Abolitionist Sanctuary utilizes the following three approaches when designing courses, programs, and events to advance our mission: Womanist and Constructive theologies, and Community-Based and Participatory Research.


Womanist methodology gives epistemic privilege to the experiences of Black women who endeavor to survive and secure a quality of life against interlocking systems of oppression. Likewise, Abolitionist Sanctuary emerges from the lived realities of poor Black mothers who exercise moral agency to “make a way out of no way.” These survival practices provide instructions to circumvent unjust social conditions with a liberating faith and political resistance to ensure that Black mothers and their families and communities can thrive. Womanism validates the interior lives of Black women and other oppressed groups as a source of moral integrity aligned with the divine.

Constructive Theology

Constructive theology is the exercise of creating new paradigms that go beyond critique to identifying interventions or solutions to problems. Abolitionist Sanctuary uses constructive theology to generate new ways of thinking about God in proximity to carceral experiences that intersect with racial, gender, and class inequities. Specifically, we construct a Liberation Theology of Lockdown America that uses restorative and transformative justice strategies to redress punitive church teachings. In addition, we apply emancipatory theologies to train faith communities to influence policy agendas, assess their complicity in participating in punitive logics, and increase civic engagement to extend the ministry of Jesus, a first-century abolitionist.

Community-Based and
Participatory Research

Community-based research is grounded in the experiences of individuals closest to the issues needing study and interventions. Abolitionist Sanctuary derives solutions primarily grounded in the lived realities of impoverished Black mothers criminalized for their survival and otherwise justice-impacted. This embodied knowledge is a living text that guides pathways to amplifying the voices of Black mothers, identifying mutual aid strategies, and applying abolitionist principles to create a more just and equitable society where Black mothers and their families can thrive.