‘On this MLK Day, let us preach the truth of creation: that all of humanity is one’
The national officers of the United Church of Christ have issued this statement to mark the 2022 observance of the U.S. holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As many gather all over this nation to remember the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us do so with conscious memory of the challenges to freedom and a just democracy he faced in life. As we recite his speeches and remember his fiery sermons that galvanized people with such prophetic accuracy that they willingly sacrificed both their lives and livelihood to bring his preached words into existence, let us do so knowing Dr. King was not always celebrated in those moments of truth-telling. Sometimes, he was ostracized by the church, persecuted by the public, beaten by those sworn to protect and serve, and jailed under the restraints of unjust laws.
As we celebrate this leader who held up a dream, let us do so acknowledging he did not hold it up alone. Dr. King was undergirded by the work and witness of an intergenerational community of justice seekers of varied cultures, races, religions, sexualities and genders, who understood the triple evils of racism, materialism and militarism that still threaten the spirit of democracy he fought to preserve. Let us remember that Dr. King stood against racist politicians, unjust laws, and spiritual leaders whose actions betrayed the sermons they preached. Dr. King faced the hatred of white vigilantes whose fear of racial equity was so deeply embedded they were willing to kill people and destroy property solely to preserve white social dominance.
This Martin Luther King Day we are reminded of just how threatening truth can be to those whose history is built on lies.
Today we bear witness to the resurgence of unabashed white nationalism and an economic system that continues to enrich the few at the expense of the many. We gather, as Republican senators and their few Democrat allies at every level of government are using every tool possible to disenfranchise voters and thwart any attempt to form a just democracy, because racial equity is still what white America fears most. Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, our democracy teeters on the brink of demise.
If we choose to honor the legacy of Dr. King, let us pay service with more than our lips. Let us stand together in the congressional breach of our nation, calling our elected leaders and demanding the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Protecting Our Democracy Act. Let us stay on the wall fighting for the reproductive rights of women as freedom dangles by a thread with a Supreme Court tasked as the final arbiter of our Constitution, not our faiths. Let us push for a living wage for workers and equitable taxation of the wealthy. Let us commit to fight for criminal justice reform and healthcare for all. Let us work for quality education for every child, no matter their zip code.
Let us reach across religious divides and preach the truth of creation: that all of humanity is one. And let us face each of these challenges embodying words Dr. King spoke as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” As officers of the church, we believe these words are true and we stand with you in the breach, building bridges of truth, with love.
The National Officers of the United Church of Christ
The Rev. John C. Dorhauer General Minister and President The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson Associate General Minister, Wider Church Ministries and Operations The Rev. Traci Blackmon Associate General Minister, Justice and Local Church Ministries
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