Martin Luther King

A Little-Known MLK Sermon - "Rediscovering Lost Values"

Black History Month

An inspiring sermon America needs to hear,

"Rediscovering Lost Values" (1954)

The Rev. King, motivated by his Christian faith, stood, marched, and spoke to advance civil rights. While many people know about his "I Have a Dream..." speech, few have heard the inspiring sermon he delivered in Detroit in 1954 - "Rediscovering Lost Values."

His message, then, is just as relevant for America today:

"My friends, all I'm trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we've got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we've left behind. That's the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be and the real purpose and meaning of it. The only way we can do it is to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we've left behind."

  • For a more powerful experience, read the printed text while listening to Rev. King deliver his 1954 message by clicking here or watching below.


Why "Under God" Must Remain in the Pledge of Allegiance

This Wednesday (Sept. 4), Massachusetts’ highest court will consider the constitutionality of having students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The practice is being challenged by an anonymous atheist couple who object to the words “under God” in the Pledge. The clamor by some people about this acknowledgement of God stems from a misunderstanding of why the phrase is so important to the American concept of government. Here are five reasons why “under God” must remain in the Pledge of Allegiance:

1. Thomas Jefferson explained why being "one Nation under God" is important.  Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers understood that the government does not give us our freedom. Our freedom comes from God, and the government was established to protect that God-given freedom. That was their justification for the American Revolution as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government laying its foundation on such principles…"

No king or emperor, no president or congress, no court or crowd gives us our rights. They come from God himself and are unalienable. And the Founders built America's "foundation on such principles."

2. Abraham Lincoln explained why being "one Nation under God" is important.

Abraham Lincoln understood that the nation's unity and freedom depended upon being one nation under God. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln used the exact phrase, "nation, under God," echoed in the Pledge of Allegiance. He began his address by referring to the Founding Fathers' foundation in God-given rights:

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

As Lincoln closes his remarks honoring the fallen soldiers at Gettysburg, he offered this inspiring vision:

"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." (emphasis added)

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained why being “one Nation under God” is important.

Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech reflects his ideals rooted in the Founders’ belief that our rights come from God. King relied on the Declaration of Independence’s reference to the Creator when he said:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'"

In every century of American history, arguably the most significant document or speech of that century references the rights of Americans being derived from our Creator: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence in the 18th century, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in the 19th century, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech in the 20th century.

4. It doesn't matter that the phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge in the 1950s.

Some people argue that "under God" was not in the original Pledge and was inserted over 50 years later. But, that only proves it took over 50 years to get it right!

5. The phrase "under God" does not make the Pledge a prayer.

Some people argue that "under God" is a form of prayer, and thus it is unconstitutional to have schoolchildren recite it. However, a careful reading of the Pledge of Allegiance reveals that we are not pledging allegiance to God. We are, instead, pledging allegiance to a republic. The Pledge describes the republic as one nation under God and indivisible. In other words, it is a statement of fact. It is a fact that our Founders established our government on the proposition that freedom comes from God, not the state.

As Jefferson, Lincoln, and King attest, the American people's freedom--the freedom of your neighbors, your co-workers, your children, and their teachers, are because we are one nation under God. Take that principle away, remove it from our national consciousness, and we will lose the very basis for the freedoms we so easily take for granted.

Thomas Jefferson warned of the dire consequences of forgetting this important principle. On the Jefferson memorial his warning is carved:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

Lincoln said it well, "Now we are in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

In this war of ideas, people will not defend what they do not cherish, and they will not cherish what they do not understand.

MLK and Religious Freedom - Mark the Day

By Chuck Colson

What better way to honor Martin Luther King than to celebrate our religious freedom?

Monday, January 16, is Martin Luther King Day. Most schools recognize the day — as they should. But will they teach students about Dr. King’s Christian faith, which motivated and guided his campaign for civil rights?

During his Birmingham civil rights campaign, Dr. King required every participant to sign a pledge committing to do ten things. The first was to “meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.” Others included the expectation that all participants would “walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love;” and “pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.”

To read more of Chuck Colson's commentary, CLICK HERE.

Martin and Jesus (Part 2): I Have a Dream

Christianity Reflected In Two Historic Writings From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my previous blog I highlighted Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Now, let's take a look at his most famous speech.

I Have A Dream

Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech reflects his ideals rooted in biblical thinking. As Dr. King said:

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir....I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'"

He spoke of America's Founding Fathers' declaration of the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as "a sacred obligation" for "all God's children." He echoed I Peter 3:13-17 when he urged those who had suffered persecution to "continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive."

A public school teacher can read that New Testament passage to students and discuss its relevance to Dr. King's message. Likewise, students can study Isaiah 40:3-5 announcing the coming of Jesus because one of the things he dreamed of was the second coming of Jesus Christ!

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

This rarely-quoted portion of his speech reveals, again, the biblical foundation for his dream. Isaiah 40 speaks of deliverance and comfort. The chapter ends with the triumphant:

"He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

Dr. King's dream rose above a legal protection of equality. His dream looked forward to the day when men's hearts would be changed and there would be "a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

Martin and Jesus (Part 1): Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Christianity Reflected In Two Historic Writings From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

February is Black History Month. Many schools will highlight the contributions and accomplishments of various African-Americans in history. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to also learn about the influence of Christianity on the Civil Rights Movement. For example, if students are to truly understand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activities for Civil Rights, they need to understand how Christianity influenced his thinking.

In this blog, I will highlight his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Next, I'll look at his "I have a dream" speech.

Letter From A Birmingham Jail

In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. King answered a group of clergymen who had criticized him for his civil rights involvement. One of their accusations was that Dr. King was an extremist. His eloquent response is filled with biblical references. In addressing the accusation of extremism, Dr. King quotes Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
That portion of the Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 5:43-44. This passage is crucial to understanding what public school officials call Dr. Kings’ "religious dedication to nonviolence."
"But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’"

Dr. King, then, refers to the Crucifixion as an example of "extreme" behavior:
It is well within legal boundaries for students to read Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount as well as to read the description of Christ’s crucifixion. How could a student truly understand Dr. King’s references without reading the actual stories from the Bible?
"In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

In the Supreme Court case of Abington School District v. Schempp, Justice Clark, writing the majority opinion, stated:

" might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment."

Without looking at biblical passages that Dr. King referred to in his writings, students are, unfortunately, receiving an education that the Supreme Court rightly asserts is "not complete."