Dr. Martin Luther King And The Decline Of High Profile Religious Progressives
Dr. Martin Luther King really represented the last of the high profile religious progressives. His strong support for labor unions or opposition to the Vietnam War were well know areas of his concerns that were beyond his well known support for the new civil rights campaign of the 1960's. Today you can find religious progressives who support social justice for immigrants, opposition to the death penalty, or social justice for the poor among Roman Catholic clergy and some Protestant clergy, or among some Rabbis. But no one seems to equal the status of Dr. Martin Luther King in the high profile status as the most prominent clergy member ever to emerge on the American scene in recent times.
High profile clergy members such as Wilbur Wilberforce in England once helped to end slavery in that nation. In South Africa high profile clergy members such as Archbishop Tutu were once the only publicly allowed opposition to that ugly system based on racial segregation.
The role of the religious community to raise moral issues to move ahead a society socially are very important. The conscience of society needs a strong religious community to voice it's concerns about social evils. The religious right seems to dominate the public debate today, and not always for the good, while the historic voice of progressives of faith often gets drowned out. The issues of the end to slavery and improved civil rights only succeeded because religious community progressives in the U.S. and England made their voices public. Part of their faith compelled them to take a stand in favor of social justice and fairness for all.