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Biden invokes America’s “battle for the soul” in tribute to Martin Luther King

Biden invokes America's "battle for the soul" in tribute to Martin Luther King

President Joe Biden told Americans to look to the life of Martin Luther King Jr. for lessons on mending divisions, extremism and injustice, Sunday in a sermon in Atlanta marking the national holiday to the slain leader of civil rights.

Biden is the first sitting president to speak at a Sunday service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King preached from 1960 until his death in 1968.

The president, who was invited by the temple’s current pastor, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, focused his message on a common theme: the country and the world are fighting against autocratic forces.

“The fact is that I am here at a critical juncture for the United States and the world, in my view,” said Biden, describing the situation as the “moment of choice.”

“Are we a people who will choose democracy over autocracy?” he asked. “We have to choose a community in the face of chaos. Are we a people who will choose love over hate? These are the questions of our time and the reason I am here.”

King worked for voting rights, Biden said, but “we do well to remember that his mission went even deeper. It was spiritual. It was moral.”

This Sunday would have been King’s 94th birthday. He was murdered at age 39 in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, by segregationist James Earl Ray.

“The battle for the soul of this nation is perennial,” Biden said in his tribute to King. “It’s a constant struggle between hope and fear, kindness and cruelty, justice and injustice.”

Many presidents, including Biden, have visited Ebenezer to honor King, usually at events around his birthday. But Biden was the first to speak from the pulpit at a regular Sunday service.

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Written by Editor TLN

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