Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them, is a spiritually moribund religion in need of new blood. ❧
I read this quote on Nov 29, 2018 12:04pm through @dswanson's post and it has stuck with me. I thought I’d dig up some additional detail on it. It turns out Swanson’s version was a slight misquote/variation and even at that MLK may have been modifying a quote from somewhere else.
King may have adopted this passage from Harry Emerson Fosdick’s The Hope of the World [New York: Harper & Brothers, 1933], p. 25:
“Any church that pretends to care for the souls of people but is not interested in the slums that damn them, the city government that corrupts them, the economic order that cripples them . . . that kind of church, I think, would hear again the Master’s withering words: ‘Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”’
—annotation in The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project (okra.stanford.edu) “Address at the Religious Leaders Conference on 11 May 1959” on page 200