The Common Good

Ecumenical group pledges to act on King’s jail message

"We must become troublemakers for the beloved community." So Congressman John L. Lewis (D-Ga.) invited members of the ecumenical group Christian Churches Together to enact a new response to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Acting on their declaration to become "extremists for love, justice, and peace in Christ" will be no easy task for Christian Churches Together members, who gathered April 14-15 in Birmingham, Ala., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King's letter. It will be no easy task because white norms and culture still dominate many churches. Or, to rephrase Jesus in Mark 10:25, it may be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for white people to enter the kingdom of God. One of the crises of our day is that predominantly white churches may not recognize this moral and spiritual peril.

Lisa Sharon Harper, Sojourners' director of mobilizing, underscored how our churches have a "separation problem" both in terms of geographical segregation and from the Gospel. The problem of separation creates "fertile ground for White Citizens' Councils" and movements that deny the rights of new immigrants.