Greetings from Father Thomas

We are so glad that you found our site!  There are as many reasons as there are people as to why individuals look for and come to a church.  No one reason is any better than another, so whatever brought you to us be assured that we are happy that you are here!!

You will find that we are an eclectic group of individuals made up of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds.  Some of us are conservative, some liberal; some are cradle Episcopalians while others of us have had a more circuitous path and come from various denominational backgrounds.  We all carry with us the scars of life, but what joins us together and serves as our common ground is our desire to know and follow Jesus!

So regardless of what brought you here, or what "baggage" you carry, know that you are welcome and we invite you to come along on our journey of faith!!

The Rev. Thomas J. Mitchell



 Francis, Rebuild My Church (Sept. 2021)

I would guess that most people, regardless of their level of religious experience and formation, know that St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals (and the patron saint of ecology!!).  St Francis' official feast day is October 4th.  On his feast, we bless all of God's animals...big and small.  Legend has it that a wild wolf was terrorizing the people in the city of Gubbio, Italy.  Francis went and approached the wolf's den and the wolf ran towards Francis with his mouth wide open to attack him.  Francis responded with a command:  "Come Brother Wolf, I will not hurt you.  Let us talk in peace", and he blessed the wolf.  Hence, the blessing of animals on the feast of St. Francis.

But, there is another legend regarding Francis, one that I think is more crucial to the work of God's people.  When Francis was a young man, he could not decide what to do with his life.  His wealthy father wanted him to work in the family business, but that did not interest him at all.

One day, Francis found himself wandering about the outskirts of his home town of Assisi, oblivious to his suroundings.  That is, until he came upon the little church of San Damiano.  It appeared to be sorely neglected, and in need of repair.  Francis entered the church and knelt in front of a large cross.  He prayed, "Lord, what do you want me to do?", he asked, "Show me what you want me to do with my life."  As he continued to kneel in deep prayer, Francis heard a voice respond, "Francis, go and rebuild my church which you can see is falling down."  Francis began to repair the little church and restore it to what it once was.  As he worked on the repairs, it dawned on him that it was not the physical building to which the voice was referring, but to build the human institution that was close to collapsing.

Now, 795 years after St. Francis, the church, once again, needs shoring up.  It is not the physical building that is in need, but the People of God, who appear to be on the verge of collapse.

When God asked Francis to rebuild his church, he did so.  Not matter who we are or what we do, God calls us into relationship with him.  Like Francis, who knelt before the cross in the little church of San Damiano, we need to keep our gaze on Jesus, who beckons us to follow him.  It is time we rebuild Christ Church!


Fr. Thomas +









 (The following letter was written by Martin Luther King...a must read!!)

A Letter from Birmingham Jail
16 April 1963

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present
activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought
to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other
than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But
since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want
to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which
argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta,
Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the
Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial
resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call
to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented,
and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am
here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century
B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home
towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the
far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own
home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in
Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow,
provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an
outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails
to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that
none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with
effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking
place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro
community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether
injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in
Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact thatracial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham
is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved
bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the
hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the
city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community.
In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove
the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and
the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all
demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken
promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences,
our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no
alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of
laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties
involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on
nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are
you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter
season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a
strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be
the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily
decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public
Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to
postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the
issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured
postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action
program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?"
You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent
direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly
refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer
be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound
rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed
violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just
as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from
the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal,
so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men
rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and
brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will
inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long
has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in
Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?"
The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded
about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election

of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more
gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status
quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to
desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must
say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent
pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges
voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as
Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be
demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well
timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now
I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has
almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice
too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia
and Africa aremoving withjetlike speed toward gaining politicalindependence,but we still creep at horse
and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have
never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch
your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate
filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority
of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent
society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain
to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised
on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored
children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her
beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when
you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat
colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after
night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are
humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name
becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes
"John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day
and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite
knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are
forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult
to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be
plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable
impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a
legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954
outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us
consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying
others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first
to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.
Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that
"an unjust law is no law at all".

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?
A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code
that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is
a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is
just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because
segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of
superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the
Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends
up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and
sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin isseparation. Is not
segregation an existentialexpression of man's tragicseparation, his awful estrangement, his terrible
sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally
right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical
or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is
difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow
and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law
is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in
enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's
segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used
to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though
Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted
under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a
charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires
a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and
to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or
defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust
law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual
who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of
imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing
the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the
refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a
higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face
hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the
Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil
disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the
Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" toaid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's
Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted

my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian
faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that
over the past few years Ihave been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached
the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the
White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order"
than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is
the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree
with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another
man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for
a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than
absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than
outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of
establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams
that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the
present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in
which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men
will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct
action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already
alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured
so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light,
injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and
the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they
precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his
possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his
unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided
populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God
consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must
come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to
cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society
must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject
the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white
brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights
eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two
thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an
attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is
something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be
used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time
much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not
merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good
people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of
men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the
forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to

do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national
elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand
of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow
clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that
I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made
up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a
sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes
who, becauseof a degree of academic and economicsecurity andbecausein some ways they profit by
segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness
and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black
nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah
Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of
racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have
absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism"
of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way
of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the
way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now
many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that
if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ
nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out
of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that
would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressedforever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself,
and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his
birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or
unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist,and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown
and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a
sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has
engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking
place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let
him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to
understand why he must do so. If his repressedemotions are not releasedin nonviolent ways, they will
seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people:
"Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I havetried to say that thisnormal and healthy discontent can be
channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed
extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to
think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an
extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and
pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let
justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist
for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an
extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to
the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot

survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all
men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of
extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation
of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were
crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism.
Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was
an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South,
the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I
expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can
understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the
vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful,
however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution
and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -
such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton
Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us
down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the
abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their
moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for
powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major
disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course,
there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some
significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past
Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic
leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the
church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the
church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who
has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few
years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and
rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents,
refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have
been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of
stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership
of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the
channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you
would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a
desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow
this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of

blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and
mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation
of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the
gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other
worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred
and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On
sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with
their lofty spirespointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious
education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who
is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of
interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance
and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided
to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church.
But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there
is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of
being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of
Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of
being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at
being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a
thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that
transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power
became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace"
and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of
heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were
too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end
to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the
contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender
of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the
average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the
sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be
dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young
people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status
quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the
church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God
that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains
of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure
congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of

the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed
from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in
the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that
has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope
through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of
this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the
future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present
misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the
goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's
destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the
majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more
than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built
the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a
bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not
stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage
of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel
impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly
commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you
would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into
unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to
observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them
push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro
men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food
because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense
they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the
evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence
demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is
wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps
even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have
been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral
means of nonviolence to maintain the immoralend of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last
temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime
courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day
the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose
that enablesthem to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes
the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two
year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people
decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who
inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school
and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and
nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South
will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality

standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian
heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the
founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can
assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what
else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts
and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I
beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience
that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for
me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a
Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep
fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant
tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their
scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr.