December 5, 2020

Monday with Michael Spencer: On evangelicals and Dr. King

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2020

This is from a piece Michael Spencer wrote in 2007, in which he complained that the day was not being celebrated well. One of his issues had to do with the attitude of the (white) evangelical church toward Dr. King.

• • •

I don’t like the ambiguity of evangelicals toward Dr. King. If I preach about Dr. King, I can already tell you about the letters and comments. It’s even worse in the blogosphere. The venom and hatred of Dr. King is of a kind I haven’t encountered about any public figure. It goes beyond personal. Somewhere, it touches the fact that many evangelicals are committed to a kind of white flight, practical apartheid that lets the occasional minority preach or sing, but still wants an all white suburban private school so our kids can become “leaders.”

I know all the facts. Plagarizer. Theological liberal. Adulterer. I know that many Christians to this day feel he was out of line to provoke reaction. (Clarence Jordan of Koinonia Farm opposed public marches, even as his ministry was persecuted for integration.) When he’s mentioned by preachers and invoked by Bono, I can feel the shift in the room.

King wasn’t a saint on the level of perfection. He was flawed like David, and used by God anyway. I have read his sermons many times. They are hardly orthodox in some ways, but they have an incredible appreciation of Jesus in others. While some evangelicals will spend the day linking his college and seminary papers as evidence of his apostasy, I’ll be grateful no one can find my college and seminary work. Good grief.

We ought to be glad King’s vision was of the peace of Christ and treating people as the images of God. We should thank God he was willing to suffer, be bold and go to the cross. We should see him as an American martyr and thank God for his faith, Christ’s power in his life and his love for all persons, especially his enemies. We can learn a lot from him and we should embrace him.

Instead, evangelicals will be of split mind and some will make it their business to run down the great man as some expression of service to God. Weird. Here’s one time we can tell the culture to look at a flawed person and see the grace and power of God, and we won’t. I guess he’s not Pat Robertson. That’s right. He’s not. Look at all the orthodox evangelicals have done for racial justice. ***crickets***

In his day, King said the church- the moderate, white church- was his greatest disappointment. Progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go. Some evangelicals won’t learn from anyone that isn’t one of their “kind.” That’s their loss, and a poor witness.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the man and the day. I celebrate it. I pray for its genuine influence in our country. But we haven’t done so well with it, and I pray we can do better.

[If you want to celebrate the day, the Dream Speech is fine, but if you haven’t read Letter From Birmingham Jail, you don’t know why Dr. King is so relevant and important for Christians today.]


  1. I once asked my inner-city middle-school class how they were going to spend MLK Day (we were scheduled to be off that day) and one of my students ‘I’m going to Church’ and I told her I thought that was a very good choice. And it was because ‘Church’ was the center of the black community even in the poorer areas of the inner city and ‘Church’ was a safe place to worship and to BELONG and to celebrate the ‘good’ that Dr. King stood for . . . I understood this.

    Now, I’m wondering, in the age of trumpism/racism, if I asked that question out in a suburban middle-school near my home where neighborhoods average in the 4 to 6 hundred K range, what kind of answer would I get? There would be some black students, but the truth is, the ‘busing’ situation sends most of them to one particular school in the district, sadly. Among young people who are so impressionable, who ‘absorb’ by osmosis much of the values of their parents until the time when they ‘rebel’ as teenagers, I wonder what the students might have replied to me?

    So I Michael’s post. And ‘ we haven’t done so well with it (MLK Day, and I pray we can do better’, seems to ring true under the present circumstances, with the divisions so stark now, and with the ‘rise’ of white supremacy growing and more shamelessly willing to express itself openly.

    I kind of get it that Michael Spencer would not have been a trumpist, no. No way.

    (P.S. shout out to Susan . . . thinking about you all and keeping you in my prayers)

  2. David Cornwell says

    Most evangelicals missed the entire civil rights movement. They also missed opportunity after opportunity to speak truth to power on the issue of the Vietnam War. Most went along with the notion that someone has to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s theologically in order to have a right to preach the gospel. King was a prophet, flawed, but probably not more than any of us.

