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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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