Rev. Kelvin Sauls (File photo)

Scriptures: Isaiah 58:1-12, Mark 8:22-26

Join me in exclaiming blessed 95th heavenly birthday, Dr. King!! Three days before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was set to preach the sermon entitled, “Why America My Go to Hell,” on April 7, 1968, he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis – a place where he gathered with a people to bridge boldly civil and human rights, social and economic justice!

Memphis was the place of profound pain and sagacious sacrifice. Memphis has become a place of affirmation and confirmation for the “Poor People’s March!” Nevertheless, I don’t believe it was an opportunity lost to preach “Why America May Go to Hell”

I am convinced that Dr. King laid out the framework for this sermon in many sanctuaries and streets. Whether in the pulpit or on the pavement, Dr. King dropped sermonic nuggets on the potential proclamation, “Why America May Go to Hell.”

While many will continue to lift up safe and selective aspects from his “I Have a Dream” speech for these annual commemorative events of the life, legacy and ministry of Dr. King – the one who Vincent Harding called “The inconvenient hero” – I’d like to call your attention to two speeches, “The Three Evils of Society,” and “Beyond Vietnam: Time To Break The Silence.”

Delivered at the National Conference on New Politics on August 31, 1967, “The Three Evils in Society” was a follow-up to “Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence, delivered on April  4, 1967, at Riverside Church, in New York City. These two profoundly prophetic proclamations constructed an undeniable and unmistakable bridge between America’s domestic policy towards Black communities and her foreign policies toward countries with a majority people of color population.

Those exposed and deteriorated, this undeniable and unmistakable bridge continues today. Deploying intersectionality and mutuality, Dr. King linked racism, materialism, and war as America’s enduring legislative, economic, and military tanks traveling over many similar bridges today. This is why “America May STILL Go to Hell!”

As one who was directly affected by America’s unapologetic alignment with, and unflinching support of the ideology and theology of apartheid in South Africa, it is no secret, that America has double down on, and level-up in its fueling and funding of the torturous and trauma-infused trifecta of these “Thee Evils” around the world.

In 2024, this trifecta of torture and trauma is STILL going on. It not only continues, but has been updated and expanded – updated technologically and expanded globally! “America May STILL Go to Hell” because collective denialism, deception, discrimination, and division continue to be deployed for the justification and normalization of the “Three Evils.”

Undergirded by a politics of fear and fragility, grievance and gross lies, this campaign of normalization is grounded in otherization. With otherization – accommodation of dehumanization – as its destination, the “Three Evils” now show up globally as structural and systemic racism, plantation, or racial capitalism, and militarism through the war economy of weapons for mass destruction.

Truth be told, all “Three Evils” are committed to disrupting the third reconstruction domestically and destroy threats to neo-colonialism globally. We ought to make no mistake that all “Three Evils” are committed to protect and promote, fuel and fund updated and upgraded versions of settler colonization by “seeing others as walking trees” and commodities for exploitation and domination, marginalization, and annihilation. Plantation or racial capitalism is a pathway to poverty, which is genocide in slow motion. This is why “America May STILL Go to Hell.”

The keyword “may” emphasizes the concern that if the American government – for the people and by the people – do not double-down and level-up in continuing to strategically support the organizing and mobilizing movement of truth and transformation, racial and reparative justice, healing, and hope, then the soul of this nation will continue its trajectory of deterioration and eventual implosion.

But there’s still hope for eyes and ears to be opened, hearts and hands to be liberated, minds, and means to be conscientized. Blinded by the arrogance and ignorance of white supremacy, until America seeks out new eyesight, and stop its ongoing global campaign of otherization, discrimination and marginalization – looking at people as “walking trees” for commodification and exploitation, “America May STILL Go to Hell!”

Infected and affected by a spiritual discipline of fasting that is grounded in the ideology and spirituality of WASP-theology, until America seeks new insight, and stop its global campaign of exploitation, dehumanization and erosion of worker rights, human rights and voting rights, “America May STILL Go to Hell.”

Part 2 will appear in the Jan. 25 issue of the L.A. Sentinel. 

Rev. Sauls preached this sermon at Church of the Advent Episcopal Church in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 14, 2024.