More Thoughts on Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and Leaving Churches

The great debate over whether Glenn Beck was right to say what he said when he told churchgoers to leave their church if they teach social justice rages on.  Obviously, Beck has the right to say whatever he wants.  This seems to be what you get when a political commentator starts to dictate religion  I responded to it the other day in Jim Wallis answers Glenn Beck.  I think Beck just misunderstands social justice.  He actually said, "There is a very good chance that people don't know what it (social justice) is.  That's why you have to educate yourself."  He could use a good dose of the education he speaks of when it comes to understanding the churches stance on social justice.

Here is Beck's controversial statement:

“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!”
Here it is in context: Audio clip. defines social justice: "A general definition of social justice is hard to arrive at and even harder to implement. In essence, social justice is concerned with equal justice, not just in the courts, but in all aspects of society. This concept demands that people have equal rights and opportunities; everyone, from the poorest person on the margins of society to the wealthiest deserves an even playing field."

The problem is that Beck was not talking about the purely secular view of social justice.  You can be a firm teacher of social justice and be a libertarian.  To confirm that nearly ludicrous statement, I ran across a site that was all about libertarians who were proponents of social justice.  It's not about political orientation in church circles; it's about living out Jesus' radical teaching to love the poor.  That would compare to the definition provided above, but it goes much deeper than that in a religious sense.

Beck would be welcome to have a discussion on whether we should be proponents of social justice as followers of Jesus.  What would Jesus do to help the oppressed, downtrodden, unemployed, or disabled? Personally, the church I pastor teaches and tries to live social justice, a social justice that should love the unlovable and help the unworthy.

The Catholic church is one of the biggest promoters of social justice.  Beck even mentions priests in his statement. Whether Beck meant it or not, his statement was a direct attack on Catholics and their rich history of social justice. So when Beck tries to link this great theological concept to Nazis and Communists, he does a disservice to the theological concept and those who try to live it out.

When we started the Kid's Clothes Closet at our church to help clothe people in need, that was a practical expression of our theological belief in social justice. Same thing when we provide school supplies or help in any other way. Social justice is us living out Jesus' teachings to love the poor.

We can have a healthy dialogue ab
out whether that should be done at all in government. But telling people to leave churches that teach the concept that he apparently misunderstands was unwise. I really don't like Glenn Beck telling people who go to the church I minister with to leave it.