injustice is to pursue comprehensive methodologies that look at the common themes, trends, and dynamic aspects of broken and unjust systems. A comprehensive approach must be employed to bring change and healing to people, places, and communities where power is abused.
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace based in Washington, D.C. who lives on San Juan Island. She is ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church. Cannon has a master’s in bioethics, her Master of Divinity, and an MBA. Her Ph.D. is in U.S. History from the University of California – Davis. She also has her Doctorate of Ministry from Northern Theological Seminary with an emphasis on spiritual formation. Cannon is the author or editor of six books including the award-winning “Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World”.