Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

January 18th, 2010 by

Nathan Harden had this to say on the oftentimes anti-Christian Huffington Post:

In today’s political landscape, we normally think of the mixing of religion and politics as the doing of white conservatives.

But if you know your history, of course, you know that The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded by a group of black religious leaders, the most important of which was the group’s first president, Martin Luther King.

The real work of the Civil Rights movement — everything from rallies to bus boycotts — was carried out through the organizational infrastructure of the black church. And the words that inspired the movement were mostly the words of preachers. Without religion, and Christianity in particular, it is not certain that the Civil Rights movement would have taken place at all.

Harden later points out that “King’s commitment to non-violent resistance was motivated by his faith,” quoting Dr. King as saying:

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.

Dr. Brown adds more to the picture with his account of a pivotal moment in Dr. King’s life:

By January 1956, with the Montgomery bus boycott in full swing, threatening phone calls, up to 40 a day, began pouring into King’s home. Though he put up a strong front, the threats unsettled him. One midnight as he sat over a cup of coffee worrying, the phone rang again, and the caller said, “Nigger, we are tired of you and your mess now. And if you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow your brains out and blow up your house.” King later described what happened in the next few minutes.

“I sat there and thought about a beautiful little daughter who had just been born. . . . She was the darling of my life. I’d come in night after night and see that little gentle smile. And I sat at that table thinking about that little girl and thinking about the fact that she could be taken away from me any minute.

“And I started thinking about a dedicated, devoted, and loyal wife, who was over there asleep. And she could be taken from me, or I could be taken from her. And I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any longer. I was weak. . . .

“And I discovered then that religion had become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee. I never will forget it. . . . I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night. I said, ‘Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I think I’m right. I think the cause we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I’m weak now. I’m faltering. I’m losing my courage. And I can’t let the people see me like this because if they see me weak, they will begin to get weak. . . .’

“And it seemed at that moment I could hear an inner voice saying to me, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world. . . .’ Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared.” Christian History 65 (Vol. XIX, No. 1), 40.

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