Ross Murray, Vice President of the GLAAD Media Institute and Lutheran Deacon, released an outstanding second book on Tuesday called The Everyday Advocate: Living Out Your Calling to Social Justice.
The book, released through Fortress Press, is a comprehensive guide that encourages Christians to live out their call to advocacy through their own experiences and through their belief. This advocacy isn’t exclusive to the LGBTQ community, but it is inclusive due to Ross’ extensive presence in LGBTQ movement work. “The mindset and skills,” as Murray describes, “we are going to discuss can be applied to many areas.”
Many have praised Murray’s new book including Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO.
“Ross Murray epitomizes finding your calling in life and using it. His work for the LGBTQ community has led to change that has saved lives and opened hearts and minds. It is a privilege to work with him every day and see him live his passion,” said Ellis.
Her words were echoed by Rev. James Martin, SJ, Editor at Large, America Media.
“How can someone best advocate for LGBTQ people in their daily lives? That’s a challenging question for many people. To make it even more challenging we could ask: How can someone advocate for LGBTQ people in their daily lives, and draw from their own religious beliefs to do so? For an increasing number of believers that is not only a challenging question, but essential. Ross Murray’s new book provides a smart, inviting, accessible, hopeful, and faith-filled roadmap for answering both of those questions, reminding us that the liberation of all people is at the heart of the Gospels,” Martin said.
For Murray, it’s his prayer that people feel inspired to action for justice, in their community and the wider world.
“I want us to move beyond thoughts and prayers into meaningful action that follows God’s calling to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners,” Murray told GLAAD.
The founding director of The Naming Project, a faith-based camp for LGBTQ youth and their allies, specializes in the relationship between religion and LGBTQ people. Murray’s latest book was written to inspire and educate people of faith to act for justice. Additionally, Murray’s first book, Made, Known, Loved: Developing LGBTQ-Inclusive Youth Ministry is available from Fortress Press too and also follows the distinct relationship between advocacy and religion.
Collaboration is a big part of Ross’ book. He wants the world to know that advocacy doesn’t start and end with him. In fact, recognizing privilege and where readers sit in society is a large part of Ross’ work.
“Do a very honest assessment of your privilege and perspective,” Murray writes in chapter four of his book: “Build on Personal Relationships.”
“This does not mean befriending someone for the sole purpose of making them into a teacher,” Murray clarifies. What Murray does here is to encourage people to answer researchable questions they might be asking themselves about their privilege and the gaps they have within their advocacy’s perspective.
Murray is no stranger to putting collaboration into strategic impact work. He has also contributed to two books focused on LGBTQ Christian youth: Queerfully and Wonderfully Made and Welcoming and Affirming. He has written and appeared on numerous media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, USA Today, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Religion News Service
Moreover, the advocate ensures that each action he takes is one that follows and deepens the original action. This requires a certain amount of teamwork. Murray highlights this in The Everyday Advocate.
In chapter seven: “Think Both Short Term and Long Term” where DaShawn User, Director, Communities of Color and Media within the GLAAD Media Institute (GMI) at GLAAD, is exemplified as a long-term oriented activist.
Usher works at GLAAD to advocate for fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of the LGBTQ community with “his powerful community organizing work for Black queer people as well as working for the eradication of HIV.” He also balances, as Murray calls attention to, being the founder and executive director of Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI), a community-centered initiative that focuses primarily on events that center community gathering events, and the health and wellness of and for the Black LGBTQ community.
However, this didn’t happen overnight.
Brian Derrick, political strategist and founder of Oath Advising says it’s these stories of successful advocacy that only sharpen the tools advocates and faith leaders need in today’s progressive movement.
“The Everyday Advocate is illuminating. It breaks the mold for what we expect Christian advocacy to look like and comes at a critical time for the progressive movement. Murray translates his depth of knowledge into a tactical field guide that anyone can use to level up their advocacy. He expertly weaves together personal experience and others’ success stories to light a path forward for novices and career activists alike,” Derrick said in a review of The Everyday Advocate.
With each call Ross makes a call for advocacy, he evokes Christian faith and theology as a guide. “As religious people, we should be very good at understanding the bigger picture,” writes Murray before diving into Usher’s journey.
With that, he often cites Biblical heroes.
“Consider Paul, a one-time persecutor of the followers of Jesus, who has his ‘road to Damascus” that turns him into a zealous defender of Jesus Christ. That experience drives him to join the early Christian movement, the very movement he had been violently persecuting,” writes Murray.
This is a reminder that changing hearts and minds in advocacy was once the same for important Biblical figures such as Paul and those before him; the many figures, that Christians admire, reference, and evoke in prayer. Murray suggests you do the same in advocacy.
“Our faith should motivate our advocacy,” said Murray. “We see so much that is wrong in this world, and often we feel powerless to do anything about it. This book encourages prayer, strategic thought, and then action that helps to reach others, take a stand, and help live into the reign of God that we (as Christians) believe is coming,” said Ross.
All in all, Murray’s book is a God-sent for those that want to start to crawl into the world of advocacy before they learn to walk the marathon that it is. Each chapter builds on how to begin life as an advocate not just for a moment, but throughout life and within each and everyday.