The Dance of Politics and Religion - Social Justice is a Codeword

Politics and religion are oftentimes inherently connected.  Where would we be without religious people standing up for Civil Rights or Abolition?  But then it can go terribly wrong as in the Inquisition, Prohibition, or other modern examples.

My point on Glenn Beck has been misunderstood.  I have no problem with religion and politics dancing together.  This blog is an example of that.  Beck is a personally religious political commentator who just made a jump into the realm of theological debate without doing his homework. He appears to not grasp the concept of social justice when he attacks all social justice proponents together as if every religious individual who works for equality in their community is a Commie or Nazi. Politically, that view is also baffling because Nazis and Commies are extreme polar opposites and were historical enemies. Christians can believe in social justice and find themselves anywhere on the political spectrum. Unless I missed the memo, it is not a codeword for being a "Commie." Although a "good" Commie should believe in social justice. 

Good people can stand up for social justice and disagree on whether the government should be involved at all in restoring creation to its intended place.  Restoring creation and bringing God's will into the here and now is also a subject that some theologically disagree on, but that's another subject for another day.

Beck is concerned about minimal government.  He, like many political people before him, is trying to use religion to achieve his purpose.  If he could get the churches on his side in this debate, then he has a better chance of seeing his will brought about.  The problem is that the churches should never play the puppet to the powerful political puppeteers.  Historically, that has typically ended badly for the church.

If we expect religion to influence politics, then we should, in turn, anticipate politics to try and influence religion.  But we need to remain strong to our convictions and never allow ourselves to compromise our beliefs or witness because it is politically expedient to do so.  We have a mission in God's kingdom that is not directly tied to any one earthly kingdom. 

At the heart of Beck's comments, it's not a rant against social justice, although he might think it is.  It's not a rant against helping people.  It's a rant against the government being involved in that process.  Beck could still be a proponent of social justice and hold a view of limited or no government.  He would just need to make sure that he was living his life as a proponent for social justice in his personal interaction with all aspects of society.  Buying fair trade goods, standing up for the oppressed, living without overconsuming, helping those you see in need are all aspects of social justice that do not involve the government.  It's not a codeword for Commies of Nazis; social justice is a codeword for love.