Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dr Martin Luther King : A Man of Action, Not Self Serving Sermons.

Dr King Marching For Jobs and Justice. 
Today would have been the 85th birthday of Dr Martin Luther King, the global icon for the struggle for  equality human rights and justice.

In these neoliberal time there has been a determined effort to repackage Dr King and his legacy and represent him as a nothing more that a non threatening negroe.

Such is the power of this transformation, that right wing politicians have no problem embracing what they see as Kings message of racial equality and non violence. Whilst they focus on these fundamental principles, they conveniently forget the reality of Dr Kings profound message of economic justice, his opposition to the Vietnam war and his demand for economic reparations for African Americans.

This is the radical  Dr King they don't want you to see .  The question for our modern day clergy today is why have none of our religious leaders here in the UK, particularly in the Black Church movement  taken up the mantle of Dr King?

Too many Churches have become a businesses rather than a movement of faith for justice and equality .

Despite the increase in racism and discrimination here in the UK, we rarely see the massive organisational capacity of the black Church used to challenge racism and injustice. Whilst much good work is done in meeting the pastoral needs of their congregations, this alone cannot address the root cause of our continued poverty and discrimination.

Nor can blind faith in the free market and capitalism. It is my faith, for I am a man of faith, inspired by Dr King, that the injustices and evils  of poverty, ignorance, discrimination and war must be opposed.

To many of our Church leaders compete with each other to try and secure the biggest share of the black Christian market. Many of our Pastors  today, have become more like CEO's of multi million pound industries, competeing with one another at the expense of securing radical and fundamental political reforms, capable of easing the acute economic injustice faced by many in our communities,

As the austerity crisis deepens and the Government pursues policies that reward the rich and punishes the poor ,with an almost evangelical zeal, the Black church remains silent on our suffering. Content, as many of them are, with making serious money and the acquisition of new churches.  Too many of our Churches have become inured into Capitalism and stand in spectacular awe of money, worshiping graviliscouly at the altar of the Mammon

Their reluctance too engage with politics remained today just as it did in the time of Dr King. His  famous Letter From A Birmingham Jail was a response and a rebuke to pastors who had wrote a letter opposing his visit to Birmingham Alabama. Their letter accused Dr King of being an opportunist rabble rouser  rouble rouser, a radical and a dangerous extremist. This is the tradition and culture I see dominating too many of our Black Churches in Britain today. I see quiet compliance with the status qou and lazy interpretation of biblical scripture that witnesses the suffering of our people with a callous indifference camouflaged behind a misinterpretation of the bible into the adoration of Capitalism and the predatory and destructive free market.

Meanwhile Black communities and poor whites in Britain become further immisrated, unjustly criminalised, economically vandalised and whose children now look out  onto the bleak desolate horizon of a future, destroyed by complacency, blighted by the sheer greed and apathy of their parents generation.

Racism and economic injustice are getting worse. 60% Black youth unemployment, black woman forced into mass redundancies in the public sector, increases in higher education fees that leave our young people excluded form opportunity and a criminal justice system infected with a culture of  institutionalised racism that has, in recent years seen a huge increase in the return of criminalisation of large sections of our communities and a huge rise in deaths in custody.  Justice before the law as equal citizens in Britain today is an illusion dependant which school you went to your ethnicity and class.

The fight against austerity is a fight against economic tyranny and injustice and just as Dr King recognised the importance of making alliances with between African Americans suffering Jim Crow racism and poor whites suffering poverty wages, so must the Black Church begin to reach out and adopt a progressive agenda for social and economic justice.

Minimally all Churches could embark upon a mass voter registration campaign that would have the immediate consequence of increasing the political pressure on MP's to come to the negotiating table on these issues,  before a single vote is cast.

Rising voter registration roll's would  mortify local councils and Government in the run up to the next general election, but to be successful, that work must start now.

Politicians rely on the fact that the poorest section of our communities don't vote. They build this into their political calculations allowing them to patronise the poor and reward the rich

To secure a future for all our children the Church must act and act now. This is the dream of Dr King , the example of Christ himself in throwing the money lenders from the temple. Christ was a revolutionary and so was Dr King.

The war of economic injustice rages and the tragic casualties of the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded mount up in terrifying numbers and with the most dreadful consequences. As we pray on our knees we see our children's futures being eviscerated by those in power. Any people who are morally ambivalent in the face of such injustice are as guilty as those who perpetrate econmic violence on the poor.