Thinking About MLK

Continuing the discussion from Is Postmodernism An Inherently Atheistic Philosophy?:

This last year, I’ve been reading King and thinking about him a lot. He comes up often in my writing and my speaking.

Tell us more about MLK. What do you remember of him?

He also would want us to remember that some white ministers were against him, but also other white ministers were with him. That was important to him, and he reminded people of that always. Though, I do agree that much of the white fundamentalist-evangelical church should have done more; they should have have fought for integration instead of defending segregation.

Why do you think MLK was a great man? What made him good?
Why do you think he studied theology?

What I remember most of MLK was the March on Washington and the I have a dream speech. I remember the line about him having three little children that he hoped would someday live in an America where they would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. That resonated with me as a child. Next memory was when he came out against the Vietnam war. He talked about the disproportionate number of blacks fighting and dying for freedoms that they were not getting at home. Lastly I remember his assassination and the unfairness of his death. His funeral was done in such a way to show the contrast with the President Kennedy’s funeral which was still fresh in my mind. Kennedy’s funeral was modeled after Lincoln’s and King’s was modeled after a cotton picking slave’s.

Why was he great? He went after the injustice of his time with the tactics of Gandhi - non violence protest. Nobody watching the crossing of the Selma bridge could not feel empathetic to their plight. I was growing up in the Urban North where the civil rights movement was dominated by the Black Panthers - fear and violence. When MLK was assassinated we expected northern cities to erupt in violence. But it was Robert Kennedy, brother of the slain President Kennedy who calmed the country with an impromtu speech in Indianapolis.

Robert Kennedy was killed two months later.

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His choice of theology was simple as his father was a minister. The ministry was one of the only routes for education and out of poverty. Even educated black people couldn’t get jobs in their field just because of skin color.

If MLK was alive today he would be for SSM, income equality, fair immigration policies, for just about everything that evangelical Christians are against today.

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@Patrick, as a secular atheist that deeply cares about justice, how do you respond to this quote from Tim Keller?

It is possible that MLK saw grounding theology for justice that he could not find in secularism?

It was not possible for MLK to be a secularist. In the 1960’s atheism (godlessness) would not be a socially acceptable position to take. Having God/Jesus on his side and appealing to “All of God’s children, white folks and black folks, Protestants and Catholics” forced the nation to listen.

Please post quote from Tim Keller again and I will respond.

To be clear, I know you want a society of justice and peace. I do not doubt this.

That’s okay, I know that we both want justice and peace.

I do want to comment about being an “out of the closet” atheist. It is easy now to publicly take such a position. In the past, say when I was a child to express my skeptism would have been crushed. Even before the publication of the “God Delusion”, being an Atheist instead on just a Cafeteria Catholic (Easter/Christmas mass attendance and zero adherence to Church dogma) would have been socially difficult. Now being a “none” is the societial/cultural norm especially among the young (under 35). It requires no courage at all.