As we honor the memory of Rev. MLK Jr. this month, we recall when Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America marched against racial segregation in Selma, Alabama in March of 1965. Archbishop Iakovos famously said that to fight for “the rights of mankind… there are times when we must risk everything.”
In his article, Four Orthodox Christian Lessons from Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew F. Estocin of the Orthodox Christian Network writes that Rev. King’s leadership of the civil rights movement was rooted in his Christian faith. His famous Letter from Birmingham Jail cites four timeless lessons:
- Civil Disobedience Can Serve God’s Purposes | Civil disobedience was used in biblical times by people who were willing to face danger rather than submit to immorality and persecution. As Archbishop Iakovos said in Selma, “We have fought oppressive and repressive political regimes based on Christian principles, for centuries… A Christian must cry out in indignation against all persecution.”
- Being Legal Does Not Mean Being Right | Laws should be just and reflect the law of God. Laws that are immoral or degrading to humans should be questioned and fought.
- Be An Extremist for Love and Truth | Healthy extremism is practiced when you stand up for justice and love in a peaceful way.
- Faith is a Thermostat, Not a Thermometer | Rather than simply reflecting society, we have the power to positively impact society if we try to peacefully end injustice.