    The church where I’m a member held a concert today in honor and memory of Dr. King by the group “Unclouded Day.”

    • It is unfortunate they were unwilling to overlook the flaws of an influential public figure like King as he supported the rights and interests of black Americans the way they are willing to overlook the flaws of our current POTUS as he supports what they deem to be their own rights and interests. In this they acted in a way they usually condemn “The World” for, looking out for themselves, not giving a hoot about others.

      And it wasn’t only that they failed to support King; they actively opposed him. You can bet that many of the law officers (and those cheering them on) who were cracking black civil rights marcher’s heads and letting dogs loose on them during the rest of the week were in church every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, with the approbation of the congregants and clergy who knew what they were doing and fully supported it in word and deed. Those head-crackers had the right theology, you see, and part of that theology approved the subjugation of “inferior races” and disapproved of “trouble-makers” trying to change that dispensation — in a word, they were “good Christians”.

  3. It wasn’t just crickets of non-support for King and the Civil Rights movement that came from evangelical Christian churches, especially in the South. Those churches opposed King and his movement, and supported the suppression of it, by legal and illegal means. They supported what they perceived to be their own interests in repressing black Americans, defended that support with theological and pious buttressing, and actively opposed the Civil Rights movement as a threat to those interests.

    In a way, the kind of active selfishness exhibited by the churches at that time has become the norm now. Selfishness, so long as the it is the right kind and can be supported with theological and pious rationalization, is no longer considered sinful in much American Christian culture; in fact, it is considered a virtue, as part of defending the faith and society against secularists and liberals. Just last week an evangelical co-worker told me that he saw the movie “The Fountainhead”, based on Ayn Rand’s book of the same name, and was full of glowing praise for the philosophy of self-interest that it supports. From what I’ve read, his approval of Rand and her philosophy of selfishness is not unusual in the American church, as long as it’s dressed up with theological justifications.

    • I read “The Fountainhead”. It was one long slog of cardboard characters, obviously contrived with them doing and thinking not in the way people normally do. She deserves credit for the energy and enthusiasm it took to write so many words. That is about it. And it had a bad effect on architecture.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Some things about “The Only Truly Rational Mind Which Has Ever Existed” (her description of herself, not mine). Sound anything like “Prophet and Head Apostle”? Does to me.

        Her Magnum Opus, Atlas Shrugged is the exact same story as Left Behind et al. An Apocalyptic escape fantasy followed by a revenge fantasy, fanservicing her target audience. The parallels are so close:
        1) Initial Situation: Persecution of The Righteous (those Just Like You, Dear Reader). The Righteous (those Just Like You, Dear Reader) are outnumbered and persecuted by The Unrighteous (everyone else).
        2) The Great Escape: A mysterious Messiah Figure spirits (Raptures) the Righteous (those Just Like You, Dear Reader) to a hidden Paradise to wait out the coming Armageddon.
        3) The Great Tribulation: Without The Righteous (those Just Like You, Dear Reader) to keep the world working, everything melts down (specifically, What Do Parasites Do When There Are No More Hosts To Leech Off Of?)
        4) Climax: Triumph of The Righteous (those Just Like You, Dear Reader). Now that the Unrighteous are thrown down never to rise again, the Messiah Figure leads The Righteous (those Just Like You, Dear Reader) out of the Hidden Paradise to take possession of the world that should have been theirs (Yours, Dear Reader) all along. New World Without End, Amen.

        Add to this Rand writes like Christianese Fiction — utterly didactic, in-your-face with the “Salvation Message”, puppeting Author Self-Inserts like Bad Fanfic. Bad Fanfic to Her Own Sourcefic. SHE WRITES LIKE JESUS JUNK CHRISTIAN FICTION. SAME TROPES. SAME STYLE. SAME PREACHINESS.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Speaking of fanfics, here’s a clever one I came across years ago:
          Featuring Ayn Rand as a My Little Pony Villain.

