The Church should have their doors shut today.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day, and all federal buildings and some corporate buildings are celebrating the legacy that King left by honoring him with a day off of work. But one place that seems to be “open for business” is the church. In my unofficial twitter poll this morning I was shocked to find that almost 95% of churches do not honor today as something to celebrate and are having a normal work day.
You might be wondering “what is the big issue” or uttering “this stupid kid has no clue what he is talking about” that is fine, but I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Let me get a couple of things out of the way
I think these are some of the issues that might be going through the minds of many as we approach the subject of Martin Luther King day an the church
- Churches do not give federal holiday off. This is true, Presidents Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day are days that the church is open and not closed. So I can understand that they do not give federal holiday off, but in my mind MLK day is different, or at least it stands for something different. Though each of those days stand for great things, I do not know if the church should be aligning themselves with each of those.
- Wouldn’t MLK want the church doors to be open? Honestly, I have no clue. Could not speak for the man himself. But I think the issue goes way beyond him wanting to have the churches open and more in respect for what he stood for.
- Does it really matter if the churches are opened or closed? You could say it is the thought that counts. But I do think it is a statement to the community at large that we are joining in the celebration a great mans life. Check out this great comment from Mason Stanley on this issue here
- The door should stay open for people who are hurting and looking for life change. This is another response that I have seen people giving in regards to why the church should not be closed on MLK day. It strikes me as very odd to resort to this approach. Maybe I am being a bit cynical here, but throughout the week (and this is more in regards to the churches that I am familiar with) there is not a ton of people showing up daily for life change. In fact, most churches run like a business 5 out of the 7 days of the week. People come to the office to get their work done in preparation for one day a week. Though people could seriously be seeking out someone to talk to on Monday, January 17th 2011 I think using that as a reason to not close the doors of the church is a bit extreme and pathetic.
These are just a couple of the responses that I have heard or read. They have some validity but I think the issue is much bigger then these reasons. What is the issue you ask?
The issue with having the church doors open on MLK day is simply the message that the church is broadcasting. Lets be honest, racial prejudice and tension is felt in the church still today. This is the 25th anniversary of MLK day, and though we have made huge strides in racial restoration, there seems to still be a huge gap that separates the church and individual races. Some of the most divided places of race can be seen in a church on Sunday morning. Call it style, preference, or the area the church is located, but the divide that is felt in church on Sunday morning is a terrible thing. I know churches have made efforts to be aware of this, but why not go a step further and honor a day that stands for peace, hope, and equality. Why not go out of the way to talk about something that Jesus stood for, the love of your neighbor.
Though the message of love is not represented with a physical building that we call the church, it is a symbol for many in the community. I think (myself included) we have missed an opportunity today to say something by closing the church doors.
Scott Williams said this in regards to this subject:
It’s not merely about MLK the man, but rather the federal holiday in honor of what the man, his ministry and life stood for