The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Boundaries of Law, Politics, and Religion
Taylor, Jeffrey Wayne, Journal of Church and State
The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Boundaries of Law, Politics, and Religion. By Lewis V. Baldwin, with Rufus Burrow, Jr., Barbara A. Holmes, and Susan Holmes Winfield. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002. XX + 3.16 pp. $24.95 paper; $42.95 cloth.
This book consists of six essays, each describing an aspect of King's thought and actions, and then assessing (or proposing) King's legacy in that area. Four essays are by King scholar Lewis V. Baldwin of Vanderbilt University. In "To Witness in Dixie," Baldwin examines King's impact un the South. Placing King within the context of those reformers advocating a New South, he argues that the civil rights movement made progress toward creating an integrated New South, though deep-seated racism remains. Baldwin also maintains that King helped to create a hiracial Southern Civil Religion challenging the traditional white Southern Civil Religion. In "On the Relation of the Christian to the State," Baldwin presents King's understanding that the church is to act as the conscience of the state. Baldwin also argues that today's politically active Christian conservatives are not truly following King's lead since their policies lead to exclusion, rather than to the creation of an inclusive Beloved Community. In "American Political Traditions and the Christian Faith," Baldwin portrays King as both an idealist and a realist. King's idealism is seen in the use he made of America's founding documents, interpreting them not by original intent, but in terms of Christian hope. King's realism is seen in his clear-eyed view that neither political party could be trusted absolutely. According to Baldwin, King's legacy demands today that we combine mass social protest with electoral politics in pursuit of the common good. …