Ron Sider, evangelical author of ‘Rich Christians in Age of Hunger’, dies at 82

“Over the years, Ron has challenged followers of Jesus to embrace and live out the biblical mandate of evangelism and social action in his teaching, writing, and speaking,” according to his biography of the seminar. “His effective ministry bore fruit in the seminary classroom, in the local and global church, and further in the public sphere, both in the United States and abroad.”

Adam Russell Taylor, Chairman of Sojourners, called Sider “a prolific author and a tireless advocate for peace and justice”.

“His book Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger had a profound impact on me and so many others,” Taylor posted on Twitter. “May he rest in peace and love.”

Author and Christian activist, Shane Claiborne, said Sider “has been a dear friend for so many years…such a faithful voice for Jesus and justice. He will be missed,” in a post on Twitter.

Sider, who had previously struggled with health, described to Religion News Service in a November 2021 interview how he had been close to death earlier this year.

‘I almost died,’ he said, recalling leaving hospital after surgery for bladder cancer when he suffered ‘a huge blood clot’ which affected his heart and his lungs. He said his wife, who was allowed into the room with the doctors when he was rushed back to the facility, described the situation to him.

“She started singing and praying and then she said, ‘Ron, come back. We need you’ and I blinked. She said Ron if you hear me blink and I did it,” recalls Sider, who said a friend joked that the medical crisis had occurred the day before the Jan. 6 uprising, saving him from having to immediately look at the images. “So I’m alive and the cancer is gone and I’m very grateful.”

In 2020, Sider edited “Donald Trump’s Spiritual Danger: 30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity.” The book compiled a series of theological critiques of then-President Trump, lamenting, among other things, his personal behavior and his approach to climate change.

“We all say if you start with a set of biblical standards, then there are huge issues with Donald Trump’s character and policies,” Sider told RNS at the time. “I hope a significant number of white evangelicals take this seriously in this election year.”

Sider often included his name and presence in groups known for their anti-abortion stance, but also took a broad view of what “pro-life” meant.

“We continue to be very concerned about abortion and we stand against abortion,” Sider, then president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action, said in a media interview after speaking at a evangelistic conference that preceded the 2016 March for Life. “We want to reduce it, but it’s also about death from starvation, smoking and racism.”

Among the other causes he espoused was working to combat climate change. Amid an evangelical divide over the issue, Sider was one of dozens of signatories to a 2006 document titled “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.”

He said he respects some who have chosen to oppose global warming activism, but is saddened by their stance. “Honestly,” he told the media at the time, “they’re going to look really dumb in 10 years.”

Bob Smietana, Jack Jenkins and Adelle Banks are national reporters for Religion News Service.

Lola R. McClure