          Join one Bad Apple, Earth Pony riverboat gambler and Special Agent for the Equestrian Crown, as he infiltrates Vault’s Vale in “Apple Shrugged”:

        • Christiane says

          what an interesting comparison (Ayn Rand and the ‘Left Behind’ writers)

          this makes sense in almost a too real way . . . . the shared underlying sense of ‘we are the special chosen ones and it’s hell for the rest of those we have contempt for’

          it’s a theme that runs through all the smugness and greed and contempt for the poor, sure

          good work, Headless

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Kicker is, for someone who was an Anti-Theist on the level of Madelyn Murry O’Hair, Rand’s writing hit pretty much every trope and used every shtick of CHRISTIAN(TM) Fiction.

            what an interesting comparison (Ayn Rand and the ‘Left Behind’ writers)
            this makes sense in almost a too real way . . . . the shared underlying sense of ‘we are the special chosen ones and it’s hell for the rest of those we have contempt for’

            Another corollary of American Evangelicalism’s Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

            • Christiane says

              wow, you did a good job here . . . . no wonder the US bishops came out against the Paul Ryan bill, it reeked of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and trumpist greed before there WAS a ‘trump’;
              but actually it was Sr. Simone and the Nuns On The Bus that shamed the bishops into opposing Paul Ryan . . .

              Trump just connected with all that residual greed and hubris and, oh boy, are we in for a ride if the trumptrain gets going full steam . . . . what KIND of ‘christianity’ breeds a trump for a ‘leader’?
              at best, people will wake up before it’s too late;
              and at worst, I can envision a kind of Pence-led dystopia/Gilead gov’t

    • The evangelical affinity for Rand says much more about them than her – after all, she was forthright and adamant about her rejection of both God and altruistic ethics.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Rand’s Objectivism was a philosophy of Utter Selfishness. ME! ME! ME! ME! ME! ME!

      • Christiane says

        I look at the evangelical situation as something that is conflicted.

        Many cling to the ‘Creation’ in six calendar days of twenty-four hours each, and reject Darwin’s evolutionary model that features ‘survival of the fittest’

        and yet,

        the Christian ‘far right’ does NOT see ‘need’ for a safety net for those who are less fortunate in the world, and all attempts at socialism horrify the far right

        . . . . so people who are poor and ill and mentally, emotionally unwell often fall by the wayside and sometimes perish while those who ‘have theirs’ grow greedy for more tax cuts and cannot see that the greed lead to a form of culling of the population that is in need of help, the teaching being ‘they need to pull themselves up’, which is essentially embracing a form of Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ involving contempt for the inability of many poor to survive without aid

        conflicted? oh yeah . . . mas

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Actually, that’s Social Darwinism, classic version where the “survival of the fittest” is a zero-sum game to the death between individuals. (As opposed to Communist version where the zero-sum game is between classes or Nazi version where it’s between Races with the Master Race wiping out the others.)

          According to Gould, Darwin himself used “survival of the fittest” entirely in the context of Relative Reproductive Success over long periods of time. Those more successful at reproduction over several generations end up dominating the gene pool, with their characteristics/genes crowding out the others. (Sound familiar? That’s why I get a kick out of Quiverfull and “Outbreed the Heathen”; it’s as Darwinist (in the original meaning of the term) as you can get.)

  4. Every movement, culture and nation needs its heroes , myths, legends and people to inspire. MLK rightfully has morphed into the icon he is today to fill that need which is good for the USA. I know this site purpose is centered on evangelical shortcomings but here is a link that I find interesting

    The evangelicals did not harbor any more or less racism than any other segment of America. Another odd item about the life and times of MLK was that most of the riots that occurred on his murder was in the North and West. I believe MLK used the moral authority and the teachings of the Bible to great effect to further his righteous cause. Without a doubt his I have a dream speech is a wonderful speech and should be taught in our schools along with the Gettysburg Address. How prophetic of his father to change their names Michael to Martin Luther. MLK was a game changer and his iconic status is well deserved as he a catalyst for needed change. He was the right person at the right time. His faith beliefs are not as important as his actions.

    • “The evangelicals did not harbor any more or less racism than any other segment of America.”

