- (Photo: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation, www.mlkmemorial.org)
God does not feature in any of Martin Luther King's quotes carved on the prominent Baptist minister, social activist and civil rights hero's memorial that was dedicated Sunday in Washington D.C.
The new memorial depicting Dr. King was finally dedicated this weekend, after being postponed because of an earthquake that originated in Virginia and swayed Washington, and then because of Hurricane Irene. A prominent element of the memorial is the 450-foot-long crescent-shaped granite Inscription Wall with fourteen of Dr. King's notable quotes engraved in it.
As some Christian observers pointed out recently, none of those quotes mention God since Dr. King was not only an activist, a preacher. The lack of as much as a mention of God on the memorial caused anger among some Christians.
"Dr. King was an ordained Christian minister and pastor who made faith in God and the teachings of Christ the central part of his life and message," the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., commented on the issue in a statement. "The heart of the civil rights movement was rooted in the church and drew its strength from the timeless truths proclaimed by God. Not to include any mention of 'God' in the quotes at the memorial is a betrayal of the life, legacy and teachings embraced and lived by Dr. King."
Mahoney wondered in a press release published Sunday: "How is it possible to have a memorial dedicated to a Christian minister, who based his entire message on faith in God and the teachings of Christ and whose movement was founded in the church and not include even one mention of God?"
"Simply stated, it is very troubling, dishonest, and should be corrected," Mahoney declared.
The quotes that do appear on the wall come from different periods of Dr. King's life – from his rise during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in Alabama in 1955 to the most recent one (as the memorial authorities estimate), taken from his last sermon delivered in Washington at the National Cathedral in 1968, four days before his assassination. The quotes are not arranged chronologically so that visitors can begin reading from any location within the memorial, according to the memorial's website. The selected quotes are meant to represent Dr. King's "universal and timeless messages of Justice, Democracy, Hope and Love."
None of the quotes come from Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, primarily because the entire memorial design is derived from it, the website explains. Another reason officials give is that the famous speech is already commonly known.
Memorial officials were not immediately available to comment on this particular issue.
The Sunday dedication ceremony, which was attended by President Barack Obama and other prominent politicians of both parties, featured a service that ended with a prayer by the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was pastor. Warnock referenced the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in his sermon.
“We hear [King's] voice, not only here, but wherever the cry for freedom and human dignity goes out, from Tahrir Square to Wall Street, from a winding road in Damascus where people cry out against tyranny to a prison yard in Jackson, Georgia, where people dared to cry out for human rights and civil rights with the simple phrase, 'I am Troy Davis.' In their voices we hear Dr. King say injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," he prayed.