The 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech was recently celebrated. In many ways, 50 years on, his dream has been fulfilled in a profoundly dramatic fashion. On the other hand, even with all of the improvement, many don’t see the advances and chase after a dream that is not even the same one Dr. King expressed.
Following are statements from three different individuals regarding race relations in America. One is anti-black and another anti-white. And then there is the dream articulated by Dr. King. See if you can tell what the real differences are.
“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Margaret Sanger (Founder of Planned Parenthood) in a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble dated December 19, 1939.
“White folks was in caves while we was building empires. We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” Al Sharpton from a speech at Kean College in 1994.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, from his “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Difference is in the Worldview
It seems that in recent years, there has been an increase in racial tension which has been fueled by certain individuals who have stepped away from the belief that the races are equal. These people actually advocate for the superiority of one race or the other. It is pretty obvious that we have different perspectives on display, but where do these beliefs come from?
Interestingly, the statements made by Sanger and Sharpton are based on the exact same belief foundation, even though they come to radically opposite conclusions about which race is superior. Martin Luther King, on the other hand, had an entirely different perspective. So, exactly what is the difference and where do these various beliefs come from?
To understand what is going on here, we have to grasp that the two points of view being expressed have entirely different worldview foundations. Sharpton’s and Sanger’s viewpoints come straight out of a naturalistic worldview. King’s beliefs represent Christian Theism.
Anyone who has any knowledge of Margaret Sanger knows that she had no place for God in her belief system. Because of that, it is not at all surprising that she would hold positions which run contrary to what the Bible teaches. Sharpton, on the other hand, holds the title of Reverend. Since the Bible teaches unity among people (particularly among believers), why in the world would he make statements which express such bigoted beliefs? Actually, the answer is that Sharpton’s “religious belief” is closer to Sanger’s than King’s.
Naturalism is the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality – thus, no God. Sanger, herself, was an Atheist. Sharpton’s theology uses vocabulary which talks about God, but does so in a way which does not represent Christian teachings. He follows a theological stream called liberation theology which teaches that salvation is something to be achieved in this life, with no focus on eternity. For liberationists, salvation is liberation from physical oppression and social injustice – such as slavery, racism and poverty. It has nothing to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection as a way to overcome the sin of mankind. Basically, it is Sanger’s theology using Christian verbiage as a cloak.
Sanger’s and Sharpton’s beliefs look at human beings as mere animal creatures which must get what they can from this life, and try to leave a legacy in the material world. In Sanger’s case, she wanted to help the human race advance by getting rid of the weak and inferior members using birth control as the vehicle. Sharpton’s vison of improving the human race is to further the black race’s lot in life by eliminating their white oppressors.
Both of these points of view come straight out of Naturalism. It comes from the belief that the furtherance of “their own group” requires the elimination of enemies based on the law of the jungle. And the best way to accomplish the goal is to use political power to defeat their enemies.
Christian Theism’s Equality
Martin Luther King’s approach, on the other hand, comes from an entirely different worldview foundation. King was not only a Christian minister, but based his entire understanding of, and approach to, overcoming injustice on biblical Theism. Rather than seeing mankind as oppressor vs. oppressed, as is the approach of Al Sharpton, he saw every human being as a creature created in the image of God, each with equal value to God.
King’s approach to dealing with the issue of race relations, or civil rights in general, was not to promote a system where everyone received equal or superior outcomes based on the arbitrary beliefs of those in power. He wanted everyone to have an equal opportunity to take advantage of the American dream. He was not looking for one race to gain some kind of advantage. He wanted ALL people, regardless of race, to have an equal opportunity for success. Dr. King was, literally, looking for a color-blind society.
The Input Determines the Outcome
Indeed, the worldview beliefs which inform the policies of society will determine whether race is looked at as a political tool or as an element of human existence. Sanger’s and Sharpton’s beliefs turn human beings into “things” – some being more important and valuable than others based on skin pigmentation. King’s beliefs promoted human beings as of highest value, regardless of skin pigmentation.
And essentially, that is the difference in how worldview beliefs play out as it relates to race relations. Christian beliefs have a high view of human beings, regardless of who they are or the circumstances of their lives. Every person is seen as a valuable and loved individual. Naturalism, on the other hand, sees human beings as merely naturally evolved animals which are fighting to survive, and must do so by advancing the cause of their group in opposition to other groups.
As long as there are people who develop and implement public policy based on naturalistic beliefs, there will be racial (as well as other) division. It is only when the worldview beliefs of Dr. King become the societal norm that we will even have the possibility to “live in a nation where they (all people) will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
© 2013 Freddy Davis