      Probably so. However, they have much less excuse, at least theologically.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Every movement, culture and nation needs its heroes , myths, legends and people to inspire. MLK rightfully has morphed into the icon he is today to fill that need which is good for the USA.

      Better someone like MLK than someone like Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, or Kim Kardashian.

      People need mythic heroes (such as the mythologized historical figures when I was a kid); if those heroes go away or are deconstructed, we’ll make new ones from whatever’s handy (like Trump and Kardashian).

      “It ain’t about you, Jayne, it’s about what they need.”
      — Captain Mal Reynolds, Free Trader Serenity, “Jaynestown”

      This also explains the popularity of superhero movies.

  5. senecagriggs says

    Ah, the evil Evangelicals. Surely they are to blame for all the racial tensions in America. Dryly

    • Insofar as they have done so little to counter them, and even aided and abetted them, yes.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Seneca, this blog is written by people for people who experienced evangelicalism. Some stayed. Some went to the wilderness. Some are in desperately trying to rebuild a Jesus-shaped spirituality. Some merely doubt. And some, like myself, walked away from it all. We understand each other’s struggles. We sympathise, even if we went radically different ways. But we come from the same place. Therefore it is inevitable that we will keep on talking about that place.

      If you have still not grasped that, there is nothing else to say. Pax.

      • Kenneth Light says

        I gave up visiting Intertmonk years ago.

        What I found was anyone who dared to speak up with a viewpoint that was remotely like the Evangelicalism people came out of, they were set upon with the same vigor that we did when blasting humanists and evolutionists and other undesirables. Talk about Jesus becomes drowned out by culture wars.

        I come back here today and I see the same dynamic at play. Sadly many of the same commentators are here sitting in their bitterness about the mess they came out of. Someone holds up a caricature of a typical Evangelical and the crowd cries ‘crucify him’.

        BTW I am a post evangelical and do have the credentials heavily involved in fundamentalism, steeped in Pentecostalism, was heavily into scientific creationism, Josh McDowell. Served as a missionary in 4 countries for a ministry that had intense holiness doctrine.

        The whole thing started to unravel when I did a science degree. I got fed up with the anti-intellectualism and closed mindedness and left. It hurt! I felt cheated and lied to and then rejected.
        Gradually over a 15 year period of intellectual rehab arrived at a faith that is more comfortable with mystery and not knowing everything.So I entirely get people being disillusioned.

        To those reading, please don’t mistake me for trying to be harsh with you.

        But you have created an atmosphere here that is toxic for any Evangelical trying to gently come to grips with faith in a nuanced way.

        My hat is off to those who are of a more conservative ilk who can endure being shot at. I’m betting you will have time off in purgatory for ‘time served’ (tongue in cheek)

        • I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s always been that way, and I have a theory as to when and why it became more as you say. (Feel free to agree or disagree)

          I think at one time this place was fairly non-political, but a shift occurred when Trump became president. Trump causes such a visceral reaction in some people – me included – that sometimes the only release is to post at places such as this. Yes, some of our reactions seem knee-jerk and harsh, but Trump just triggers something in several of us here.

          I hope and pray for a change that unifies us again.

          • It may have become worse since Trump, but it was that way before Trump. When Michael Spencer scolded evangelicals, it seemed like the rebuke of a brother who still loved you. What I read here often now sounds more like the bitterness of an ex lover who won’t say anything good about you.

            • –> “When Michael Spencer scolded evangelicals, it seemed like the rebuke of a brother who still loved you.”

              It went even further than that; he was also quite clear about how he was once one of the ones he was scolding. Very Paul-like in that regard.

              And maybe that kind of humility goes a long way in avoiding this point of yours:

              –> “What I read here often now sounds more like the bitterness of an ex lover who won’t say anything good about you.”

            • Jon
              You have spoken well and with much fewer words than I.
              Thank you

        • Kenneth, I would like to hear your story some time. What experiences helped or hurt. What books and people influenced how you now feel. A missionary to four countries, eh, you’ve been on quite a journey.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Your Virtue Signalling Has Been Noted, O Only True Christian Who Has Ever Existed.

