by Providence Crowder
Author Donald W. Dayton produced a remarkable historical summary of America’s evangelical legacy in his work entitled, “Discovering an Evangelical Heritage.” This book provides compelling evidence that confirms “the Christian witness” has a powerful impact upon society when the gospel is put into action. Unlike contemporary evangelicalism, which by and large evades questions of social responsibility, Dayton sets out to prove that the evangelical heritage left by nineteenth century evangelicals such as Catherine Booth and Charles G. Finney demonstrated that the gospel and social responsibility were once intimately integrated. He provides thrilling accounts of how the nineteenth century evangelical “abolitionists” understood that to right societal wrongs, social injustice demanded a radical and Christian response. The abolitionist movement was chiefly political and religious; abolitionists believed that slavery was a sin. Through moral suasion, they set out to change laws in an effort to permanently abolish it. (more…)
Normally, when it comes to government programs that attempt to address ethnic bigotry, I am a total critic. Policies that include contemporary affirmative action actually turned out to encourage discrimination rather than discourage unfairness when it comes to certain groups of people.
The original affirmative action ruled out race as a factor. Contemporary affirmative action leads to the underdevelopment of those who did not really obtain success through candid competition; but rather through policies that reward failure and penalize someone else’s achievement.
As a Republican, I understand that laws must be initiated that would prevent citizens from being deprived of their human and citizenship rights by other citizens. In January of 1865, Republican President Lincoln prompted Congress to enact the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery. The Civil War ended that same year when General Lee surrendered on April 9 with Lincoln being assassinated 6 days later. (more…)
Our Better Angels: Martin Luther King’s Legacy
But there would have been no debate at all had it not been for the change taking place in the hearts and minds of the American people — and Rev. King was the one man chiefly responsible for that change.
It is hard for many Americans to understand what life was like before Rev. King and the civil rights movement. Otherwise good and decent people simply accepted the traditions and, in many cases, laws that treated blacks like second-class citizens unable to vote, attend school with whites, or even sit at the same lunch counters. Many people took it for granted that employers gave the best jobs to whites, even if there were better-qualified blacks who could fill them. The violence perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and other virulently racist groups and individuals repulsed most Americans, but they didn’t often stand up to fight it.
Rev. King changed this complacency. He brought these struggles into Americans’ living rooms — and he did it with non-violent protest. It was hard to avert your eyes when confronted with scenes of ordinary people peacefully marching and singing hymns as they faced club-wielding police, snarling dogs and powerful water hoses to stop them. I remember my father sitting in our living room saying, “This should not happen in America.”
It wasn’t just King’s magnificent voice or soaring rhetoric that inspired people. It was his challenge to the consciences of millions like my father. Americans knew that what they were seeing on their TV screens was simply wrong.
They knew that you cannot have a democracy in which some citizens are deprived of their most basic rights simply because they happen to be born with dark skin. They knew that a country that would deprive many of its children a good education or close off competition for jobs based on skin color could not stay for long the world’s undisputed economic leader.
Changes might have come had Rev. King not mobilized his army of earnest men and women, young and old, black and white, but the pace would have been agonizingly slow and, perhaps, grudging. Without the reminder to all Americans — especially those in the North who thought of themselves as more enlightened than their Southern neighbors — that blacks were daily being subjected to degrading, inhuman treatment, many people would simply have chosen to ignore discrimination. They would have consoled themselves that, so long as they didn’t personally hold prejudiced feelings, they were not responsible for the acts of others.
But Rev. King wouldn’t let Americans off the hook so easily. Like Lincoln, he appealed to “the better angels of our nature.” It was his unambiguous moral message that helped Americans change themselves for the better.
|Mrs. Chavez is president of Stop Union Political Abuse.|