Are the claims that the Christian faith is being shoved from the public square real or perceived? Carl Anderson, The Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who came to Washington last week to speak before the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, provided a pretty compelling answer.
Mr. Anderson, who once worked here, in the Reagan White House, delivered an insightful speech noting the incredible story of the new Memorial to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The planners of the newest addition to our National Mall, Anderson reported, worked hard to find quotations from the great Civil Rights champion. These planners etched these quotations in stone. They carefully chose words of this Baptist preacher. They wanted to honor the memory of the man who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent overthrow of racial segregation in America.
Here are some of the words Dr. King spoke in his lifetime. These quotes come from his Nobel Lecture accepting the Peace Prize in 1964:
Deeply etched in the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that men are made in the image of God and that they are souls of infinite metaphysical value, the heirs of a legacy of dignity and worth.
In a dark confused world the kingdom of God may yet reign in the hearts of men.
And, at the award ceremony, Dr. King quoted directly from Scripture, making these words his own:
[In] the First Epistle of Saint John:
Let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyonethat loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and Hislove is perfected in us.
The planners of the King Memorial, Carl Anderson noted, included none of these quotes.
Nor did they include Dr. Kings invocation of the words of Scripture from his 1963 I Have a Dream Speech:
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
It seems that the planners were very careful to leave out of the tablets any reference to God. This took some doing. Dr. King was first and foremost a Christian minister. Early in his ministry, as the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out:
I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we area Christian people...And we are determined here in Montgomery [Alabama] to work and fight, until justice runs down like water and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Even here, early in his career, Dr. King was quoting from the Prophet Amos.
It must have been hard work for those planners. They had to search high and low to find quotes from Dr. King that did not include God, that did not quote from the Bible. But find them they did.
Carl Anderson is surely right to point all this out. The Knights of Columbus successfully petitioned Congress as long ago as 1954 to include Under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Anderson pointed out to the aggressive atheizers of our day that you can walk across the Mall to the Jefferson Memorial and there find engraved these words:
The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.
Life and Liberty are indeed the gift of God. And these are never secure in America when we have sandblasted all references to His handiwork.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was never ashamed to associate his liberating work with the unfolding of GodsProvidencefor us. He believed until his dying day that he had been to the Mountain. From the beginning, he put his movement for justice under God, never apart from God. It is tragic that the planners of his Memorial found it necessary to misrepresent his lifes work and in so doing try to deceive millions of Americans who will come after us.
All such atheizing efforts will ultimately fail. You can go to the Library of Congress and learn why. There, engraved in words of gold, it says: The heavens declare the Glory of God. The firmament sheweth His handiwork. And as the Apostle Paul makes clear this evidence of the invisible attributes of God leave all of us without excuse.