Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. | Rhetoric
I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state... we have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South...
In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I otherwise?
"Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."
King is establishing his credentials and experience as a way of leveling the intellectual and religious playing field with the members of the clergy he is responding to in his letter. He is also establishing his reasons for being in Alabama.
King is appealing to the shared love of religion and the church that all clergy members (should) share, and subtly reminding the clergymen that their religion is his religion, too. They should all be on the same team during this crisis. He is also showing the depth of his concern, and his love for the church.
King is using common sense and logic to point out that laws that go against the very fabric of American ideals (soul, human personality) should not be upheld. The very rights the forefathers fought for should be upheld for all.