NOTE: The following is protected by federal copyright law and is an excerpt from the book Marxianity written by Brannon Howse and is not to be published online. The footnotes that document the content in this article are found in the book Marxianity or the eBook.
Many people today consider Martin Luther King, Jr., as something of an American hero, so as a backdrop to the discussion in this chapter, it’s important that I lay some groundwork about the biblical perspective on racism and a historical perspective on the American civil rights movement. Both are pertinent to grasping the mixed blessing that Dr. King brought to the quest for equal rights for African Americans.
One Race, No Racism
To be clear from the outset: Racism is disgusting and any suggestion that there is even the slightest biblical justification for it is a direct attack on the Word of God and the God of the Bible Himself. Although we could show in many ways how Scripture admonishes against racial prejudice, there is a foundational teaching that spells out succinctly why racism is an abomination. Acts 17: 25b - 26a is the key: “He [God] gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (NKJV).
Ken Ham’s excellent book, One Race, One Blood, explores the significance of the reality that we are all “one blood” (descended from “one man” according to some translations). Ken Ham points out that there is virtually no genetic difference between a Caucasian person and a black person—less than 0.012 percent difference! The Bible and modern genetics both affirm that there is only one race of people: the human race. Skin color differences do not constitute separate races. There may be different people groups, but not different races of people.
Since we are all of one race, racism—which is fundamentally about differences between races—is abhorrent because there is no basis for thinking people to be subdivided into races. There is not even a logical basis for racism. We Christians should have no tolerance for racism, but we also should have no tolerance for Marxists who have highjacked racial issues for the promulgation of their own agenda. Yet, for generations, Marxists, communists, and socialists have hijacked any issue they could—oftentimes corrupting movements that began with a good purpose. One such movement is the American Civil Rights Movement.
As I’ve said before, communists and globalists create friction between people groups and economic groups to sell their lie that all suffering and oppression is caused by Christianity and capitalism. In doing so, they intend to foster revolution in America through the destruction of capitalism and the Judeo-Christian system of values upon which our constitutional republic is based. Communist agitators create a crisis and then offer up socialism as the solution.
The Lost History of the Civil Rights Movement
Many people are under the mistaken impression that the civil rights movement began with Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1950s, but that is far from the case. The movement was nearly a hundred years old by the time Dr. King stepped onto the American stage.
Most people also falsely believe that the U.S. Democratic party championed civil rights, yet the historical record reveals a strikingly different reality. The facts show that the Republican party is anything but the “racist party” it is often derided as being. Quite the opposite is actually true.
The title of a 2012 article on the Human Events website shows the starting point of the post-slavery quest for full rights for African Americans: “Republicans Pass the First Civil Rights Act in 1866.” The 1866 Civil Rights Act was written by Senator Layman Trumble, a Republican from Illinois, who was also a co-author of the thirteenth amendment banning slavery. And, of course, he was following in the footsteps of Republican President Abraham Lincoln who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Compared to current perceptions, it is ironic that the 1866 Civil Rights Act was nearly unanimously supported by Republicans and unanimously opposed by Democrats. Democrats also opposed the thirteenth amendment by a margin of 64 opposed and only 16 in favor. Support of the follow-up fourteenth amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law is even more stark. All Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against it while all Republicans voted in favor of the amendment. Republicans continued this success with several more civil rights acts during the administration of President Grant, including one that effectively outlawed the Klu Klux Klan—a movement founded by Democrats.
The Human Events article also summarizes the drama surrounding the 1875 Civil Rights Act which was the brainchild of Republican Senator Charles Sumner. For years, he had promoted the bill which banned racial discrimination in public accommodations. On his deathbed, Sumner pleaded with the attorney general about the still un-passed legislation: “You must take care of the Civil Rights bill. My bill. The Civil Rights bill. Don’t let it fail.”
The act passed after Sumner’s death, but the Human Events article summarizes the disappointing political drama that followed:
[quote] [T]hough the law came a decade too late to have much of an impact in the Democratic controlled South, many discriminatory practices in the northern states were eliminated. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1883. The majority opinion declaring that the fourteenth amendment guarantees did not extend to acts by private citizens and businesses was the reason the 1964 Civil Rights Act would have to be based more tenuously on the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce.
Nine decades would pass before the Republican Party was able to enact further civil rights legislation. President Dwight Eisenhower, Republican, signed into law the 1957 Civil Rights Act, whose author was a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Enforcement was improved by the GOP’s 1960 Civil Rights Act. Three years later, Republican congressmen introduced a bill guaranteeing equal access to public accommodations. The Kennedy administration countered with a weaker version of this bill which then became the basis for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Sadly, it was Democratic defiance of the civil rights movement that postponed so much progress from 1866 until 1964. (emphasis mine) [end quote]
Note that President Eisenhower signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the same year Martin Luther King, Jr., formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. So, momentum in favor of civil rights was already very strong at that point. Yet, civil rights advancements are generally perceived to be the result of King’s leadership. By the time King began his work, Republicans were already making great strides on behalf of civil rights and would likely have accomplished more had it not been for nearly a century’s worth of resistance by Democrats.
The Good, the Bad, and the Marxist
Just because Martin Luther King cannot rightly be credited with initiating—or even being the foremost champion of—civil rights, does not mean that his contributions were insignificant. His leadership, though, has a significant downside.
To a large degree, King has been made out to be something he was not. While he may have stood for some aspects of racial equality that we would all agree with, it is also true that the worldview he espoused was democratic socialism. He embraced the notion of redistribution of wealth and even believed in nationalizing some industries.
King’s theology is also a problem. According to a January 15, 2007, San Francisco Gate article entitled, “Writings Show King as a Liberal Christian, Rejecting Literalism,” King’s own writings show him to be a liberal Christian who disparaged a literal interpretation of God’s Word. In fact, his thought was the precursor to today’s social gospel, and King knew who to give credit to. He greatly respected Walter Rauschenbusch, the Fabian socialist originator of the social gospel. As we’ve already discussed, the social gospel is not the biblical gospel. It promotes a changing of people’s economic condition rather than spiritual condition.
Regarding King’s non-literal interpretation of the Bible, King did not, for example, believe that the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale was true. Neither did he believe that John the Baptist actually met Jesus, and he doubted the virgin birth of Christ. With these examples in mind, it is not surprising, then, that King once referred to the Bible as “mythological.” Recounting the input of Stanford professor, Clayborne Carson, who had reviewed King’s personal writings with widow Coretta Scott King, the San Francisco Gate article reports:
[quote] “[King] wanted to develop an intellectually respectable form of Christianity that did not require people to simply abandon their rational critical abilities,” Carson said. The essential truth King saw, according to Carson, was the social gospel—“to see the Bible as a message of spiritual redemption and global social justice.” [end quote]
Not only did King reject central Christian doctrines, he openly called for socialism, as evidenced by this excerpt from one of his speeches:
[quote] We must also realize that the problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.
It is estimated that we spend $322,000 for each enemy we kill in Vietnam, while what we spend on the so-called war on poverty in America is only about $53 for each person classified as poor.
All labor has dignity . . . it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.
America has the opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, and the question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. And the real question is whether we have the will. [end quote]
The truth is, of course, that we will never end poverty. Jesus himself said the poor “will always be with you.” Poverty is with us because we live in a sinful, fallen world—which means people are involved in sinful activities and behavior, many of which lead to poverty. Although not all poor people are poor because they’re directly involved in sinful behavior, we live in a fallen world where even innocent people suffer the consequences of other people’s sinful actions. For instance, children sometimes bear the consequences of the sins of their parents, regardless of what people group they come from. A single mother must bear the results of a father abandoning his family.
King says the solution to these problems is redistribution of wealth. With the statement that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages, he clearly implies that he wants to require mandatory incomes—i.e., minimum wages and more. But what is happening in states and cities pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage? Businesses are leaving or eliminating some of their employees. A mandated wage is not sustainable. Socialists demand hourly wages that cannot be supported by basic economics, and as a result, businesses must eliminate employees in order to survive. And the people who can least afford it will lose their jobs.
King also pontificates about the haves and the have-nots. This is typical Saul Alinsky language, pitting one group of people against another. King’s solution is to restructure the capitalist system toward socialism:
[quote] One day we must ask the question, “why are there 40 million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you’re raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society we’ll call upon to help the discouraged beggars in Life’s Marketplace. That one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water? These are words that must be said. [end quote]
King’s call for “broader distribution of wealth” and “to question the capitalistic economy” are part of the reason the disapproval ratings of his work during his tenure were greater than 60 percent. Many people were listening to the message behind the civil rights message, and they knew his solutions to racial problems would not work.
Socialism will not solve racial problems. In fact, it will make them worse. The people who are hurt most by the welfare system are minorities. America’s war on poverty only created more poverty. That’s why Star Parker, a black American conservative, wrote Uncle Sam’s Plantation—to expose the fallacy and point out that the welfare system merely further enslaves minorities. Socialism does not set people free.
Notice, in particular, that King asked:
The questions sound like a thinly veiled suggestion to nationalize our natural resources. That’s a strategy straight from the Communist Manifesto.
An equally legitimate—but more appropriate question—is: who spent the millions upon millions of dollars exploring for oil, then drilling for it, and then pulling it out of the ground? To say nothing of refining it, transporting it, and setting up a distribution network? Capitalists did that—at huge risk to themselves. Without the profit motive, there’s no rational basis for taking such risks.
And who owns the iron ore? How about the people who own the land from which the iron ore is harvested? How about the people who own the trucks and equipment to mine and transport it? The ones who have invested millions of dollars to extract ore from the ground and make it usable?
