REPOST from January 12, 2012:
For many, yesterday was the start of a 3-day weekend to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr, the leader of the Civil Rights movement, and those who stood against racial segregation and inequality. History is replete with men and women of faith who, in the struggle to lay hold of the eternal, broke human tradition and brought about revolutionary change. Indeed, our own American history is testimony to that. We cannot speak of the founding of this great nation without acknowledging the relationship between independence from Great Britain and freedom of religion. The founding fathers understood that the very root of independence is respect for others. Yet, the actors on the stage of human history are imperfect men who, despite their greatness, sin and “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Had the founding fathers acted in accord with conscience when the issue of slavery presented itself, this evil and all its ugly repercussions would have been dealt the death-blow. Instead it spread like cancer. Unconfessed and unrepented sin doesn’t just go away. I believe that if the founding fathers could speak today, they would confess this as their greatest failure. Yet, the grace of God is greater and the eternal purposes of God, in the affairs of men and of nations, cannot be thwarted. God, at the frontline of every quest for freedom and justice, always has a people.
It is absolutely impossible to talk about the Civil Rights movement without acknowledging the church. Even the secularists agree. The church was the engine that powered the revolution. More than just a meeting place where strategy sessions were held, the community itself was a picture of the freedom being sought. There was unity among the members (Eph 4:3), direction from the pulpit (Tit 2:1), prayers for deliverance and protection (Phil 4:6), songs to rejoice in the God of their salvation (Eph 5:19), encouragement to persevere in the face of opposition (Heb 3:13), reminders to keep looking forward by faith to the city with foundations “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). Men, women, and children received grace to be humble before God and bold in Christ. The church was the place where the principles of the Kingdom of God were up and running. Is it any wonder then that the church was the target of great white supremacist opposition? More important, should it be any surprise that it was Christians, motivated by faith and Scripture, who were not only among the most ardent supporters of this movement, but who made up most of the leadership?
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just another Federal holiday. It is a time to thank God for the Civil Rights movement and the brave men, women, and children who understood that it was “for such a time as this” (Est 4:14) that they had been called. May we give glory to God for His providential hand in American history and for the members of the body who, by faith, stood for truth at great cost.
Without the guiding force of religion and more principles rooted in faith and Judeo-Christian ethics, the Civil Rights movement, and the broader freedom struggle, would not have become the cornerstone of social change in modern America. Indeed, for the better part of a century the faith-based struggle to eradicate racial discrimination and injustice in the United States has been a major source of spiritual and more regeneration, of hope and renewal, for oppressed people across the globe. Though much work is left to be done, both at home and abroad, doing God’s work in Alabama, Mississippi, and other parts of the South through such worldly pursuits as sit-ins, freedom rides, and voter registration drives has spread the power and the glory of faith and righteousness to the end of the earth, giving a measure of hope to us all. 1
1 Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr, The Role of Religion in the Civil Rights Movement. Presented at the Faith and Progressive Policy: Proud Past, Promising Future Conference, sponsored by the Center for American Progress, June 9, 2004.
Christina, Thank you so much for bringing this today sister.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just another Federal holiday. It is a time to thank God for the Civil Rights movement and the brave men, women, and children who understood that it was “for such a time as this””
I so agree with you. It has been my very sad experience over the years that many conservative Evangelicals disdain this holiday because of Dr. King’s questionable moral integrity and doctrinal perspective. I have always wholly concurred with the Civil Rights Movement and bless God for those brave souls who fought for racial equlity in our nation.
There is still more work that needs to be done though. Racially segragated proms were still happening in Georgia as late as 2009:
For a girl raised in California in the 60’s this seems like the Twilight Zone.
Hello my dearest! Thank you, as always for bringing your invaluable thoughts and insights to this blog! I always forget that you are a 60s girl! Your generation watched this entire thing unfold!
Growing up in NYC, I don’t think I fully appreciated all that was involved in the fight for racial equality. For me, diversity was never lacking! 🙂 But, in college I was introduced to a documentary in one of my sociology classes called “Eyes on the Prize”. Have you seen it? Though it is a PBS series, it’s still very good — amazing, actually. Though I was not a Christian I saw that the non-violent protest that MLK and the leaders of the movement insisted on was the only way.
I’m also so intrigued by God’s sovereignty over the affairs of man and of nations. Say what we will about MLKs doctrine or questionable moral integrity — the fact remains, he was God’s man for the hour. Incidentally, I was saddened to see how far his wife, Coretta, who I always admired from the distance, had fallen into liberalism. It would appear that his family has subscribed to a social gospel that is as far removed from the spirit of Christ — the very truth that brought success to the movement, as can possibly be.
Sending you and your clan my love today!
“the fact remains, he was God’s man for the hour”
Very true, Christina. Growing up as a minority (you could count on one hand the Asian students), I’m thankful for those who labored and died that people might be seen and treated as people, not just a member of a category and despised for being different in appearance.