Letter From Birmingham Jail

How does king show awareness of the respect for his intended audience of clergymen?

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Dr. King does not limit his argument to abstract virtues of morality, but in fact addresses directly the responsibilities of organized religion, especially in the case of the Christian church. As a Christian minister himself, Dr. King is overall respectful of and optimistic about the potential of the church. And yet he directly chides the clergymen for allowing their organizations to compromise the true mission of the Christian spirit. Contrasting them with the early Christians – who risked persecution and death in order to remake the world and engender justice – he argues that the contemporary church (especially in the South) risks becoming irrelevant as it seeks to protect the status quo rather than challenge people to transcend their weaknesses. His argument grows quite pessimistic, and he warns that the church will one day be judged quite harshly if it does not act for justice. Considering his earlier attack on groups – which he insists are less moral than individuals – the implicit argument seems to be that the church has chosen to support a group mentality of injustice rather than forcing individuals to confront their failures and change.