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.
* * *
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.
* * *
King’s favorite hymn was “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” as sung by Mahalia Jackson.
Exactly. Some of these so called “patriots” need to read the VA statute on religious freedom as well as brush up on the constitution and what actually constitutes a democracy. All hail Dr. King
Beautifully and perfectly said.
When I read about Martin Luther King and his prophetic ministry, I have personal and professional memories. My late sister taught Martin’s children in Atlanta, marched with him and called him “the bravest man I ever met”. My influential professor in seminary was L. Harold DeWolf, Martin’s mentor at Boston University. I have read all of Martin’s books. His witness has deeply influenced my life and I am eternally grateful. His voice may have been stilled, but his dream and truth live on in our hearts.
Your reflection this morning clarifies much confusion in America today.Thank you!
True enough. Good points for discussion. Should be a part of whatever we call civics education today. Can’t deny Christ and Dr. King.
Clearly, simply & beautifully put. So Jesus taught of LOVE & JUSTICE. MLK taught of LOVE & JUSTICE. When others teach of hate & injustice – the choice is clear to me.
I choose LOVE & JUSTICE… I choose Children over greed; I choose free & fair elections over making it hard to register; hard to vote. Martin Luther King had a Dream…Dream on all who choose love, and truth and justice… I believe we are not alone… carrying forward an ever advancing civilization – together – one choice at a time… led & inspired by those dreamers & giants who came before us.
Precious Lord is a sermon in a song. I understand why Dr. King liked it so much.
Beautiful lesson. By their fruits you will know them.
” . . . citing the Bible is no way to run a country. People get what they want out of it.”
That’s all of it in a nutshell. Perfectly and succinctly put.
But these days a lot of voters hunt around till they find sources of information that give them “what they want out of it,” whether or not it’s the truth. And others have the incentives–money, power, celebrity–to lie to them.
That’s no way to run a country, either.
Splendid! The replies seem to cover it, and I agree with them. I particularly agree that you have emphasized the most important and oft ignored fact by our conservative friends: Our Democracy was intentional about the separation of Church and State in governance. SCOTUS and leading politicians might want to revisit our origins as a United Commonwealth/States.
I think the most effective space to work in is the point of tension between two poles. You’ve done a wonderful job of going there to do your work.
Thank you for these insights! Got my brain juices flowing as usual. You are ever inspiring. I imagine if we might remember, we could remake things anew but how to remember amidst so much decided forgetting and refusal to see…