MLK’s impact on conservative Christians

AP Martin Luther King speaks in Atlanta in 1960. (AP Photo) With the unveiling of the new Martin Luther King, … Continued

AP

Martin Luther King speaks in Atlanta in 1960. (AP Photo)

With the unveiling of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington this week , it’s important to take a moment to understand the profound impact Dr. King has on the Christian conservative movement.

No one can question Dr. King’s commitment to fighting for the rights of the individual. His efforts are well documented in his quest to secure racial equality, to speak for those who did not have a voice. That’s the cornerstone of his legacy.

It is the way he went about his work that is so inspiring. Controversial? Yes. Unorthodox? Yes. Effective? Definitely.

When the Sekulow family moved to Atlanta some years ago, we saw first-hand the impact of his life and spent many hours at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Powerful. Revealing. A must visit for every American.

Nikki Kahn

THE WASHINGTON POST

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is on view for the general public in Washington. D.C.. on Monday, August 22, 2011.

Dr. King was not afraid to speak the truth. Not intimidated to issue a call to action. As a Baptist minister, he understood that the best way to get his message out was to take the establishment head-on – not by embracing violence, but by choosing non-violence coupled with civil disobedience. At the center of Dr. King’s blueprint for change: standing up for the value and the dignity of the individual. Human rights. Civil rights. That’s what mattered most.

That’s what should matter most for conservative Christians, too. We see it every day in our international work. We battle hostility, discrimination, and persecution – aimed at Christians around the world, particularly in predominantly Muslim countries. Christians repeatedly face punishment – including death – because of their religious beliefs. In one case, we’re working now to keep a pastor in Iran from being executed by the Islamic government because of his Christian faith.

And, here at home, we represent many in the pro-life movement who have modeled their work after Dr. King. In addition to an aggressive legal strategy, pro-life advocates often rely on non-violent, civil disobedience in the ongoing struggle to protect the life of the unborn.

With Dr. King, and his life back in the news, it’s important to realize that for many Christian conservatives, he has served as a powerful role model in the fight to protect the rights of the individual. And, that challenge is as equally important today as it was 50 years ago during Dr. King’s days.

Dr. King talked about the “Beloved Community” – a global vision encompassing his core beliefs. In a 1966 interview with Christian Century Magazine, Dr. King stated: “I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think that end or that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community.”

Certainly a goal worth pursuing then. Even more so today.

Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and has successfully argued precedent-setting First Amendment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the ACLJ and oversees the global work of the ACLJ and its international affiliates.

About

  • JimTrott

    You’re going to appropriate the aura of the progressive Martin Luther King to burnish the media image of your heretical brand of far-right Christian politics?

    You’re an operative of Pat Robertson and Christian dominionism for pete’s sake!!

    If the peace loving Dr King were alive, he’d be in his eighties but he’d find the strength to whoop you with his cane. [auth note: the previous phrase was used for comedic/ironic effect and does not imply incitement or endorsement of any acts of violence on Messrs Sekulow, Mr Robertson, Christians, dominionists, or brandishing any weapon thereto]

  • Carstonio

    How repulsive. The political movement represented by the Sekulows began in large part as a resentful reaction to what MLK stood for. Jerry Falwell had a segregationist history, and the record of Bob Jones and his institution are fairly well known.

  • Secular1

    You Sekulows are unbelievable. You say, “It is the way he went about his work that is so inspiring. Controversial? Yes. Unorthodox? Yes. Effective? Definitely.” My question to you why should it have been controversial at all, according to you?

    Then you go onto say, “As a Baptist minister, he understood that the best way to get his message out was to take the establishment head-on – not by embracing violence, but by choosing non-violence coupled with civil disobedience. At the center of Dr. King’s blueprint for change: standing up for the value and the dignity of the individual. Human rights. Civil rights. That’s what mattered most.

    That’s what should matter most for conservative Christians, too. We see it every day in our international work. We battle hostility, discrimination, and persecution – aimed at Christians around the world, particularly in predominantly Muslim countries. Christians repeatedly face punishment – including death – because of their religious beliefs. In one case, we’re working now to keep a pastor in Iran from being executed by the Islamic government because of his Christian faith.” In an article where you laud the apostle of non-violence and in the same one you talk of the struggle in Iran. Your solution to the problem in Iran is to go to war. How you square the laudatory comments about MLK, when only thing you subscribe to resolving an issue is by violence.

    Then you remarkably bring this up, “And, here at home, we represent many in the pro-life movement who have modeled their work after Dr. King. In addition to an aggressive legal strategy, pro-life advocates often rely on non-violent, civil disobedience in the ongoing struggle to protect the life of the unborn” Here again your tactics call for is violence and retribution. How do you square that?

    Then you go on, “With Dr. King, and his life back in the news, it’s important to realize that for many Christian conservatives, he has served as a powerful role model in the fight to protect the r

  • TWinTucAZ

    I support the ACLJ because they stand for what is right and moral in America. However, for any conservative, right-thinking Christian to use MLK as an inspiration of any sort is absolutely wrong-headed. MLK was a bigot, a womanizer, and a rabble-rouser. Like most figureheads of left-leaning special interest groups, he proclaimed equality while actually seeking preferential treatment for the minority of people he claimed to represent, is if tipping the scales in their direction was somehow justified in leveling the playing field. It really bothers me that any right-thinking Christian would see him in any sort of positive light.