    • Seneca, I just re-read Letter From Birmingham Jail. I encourage you to do that too.

    • Christiane says

      currently, senecagriggs, with the evangelical embrace of trumpism, what should people think????

      it’s a mystery . . . I ask, but no one answers me . . . I’m not sure I’d understand even if someone cared to explain the ‘gospel according to trumpism’ . . .

      trumpism comes out of the ‘alt-right’ which is a form of white supremacy which thrives on racism and fear-mongering as de-stabilizing forces in our country

      what ARE people supposed to think???? I’m bewildered.

      • Clay Crouch says

        The only answers I’ve been able to get from my evangelical buddies are, “We voted for his policies (because character no longer matters).”

        In no particular order:
        – guns (because we can’t have too many of them)
        – anti abortion (the evangelicals’ “trump” card)
        – tax cuts for the middle class (by middle class Trump meant the wealthiest Americans)
        – shrinking the deficit (just the opposite has happened)
        – illegal immigration (just like Jesus would)
        – increase defense (war) budget (again, just like Jesus would)
        – not hillary (oh, boy!)
        – stop socialism (whatever that means)

        • Burro (Mule) says

          Not an evangelical, but some of the man’s policies that I can support are:

          1) Guns. I’d prefer this issue to be in the hands of the states, actually. Maybe even the counties. All of it. What works in Wyoming ain’t gonna fly in Fairfax County, VA. This would take Trump out of the equation entirely
          2) Anti-abortion. All things being equal, I’d prefer a judge that tightened restrictions on abortions to one that loosened them.
          3) Tax cuts, by my lights, are almost always a Good Thing, but I would have been encouraged if some spending cuts had been enacted as well. It looks like we have a de factoModern Monetary Theory monetary policy in place that’ll persist until we get soundly defeated militarily somewhere and the rest of the world stops using our IOUs as currency.
          4) Immigration. Most of the sound and fury is here, but our country is very poorly served by histrionic extremism on either extreme; either “Gun Down the Brownies Where They Stand” or “Give Em All A Ticket and Let’s Check In On ‘Em in Oh Whenever”
          5) Repeal of the individual mandate. True, I’d prefer an overhaul of our health care system. I’m kind of in favor of Medicaid for All, but I don’t have the temperament necessary to swallow all the moral hazards unless I’m made the Regional Diabetes 2 Gauleiter or equivalent.
          6) Dismantling of the regulatory apparatus. A lot of the economic prosperity we enjoy at present is due to the lifting of federal regulations that added costs and provided little in the way of curbing externalities.
          7) It looks like all the tariff/counter-tariff kerfuffle with China has settled into something resembling a fair deal for our importers and exporters. At least Trump has finished with the disturbing admiration our bipartisan elite has shown for the ChiComm leadership since almost forever.
          8) He does seem to have some sympathy for those affected by the opioid epidemic

          So please, tell me how Woke Jesus is crying at this.

          • Clay… good points, and Mule… good rebuttal. In my mind, both sets of points, presented as such, are the foundation of the potential for good discussion and understanding.

            Unfortunately, those who see it either as Clay’s list (“I don’t care about Trump’s character, at least he protects what I believe in”) or the anti of Clay’s list (“damn any sort of reasonable middle ground, anything Trump is FOR I’m AGAINST, and anybody who looks like they’re siding with Trump supports – even when the points sound reasonable, like Mule’s… well, to hell with them too”).

            Anyway… I enjoyed reading both lists. The extremes on both sides are just not going to come to the middle in any sort of way. Ugh.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              There are a lot of people who will vote for Trump without a great deal of enthusiasm, indeed, even holding their noses.

              I can’t imagine the Never Trumpers like Jonah Goldberg at the National Review voting for Warren or Sanders.

              It wouldn’t be the first time or the last time I voted with my nose held. I don’t know why Trump arouses such passionate hatred except that he isn’t one of the cool kids, and he doesn’t appeal to our better angels.

              • “… he doesn’t appeal to our better angels.”

                He doesn’t appeal to any better angels. And that’s the point. He’s despicable and a pox. And those who support him must also be poxie.

