This may surprise you: Martin Luther King protested the Vietnam war. In the process, he raked the U. S. government over the coals.
War. The damning choice of hate and evil.
That is the conclusion Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered to a congregation of concerned laity and clergy at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 in his speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence.”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Martin Luther King: War Protester
Perhaps you’re asking this question: Why was Dr. King…a nonviolent protester of civil rights abuse…protesting the Vietnam war?
Good question. Let me explain.
Dr. King saw his breaking of silence on the war a natural reaction: “I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”
In what was about an hour long speech, King argued that when money is siphoned off of a social program for the poor, he could only see the war as an enemy of the poor.
Destroying Black Youth
More importantly, though, King saw Vietnam as a war that destroyed the lives of young poor black and white men…men he was trying to liberate.
In essence, a war that plundered the ghettos to fill it’s army fighting a tiny, weak nation 8,000 miles away…but didn’t allow these same men to sit together on a bus…smacked of spiritual death.
America’s soul was in danger of becoming totally poisoned. We must repent, King urged. And to atone for our sins and errors, we must take the initiative to end the tragic war.
My Two Reactions to This Speech
Two things happened when I walked away from this speech:
1. I was reminded of John MacArthur’s sermon “A Nation Abandoned by God.”
2. And I was convinced Dr. King’s speech would not work today.
Let me deal with the second reaction first.
Yet, I’m really not in a position to argue. I’ve only been fed limited, second hand facts.
However, I’m in agreement with King that war makes aggressors strange liberators. Slip into the enemies shoes and your perspective changes.
How Should You Respond?
I’m also in agreement with Dr. King that all people are targets for the Gospel–Communists, Marxists, extreme Muslims.
John MacArthur concluded his “Abandoned by God” sermon by saying that God only wanted one thing out of this nation: We should all pray for faithful people and preachers to clearly proclaim the Gospel across this land.
In my opinion, faithful preachers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What Do You Think?
Tell me: Do you agree with King’s assessment of the Vietnam war and the condition of America’s soul? Do you agree with MacArthur’s indictment? Do you agree with my reaction?
Leave your thoughts in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.