Friday, January 12, 2024

For Christian Nationalists, it's always been about racism

On Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Even as Christian Nationalists attempt to dismantle everything he accomplished, we're likely to once again be subject to hypocritical praise of the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. So let's review some history.

We'll start with one of the founders of the current religious right - Jerry Falwell. Following the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, he gave a sermon titled "Segregation or Integration: Which?" and declared:

If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line...

The true Negro does not want integration…. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.

So according to Falwell, both God and "the true Negro" endorse segregation. 

Then in 1965, Falwell gave another sermon titled "Ministers and Marches" in which he attacked MLK as a communist subversive and claimed that "preachers are not called to be politicians, but soul winners." He went on to blame the "marchers" for instigating hate and violence, saying:

I am fearful that all the rioting and demonstrating has produced a great amount of hate as evidenced through recent murders and other forms of violence.

The date of that sermon is significant. It came on March 21, 1965, a mere two weeks after this happened in Selma, Alabama:

Two days after Bloody Sunday, white supremacists murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, who had come to Selma to participate in subsequent marches. Falwell seemed to suggest that it was non-violent protesters who were responsible for his death.

Finally, Falwell's sermon was delivered on the SAME DAY that Dr.  King joined John Lewis and others in a second march from Selma to Montgomery in the fight for voting rights.

Years later, Falwell had to recant that sermon when he helped found the so-called "Moral Majority," the pre-cursor to Christian Nationalism. By then he was promoting the idea that preachers must involve themselves in politics. But contrary to what we've often been taught, he was NOT motivated by the fight against the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade, but due to the 1971 ruling in Green v. Connally which, based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, striped "segregation academies" of their tax exempt status for discrimination. 

Of course, Christian nationalists are free to hypocritically cherry-pick quotes from Dr. King because, as long as we are still a democracy, they have the right to free speech. But the rest of us are also free to remind everyone of their past and current behavior - which is designed to undermine everything the Civil Rights leader stood for. 


  1. Sad but true. For a look at America’s history of racism read “Black AF History” by Michael Harriott. It’s a good overview of how Blacks have been treated unjustly for 400 years. Harriott writes with passion and also with humor. Check it out!

  2. Racism turned religion into a real business, and a very profitable one.


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