Meet Reverend Sekou, Preaching through Purpose-Driven Essays


Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, 41, is a religious leader who not only believes in social justice, but lives to achieve it.  In Sekou’s most recent book Gods, Gays and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy, he engages various religious community’s and challenges them to question the status quo from politics to relationships.  Sekou currently resides in Boston with his family, and we got a chance to speak to him.

Elan: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

Osagyefo Sekou:  I am pastor who has spent most of my adult life as an organizer for social justice issues.   I also have been privileged to work along side the people of Haiti and New Orleans in their struggle to image a new world after their world has collapsed.

Elan: You have a new book coming out called Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy.  Tell us a bit about it.

OS: I am arguing in this collection of essays that the role of religion inside a democracy is to expand democratic opportunity.  Religion cannot be used to undermine the rights of people only expand those who have been historically othered.   The essays cover a wide range of topics.   Gay marriage, hip-hop, New Orleans, Haiti, and the recent London riots.   I am a creative-nonfiction-essayist, hence, my essays stand alone but I want this collection to be read together as it presents the existential underpinnings of my thoughts and the prophetic religious orientation.

Elan:  What do you hope it adds to public discourse?

OS: The book opens with the line “Democracy and god have failed.”  I want to shake up the way in which folks think about democracy and religion in terms of their impact on public policy as well as the ways in which our collective choices offer a kind of faith- in-action regardless of religious tradition; if one is committed to creating a more just world for the most vulnerable.   Secondly, I want Christianity in the United States and aboard to acknowledge its support of oppression and opt for a religion that resembles the life and legacy of the world’s most famous Palestinian, Jesus of Nazareth.

Elan: Do you believe this book has the power to change attitudes about race, religion and democracy?

OS: Change is a process over centuries and millennium.  I want organizers, public policy makers, and ordinary citizens to challenge their assumptions about race, religion, politics and sexuality.  To see the spiritual genius of  “unimportant” people and certain hip-hop artists might be our national salvation.

Elan:  You’ve done a lot of interfaith work.  What have you found is the key to building these bridges?

OS: The question for all religions is the same.  Where are the most vulnerable in your project?  Are the needs of the poor and the quest for justice center to your faith practice?  I have tended to work with the progressive edges and prophetic few of all religious traditions.  In the struggle for justice the best of religious traditions emerge.

Elan: What’s one piece of advice that you’d like to give to today’s youth?

OS: Be faithful to your sense of calling in the world by linking yourself to a struggle and story bigger and older than yourself!

Photos courtesy of Tom Martinez



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