What We're Reading



Due to experience, education and vocation, many people call me by various titles, for example: “Pastor,” “Minister” and “Organizer.” I wear these titles as a privilege, not as an entitlement. I also wear these titles with a great sense of humility and appreciate the honor of being called such. With that humility comes a truth, that even with titles, I do not know everything. In fact, there are many subjects about which I need to listen more than speak.

The article, “Who Built Your Pew?” proves this point. As a CRS Organizer, I work on police accountability, court system equality and prison reform. I recently became aware that an incarcerated individual who owes child-support cannot have their obligations “paused.” Debts accrue while serving time and then, upon release, the individual is faced with child-support payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars. Failure to pay can result in another jail sentence or prison term. This is another issue that I will be working on.

This new awareness is what drew my attention to the cover story of Sojourners, “Who Built Your Pew?” Please take a few moments to read the article. It is another reminder of why we all do what we do here at CRS and why we all should be doing the work of social justice. As a few of my coworkers can attest, learning about the excessively punitive realities faced by our inmates drove me to tears and then rage. I was angry at the “injustness” of our justice system, and became incensed at how much I did not know — and I am supposed to be a faith “leader.”

Please take a read. And then let’s figure out if there is something we need to do to inform our churches.


Rev. Damon Smith, West Side Organizer

What We're ReadingCRS