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Religion’s Misuse of Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the day we celebrate the birth and life of Martin Luther King Jr. To start off, I am a fan, I think Dr. King’s “I had a dream” speech was a great. Aside from the spattering of references to God, which one would expect to find in any political speech, this speech expresses secular and Humanist virtues.

Often times, I hear religious people attempt to take credit for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There is no problem with that. Dr. King was religious. He was even a minister. But religious people go further sometimes and assign the Bible as the reason for Dr. King’s speech. This goes too far. The fact is that Dr. King spoke out for the rights of black people not because of the Bible, but because he was black. That seems pretty obvious to me. He felt the oppression and spoke out against it.

The fact is that the while the Bible was used by both sides of the slavery issue, those who were supported slavery had the Biblical high ground. Slavery and the practice of treating others unequally has strong Biblical support. Jewish slaves were to be treated better than non-Jewish slaves. Women were to be treated less then men, etc.

And not to take anything away from Dr. King, but the civil rights movement didn’t actually start and end with him. Sure his speech was a significant contribution and that is why we honor him today, but the movement itself had many other significant contributors. In the 1920’s for example, there was a big civil rights push lead by atheists like W.E.B. DuBois, Hubert H. Harrison, Joel A. Rogers, and many others.

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

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  • http://shadowboxingz.wordpress.com Shadow Boxer

    Another thing people gloss over or don’t even know is that the “I Have A Dream” speech was given at a JOBS rally. He wasn’t just about political rights, he was working for first class citizenship for all. It’s something we all should aspire to achieve. I think THAT’S why he’s remembered, not just for the speech, but for his commitment to equality and full citizenship.

  • Alan

    I like to use “Well So-And-So founding father was a slave owner” or something along those lines when people try and quote them as an authoritative figure on how the country should run. I think they have some good quotes and good ideas, but that doesn’t make them the sole figure and decider when it came to the way the country was/should be run. The point is often lost on those same people, however. I need a way to lessen the snark and increase the learning and critical thinking.

  • http://socialinjustices.net david

    MLK used religion and the bible just like anybody else that is trying to rally support for anything, and uses the perception of it’s moral superiority through an all powerful entity. Same way you get somebody to fly a plane into a building full of people as a moral superior thing to do and will obtain everlasting life, and/or protection while doing so. A lot of white folks still consider the civil rights movement as a terroristic attack on America.