Of all that MLK Jr. has come to stand for in the collective mind of the American public, we are conveniently allowed to overlook again and again that before King was the hero of the Civil Rights Movement and before he won a Nobel Peace Prize, he was a Christian--an African-American Christian from a middle-class, intact Black family headed up by a strong, if not over-bearing, and present father figure. MLK Jr.'s Baptist Christianity is an inconvenient truth about which many in our secular and sentimental culture are either ignorant or which they conveniently overlook .
This year, in particular, the American public will probably be subjected to comparisons between King and Barack Obama despite the fact that the two men have, of course, absolutely nothing in common except skin color. We may as well liken Rush Limbaugh to Bill Clinton. (Oh, I can hear the left screaming!)
King was a Southerner with two Black parents. He didn't have any doubts about his father or his Blackness. King graduated from Morehouse College, an historically Black and Southern institution and his education through college, seminary and graduate school is well-documented. He did not come up through a culture of affirmative action to mysteriously acquire the pedigree of traditionally White, Ivy League undergraduate and law degrees. MLK Jr. was a scholar, a theologian and a preacher. He was not a lawyer turned politician. King's faith in Christianity and belief in God are, by his own testimony, what enabled him to emerge as spokesperson and leader in first, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, and later as the leader of a national movement. His wife Coretta writes about that here, but the incident is also documented fully in Taylor Branch's book Parting the Waters. Coretta King writes:
He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: "Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone.That is, King led through faith in the Christian God. He professed his faith publicly and often and his soaring and much-quoted March on Washington speech contained, as did all his orations, Biblical and Christian references. Putting aside only for a moment his foolhardy, adulterous philanderings, which are unfortunately part of his legacy and not to be brushed under the rug, MLK Jr. was a man of substance who understood that his commitment to the cause of equality between the races might bring serious danger and harm to himself and his family. By piteous contrast, the meretricious and self-consumed Obama leads, but barely, through a combination of de-natured belief in nothing more than the empty gongs of secularism and relativism. It is hard to imagine our boyish president, who professes no Christian faith whatsoever, having the strength of character to put his life on the line for any principle at all.
Later he told me, "At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: 'Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.'" When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.
Today's national holiday in observance of King's birthday has become more a token nod to American Blacks and a vehicle for furthering the cause of political correctness than it is a memorial to a Christian, political leader. The national consciousness has whitewashed Martin Luther King Jr. ---who is neither light-skinned nor needing to switch his beautiful Southern, Negro dialect at will--and reduced him to little more than a standard bearer for those PC gods of tolerance, diversity and peace. Listening to him speak and watching him here as he humbly kneels to pray, one realizes that he is quite a bit more than that.