Clergy Corner: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and faith

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Martin Luther King Jr.

■ Jason Lee Layton / Contributed

Martin Luther King Jr. had support from, marched with, and defended the rights of people from all different faiths. This is due to his willingness to reach out to them, to offer them his support, and to ask for their support in return. This can be seen with his over four-year correspondence with Israeli officials to schedule a visit for Dr. King to lead a pilgrimage which, because of the six-day Arab–Israeli-War, never happened. Still, the bond was forged and in March of 1965 rabbis and others from the Jewish faith joined Dr. King during the March on Selma, as well as other civil rights marches.
Admiration for other religious groups, such as Hinduism, can be seen by his reference to Mahatma Gandhi the Hindu Father of India as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” In February of 1959, Dr. King and his wife Coretta went to India where he discussed with students at a New Delhi University the nature of nonviolent resistance and how Gandhi, like Jesus, was and still is an excellent teacher of such acts of conduct.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King was a Christian. As a founder and the first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he remained steadfast in his belief that all men are created equal with freedom of religion being the cornerstone of the inalienable rights every American should be granted. His perseverance in this area has paved the way for many people of different faiths to come together for the sake of celebrating his amazing life and appreciating our commonalities.
A gathering of this kind is observed every year at the Mt. San Jacinto College San Jacinto campus at 1499 North State Street. The 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast was held on Monday, Jan. 21. Some of the activities at the event, in addition to a full breakfast, included an art contest, a speaker on the theme of the day, historical presentations, and a gospel choir with praise dancers and drummers. The theme of the event, which was hosted in the campus library for students, staff, faculty, and the public, was “Resistance to Racism and Intolerance.” Dr. King understood resistance with an achievable outcome had to be peaceful and involve acceptance of the fact that we are all equal regardless of the color of our skin, gender, economic standing, and the way we worship.

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