To Save the Soul of the Nation: Martin Luther King, Jr., Christian America, and the Religious Left
Martin Luther King, Jr. argued that America was a Christian nation. What happens when we examine his rhetoric from that contested category? The rhetoric found in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” emphasized rights inherent in the created order. He appears to believe the federal government plays a crucial role in God’s divine plan, but King frames the issue in light of the eighth-century prophets, Paul, and Augustine. Their demands required the nation to be attuned to God’s demands. This essay explores how the emphasis on America’s divine calling framed King’s prophetic engagement on issues like segregation, poverty, and the Vietnam War.