  • RockitD

    Repulsive? Just because Fallwell had a segregationalist history, which he changed, doesn’t mean that Conservative Christian values are not in line with what Dr. King stood for. Dr. King stood for the equality of all – that includes the child in the womb! Dr. King stood for peace and justice…something Jesus Himself taught.

  • lrott

    The sekulows are what real Americans are…….the rest of you need to leave our country, we are tired of people who hate this country, but enjoy everything it has to offer, we would buy you a one way ticket out of our country, we are tired of the hate that many are preaching and callling themselves Americans, when they have no clue what they means on any level period.

  • lrott

    We love you Jay Sekulow, thank God for mean of your caliber, you are a real American……

  • lrott

    We love you Jay Sekulo, thank God for men of your caliber, you are a real true American, God bless eveyrthing you are doing to defend our nations heritage, constitution, the core fabric of our being….God gave us this nation and I think he intends for us to fight for it and protect its sovereignty on all levels.

  • lrott

    Unfortunately we have a leadership that is breeding hate race relations to further the sick cause of the destruction of the greatest nation to ever exist, I pray many people have more sense then to fall into this trap set by socialist and communist who are out to destroy the greatest nation ever. God bless you Jay and everything you are doing for this country. God Bless and Protect the USA.

  • lrott

    Unfortunately men are human, MLK was human, everybody makes mistakes, look at Jess Jackson and the Rev. Wright……actions speak louder than words…..MLK had a good message, just some flaws like any man would have…know it doesn’t make it right, but there was some good in him also.

  • ezrasalias-socialize

    It is good to hear the SEKULOW’S ADMIRING MARTIN LUTHER KING AS A GREAT PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUAL LEADER, rather than the conservative, segregationist religious leaders who were his contemporaries. Well Done!

    “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” MLK Jr

    “Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” MLK Jr

    This one is for the Sekulow’s:

    “The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society.” MLK Jr

  • WmarkW

    As an atheist (regular on Jacoby’s board), I do admit that one of the good things about religion is to provide an alternative form of social organization for those excluded from the mainstream. That’s why communist governments sought to abolish them.

    The civil rights movement was largely organized in southern churches. So was the opposition to it. If the Sekulow’s had been around then, there isn’t much doubt whose services they would have attended.

  • Secular1

    I know where they would be in the same church Bull O’connor was attending.

  • JordanSekulow

    We Sekulow’s are Jews. We know that 200+ of our family mrembers were killed in the holocaust. While you may think that ACLJ “Sekulow’s” are all Christians now, you’re wrong. I have immediate family who are Orthodox Jews and others who are reformed.

    The civil rights movement was important for us too as KKK, or Bull Connor types, lynched Jews and would be happy to turn the hoses on my family members. I was born and raises in Atlanta and my parents made sure we not nay respected but saw Dr. King as a role mode. You know, when my parents got married it was still considered a “mixed” marriage because my dad was a Jew.

    Your comment is offensive and maybe in the future, you’ll have the guts to use your real name.

    Visit my office at ACLJ-DC and you will see a portrait of Thurgood Marshall, one of our legal heroes. Yes, he was a liberal Justice but more importantly, he was the greatest legal advocate for civil rights in history.

    I don’t have enough space to tell you about all the predominantly black churches we assist, the black attoryney on our legal advisory panel, the dozens of law school scholarships our office in ZImbabwe has given, the amazing team we have in Kenya, our close work with South Sudan, and our newest operation in Nigeria.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • WmarkW

    Isn’t Jesse Helms among your movement’s top political heroes?

    Helms made is name as a radio commentator accusing MLK of communists associations and dallying with prostitutes. He kept repeating these accusations during a 16-day filibuster against the King Holiday. He opposed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts.

    A lot of southern politicians whose careers spanned the period tried to claim later that they just had a different way of wanting to implement civil rights, but it’s just so much fatuous pleading.

  • Secular1

    Mr. Sekulow, your article’s title and your statements such as, “That’s what should matter most for conservative Christians, too. We see it every day in our international work. We battle hostility, discrimination, and persecution – aimed at Christians around the world, particularly in predominantly Muslim countries. Christians repeatedly face punishment – including death – because of their religious beliefs. ” leave an unmistakable impression that you are indeed a conservative christian. If you claim that you are jewish, there was no way for one to know from your writings. That said, the company you keep and the type of folks you hold briefs for are the exactly cut of the same cloth as Bull O’Connor, Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond et al. I have read some of your previous articles in this forum supporting their viewpoints. From your article one gets the view that you are not simply an hired attorney providing representation to your clients mentioned above, but actively share their view point and support it philosophically at the minimum. Personally I detest them and their philosophy and their ilk. I make no apology for that.