          • In no particular order…

            “A lot of the economic prosperity we enjoy at present is due to the lifting of federal regulations that added costs and provided little in the way of curbing externalities.”

            A lot of the economic “prosperity” at present is based on strip mining capital (via debt and Fed buoyance), labor (via low bar ages and pared benefits), and stock buybacks. Reduced regulations not only don’t help in these circumstances, they actually hurt.

            “looks like all the tariff/counter-tariff kerfuffle with China has settled into something resembling a fair deal for our importers and exporters.”

            Which is why they are continuing to scale back workers and production?

            “Tax cuts, by my lights, are almost always a Good Thing, but I would have been encouraged if some spending cuts had been enacted as well.”

            If we’re going to cut the debt, we have to raise taxes AND cut spending. Otherwise, hyperinflation will do it for us.

            “I’d prefer a judge that tightened restrictions on abortions to one that loosened them.”

            Why not address the issues that create demand, rather than harp only on restricting supply? Like, say, increased access to birth control? But I can guess your reaction to that…

            ” It looks like we have a de facto Modern Monetary Theory monetary policy in place that’ll persist until we get soundly defeated militarily somewhere and the rest of the world stops using our IOUs as currency.”

            Sadly, I have to agree with you on this one.

            I also note that little of this has much to do with the actual actions of the Chief Executive in question. Another Republican could have done much the same, without being a sociopathic buffoon, and without wrecking the world and political order in the process.

          • Clay Crouch says

            There is middle ground I hope we can reach. For the record:

            (1) I like your thinking about guns.
            (2) I’m pro-life and I share your view about tightening restrictions. I just wish I could see evangelicals’ pro-life support extended beyond birth. For politicians, pro-life is a dog whistle.
            (3) Middle class tax cuts, yes. I thought Trump was going to do that and bring down the deficit. Oh well.
            (4) There is middle ground between your two immigration extremes. Please tell me you know that.
            (5) There’s no excuse for the richest country in the world to have the healthcare system we do.
            (6) I would not agree with dismantling the regulatory system. No regulations is crazy talk.
            (7) Wish I were smart enough to figure what Trump’s trade policy really is.
            (8) Really? How can you tell?

            What’s a Woke Jesus? Is that something in EO? If it is, would you point me to anything Fr. Stephen has written about it?

        • Christiane says

          Thanks Clay . . .

          looking at your list, methinks that trumpists have re-created Jesus in their own image . . . that is what scares me, as I don’t see any good coming from this at all

          am beginning to think we are seeing a ‘cult’ forming

  6. I wonder how much of the conservative evangelical dislike of King is just because of conservatism’s knee-jerk reaction of automatically opposing anything liberals support. Liberals support the Me Too movement, so conservatives start making excuses for predators. Liberals want to fight global warming, so conservatives start denying it’s real. Liberals speak out against racism, so conservatives start arguing that white supremacy is Biblical.

    In many ways, conservatism is no longer driven by any sort of positive vision of what the world could be, but only by a reflexive dislike of anything liberals support and a desire to “win points” by doing things that get liberals upset. And in the process, conservative evangelicalism has completely drifted away from any concept of Christian morality.

  7. Burro (Mule) says

    There is a lot of truth in what you say. Many a time I have been scratching my own head wondering why I take such umbrage at things you, or Stephen, or Eeyore, or RobertF say just because I am the ‘token’ articulate conservative on this board.

    Reading through Dr. King’s letter, I was surprised at two things. The first thing was kind of depressing. Many of the things Dr. King lamented about Birmingham in the 60s are still all too common today:

    There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. [My town] is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States [after dark and on Sunday morning]. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts.

    That could have been written last week.

    The second thing I noticed was that Dr. King uses the word “brotherhood” a lot. God, but that’s a beautiful word, and Dr. King is absolutely spot on to use it as shorthand for the terminus ad quem that he is seeking. The problem stems from this; I have no problem feeling brotherhood towards my actual brother, rascal that he is. We have a shared history (although at the present very little else). It is not too much of an effort on my part to exercise brotherhood towards my cousins and their progeny, nor with my [Black] neighbors when we are dealing with issues regarding our neighborhood and its security and upkeep.

