9 October 2012
Separation of Church and State
In Martin Luther King Jr.’s writing “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King states “But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before, If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century” (King 264). King is explaining to the Alabama Clergymen, whom he is corresponding with, the disgust and lack of faith that young people have because of the church’s lack of support and action. In 1963 when King wrote his letter from the Birmingham jail, the civil rights movement was in full swing with racial tension in every area of the United States. King continues, “Maybe again I have been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world” (King 264)? King is attempting to convince the clergyman to use the power of the church to rise up and push the state government into complying with federal equality and anti-segregation constitutional amendments recently (to the timeframe of the letter) signed into law. The Alabama Clergymens’ actions were in contrast to King’s, taking to the streets by wanting more of an organized effort with group discussions to include political leaders in Alabama. In reality, both King and the clergymen deploy tactics that can be successful. Although King’s tactics must take place after the Clergymen’s negotiation processes, which tend to take enormous amounts of time. In dealings with emotional or potentially violent campaigns, one must follow a basic guideline and not allow any religion to dictate social policies. In King’s own words, he explains the basic steps of a nonviolent campaign, King writes “(1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; (2) negotiation; (3) self-purification; and (4) direct action” (King 252). Although the actions against negros at the time were despicable,...
Cited: King, Martin Luther. "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Mercury Reader. Ed. Patrick Houlihan, Alan Pope and Geri Rhodes. New York: Pearson Education Inc., 2010. 251-267. Print.
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