To the conservatives God is a strict, unforgiving Father God who metes out punishments to the wicked. People are basically sinful and must be restrained by strict discipline and harsh punitive laws. The worshipers have a hierarchy of power. Those that speak for God are at the top of the heap. Then it's God above man, man above nature, men above women, adults above children, humans above animals, Western culture above all other cultures, America above other nations, whites above non-whites, straights above gays, and Christians above non-Christians. This God is the white supremacist, patriarchal, upper-class God who stood/stands for segregation, slavery, and the genocide of native peoples. Conveniently this God lets his worshipers maintain their wealth and power within a system that preserves their political and economic advantages. This God has ruled in parts of America since it was founded, certainly in the South and Midwest. Then came a 25-year-old black Baptist minister who began preaching in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. He REFRAMED God.
Martin Luther King's Jesus was the God of liberation, freedom and non-violence. Jesus was on the side of the oppressed, not on the side of the empire, and he had a radical mission--to bring a new consciousness: to free his people from identifying with the goals of the Roman Empire; to feed the hungry: he believed that a systemic redistribution of resources was not charity, but economic justice; and, to set the prisoners free, recognizing that the empire/government used/uses law and order as tools of oppression. To this God each person was equal and there was no spiritual calculus that made some people more worthy than others. Demonizing, dehumanizing or stereotyping others was not allowed as love conquered hate and fear. What a radical idea. Could he sell it?
Yes, the liberal God was born and stretched his arms toward Heaven. This God was to his worshipers a loving, caring, forgiving, blessing-bestowing creature. Helping and caring for the poor is commanded. Feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, tending to the sick, and sharing the wealth is an obligation, PLUS all are equal in God's eyes. Wow! That was quite a make-over. And, his disciple, the minister sold Him by following the first rule of debating. He never blamed or rebuked his enemies as Jesus never rebuked sinners. Instead he loved and prayed for them.
We all know how it turned out. MLK raised a dedicated army of volunteers who were told: they are going to spit on you, curse at you, throw things at you, sic dogs on you, and scatter you with fire hoses. But you must never allow hate to enter your heart. They are your enemies and you must love and pray for them.
Here are some of his sayings: ***************************************************
Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to stick with love. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life, love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.