Bayard Rustin is largely an unknown name in theology and ethics, but this dissertation brings him into those conversations with a focus on an ethics of peripatetic friendship as an appropriate response to unjust wealth inequity. I explore how the life of Bayard Rustin, particularly his friendships, was a catalyst for much of the civil rights movement as well as broader justice movements that included charity and economic rights. Rustin, via his friendships, made possible many revolutionary changes in American society and beyond. After examining his life and contributions, I tie his life together with insights from the broader Christian tradition in order to create a moral theology that I am calling a Rustinian friendship response to wealth inequity. I suggest that friendships provide their own sort of wealth, but that they also contribute to spreading God’s abundance-wealth for the sake of human flourishing, and ultimately a witness to friendship with God.

Degree Date


Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


D. Stephen Long

Second Advisor

Rebekah Miles

Third Advisor

Theodore Walker, Jr.

Fourth Advisor

Paul Wadell

Subject Area

Humanities, General/Other, Religion, Theology/Religious Education

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Friday, May 05, 2023