Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “God Delusion”?

Mary Grabar
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Posted: Nov 15, 2006 9:11 AM
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “God Delusion”?

The theocracy is coming! The theocracy is coming!

So warn authors, documentary makers, and celebrities, who would like to rip away what they see as veils of religious superstition.

They warn us of the dangers of Christian belief and extend their arguments to religion in general. Elton John claims religion encourages hatred of gays. Ted Turner has stated that Christianity is a religion for losers. Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming, warns about the gradual erosion of rights with the rise of what she calls “Christian nationalism”; she sees evidence is such things as workplace prayer sessions. Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation, attributes conflict and war to religion. The elimination of religious belief, in his estimation, would lead to peace. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, asks believers to follow his doctrine of empirical science (a relatively young and unstable endeavor compared to religion). These thinkers are on a mission and ask us to abandon our religious beliefs and adopt their ways of thinking, which they present as unclouded, and under which humanity will evolve to its potential.

They warn that Christians threaten such “rights” as abortion and stem cell research. Those like Michael J. Fox, they imply, would continue to suffer because Christians don’t want to give up embryos for research.

Christians erode civil rights, they claim, because they are against same-sex marriage. Furthermore these Christians who are the most outspoken against same-sex marriage are the very ones struggling with their own homosexual leanings. As Huffington Post columnist and advocate of sadomasochistic sex, Stephen Elliott, wrote, “if Mark Foley hadn’t repressed his homosexuality and desire for young boys he could have a lover closer to his own age who would have dressed up in a little school boy outfit and bent over the desk for a few whacks from the schoolmaster’s paddle.”

Indeed, these liberal advocates chortled when the Reverend Ted Haggard came falling down and rejoiced when their Democratic candidates won in the last election. They position themselves to be as “fearless” as their publisher Arianna Huffington who promotes her book for women and girls on that web magazine and on talk shows.

The references to self-will, and morality un-proscribed by religious restrictions or traditional values, give such magazines the feel of a convergence of free-thinkers. Much of the commentary is peppered with profanity. These thinkers and writers present themselves champions of the downtrodden, women, homosexuals, and minorities.

This week, on November 13, C-Span televised the ground-breaking ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, D.C. In attendance was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, as well as the Reverend Al Sharpton. Reverend Jackson’s stature as a civil rights leader was not diminished, as far as I can tell, when it was revealed that his mistress gave birth to his child. He was forgiven by his followers. Indeed, during this tearful ceremony the Reverend Jackson said some prayers. A hymn was sung by a choir.

These demonstrations of religious faith were not unusual in the civil rights movement and before that in the abolitionist movement. Abolitionist writers like Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass regularly alluded to or quoted the New Testament. In her elegy for the Reverend George Whitefield, Wheatley quotes from one of his sermons:

“Take him, ye Africans, he longs for you,

“Impartial Saviour is his title due:

“Wash’d in the fountain of redeeming blood,

“You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God.”

Wheatley, and other abolitionists appealed to the authoritative text that they held in common in terms of beliefs. It took a while for the message to have effect, but one cannot deny the impact of this religious belief as a basis for appeal, as well as a comfort in the struggle.

So what is the secularists’ attitude toward such ground-breaking ceremonies that include the recitations of prayers and the singing of hymns? Would Dawkins and Harris castigate Reverend Jackson’s prayer as a vestige of foolish superstition? Would they patronizingly pat him on the head and attempt to enlighten him with their scientific theories? Does Ted Turner think that those praying at this ceremony were “losers”? What about the fact that Michael J. Fox is a rich, white celebrity and that black women have disproportionately more abortions than do white women and that poor women have more than rich women?

So how do these preachers of secularism see the long struggle by Christians to overcome racism? What is their attitude toward it? What is their attitude towards black Christians? Is it the same contempt they feel for all believers, particularly Christian?