    Here is where we separate paths. I have a difficult time with enforced brotherhood. Actual brotherhood is an organic development. It starts with a universal goodwill which we should be our default posture towards anybody new we meet. But extending membership into the mishpocha prematurely is almost always a recipe for disaster. I read somewhere that if you plotted people’s social universes in concentric circles liberals would make more statements expressing concern for their peripheries, even including non-human entities and abstractions like “the planet” and “the environment”, whereas conservatives tend to reserve their concern for people closer to the center.

    A case in point. My cousin’s daughter is an Uber/Lyft driver in DC. She informs me they have a law about refusing to pick up rides headed for certain neighborhoods (uniformly Black; North Mass, Ivy City, Columbia Heights), and she can get fined for leaving them stranded on the curb. The heuristics she uses to gauge whether or not she would rather pay the fine are what most people who don’t have to make those kinds of decisions would call racist, or sexist. She is more apt to accept a woman fare than a man, and elderly more than younger.

    She’d rather not go to those neighborhoods at all. She sees it as a tax on her ‘business’. The language she uses to describe them would make a Klansman or a Forsyth County Commissioner blush.

    • Christiane says

      as someone who did social service work home visits out of college, I can understand discomfort at coming into some neighborhoods in the inner city, you bet

      we started going out on visits two by two,
      and I remember one lady saying to us: ‘you girls come around like the cops, always in twos’

      long time ago . . . it’s got worse with all the guns out there, sure

  8. Burro (Mule) says


    Maybe I shouldn’t be here today.

  9. One of my acts of “rebellion” on leaving my last Evangelical church (leaving Protestantism would come 9 years later) was attending the local MLK tribute – at the Catholic Church in our town, the largest venue for such a tribute – for 3 years in a row. I just needed to shake some stuff out of my system, of which my near-total ignorance about King was one item.


  10. senecagriggs says

    MLKjr might be happy to read this were he alive.

    “It was exactly three years ago today, January 20, 2017, that I was sworn into office. So appropriate that today is also MLK jr DAY.
    African-American Unemployment is the LOWEST in the history of our Country, by far. Also, best Poverty, Youth, and Employment numbers, ever. Great!”


    • Yeah, I’m sure he’d be happy at the suppression of black votes conducted on a regular basis in many states….

    • He probably would be happy about that.
      He probably would be happy that Obama was elected president back when that happened.
      He would probably be happy about a lot of things.

      He would probably be grieved about a lot of things, too.

    • David Greene says

      Yes, good job, good job Mr. T, you got it down a couple percentage points during your time in office – a few more percentage points and you will be right up there with Mr. Obama! 🙂

    • He might be happy to read it IF IT WERE TRUE.

  11. MLK co-opted the Exodus narrative and distorted the nature of his civil rights fight for blacks into a moral issue which the Bible never offers.

    Simply dismissing MLK’s theological heresy as something inconsequential is dismissing all of its injurious by-products such as this co-opting and false moralizing of U.S. civil rights.

    You really support movements which oppose apartheid? Then let me know when you begin supporting the dismantling of the tribes of American Indian Nations. They are based specifically on ethnic origin for inclusion and exclusion with exemptions granted only by their government. IOW, they deny citizenship based on genetics. Your joke of concern for this principle is clearly absent.

    The most ironic thing of MLK day is your sanctimonious dismissal of King’s serial adultery and other revealed moral and ethical compromises while pointing down to Pres. Trump for your claims of is similar but apparently disqualifying shortcomings.

    And to civil rights, that is just what they were and are, civil, not Biblical rights, a level to which King all the way to you, wish to elevate these relative civil rights.

    The right to vote is not a Biblical right. The right for integration is not a Biblical right in the kingdom on the left. It is a civil matter to which the Bible offers no moral demand or even civil demand. It is a U.S. Constitutional argument.

    Now to that end, King can be commended for fighting for the opportunity for his black family, equal recognition and rights by the law.

