Too many who call themselves members of the clergy—reverends, pastors, priests, rabbis and others—are but morally-bankrupt apologists for flag and country.
It troubling when someone like me, with no affiliation or truck with what passes for Xianity in my own country, still recognizes that scripture clearly and unequivocally teaches followers of Christ to speak out in a prophetic manner against war, exploitation and other evils committed against fellow human beings.
At one time, our country had men that thundered loudly in a truly prophetic manner, against our government’s flawed policies in Southeast Asia, namely Vietnam. One such man was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Many attempt to marginalize the legacy of King by calling him merely a civil rights leader. While there is no doubt that Dr. King spoke out against the evils of racism and segregation, he was so much more than that.
King was a champion of the poor, the downtrodden, as well as the segregated members of the African-American community. Daring to speak out on issues surrounding class, particularly the crushing poverty that many were facing in a land of plenty, King overstepped the boundaries that power in this country allowed him to operate within. King’s calls for an “economic restructuring”, an “end to modern economic imperialism” and “a structural transformation” proved too incendiary to ignore. The FBI waged "war" against King, using all manner of tricks and other ruses to discredit him. When that didn't work, it became necessary to "take him out", due to his direct threat to the ruling class in this country. Ultimately he was killed, with the full support of the U.S. government. If that statement shocks you, then you haven’t done your history homework. Dr. Martin Luther King's assination clearly involved covert actions by branches of the United States government (FBI/COINTELPRO), in full recognition of many in the upper reaches of our so-called representative republic—democracy as some like to humor us with.
What saddens me in 2005 is that so little of Dr. King’s work has been carried out. While there is no doubt that his legacy and fallen mantle has spurred on countless members of social justice movements the world over, there is still crushing poverty, racism is still entrenched in all aspects of our society and our government is still taking our tax dollars and murdering innocent men, women and children thousands of miles away, this time calling it a “war on terror”.
I found this address that Dr. King gave on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. While the “I Have a Dream” speech gets the most attention, I consider this one of the most moving and convicting sermons/speeches that he ever gave. I hope you’ll take the time today to listen or read and commit yourself to carrying on Dr. King’s unfinished work that calls upon all of us to put our shoulders to the plow.