When I wrote an earlier piece about the accusations that were flying over Glenn Beck’s ‘social justice’ quote I made a couple misjudgments. First of all, I misjudged the extent of the dishonesty behind the attacks. It turns out that the version of Glenn Beck’s quote that is circling the net has been selectively edited.
Here’s the version that you’ll find:
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’s what Beck actually said:
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, if I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church.
It’s no surprise that the reference to Jeremiah Wright was scrubbed. No one wants to take on the job of defending the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but if Beck’s accusers (like Jim Wallis) can convince people that Beck was “attacking the very heart of our Christian faith” they have an opportunity to strike back against progressivism’s #1 enemy. And if they have to help the truth a long a little bit, what’s the problem? (You know, except for the list. It’s still #9.)
My second misjudgment was the size of the can of worms we’re dealing with here.
Beck has it in for progressives and they have been feeling the heat. Glenn Beck’s ratings are through the roof, he’s the biggest single force behind the Tea Party movement, and his show led to Van Jones’s forced resignation. So there’s no doubt that progressives have it in for the man.
When he made the now infamous statement they thought they had finally spotted a weak spot. Reverend Jim Wallis led the charge to attempt to turn Beck’s base against him by casting him as anti-Christian.
The problem is that this attack on Glenn Beck has the potential to backfire in catastrophic ways because it’s based on quote-scrubbing and doublethink. The New York Times is (surprise, surprise) taking Wallis’s doublethink and running with it:
In attacking churches that espouse social justice, Mr. Beck is taking on most mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, black and Hispanic congregations in the country — not to mention plenty of evangelical churches and even his own, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Really? This is a snipped from Glenn Beck’s broadcast this morning:
I’ve told you this, the progressive movement started with people like Woodrow Wilson whose father was a preacher! They perverted Christianity! “The concept is that Christians should not merely give to the poor but also work to correct unjust conditions that keep people poor.” Yes! You’re exactly right. We should as Christians do that. But then there’s that added little step of having the government do it, not you.
The portion that is in quotes is from Rev. Wallis. Reverend Wallis puts this benign, lovable definition of the term forward as though Glenn Beck had attacked it. Glenn Beck never attacked the idea that “we should work to correct unjust conditions that keep people poor”, and now he’s on record that he supports that concept. (He just doesn’t call it ‘social justice’.) What he attacked is the idea that we should have the government enact and enforce those corrections.
This is what really explains the level of vitriol being hurled at Beck. Not only do progressives hate him already, but they are terrified that he’s going to expose ‘social justice’ for what it really means. Beck is right. They’ve been perverting Christianity while no one was watching, but he’s about to shine a spotlight on them. In fact, he’s already started. On Thursday’s program he introduced America to Father Coughlin. Right up until the time when FDR had the plug pulled, Coughlin was the biggest voice in American radio. He was also a virulent anti-Semite and an extreme progressive who (like all progressives of the time) made apologies for Hitler and Mussolini. He backed FDR until he decided FDR wasn’t going far enough. Want to guess what his slogan was? “Social Justice.” Want to guess what his magazine was called? Social Justice. Care to guess what his organization was called? The National Union for Social Justice. Getting the picture?
So far this cancerous form of social justice has survived beside the benign version for two reasons. First of all Christians prefer to emphasize unity. But more importantly: no one was making an issue of it. And so no one bothered to check. Well it’s time to start checking.
Father Coughlin wasn’t some isolated incident. The idea of social justice is inextricably tied up with progressive Christianity. What are some differences between progressive Christianity and mainstream Christianity? So glad you asked:
Many, if not most, Progressive Christians believe that the Bible is not the literal word of God. While all Progressive Christians recognize Jesus Christ, some view him not as the only way to God, but one of many ways, continuing the Christian modernist paradigm. Inclusiveness and acceptance is the basic posture of Progressive Christianity.
Progressive Christians tend to focus on issues of social justice, rather than proselytizing efforts to convert others, as conservatives and mainstream Evangelicals tend to emphasize.
I want to make something clear. As a devout Mormon I follow our Articles of Faith, including number 11:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
If progressive Christians want to believe there are alternative paths to salvation besides Christ, or that the Bible is not the Word of God, or any other such thing, that is fine by me. It is their God-given right to believe as they see fit, and it’s a right I’m grateful our nation has enshrined in law. I won’t ever try to force my beliefs on progressive Christians, but I also won’t stand to see them try to enforce their beliefs on me or on anyone else, and that is exactly what they are trying to do when they advocate a form of ‘social justice’ that includes using government power to redistribute wealth.
Jesus taught us to love one another and to “Come, follow me,” but last time I checked he never tried to have Caesar make failure to do so a crime. All question of religious freedom aside, I simply don’t believe that’s good policy. I’m going to oppose progressive policies no matter where they come from because they are bad policies, and that’s the end of it.
I’m not going to try and inundate this post with a stream of additional examples of progressive Christianity and their perverted version of social justice at work. Glenn Beck has staff for that, and I’m hopeful that now that his mind is on the topic he’ll set them to work.
But I do want to say one more thing: I am genuinely saddened to see so many good-hearted Christians be led astray by the likes of Reverend Wallis. There are so many gentle souls who have no idea what Glenn Beck really said. They read the New York Times or any of the small religious blogs, and all they see is that Beck for some reason decided to haul off and assault Christianity. I hope that many of them will be able to realize that there’s something fishy going on, but from the reading I’ve done it seems that plenty of them are being fooled.
After all, if their church teaches “social justice” in the truly Christian sense of the word then they most likely aren’t really aware of the mutant version spreading throughout Christianity. That’s the one reason I wish Beck would have been more careful in his original comments, and I hope that he will try to be clear from now on. On the other hand, no matter how clear he tries to be, plenty of progressive Christians will be ready and willing to chop up his quotes and deliberately misrepresent them as long as they can get away with it.
So don’t let them get away with it. You’ve all got friends and family who’ve heard about this story. Everyone should make up their own mind on what to believe, but they can only do that if they have the facts. And since the mainstream media isn’t going to provide those facts, it’s up for us to do their job for them.
Progressives think this is an opportunity to go after Beck, but they are betting on a lie. They are betting they can misrepresent Beck while keeping their own mask firmly in place.
Me? I never bet on a lie.