Don’t Preach King On King Sunday

King Sunday is rapidly approaching, hence I need to ask white ministers to do something that would seem counterintuitive.

Don’t preach about Martin Luther King Jr.

Instead of preaching ABOUT King, preach about the things King would have preached about; the American Empire. Preach about the multi-headed hydra of materialism, racism, and militarism.

Or you could preach about Jazmine Barnes, the 7-yr-old who was killed while sitting in her mother’s car by a white man in a truck. and connect her to the 16th St Baptist Church bombing victims or Emmett Till.  (you can find info about Jazmine’s murder here, or here) There is even news that this may not be the first time this murderer has struck.

Or you could preach about Cyntoia Brown and how she is still in prison.

Preach about the children who have died at the hands of Homeland Security in the last month.

Preach about the U.S. government’s support of Brazil’s new President; who has promised to strip away the rights of Indigenous Brazilians and other marginalized groups there.

If the shutdown is still going on, you could preach about that.

If you’re determined to preach about a person, pick somebody that most in your congregation have never heard of. It could be one of the many women who sustained the Civil Rights movements. It could be one of the men from the generation that King learned from.

You could preach on the fact that 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in a British colony in North America.  Or you could preach about the 100th anniversary of the Red Summer of 1919. [if you’ve never heard of the Red Summer, you can start here at the Wikipedia page.] Talking about Red Summer would also allow you to talk about the fact that anti-lynching legislation JUST passed in the Senate LAST MONTH.

And if you are just determined to preach King (because I know some of you are just hard-headed), here again are some rules you should follow:

1. Before doing anything else, read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (you can find it here)

2. Do NOT use the “I Have a Dream” speech. I repeat, do NOT use “I Have a Dream”.

3. If you are going to use a King speech, it must be post-1965.

4. Understand that King understood that there is both personal sin and collective/systemic sin. If you are not comfortable saying the word “sin”, do NOT use King. King believed in sin.

5. Read “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” and “Why We Can’t Wait”

These are serious times. If you are going to preach King, please preach him responsibly.


10 thoughts on “Don’t Preach King On King Sunday

  1. Dear Kim – thank you for suggestions and links. May I have your permission to forward your message to the members of the Pacific Central Chapter of the UUMA? Mary

    Reverend Mary Foran

    Spiritual Direction


    Affiliated Community Minister, First Unitarian Church of Oakland

    Justice Council Coordinating Team

    Adult Faith Development Team

    President, Pacific Central Chapter of the

    Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association

    “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”

    Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi

  2. I wanted to thank you for this – deeply. While my church is no longer minister-led, we are a mostly white congregation and our leadership needed to hear this message.

    I read your post to my Worship Team this evening and we’ve committed to following through and building our service around the work before us and not about King himself.

    We are grateful for your calling in.

    Heide Cottam UU Church of Ogden (Utah)

    Sent from my iPhone

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  5. Thank you for this. I preached about reparations which I would not have done if I was preaching on King – not because he didn’t but because of the rut I have clearly gotten in thinking about how we live with his legacy. So, thank you.

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    • Thank you, Seth for posting your comment. I recently read this as a reading at our church after my reverend found it here. It was a day after it was shown that she was not killed by a white man, but I hadn’t seen the news. I am disappointed to have shared it with my congregation. I was reminded in this instance, how important it is for information to be accurate and thoroughly investaged before jumping to our own conclusions based on media accounts.

      Also, I’m wondering about the claim that children at the border died “at the hands of homeland security.” Would “in the hands” be more accurate/ less inflammatory? Or, should I be educating myself more on these two deaths?

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