Giving Compass' Take:
- Brittany Koteles highlights the work of Nuns and Nones, an organization building multi-generational communal and spiritual infrastructure by uniting young, spiritually diverse activists and Catholic nuns.
- How can donors support the work of Nuns and Nones? What can social movements learn from Catholic sisters about building community?
- Read about how Catholic nuns brought education and empowerment to millions of kids.
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As the crises of climate change, racism, and economic inequality coalesce, many young activists are aware that even the most ambitious policy changes won’t, on their own, achieve a sustainable future. These times require a cultural shift away from limitless extraction and consumption. The call to heal our planet and dismantle white supremacy is, above all, a call to evolve and grow our souls.
That’s a perplexing task, especially for the most religiously unaffiliated generation in the United States. When asked, about 44 percent of millennials, who are 25 to 40 years old, check “none of the above” from a list of religious affiliations. This has earned them the nickname “the nones” at our organization, Nuns and Nones—a coalition seeking to create communities of care and contemplation that incite bold social action.
Millennials and younger generations who are separated from religious institutions lose a wealth of benefits, including organized community, moral backing, and brick-and-mortar spaces that have historically fueled social change. Consider, for example, the Black church’s central role in the civil rights movement. Today’s young activists who lack religious or spiritual support structures are making it up as they go—often in isolation.
At the same time, Catholic nuns—often called women religious or sisters—have spent their lives in a spiritual community to sustain a lifetime of service to the poor and marginalized. Following the Catholic church’s renewal movement in the 1960s and 1970s, most sisters shed their traditional habits and cloistered lifestyle, and began serving where they perceived the greatest need, while continuing to live with one another in community. Their work at present-day ministries includes advocating for LGBTQ rights, providing legal counsel to immigrants, running ecojustice farms, and protesting the construction of fossil fuel pipelines.
Read the full article about faith and social justice by Brittany Koteles at Stanford Social Innovation Review.