The Gospel According to Beck
Glenn Beck recently took it upon himself to offer his audience of millions some religious advice:
I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes.
He even went so far as to link social justice to communism and Nazism:
Both the communists, who are on the left — they say — you know, these are communists. And the Nazis are on the right. That’s what people say. But they both subscribed to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. One had the hammer and sickle; the other was a swastika. But on each banner read the words, here in America, of this — “social justice.” They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly — I love this — democracy.
Many voices in the faith community have responded to this bizarre attack. Dan Schultz offered a lengthy (but not exhaustive) list of scripture passages that Beck might find offensive or frightening, James Martin deals him a thorough theological and historical lesson, and the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good is raising $5,000 “to develop and distribute a short video that will directly confront…his assertion that caring about the lives of others is code-language for fascist or communist infiltration in our churches.” To contribute to their effort, click here.
I don’t know what to make of Beck’s absurd rant. The fact that a person with a multimedia platform and an audience of millions is either so addled that he believes social justice is a tool of tyranny, or so craven that he would use fearmongering and vitriol to come between people and their churches, is – to say the least – a troubling indictment of what we as a society value and reward. I just hope nobody comes to believe that the Gospel According to Beck is the word of the Lord.