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MLK, Atheism and The Left

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Today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is a great opportunity for progressives and liberals to recall the pluralism of the Leftist tradition in America.

Dr. King, as you well know, was a devout Christian whose beliefs drove his revolutionary and effective method for changing America's social fabric.

The recent embrace of non-pluralistic atheism exemplified by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins doesn't serve the Left (or atheism) well and I doubt that many who seek validation in the duo's antagonism toward religion would consider King simplistic, nonthinking, weak or an apologist for the transgressions of this co-religionists.

When Dawkins says things like "I doubt that religion can survive deep understanding. The shallows are its natural habitat," and "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world," I am quite sure he does NOT mean King or a number of other thinkers whose belief has driven them to do good, to search for answers wherever they lie, to accept those with different beliefs.

The problem is the wideness of Dawkins' net which necessarily catches the good with the bad -- to the detriment of his argument, not to mention possible allegiances and the American ideal of a pluralistic society.

From an early King essay on his religious development:

It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present.

My parents would always tell me that I should not hate the white man, but that it was my duty as a Christian to love him.

Even though I have never had an abrupt conversion experience, religion has been real to me and closely knitted to life. In fact the two cannot be separated; religion for me is life.

You don't have to believe in it yourself to respect that it is a Truth. Welcome to the post-modern era.

Joshua, take it away...

Joshua adds …

Thanks, Ev. Happy MLK day!

There’s much I might say about this post. Certainly its subtle message -- MLK was religious and most lefties liked him --- is inescapable.

Evan Derkacz is an AlterNet editor. He writes and edits PEEK, the blog of blogs.

 
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