Some conservative Christian leaders are using Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday that bears his name to push their support for President-elect Donald Trump.
Evangelist Franklin Graham referred to Martin Luther King Jr. Day as "Religious Freedom Day" on Jan. 16, and mentioned King in his Facebook posting on Jan. 16:
Today is Religious Freedom Day. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right." Christians in America and around the world are taking that stand every day for their religious beliefs...
With Donald J. Trump and a new administration about to take office in Washington, I am praying that our freedom to publicly live out our faith in this country will be preserved. Let’s continue to pray for that and to stand boldly for God and His Word.
Graham falsely claimed in an August 2016 Facebook posting that Black Lives Matter had been "calling for violence against police." Graham also used the familiar push back slogan: "All lives matter."
In his Jan. 16 Facebook posting, Graham referred to fellow Trump supporter and leader of the Christian-based Family Research Council Tony Perkins, who wrote an op-ed for FoxNews.com on Jan. 16 that also invoked King's name:
His religious beliefs and the freedom to exercise and speak out based on those beliefs were essential to his advocacy for nonviolence as means of achieving civil rights for African-Americans. As King reminded us, "[o]ur lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Yet without a public square that was open for religious conviction to work and speak, his efforts would not have met the success they did.
Later in his article, Perkins called on Trump to push religious freedom in the military:
What specifically can President-elect Trump do to demonstrate his commitment to the issue of religious liberty which motivated so many voters to turn out and vote?
To start, religious liberty in the military needs to be addressed. Over the past several years we have witnessed chaplains being disciplined for their faith, and religious speech being censored. President-elect Trump can direct that religious liberty in the military be clarified and strengthened, and that appropriate training is conducted to ensure the law is followed.
Perkins linked to a mention of Navy Chaplain Wes Modder, who was not disciplined for his personal religious faith, but was accused of making anti-gay remarks and scolding people for having sex outside of marriage, noted the Military Times.
Perkins also linked to a story on CNSNews.com about a cadet who wrote a Bible verse on a whiteboard at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The verse was later erased because it promoted Christianity in the government setting.
Perkins called for Trump to make religious freedom "integrated into all foreign policy of the United States at every level," and said "government nondiscrimination legislation is needed to protect supporters of marriage between one man and one woman."
Perkins did not say why people who support heterosexual marriage need legal protection.
Neither Graham or Perkins mentioned Trump's stark difference from King, who fought and died for racial equality.
The Huffington Post noted in March 2016 that Trump was sued by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly discriminating against black people in 1973. Trump settled that case, but was sued again in 1978 for allegedly violating the settlement terms of the 1973 case.
Trump also paid for a full-page ad calling for the death penalty in 1989 in response to the so-called "Central Park Five," five black and Hispanic teens wrongly jailed for the rape of a white woman in Central Park.
Trump also made disparaging remarks about black people during a rally, noted The Huffington Post:
What do you have to lose? You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?...
Look, it is a disaster the way African-Americans are living... We’ll get rid of the crime. You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.