"Saint" Martin Luther King Day

A friend of mine calls Martin Luther King “Saint Martin” because you’re more likely to see his picture in many Catholic Churches these days than to see the picture of a saint.

Nine years ago, when Mary and I attended our first Mass together, it was Jan. 16, and MLK day was Jan. 17. Priests were supposed to be talking about “Respect Life.” We attended Mass at the USC chapel, and the priest said, “We’re supposed to talk about ‘Respect Life’ Today. I’m not going to talk about abortion, because that’s too controversial. Instead, I’m going to talk about the Confederate Battle Flag, because that’s a respect life issue, too.”

Anyway, the main reason I bring up Martin Luther King is that, now that the Republicans have proven their total lack of interest in really ending abortion, and many pro-lifers are calling into question the way we’ve made the issue too “Partisan,” I think the example of MLK is worthwhile.

King was, ideologically, more a conservative than a liberal. He leaned Republican. However, he largely refused to adopt a partisan position. He felt the civil rights movement was too important to be tied to either party, and he had a great deal of bipartisan support. Most Republicans favored the Civil Rights Act.

However, Goldwater and a few Republicans opposed the Civil Rights Act on libertarian grounds, arguing it should be done at the state, not federal, level. This sounded too much like “States’ rights”, so King backed LBJ, leading to vast numbers of African Americans registering as Democrats and to the perpetual stigma that “Republicans are racists,” that “conservative” is a euphemism for “racist” and that “Democrats favor racial equality”.

Something similar has happened with the pro-life movement, except we haven’t nearly enjoyed the success of the Civil Rights movement.

The Bush Administration has proven that the pro-life movement has become far too tied to the Republican Party, even as some of the top leaders in the movement, and many of the strongest pro-lifers “down here in the trenches” actually support third parties. Our position is largely attacked, not by any inherent flaws, but by the alleged hypocrisy of our allegiance to Republicans.

That’s not to say I buy the arguments of people who say they’re “pro-life” and voted for Obama. But I do acknowledge that such a thing as a “pro-life Democrat” can exist, so long as that pro-life Democrat actually *does* something.

The right to life is too fundamental to be bound to any particular party’s agenda.

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