    I know human beings are complicated and can within them can and do embody huge contradictions. I could not tell just reading your articles that you are such people. There is saying my mother tongue “If one is drinking milk, under a palm tree don’t blame people if they think you are drinking toddy”. Sir do not complain that someone mistook you for the company you keep. Nonetheless, I apologize for the pain my statement caused you.

    Coming to your challenge, “maybe in the future, you’ll have the guts to use your real name.” As an attorney you know better than to hurl such challenges. Makes me wonder what your motivations are on this front. I can understand braggadocio on part of a lay person. But coming from an attorney, especially a constitutional lawyer at that., is alarming. But then I am not totally shocked knowing your right wing asso

  • fueledup

    OK Carstonio. You seem to be blaming Jay for what Jerry Falwell and JIM Jones did to society. I personally think that is repulsive. Jay Sekulow has managed to do some things in the courtroom to preserve our religious freedoms against a Godless society. Something like the “Pledge of Allegiance” or “In God We Trust” on our currency. Or even prayer in schools and chaplains that are not afraid to speak the truth.
    OH, and who was that you trusted in again?

  • JordanSekulow

    I don’t write about race because it is not an issue to me or the organization, nor has it ever been one. Helms and Thurmond were long before my time so I don’t relate to that world at all. What we started doing, defending pro-life civil disobedience in criminal court, was radical at the time and Dr. King’s niece is now one of the leading pro-life advocates we work with.

    As to the name question – I have no problem with you (in fact I welcome it) disagreeing with where I am on a policy or legal issue but to compare me to Bull Connor without even doing a quick search about me is just not cool guys. Take as many political shots as you like, but when it comes to civil rights and the movement (including liberation of many countries in Africa from colonial rule), I have been a student, an advocate, and a supporter evidenced by my work with liberation leaders.

  • Carstonio

    “Under God” in the Pledge and “In God We Trust” are unconstitutional because they amount to government favoring monotheistic religions. Government. Not society. The same is true with mandatory prayer in schools, since all prayer is sectarian to some degree. All the things I mentioned are *against* religious freedom. True religious freedom includes government being neutral among all religions.

    Also, there’s no such things as a “godless society” any more than there is a “godful society.” Religion is first and foremost a matter of personal conscience, not a governmental matter or a community matter. It’s not the community’s concern what religions its members subscribe to.

  • bwaatrnwg

    Right wing co-opting Dr. King for their shameless oppression of anyone who believes differently from them and have the gall to stand up for it. Where is your mournfulness for the treatment of the least of thee here in this country? You care for the unborn dissapates after they are born how Christian is that?

    Muslims are the children of Abraham too. Why the hate?
    John 10:16
    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (KJV)

  • Secular1

    “What we started doing, defending pro-life civil disobedience in criminal court, was radical at the time ” That never was radical if i could say so. Defending a person for civil disobedience isn’t radical. What was radical was Gandhi forgoing his own defense and inviting the judges to impose the maximum punishment to show the unjustness of the english laws in India, That was indeed radical.

    What about promoting violence and threats of violence against the doctors who go about their profession, just because you do not approve of the area of their profession. I hardly ever see the so called unborn child advocates condemning that, in fact they actively promote it.

  • jimagon

    Carstonio said: “The political movement represented by the Sekulows began in large part as a resentful reaction to what MLK stood for. Jerry Falwell had a segregationist history, and the record of Bob Jones and his institution are fairly well known.” Carstonio needs to recognize that the Christian conservative movement started over 2,000 years ago and is hardly defined by the likes of Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones. It has included such people as Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II and Padre Pio. The Sekulows and the American Center for Law & Justice fight daily in the U.S. for freedoms guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution. Their overseas affiliates fight to save lives that are in jeopardy because of beliefs. They work to protect people from deadly actions of thought police. Because he lives in the U.S., Jay Sekulow, a Jewish guy, was “allowed” to decide he wanted to become a practicing Christian. In some parts of the world he would’ve been in danger for being born into a Jewish family. In some parts of the world becoming a Christian is a crime punishable by death. It’s no wonder the Sekulows work to protect freedom.
    The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the government can’t establish a religion. It doesn’t say the word “God” can’t be used by the government in a motto or on money. As the government hasn’t defined what or who “God” is that leaves open endless possibilities as to whom we should trust. An atheist’s “God” can be himself or herself.
    It’s okay for Carstonio to be repulsed, either by the Post article submitted by the Sekulows or by the fact that Christians exist or by the fact that some Christians publicly express opinions. Fortunately our constitution allows us the freedom to be repulsed and to openly say when we are repulsed. (It doesn’t protect us from being offended. We are fortunate to have the freedom to be offensive and the freedom to choose to be offended.) Millions of people in this world risk death by openly expressing their true thoughts and beliefs. Ot

  • JordanSekulow

    any time that has happened (I think 4 times in history), we have strongly condemned it on our live radio broadcast heard on 850+ stations M-F, archived at aclj.org. I’m sure you can find statements if you want to spend the time.

    We have never remained silent, we have never promoted violence (we defended civil disobedience style sit-ins usually), and we immediately condemn any act of violence, especially the kind that you’re referencing.

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