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Living the Gospel of Life -- Study Guide

Paragraph Two


One of our national heroes is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought for the equality of the Black community. His writings reveal that this struggle was by no means an isolated cause, disconnected from its foundations in the fundamental rights of human beings. Rather, he articulated those foundations. In a Christmas Eve Sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1967, Dr. King declared that the sanctity of life underlies all social justice. He said, "Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God…Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such… And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won't exploit people, we won't trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won't kill anybody."

Dr. Alveda King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and is both a civil rights activist and a pro-life activist. On her website,, she asks, "How can the dream survive if we murder the children?" Recognizing that any struggle for civil rights is meaningless unless the most fundamental right -- life itself -- is secure, she says, "I join the voices of thousands across America who can no longer sit idly by and allow this horrible spirit of murder to cut down, yes cut out and cut away our unborn."

Indeed, it would be a misguided and deeply erroneous position to attempt present efforts for justice and peace as somehow in tension with efforts to restore recognition of the right to life of the unborn. All of these efforts are, instead, essentially integrated in the Gospel's vision of the human person.

Discussion Questions

What are some examples of those who struggle for social justice in American life?

Is the effort to end abortion part of "social justice?"

Further reading

Click here for an article on the relationship between social justice and the right to life.

Click here for more background information on Dr. King's strategies and how they correspond to the pro-life movement.

Click here to read the Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Click here for a column on Dr. King's dream and the pro-life effort.

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