    However, the damage he did in creating a false racial morality based on an arresting and manipulation of Scripture, has had a far more destructive result, particularly in theological considerations of race, than his efforts for civil law changes in America.

    Finally and frankly, Frederick Douglass was far superior with regard to his arguments with regard to civil rights and the U.S. constitution than King.

    Your nasty self-righteous suspicions of all things white is simply disgusting. It is the very attitude which separates in a way only the Pharisees could do. I’ll leave you to attend to your lengthy fringes.

    • What “false racial morality” did King create? Spell it out, don’t be vague. What “destructive…. theological considerations of race” are you talking about?

    • You really support movements which oppose apartheid? Then let me know when you begin supporting the dismantling of the tribes of American Indian Nations.

      You want to know when “we” begin supporting finishing off the genocide of Native Americans?

      • You’re wasting your breath, Robert.

        • It’s hard to remain silent when a man of as great and generous a spirit as King, who expected to die young as a result of the courageous stand he was taking, is badmouthed by a small and mean-spirited one on the very day set aside to honor his greatness.

      • To you who cannot restate what I said, you’re a liar to begin with. We know that is not what I said so I have zero time for dishonest dialogue.

        But I’ll leave you with this. American Indians died mostly by the providential exposure to European diseases. Secondly, many started wars quite savagely among each other and with the colonists.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Alex G, THAT’S some crazy theology! You must be seated at the right hand Douglas Wilson.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        In honor of this remark and of the one above by Eeyore, I spent an hour apiece on Blog and Mablog and Slacktivist.

        After this exercise I found myself mentally rewriting “The Empire Strikes Back” with the Seventh Sister rescuing Luke from underneath Cloud City rather than Lando and Chewbacca.

        And as Babar the Elephant said, he felt so much better.

    • MLK co-opted the Exodus narrative and distorted the nature of his civil rights fight for blacks into a moral issue which the Bible never offers.

      Blacks have been “co-opt(ing) the Exodus narrative” ever since they were enslaved, brought to this country, and co-opted in their white owner’s religion. If you don’t see that as a moral issue, “biblical” or otherwise, then perhaps you have believed “another Gospel.”

  12. Here’s a somewhat ironic idea…

    Much of the evangelical pushback regarding MLK Jr. was his adulterous, flawed nature. (Or maybe, they were hiding their racism behind that?)

    But regarding Trump’s adulterous, flawed nature… Free Pass!

    Let’s face it, we’re all hypocrites!

    • Actually much of the pushback was his false moralizing of civil rights. His adulterous and ethical depravity was used to push against his sainthood proclaimed by so many y.

      As to Pres. Trump, he hasn’t been spared a thing by those who oppose him so no pass there and to those who support him as President it appears they don’t consider his sexual escapades a deterrent toward supporting and implementing national policies which are good for the U.S. and he is proving this to be true.

      Also, MLK attached the title of Reverend to himself which justly put him under a justified moral, spiritual and theological scrutiny which he failed rather spectacularly.

      • You can badmouth King as much as you like — his legacy is established and enduring. Why don’t you work on yours….

      • –> “…and to those who support him as President it appears they don’t consider his sexual escapades a deterrent toward supporting and implementing national policies which are good for the U.S. and he is proving this to be true.”

        Hmm… the EXACT same thing was said by the Democrats about Bill Clinton.

        Basically, then… as long as I like what the President is doing, I don’t care about the other stuff. But if I DON’T like what the President is doing, I’ll point out all that other stuff.

        Like I said, we’re all hypocrites!

  13. Some of you might enjoy reading this article from the Seattle Times today. A couple of former King County councilmembers talk about their push to change King County’s namesake from a slave owner to Martin Luther King Jr. back in 1986 and the struggle it was then, but now realizing how easy that would probably be today.

    • David Greene says

      Well I live in King County so I remember the change but I don’t remember that much opposition. I think that in retrospect they are inflating the struggle a bit.

      • R Rosenkranz says

        Funny that I don’t recall much pushback either, but then again… I wasn’t on the front lines pushing for it…LOL.

        Hey, We’re practically neighbors! I live near Kent, WA. How about you?