In an April 4, 1967, speech in Manhattan's Riverside Church, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stunned the civil rights community by saying his faith compelled him to speak out against the Vietnam War.
"I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice," King told a group called Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam.
In his speech King said the war was brutalizing innocent Vietnamese, teaching America's youth to use violence to solve political disputes, and derailing the war on poverty.
The speech ignited criticism across the political spectrum. Fellow activists said King's criticism of the war would anger a powerful civil rights ally -- President Lyndon Johnson -- and brand the rights movement as unpatriotic.
Today, as America honors King's birthday, with the Iraq conflict providing a new backdrop, religious leaders again find themselves questioning the boundaries of their missions as pastors. Many of those who oppose the war in Iraq say they are reluctant to follow King's example for fear of offending members of their congregations, many of whom have sons and daughters in uniform or are themselves military veterans.
The above, noted by Jonah, is from Martin C. Evans' "Clergy finds MLK's anti-war stance tough act to follow" (Newday.)
Remember what Ruth highlighted earlier:
Monday, January 16, WBAI-Pacifica Radio, 99.5 FM, New York, will broadcast A Special Birthday Tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Join us for an extraordinary 21-hour-long program starting at 3 AM. Beginning with Citizen "K" opening with the documentary "Citizen King." Stay with us through the day as we bring you rare complete speeches and sermons given by Dr. King as he moved from a relatively unknown country preacher to the world stage as one of the greatest leaders in the movement for civil and human rights. For 45 years WBAI has recorded many of the most memorable and powerful moments in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in the US, painstakingly archiving the recordings for ongoing listener and community education and enjoyment. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches are perhaps even more relevant today than when he first gave them. The issues of social justice, racism, poverty, equality, civil liberties, human rights, globalization, war and peace are still making a powerful impact on the daily lives of humanity.
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