#MLKToo: Civil Rights Icon and Baptist Minister’s Sexual Misconduct Revealed in Detail

In April of 2018, the Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC) jointly hosted the MLK50 Conference. The stated purpose of the conference was “to reflect on the state of racial unity in the church and the culture” fifty years after the assassination of venerated civil rights icon and Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr. The MLK50 conference was named after King despite his documented history of theological liberalism and serial philandering. While King was a champion of equality, he was anything but a Christian. As History reveals itself, it is becoming much more apparent what a detriment Martin Luther King, Jr was to the health of the church. His legacy should reflect this.

Yesterday, The Daily Mail published an article which included startling claims by King biographer David Garrow. According to Garrow, secret FBI recordings made of King provide evidence of numerous sexual offenses. The most serious is that King watched and laughed as his friend, pastor Logan Kearse, raped one of his own parishioners at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC. The Daily Mail reports of the incident:

The following day, King and a dozen others allegedly participated in a ‘sex orgy’ engaging in ‘acts of degeneracy and depravity’. When one woman showed reluctance, King was allegedly heard saying that performing the act ‘would help your soul’.

The secret recordings of King exist because, as a suspected communist, he was under frequent FBI surveillance. These recordings are due to be released by the US National Archives in 2027. At the time, perhaps the depths of King’s depravity will finally be known.

In April of 2019, the same ERLC that hosted the MLK50 Conference announced its plan to change the theme of its 2019 annual Conference from “Gospel Courage: Truth and Justice in a Divided World,” to “Caring Well: Equipping the Church to Confront the Abuse Crisis”. This announcement comes on the heels of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. That ERLC would host a conference named after a philandering womanizer and subsequently host a new conference about equipping the church to handle abuse is stupefying.

MLK is long dead, the victim of a vicious public assassination. He is not around to answer for his lifestyle of serial sexual misconduct while serving as an ordained Baptist pastor. The leadership of the ERLC, however, is still very much alive. The ERLC should be brought to account for lionizing a minister as wicked as King. If the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements are to have lasting effect, men like MLK will no longer have federal holidays and Christian conferences named after them.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant