Martin Luther King Jr.

On this date in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr., was born. The civil rights leader, Baptist minister and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference believed in a strict separation of church and state. Although his many speeches are peppered with references to Jesus and God and often depend for the force of their authority upon “the natural law of God,” King knew that the religious status quo tended to support segregation.

In a sermon known as “Paul’s Letter to American Christians” (delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala., Nov. 4, 1956), King said: “You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning to sing ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus Name’ and ‘Dear Lord and Father of all Mankind,’ you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian church. How appalling that is.” D. April 4, 1968.

Freedom From Religion Foundation