Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights leader who fought for racial equality in America. He founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and organized non-violent protests across the country. Some notable events he organized include the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955) and the March on Washington (1963). MLK was also the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner after the passing of the Civil Rights Act (1964).
Martin Luther King Jr. was also an ordained Baptist minister and is one of the most influential people in political and religious history.
In his many writings, MLK often addressed the church directly to call for social change, encourage faith through difficult times, and provoke thoughtful reflection on the actions and beliefs of the congregation. He called on the church to influence change in policy and moral guidance in society.
These 5 quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. are just a few of the many examples of his powerful, influential writing.
- “The Philosophy of Christianity is strongly opposed to the underlying philosophy of segregation. Therefore, every Christian is confronted with the basic responsibility of working courageously for a non-segregated society. The task of conquering segregation is an inescapable must confronting the Christian Churches.” (The Role of the Church in Facing the Nation’s Chief Moral Dilemma, April 25, 1957)
- “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” (A Knock at Midnight, June 11, 1967)
- “It is our job as ministers to bring the church back to the center of the human race. But we can only bring the church back to the center of the human race when we bring Christ back to the center of the church.” (Is the Church the Hope of the World?, Sermon Notes, 1949-1950)
- “Let the churches stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of its sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete, let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this type of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.” (Cooperative Competition/Noble Competition, c. 1948-1954)
- “Don’t be afraid to defend the Church where necessary. Certainly, the Church is not perfect. It has often stood in the way of social and scientific progress and as I will show in a few minutes I am often ashamed of the Church, but in spite of its errors I would hate to see what the world would be like without it.” (Propagandizing Christianity, September 12, 1954).