Rev. Dr. Louis Blake Hathorn, a native of Noxapater, Mississippi, a former educator, and community leader, has been the Sheppard of Sweet Home M.B. Church in Lexington, Mississippi for over four decades.
He serves on the board of several organizations in Holmes and Winston Counties. Hathorn obtained a B.S. in Agriculture from Alcorn State University, and a MA, a PhD in Theology from Abundant Blessings Seminary.
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Reverend Dr. Louis Blake Hathorn, Jr. tackles the influence of Christianity on social change challenges in American history from Colonial America of the 17th and 18th Century to the continuing human rights struggles of the 21st Century.
He drew on his personal experiences as a pastor of over 40 years at Sweet Home MB Church of Lexington, Mississippi. He is a veteran activist for civil rights in a state known for its historic oppression of African Americans, other minorities and its indigenous Native Americans.
Social Justice and Christianity lays out the dichotomy within the Christian church, also found in other religions, between the repressive policies resulting in grave injustice opposing the principles of love, forgiveness and non-violence.
Historically, the established American Christian church, supported by the powerful economic and political privileged class, maintained and aided the sins of slavery and prejudice that entrap and disenfranchise persons of color. Nowhere is this social and political tension presented more clearly than in the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” authored April 16, 1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while incarcerated.
Dr. Hathorn explores the historic influence found in the African American Christian church that shouted out the principles of love, forgiveness, and non-violence as the appropriate modus operandi for social change in America.
He recounts the terrible effects of slavery, racial segregation and unfair treatment of persons of color, and women and children from Colonial American to the present 21st Century challenges.
In Colonial America, the Quakers spoke out against the sins of slavery, urged an end to slavery, the disenfranchisement of women, and policies of violence against America’s indigenous people.
Colonial American was a violent place. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, “This nation was born in genocide…” From the beginning of the European and slave trade settlements in America, oppressive policies impacting African Americans and non-white people were institutionalized and those remnants remain into the 21st Century.
Social protests for justice and equality in all facets of American life remain controversial even as the prophetic Christian voice call for social change.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized the principles of love and non-violence as strong themes in other world religions. He drew on the inspiration of Mohandas Gandhi, the Southeast Asian political and human rights activist of the Hindu faith who stated, “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind…”
Other religions as well contained such prophetic strains of faith: Judaism has the Masorah. Islam has the Hadith. The 2014 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, exclaimed after getting the honor, “People should respect each other and… fight for the rights of women, children and of every human being.”
Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” represents perhaps the greatest expression of love, forgiveness and non-violence; it was born out of King’s anguish, and suffering during his incarceration in jail. Here, the prophetic voices of Christianity, directed at the prominent white ecclesiastical infrastructure in Alabama, justified the need for non-violent protest.
Dr. Hathorn described Dr. King’s impact from the Birmingham jail, and later in 1963 at the March on Washington as a joint venture of the prophetic African American Christian forces and the American Labor Movement.
The march was convened August 28, 1963 by Civil Rights activist A. Phillip Randolph, the labor leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
Besides the powerful “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. King, the United Auto Workers (UAW) President, Walter Reuther, gave a rousing speech in support of civil rights, for jobs and non-violence tactics.
Dr. Hathorn displayed his concern for the plight of Mexican farmworkers in his book. The UAW supported, not only African American rights, but also the rights of Native Americans, and other farmworkers.
The Center for Community Change supported the work of Cesar Chavez who was the champion fighter for the rights and fair wages of farmworkers.
As if to answer the question in Dr. King’s book, “Where do WE Go From Here,” Dr. Hathorn exclaimed there remains a long, struggle ahead to deal with the throes of injustice that still ensnarl those of color, who practice a different culture, speak a different language, and who were rendered hewers of wood.
The work must go on! And Dr. King offers the mantra, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The book, Social Justice and Christianity, by the Reverend Dr. Louis Blake Hathorn, Jr. is a must read.
The Reverend G. David Singleton is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton Theological Seminary. Mr. Singleton was ordained by the Presbytery of San Francisco and has spent his career serving low-income African American, Latino, and Native American communities in South Bronx, New York, Jefferson County, Alabama, and California.
Advance Praise for Social Justice and Christianity
Christian education isn’t confined to reading the gospel according to John, Mark, Matthew or Luke. Therefore, anyone interested in understanding how Christianity has impacted American culture should read Social Justice and Christianity by Dr. Rev. Louis B. Hathorn. Not only will the reader learn how Christianity was imported into American society, they will have a better understanding of why the church is the center of black life.
Alice Thomas Tisdale, Publisher
This is a much needed book to be read by all ages but especially today’s youth. Social Justice and Christianity is a challenging and research-based book on social justice as it relates to Christianity and its effect on slavery, equality, and humanity, spurred by different religious leaders, philosophers and organizations in various social change movements. Congratulations and we are thankful for the visionary leadership of this author.
Dr. Pastella Hampton, Coauthor, First Kindergarten Handbook for Mississippi Teachers and Administrators
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I read “Social Justice and Christianity” in two days. I think every H.S. student in the county should read it. Rev. Hathorn spoke about social justice issues going back 500 years. Then, he brought it up to date to voter suppression and the fight for $15 per hour. He mentioned Africa, Brazil, England, France, America, Mississippi, NY, SC, AL…
Queen Elizabeth’s law that ordered poor whites to be put in work houses in the early 1600s made me think about the -black codes- because the government was putting poor people in the hands of business. Sounds like modern society. He described Boston in Colonial America – 1 percent -25 people owned all the property.
He compared the laws in the Congo in West Africa to those in England. Children were fined in Africa but hung in England for stealing a rag of cloth.
The slave revolts on the islands and in New Orleans. Had never heard about most of them. Slave catchers were buying slaves for 40 guilders and selling them in South America for 200 to 800 guilders. The profit was mind blowing. It was evil. all of it. I feel better for learning new facts about it.
Slave traders got out the business. That’s how evil it was.
He ended the book with this quote:
“We must continue to use our voices to preach the truth, to teach love, to uplift, to embolden, and to free. Be it marches, rallies, the Internet, the media, the voices of the people must be heard, must be known, must be felt, must be relevant.”
You got to read. Read with your children and grandchildren. A small book covering a lot of history. 500 years.
Thank you for your positive review of Social Justice and Christianity. We’re proud of Rev. Dr. Louis Blake Hathorn’s book. It teaches us all.
On November 1, 2016, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History added “Social Justice and Christianity” by Rev. Louis Blake Hathorn to its permanent book collection which is headquartered in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North Street, Jackson, MS.