Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dedicated

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The Washington Memorial to the civil rights leader was opened in August, but a freak hurricane postponed official ceremonies. A reminder that Rev. King weathered many storms.

And the fact that he was a Reverend needs a reminder, notes Elizabeth Scalia and others who rightfully point out that the Christian roots of the social movements have been ignored.

What saddens me instead is that while students might “sort of” remember who Martin Luther King Jr. was, he is not remembered as “the Reverend” Martin Luther King, a pastor turned social movement leader. […] Due to an absence of education about contemporary religiously-motivated social movements in public schooling and private Christian schooling, the average student will not identify the Civil Rights Movement with Christianity. Thus most students will interpret institutionalized programs that were borne out of the struggle to address systemic racial inequity as a secular movement. For the devout Christians, I’d expect that they will more often reject such programs on the grounds of preventing secular encroachment in the private domain where religious expression is protected under law. Those who participate in the Black Church however will stand in support of these programs knowing full well that its roots lie in the very application of Christian theology.

Dr. King’s niece sure does. Dr. Alveda King discussed these roots with me on radio and proudly proclaimed her uncle’s undying dedication to Gospel values in the civil rights movement, insisting he would uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life through natural death today, rejecting abortion and euthanasia as ‘rights’. Some have claimed otherwise, she notes, but then reasserts ‘Uncle Martin’s’ Christian beliefs that motivated his relentless struggle for human rights.

Another reminder is what he wrote himself, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. He explains the fundamental basis for civil disobedience in the face of laws against humanity.

I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

Dr. Alveda King, in carrying on the tradition of her inheritance, says abortion is the civil rights issue of our time. And she’s dedicated her life to backing it up.

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