Glenn Beck doesn’t get to decide what a “real” religious issue is

July 20, 2010, 4:34 pm | Posted by

Since Faithful America unveiled its new radio ad last week challenging Glenn Beck’s claims about social justice, Beck has ramped up his attacks. As Media Matters notes, Beck responded to the ad by alleging that issues important to 100,000 Faithful America members had nothing to do with religion, but in fact were the products of “fascism” and “evil.”

While dismissing health care reform, immigration reform and ending war and torture, he directed particular attention to Faithful America’s commitment to addressing climate change. Beck complained:”If your pastor or priest or whoever is talking about social justice and it is, ‘God is telling you that the government needs to solve global warming’, run for your life.”

Beck may not want to believe climate change is a religious issue, but there’s a reason people of faith across the spectrum– from evangelical leaders and the conservative Christian Coalition to the Pope, numerous mainline protestant churches, and Jewish groups– have called for action on this issue. Not only is our current energy infrastructure unsustainable, but it disproportionately harms the poor. As climate change continues to worsen, access to clean water and food supplies deteriorate, and extreme changes in weather uproot entire communities–hitting developing countries the hardest. Our faiths call us to care for both creation and those in need, both of which will be devastated if we fail to act.

Beck’s attempt to appoint himself arbiter of what is or is not a religious issue may make for good radio, but by ignoring the broad religious concern for the issues he’s dismissing, Beck reveals his true ignorance.

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Different medium, same message

July 16, 2010, 11:36 am | Posted by

In addition to Faithful America’s Christian radio spot responding to Glenn Beck’s attacks on social justice, leaders of the faith community are standing up to Beck with a print ad in the most recent edition of the Forward. The centerfold ad, sponsored by Jewish Funds for Justice (which was the subject of one of Beck’s most truly hateful tirades), is signed by more than 250 supporters of the group’s work for social justice, including numerous rabbis, Christian clergy, and leaders of organizations such as the American Jewish Committee and the Center for Community Change. It states:

On May 28, on his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck read an excerpt from aWashington Post column by Jewish Funds for Justice President Simon Greer. In it, Simon argued that we are at our best as a society when we put humankind and the common good first. Beck responded: “This leads to death camps. A Jew, of all people, should know that. This is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany: ‘put humankind and the common good first.’ ”

In the wake of this attack on our shared values, we are grateful to so many leaders for standing with us. Because of your support,

Jewish Funds for Justice can continue to speak out against this kind of demagoguery and advocate for real solutions to the pressing challenges facing millions of Americans.

Yet another example of the faith community’s outstanding work in response to those who demean social justice. As Beck’s attacks on people of faith grow ever more vicious, these efforts are more important than ever. You can view the ad here.

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Standing Up to Beck’s Attacks on Social Justice

July 15, 2010, 3:41 pm | Posted by

Yesterday Faithful America unveiled a new Christian radio ad campaign calling out Glenn Beck for his attacks on churches that preach about social justice. (You can listen to an audio recording here.) The ad — which has already earned media coverage at Time and The Atlantic — will run on Christian stations in several cities Beck visits on his national summer tour, airing in each market while he is in town. The campaign will kick off with Beck’s July 31st event in Westbury, NY, and continue through later stops in New Jersey, Washington, DC, and South Carolina.

The ads are part of Faithful America’s “Driven by Faith, Not by Fear” campaign, an effort to counter the fear, lies and hateful rhetoric of extreme pundits and the Tea Party.

If you’re just joining us, Beck kicked off his anti-faith campaign in March, when he linked social justice to communism and Nazism and urged his audience to abandon churches that preach social justice, saying:

“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.”

Since then Beck has kept up the effort, attacking Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, Jewish Funds for Justice CEO Simon Greer, and a host of others. Most recently, he lashed out at Black Liberation Theology. And Beck’s almost certainly not done yet. Regardless of what he and other demagogues say, Faithful America and the broader religious community dedicated to social justice will continue to stand up to their vitriol and stand up for our values.

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Sarah Palin supports comprehensive immigration reform?

July 13, 2010, 4:31 pm | Posted by

When Bill O’Reilly asked Sarah Palin what she would do about illegal immigration if she were president, her response sounded an awful lot like an endorsement of comprehensive immigration reform. While she at first fell back on the old “secure the border” card, when pushed about what to do with the complicated situation of people already living in the US illegally, she said,

“Then we won’t complicate it anymore, let’s keep it simple, and let’s say no. If you are here illegally, and, um, if you don’t follow the steps that through immigration reform we’re going to be able provide and that is, is to somehow allow you to work if you’re not going to do that then you will be deported, you will be gone.”

As the president illustrated in his speech two weeks ago and as we’ve discussed in the past, comprehensive immigration reform is not about blanket amnesty. Rather, it is about restoring the rule of law so people can follow steps to citizenship, which Palin herself seems to support. When not allowed the crutch of “securing the border” rhetoric, some opponents of immigration reform just may begin to realize that comprehensive immigration reform isn’t so bad after all.

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Watch your language

July 7, 2010, 6:23 pm | Posted by

Many journalists do a great job covering immigration, but too often I see headlines and stories that make a mistake outlined by the AP Stylebook:


This might seem like a quibble, but it’s not. Even if it’s not used with deliberate malice, a code word like “illegals” dehumanizes the immigrants to whom it’s applied, reducing people created in God’s image to nothing more than anthropomorphic crimes. Applying this term consistently, I should be called an “illegal” for having an unpaid parking ticket.

And this isn’t the only rhetorical device that degrades the immigration debate. In another example, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform often describe a pathway to earned citizenship as “amnesty,” clearly connoting that people who violate immigration law will be granted forgiveness without punishment for their violations, when in fact comprehensive reform would require those who break immigration laws to pay fines (a punishment in both legal and colloquial terms) and fulfill requirements such as studying English and remaining employed in order to become eligible for citizenship. In the context of comprehensive immigration reform, “amnesty” is a profoundly misleading term.

Words matter. When choosing which terms to deploy, especially in contentious debates about issues of great consequence, we’d all do well to consult not only our dictionaries and stylebooks, but also the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

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