Today in the USA we celebrate the life of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
As I think about his life I’m reminded of an excerpt I read from his book Strength to Love:
Men convinced themselves that a system that was so economically profitable must be morally justifiable. They formulated elaborate theories of racial superiority. Their rationalizations clothed obvious wrongs in the beautiful garments of righteousness. […] Religion and the Bible were cited to crystallize the status quo. Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro.
So men conveniently twisted the insights of religion, science, and philosophy to give sanction to the doctrine of white supremacy. Soon this idea was embedded in every textbook and preached in practically every pulpit. It became a structured part of the culture. And men then embraced this philosophy, not as the rationalization of a lie, but as the expression of a final truth. They sincerely came to believe that the Negro was inferior by nature and that slavery was ordained by God.
Years later and this can describe many of the race relations still facing our nation. He then brings it all back to this verse in Luke that quotes Jesus before his crucifixion:
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Dr. King was also a Baptist Minister and by tying it back to these ten words it would have been a powerful statement to those he was trying to reach.