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Rev. King relied on faith, prayer to fight racism, Virginia bishop says


  • ...A woman holds a placard with an image of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during a silent prayer walk near his memorial in Washington April 4, 2018. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
  • ...The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is seen in Washington Jan. 17, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
  • ...People are seen at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington at dawn April 4, 2018. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
  • ...Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va., is seen in this 2016 file photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • ...President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are pictured in this 1966 photo. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law July 2, 1964. (CNS photo/Yoichi Okamoto, courtesy LBJ Library)

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ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King, the slain civil rights leader who is honored with a federal holiday the third Monday of January, "relied upon faith and prayer" to combat the racism and prejudice he and other U.S. Blacks suffered, said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington.

In a statement issued Jan. 15, on what would have been Rev. King's 92nd birthday, Bishop Burbidge said: "Through Dr. King's witness and the power of his echoing words, he championed the inherent God-given dignity of all persons, particularly those subjected to bigotry and prejudice."

He added, "In his courageous fight against racism and bigotry, Dr. King relied upon faith and prayer. Hope and transformative love were central to his message, as he reminded us, 'Hate is too great a burden to bear.'"

Bishop Burbidge said, "Sadly, despite significant achievements, the sin of racism continues to affect men, women and children in communities across the nation. As we work to address this evil, we must remember that what we ultimately seek is a genuine conversion of hearts that will compel change."

He added, "Together, let us pray that those harboring the burden of hate yield to the Prince of Peace, the source of salvation and love, Jesus Christ."

"Our world has dramatically changed" from the last King holiday, said Bernice King, Rev. King's youngest child, during a Jan. 11 forum, "The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community."

King took note of the coronavirus pandemic, which exposed "the fault lines" of racial inequity.

"We were also forced to come face to face with our nation's racist reality" and "the depth of the hate and disdain for Black lives," she said, citing the "violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor" and so many others," followed by "protests the likes of which the world has not seen before."

On top of those, King said, the United States conducted "the world's most costly, contentious and challenging election of our times, which threatened to disenfranchise millions of voters," And after that, a mob sought to "stop the democratic process, incited by this country's leader," she added.

"This," she noted, "has been a year of extremes. We've experienced extremes in our stock market, extreme darkness, extreme unemployment, extreme underemployment, extreme homelessness -- extreme distancing where many have not seen loved ones in person for almost a year or stepped into one another's homes."

Moreover, King said, there was "extreme militarism with our police" plus "loss of life, loss of business, even extreme of loss of civility. ... Humanity now beckons us with a sense of urgency to shift in these hours to save the very soul of our nation."

She added, "We not only believe the beloved community can not only be achieved, but must be achieved with great urgency" so the nation can move "toward a more humane, suitable and peaceful society."

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