King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims.  Most striking, perhaps, was his initial denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school at the age of thirteen. From this point, he stated, “doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly”.  However, he later concluded that the Bible has “many profound truths which one cannot escape” and decided to enter the seminary.  Growing up in Atlanta, King attended Booker T. Washington High School.
A precocious student, he skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school.  In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951.
King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown ofHeiberger, Alabama.  They became the parents of four children; Yolanda King, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and Bernice King. 14] King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was twenty-five years old, in 1954.  King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman”.
Influences Thurman Civil rights leader, theologian, and educator Howard Thurman was an early influence on King. A classmate of King’s father at Morehouse College, Thurman mentored the young King and his friends.  Thurman’s missionary work had taken him abroad where he had met and conferred withMahatma Gandhi.  When he was a student at Boston University, King often visited Thurman, who was the dean of Marsh Chapel.  Walter Fluker, who has studied Thurman’s writings, has stated, “I don’t believe you’d get a Martin Luther King, Jr. without a Howard Thurman”.  Gandhi and Rustin
With assistance from the Quaker group the American Friends Service Committee, and inspired by Gandhi’s success with non-violent activism, King visited Gandhi’s birthplace in India in 1959. :3 The trip to India affected King in a profound way, deepening his understanding of non-violent resistance and his commitment to America’s struggle for civil rights. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, “Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.
In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation. “:135–6 African American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin had studied Gandhi’s teachings.  Rustin counseled King to dedicate himself to the principles of non-violence, served as King’s main advisor and mentor throughout his early activism, and was the main organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. 27] Rustin’s open homosexuality, support of democratic socialism, and his former ties to the Communist Party USA caused many white and African-American leaders to demand King distance himself from Rustin.  Public stance on political parties As the leader of the SCLC,
King maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U. S. political party or candidate: “I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.  In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party. “ King critiqued both parties’ performance on promoting racial equality: Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats.
The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights.  Personal political advocacy Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he said that he was undecided as to whether he would vote for the Adlai Stevenson or Dwight Eisenhower, but that “In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket.  In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: “I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one. ” King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy in 1964, saying “Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964.