Why should someone have to pay a water bill when the world is two-thirds water? Because businessmen put their money at risk to find water, drill for it, and pump it out of the ground. They bought land. They drilled. Then they built pipes. And they pumped that water to homes, so when you turn on a faucet you have running water and don’t have to get up every day with buckets and go to the nearest creek or lake or river or stream. For years in many cities, private companies did all this, putting their capital at risk.
King, on the other hand, is promoting a system proven to fail, create more widespread poverty, and essentially enslave everyone in the system. So, while you might appreciate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stand for civil rights, his solution was 100 percent wrong, unbiblical, unconstitutional, and destructive to the very people he said he wanted to help. With a perspective so antithetical to American capitalism, it is not unreasonable to consider the allegations that King came up with–the solutions he did–because he was surrounded by known members of the US communist party. Even President Kennedy warned him about the company he was keeping.
A recent Twitter feed from CNN reveals the truth of alleging King to be a Marxist. On January 15, 2018, CNN declared that Martin Luther King, Jr., was a socialist “before it was cool,” supposing that these days it is cool to be a socialist.
An article at CNN.com by Peter Dreier completes the picture. Dreier, who is a distinguished professor of politics and chair of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College in Los Angeles, spent nine years as director of housing at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and was senior policy advisor to Boston mayor, Ray Flynn, before joining the Occidental faculty in 1993. His articles have also been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and a wide range of other publications. He has made an in-depth study of socialism in America and wrote a 2015 article for CNN called “What Is Democratic Socialism, American Style?” He lists Martin Luther King, Jr., among American socialists and says of the civil rights leader:
[quote] King believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” In fact, he told his staff, “there must be a better distribution of wealth. And maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” [end quote]
Another article by Dreier, published January 20, 2013, is even more forthright. Entitled “Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint,” Dreier gives this account of King’s perspective:
[quote] [I]n 1966, King confided to his staff, “You can’t talk about solving the economic problems of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you’re messing with folks then. You’re messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water. Because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth. And maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” [end quote]
Dreier also points out that, when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, King observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian “democratic socialism.” He talked openly about the need to confront “class issues” which he described as “the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.” Dr. Dreier further points to a 1961 speech to the Negro American Labor Council in which King said, “call it democracy or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”
Dreier also reveals King’s animosity toward America’s position of leadership in the world. Reflecting King’s evident disdain for American military action, Dreier says that King was initially reluctant to speak out against the war (in Vietnam) because:
[quote] [H]e understood that his fragile working alliance with LBJ would be undone if he challenged the president’s leadership on the war. Nevertheless, he made the break in April 1967 in a bold and prophetic speech at the Riverside Church in New York City entitled, “Beyond Vietnam, a Time to Break Silence.” King called America the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. [end quote]
A friend of mine, Captain Udell Meyers, United States Marine retired, served in Vietnam and explained that King, along with men like Morley Safer and Walter Cronkite, significantly damaged American efforts through talking against the purpose of the Vietnam War, which was to defeat communism. I’ve noted earlier that the former Soviet Union spent large sums to spread disinformation on the Vietnam War and turn the hearts and minds of Americans against defeating the spread of communism. At the time, communists infiltrated Dr. King’s civil rights movement and became some of his closest advisors. The issue was obvious and severe enough that President Kennedy warned Dr. King, in meetings in the Rose Garden, that he should fire the known communists, but King repeatedly refused. Why?
If Dr. King had truly been concerned about the advancement of civil rights, he would not have wanted to damage it by surrounding himself with communists. Kennedy, in fact, had warned that King would undermine the civil rights movement if he kept company with communists. So, was King truly concerned about the civil rights movement, or was he more interested in the advancement of democratic socialism? It’s a fair question for those who are not so concerned about being politically correct that they overlook the difficult facts in King’s background.
Regarding King’s associates, Peter Dreier recounts that King specifically requested the help of socialist Michael Harrington, author of The Other America, to draft a “poor people’s manifesto” to outline King’s goals for change. As a result, a known socialist became a key writer of King’s plan.
Dr. King preached straightforwardly from his convictions as well. At his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on September 30, 1962, King preached a sermon entitled, “Can a Christian be a Communist?” While the official description of the sermon insists that King answered “no” to the question, it does say that King “admonishes individuals unwilling to commit to social justice.” And in the sermon itself, King declared:
"Indeed, it may be that communism is a necessary corrective for a Christianity that has been all too passive and a democracy that has been all too inert."
Harvard University’s Cornell West, himself a radical, essentially called King one of their own in a 2015 article entitled, “The Radical King We Don’t Know: Does America Have the Capacity to Heed the Radical Martin Luther King, Jr., or Must America Sanitize King in Order to Evade and Avoid His Challenge?” West proclaims that “the radical King was a democratic socialist.”
And in 2017, Peter Dreier published an updated version of his earlier article and called it “Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint.” In it, Dreier explains his more recent thinking about King: “he would be in the forefront of the battle for strong gun controls and to thwart the influence of the National Rifle Association if he were alive today.” Dreier also believes King would be “calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education and healthcare.”