Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
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Ian Paisley was a preacher. He preached hate and fomented violence. Martin Luther King was a preacher. He preached love and promoted nonviolence.
Both were children of the church. Both were baptized and catechized. Both were ordained to the ministry. Both read the Bible.
One saw Jesus wielding a sword, slaying the wicked at the Battle of Armageddon. The other saw Jesus refusing the sword, forgiving his executioners.
The Puritans brought the Bible to Massachusetts and waged war against its native inhabitants. The Quakers brought the Bible to Pennsylvania and renounced violence and war of any kind. Slaveholders and abolitionists cited the Bible.
The Bible played a formative role in the founding of America. There’s no getting away from that. The Puritans revered Joshua for exterminating the heathen in the Promised Land. Slaveowners revered Paul for urging slaves to submit to their masters.
King revered Jesus.
Love your enemies. Do good to those who mistreat you. Turn the other cheek. Do not return evil for evil. Treat others as you want to be treated.
That’s the Bible at its best. Still, citing the Bible is no way to run a country. People get what they want out of it. Paisley found hate. King found love.
Neither God nor the Bible belongs in public debates.
The Bible is not the foundation of the United States. John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1690) is.
On the basis of natural law, Locke propounded the idea that all men are born with inalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty, and property. Locke opposed slavery, monarchy, and patriarchy. He advocated for separation of church and state and favored religious freedom. You can’t find that in the Bible.
Thomas Jefferson read the Bible and was unimpressed. He read Two Treatises and was deeply impressed.
Ours is not a Christian nation. Secularism, not theism is the founding principle of the United States—though both parry continually in the public square for domination.
The Bible inspired King’s faith. The Declaration of Independence inspired his dream. The Declaration is America’s creed. King called the nation to live up to it.
King was a patriot.
The January 6th insurrectionists were not patriots.
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King’s favorite hymn was “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” as sung by Mahalia Jackson.