Interview with Dennis Day
[In order to clarify some of the assertions made by the Moderator of this special gathering, we conducted a telephone interview with him.]
A resident of New York City and member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Dennis Day speaks passionately about racial equality and the need for "Pan-Africanism"_that is, a belief in an overall African consciousness for blacks and a celebration of the contributions of black people like himself.
Mr. Day defined racism as "the belief of an individual or a group in the innate inferiority of another individual or group, and, on the basis of that belief, oppressing, misusing, or exploiting that particular individual." He defined sexism as the "propensity of one sex to exploit, denigrate, or oppress the opposite sex on the basis of the belief in the inherent inferiority of that particular sex," adding that "any distinction that results in the oppression or the violation of the rights or humanity of that particular group would be a racist distinction." However, he denied that the PCA, which does not ordain women, is a sexist denomination.
When asked why W. E. B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, given their negative reputations (including association with socialism and communism), should be held up as role models for Christians, he responded, "Well, wouldn't you believe that Martin Luther King should be held up as a role model for Christians? . . . Why would he not be included as a role model for Christians? It's a peculiar question to me to even ask. . . ." When asked about the apparent facts that King was a plagiarizer and an adulterer, Mr. Day replied, "I don't know any of those to be apparent distinctions about the efficacy of Martin Luther King as a role model to Christians. Typically, the overall conventional wisdom is that, given the entire historic contributions of men and women to Christendom, that he would be one of the more suitable or likeable prominent role models, along the historical plane of time. I find the question reprehensible, actually." When asked if, in light of King's apparent lack of proclamation of the gospel, he believes that King was a Christian minister of the gospel, Mr. Day stated, "Unequivocally, yes, I believe he was a Christian minister of the gospel." When asked about whether King preached justification by faith alone, salvation by grace alone, and imputation of Christ's righteousness_doctrines which Reformed Christians would understand as the heart of the gospel_Dennis Day replied, "You do qualify Christendom as being of the Reformed Christian. I don't make that distinction necessarily as to whether or not he was a preacher of the gospel of Christ. We are taught in our Reformed belief to lift up all Christianity. The defining definition of that would be those who lift up the gospel of Jesus Christ_that He lived, died, was resurrected, and returned to the right hand of the Father. I certainly believe that that's the gospel that Dr. King preaches, and I would thusly impute that he was a Christian minister on that basis."
The interviewer made reference to Mr. Day's statement that King and Malcolm X "consistently throughout their lives placed principles over values"; and started to ask a question prefaced by reference to the fact that King was a plagiarizer and an adulterer. Mr. Day interrupted by asserting, "I trust the entire interview will include the entire context of your prefacing questions along with my responses, because I regard the prefaces as being rather prejudicial." He then responded to the question this way: "As far as I know, my Bible tells me that all have sinned; according to the Word of God, all have sinned. It means the three gentlemen in question, it means myself, and it certainly means you. So in terms of any indictment of their veracity, of their moral turpitude, or of their Christian character, or, in Malcolm's case, for that matter, his Islamic character, which I don't believe that they espouse a life of unrighteousness, of sin, albeit I am not of the same religious persuasion, nonetheless, there is a whole body of principles to which that religion ascribes_that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord. To isolate any infringement, whether it be plagiarism or adultery, the alleged incidents as cited by King's critics, I find to be spurious arguments as to the overall caliber of the principles on which he based the predominance of his life and his life's work. And the adherence to those principles over the course of his life, I think according to those who awarded him the Nobel Prize, is somewhat indisputable. I would cast my lot on the side of the committee for the Nobel Peace Prize with regard to the overall character of King's life."
[David J. Garrow's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of King, Bearing the Cross, documents that the FBI followed King from hotel to hotel and recorded his bedroom exploits. Noted historian Stephen B. Oates, in Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), says, ". . . King felt guilty about his sexual transgressions. . . . [I]n moments of loneliness, beset with temptation, he would succumb again to his human frailities. Perhaps these were weighing on him when he asserted in a speech that segregation was 'the adultery of an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality' and could not 'be cured . . . by the Vaseline of gradualism'" (p. 283). Oates also quoted Time magazine's quotation of King: "'If you are cut down in a moment that is designed to save the soul of a nation, then no other death could be more redemptive'" (p. 285)._Ed.]