What Happens to a King Deferred? A Redux

By Patrick Hall

I believe it was the Spring of 2018. My wife and I visited the National Mall in Washington, DC.  My spouse, a native-born German immigrant, was enthusiastic about visiting the capital of her newly adopted country. Although my mother’s family hails from the Maryland-DC area, I haven’t been there for some time.  We took in such venues as the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, and the various War memorials. We also walked outside the Supreme Court, the White House, and the US. Capitol Building.  Also, we took a tour of the Library of Congress, where a family member is employed as a librarian.

We set aside three days to explore African American history, Native American history, natural history, and the Smithsonian’s Art and Science Museums.  In the final days of our vacation, the Museum of the Bible, located two blocks off the National Mall, was a must-see for both of us. Later that same day, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial capped off the vacation.

I was delighted and puzzled as we meandered around Martin Luther King Jr.'s stone statue, bordered by murals containing select quotations from his life and work.  Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing was wrong with this tribute to one of the most well-known figures of the Twentieth Century, who did so much to confront racial segregation and, more importantly, help this nation live up to its creed as articulated in the Constitution.  

However, a glaring weakness in the memorial’s depiction of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Little was presented to give visitors the impression that King was a man of God. He was a Christian minister who led a movement against the ugly specter of Jim Crow culture, pervasive in many states and cities of this nation.  The struggle for Civil Rights under Dr. King was a Christian/religious-inspired undertaking. But scant was written on any murals to indicate that the battle for Civil Rights had a strong Christian Catechetic, which served as its lifeblood. The glaring omission of any reference to God was shocking and a treacherous, if not duplicitous, negation of the legacy and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. He was an ordained and practicing Christian minister.

It came to my attention that a select panel of academics and literary and historical literati decided what quotes would be used for the murals. How was it plausible to have a memorial to a profoundly religious man and not even once have a reference to God or the Christology that guided and gave strength to the movement? Dr. King made his faith in God and the teachings of Christ an essential part of his life and message. The heart of the movement was rooted in the church and drew its strength from the timeless truths proclaimed in the Bible. To cite one of Dr. King’s favorite biblical quotes from the letters of Paul the Apostle, “In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

Once again, if I were a visitor to the memorial who had no prior knowledge of Dr.  King, it would be easy to conclude that this site was dedicated to an accomplished individual.  A secular community organizer or social reformer who inspired many to confront the sickness of racial discrimination, but hardly religious or God-centered.  Even a cursory review of Dr. King’s writings and public speeches is replete with the religion-centered mindset that was the struggle for Civil Rights during the 1950s and 60s.  

One must ask, how is it even conceivable to have a monument dedicated to a religious leader such as Dr. King and conveniently forget the God-centered nature of his fight for Civil Rights?  The answer lies in the decades-old assault by the cultural left, Progressives, and various constituencies, who exhibit a less than cordial relationship with anything Christian to remove and erode all faith and God expressions from the public square.  The memorial seems to go out of its way to be as anti-theophanic as possible.   In the name of the badly interpreted and mythical “separation of Church and state” (a phrase that does not appear in the Constitution), leftist academics, many Progressive Democrats, some atheists, and a small but loud cacophony of individuals have led the fight to make heretical any expression of “Christianity’ in the public square. The first amendment clearly states, "that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion,” such as the Church of England. It did not make anathema the show of Christian symbols in the public square.

The clamor from Liberal Progressives and the cultural left is that including references to God would offend other people of different faith statements.  The same nonsense drives the cultural left movement to ban Christmas symbols, crosses, and other Christian paraphernalia. They conveniently forget that the Constitution's First Amendment assured freedom of religious expression, “not the right never to be offended by any religious symbols." The recalcitrance on the part of individuals and groups to remove God from the public square is just another manifestation of the victim culture that has increased like cancer in American society over the past fifty years.  People have been socially engineered to feel offended when, in early times, Christian religious symbols in the public square did not become a referendum on a “creeping Christian theocracy”.  Our colleges, secondary and elementary institutions, along with Progressive Liberal Democrats, have been at the forefront of making sure everyone is a victim.   The secular hermeneutics of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Industry, spearheaded by the 1970s Multiculturalism ideology, is the problem. DEI, the multiculturalist ethos, and the various strains of identity politics are little more than tribalism and cultural balkanization, if not neo-segregation, hidden behind the faces of congeniality, sociability, or forced agreeableness. They are the progenitors of the growing all-pervasive victim culture.

It is racism under new management!  We have been encouraged by the cultural elite and too many in the political class to roost in our little hyphenated enclaves, waiting to be offended by God knows what.  Radical gender feminists, Blacks, Latinos, segments of the LGBTQ community, and even newly arrived immigrants (legal and illegal) learned quickly how to play the victim card.  Searching out new ways to be “offended” is an ever-expanding cottage industry, perfected by Progressives within the Democratic political class. Unfortunately, Controlled-Opposition-Republicans do little to challenge the victim culture.

Except for that “mean-old, racist-sexist-Islamophobic-anti-science-climate denying-anti-immigrant-white nationalist,” named Donald Trump, very few public figures have the character nor intestinal fortitude to confront this spreading gibberish.  In the victim culture, “Isms” abound.

To reiterate, not including any substantial reference to God and the Christology of Dr. King is more than a betrayal of his life and legacy. It is a categorical negation of the Constitution rooted in Judaic Christian history and philosophy.
Patrick is a retired University Library Director. He graduated from Canisius College and the University of Washington, where he earned Master's Degrees in Religious Studies Education, Urban Anthropology, and Library and Information Science.  Mr. Hall has also completed additional coursework at the University of Buffalo, Seattle University, and St. John Fishers College of Rochester, New York. He has been published in several national publications such as Commonweal, America, Conservative Review, Headway, National Catholic Reporter, Freedom's Journal Magazine, and American Libraries. He has published in peer-reviewed publications, the Journal of Academic Librarianship, and the Internet Reference Services Quarterly. From 1997 until his retirement in January 2014, he served on the Advisory Board of Urban Library Journal, a CUNY Publication.

1 Comment


AnnaMarie - January 15th, 2024 at 1:08pm

I agree all people should be treated with Christian charity and fairly under the law. It seems MLK, Jr was the man chosen to lead this truth into the national spotlight. Yes, he presented himself to the public as a man of God. However, we know, also, that in his personal life, he was as much a sinner as anyone. Only recently did I learn of his involvement in Planned Parenthood. Please read this article for more in-depth information. https://onepeterfive.com/martin-luther-king-planned-parenthood/

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