The frequent Truthdig contributor and interviewee tells Salon.com that Martin Luther King Jr. performed his admirable works in spite of his religious beliefs, not because of them. (Link - reg req’d)
Sam Harris in Salon.com:
... King was an incredible person who did heroic and necessary work. A couple of answers here. There’s no evidence that those things can only be done in the name of faith, whereas there is considerable evidence that really terrible acts of violence are being done only because of what people believe about God. For instance, while there are Christian missionaries working in sub-Saharan Africa doing heroic work to relieve famine, there are also secular people, like Doctors Without Borders, who work alongside them, doing the same kind of work and not doing it because they think Jesus was born of a virgin. They’re not preaching the sinfulness of condom use the way Catholics and Christian ministers tend to do. So while Christian missionaries are helping people, they’re also helping to spread AIDS with their sexual taboos and their prudery. So that’s one issue.