Jim Wallis Replaced as Sojourners Editor after Pulling Controversial Catholic Article

(Religion News) The progressive Christian magazine Sojourners has replaced founder and President Jim Wallis as editor in chief and announced a new policy of editorial independence from the organization’s advocacy work.

The decision came after weeks of turmoil over Wallis’ removal of an essay criticizing white supremacists within the Catholic Church, which led two staffers of color to resign from the magazine.

Wallis, a prominent progressive theologian and activist who has also written for RNS, will continue to serve as president of the Sojourners organization, the magazine announced Friday afternoon (Aug. 14). He had served as a leader at the magazine since its founding in 1971 as the Post-American. 

Sandi Villarreal, who had been the executive editor at Sojourners, has accepted the role of editor in chief. According to the statement, she has been promised editorial independence in overseeing Sojourner’s web and print publications.

The controversial essay, written by University of California Los Angeles lecturer Eric Martin, was published in the magazine’s August print issue under the title “Harboring a Culture of Hate” and online as “The Catholic Church has a Visible White-Power Faction.” 

On July 28, following backlash from Catholic leaders, Wallis removed the article from the site, saying it “made unwarranted insinuations and allegations against many Catholics.”

In three lengthy subsequent editor’s notes, he criticized Martin’s claim that U.S. bishops voted to reject language condemning swastikas, Confederate flags and nooses in their 2018 pastoral letter against racism. In fact, he wrote, the bishops’ letter does name nooses and swastikas as a “tragic indicator of rising racial and ethnic animus.”

The article has now been restored to the site with a correction about the bishop’s letter appended above it. The publication has also committed not to remove published articles from its site.

As the controversy played out online and within the organization, two associate web editors, Dhanya Addanki and Daniel José Camacho, publicly resigned from the publication.

Addanki said that the article’s removal plus “three years of experiencing this toxic environment” as a Dalit woman and woman of color pushed her to leave.

“I’m unable to continue my role here in good conscience,” Camacho said in a public 

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Editor’s note. This article was written by Aysha Khan and published at Religion News. Title changed by Pulpit & Pen



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