To Glenn Beck: “You Can’t Just Pull The Bodies Out Of The River”

Liberal evangelical Jim Wallis and conservative Mormon Glenn Beck are in a feud.  Actually, it’s not much of a feud.  Even though Beck has the Fox “News” Empire behind him and is willing to bear false witness against Wallis, Beck is no match for a man who has spent nearly forty years working on behalf of real social justice, not the kind caricatured by the king of kindergarten theology on his daily television show.

Wallis wrote yesterday (emphasis mine):

…while social justice begins with our own lives, choices, and sacrifices, it doesn’t end there. Those of us who have actually done this work for years all understand that you can’t just pull the bodies out of the river, and not send somebody upstream to see what or who is throwing them in. Serving the poor is a fundamental spiritual requirement of faith, but challenging the conditions that create poverty in the first place is also part of biblical social justice.

As for Beck’s emphasis on “voluntary” charity—he managed to tell his audience that he gives plenty of money to his church and the poor—Wallis explained to him what really shouldn’t have to be explained:

…voluntary church action can’t provide health care for millions who don’t have it, or fix broken urban school systems, or provide jobs at fair wages, or protect our kids from toxic air, water, and toys, or fix a broken immigration system that is grinding up our vulnerable families, or keep banks from cheating our people. All that requires commitments to holding governments accountable to social justice, and advocating for better public policies.

At the end of his piece, Wallis urged his own “supporters” not to attack Glenn Beck.  

No way, Jim.  In the spirit of the pissed-off Jesus, who made a whip and drove out first-century Wall Street bankers from the Jerusalem temple two thousand years ago, calling them “thieves” because they were exploiting the poor, I will continue to attack Beck and his exploitation of frustrated, pale-faced folks who turn to him in hopes the cultural changes swirling about them can be thwarted.


“When I Ask Why The Poor Have No Food, They Call Me A Communist”

Rev. James Martin, now the “official” chaplain of The Colbert Report, posted an article on HuffPo titled, “Glenn Beck to Jesus: Drop Dead,” in which he condemns the Fox “News” commentator for the following comment Beck made on his show, which Martin says “equated the desire for a just society with…Nazism and Communism“:

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.

Now, taking into account that Rev. Martin, a Jesuit-trained priest and culture editor of America magazine, is no match for Beck’s massive intellect—Glenn is everything from a theologian to sociologist to psychologist to political/climate scientist—I did find Martin’s article quite interesting, particularly his discussion of the concept of social justice, which included this:

Giving someone a handout is an important part of the Christian message. But so is advocating for them. It is not enough simply to help the poor, one must address the structures that keep them that way. Standing up for the rights of the poor is not being a Nazi, it’s being Christian. And Communist, as Mr. Beck suggests? It’s hard not to think of the retort of the great apostle of social justice, Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Exactly.  So much of the philosophy of the right-wing involves ideas like, “Charity is an individual act, not a governmental one,” and it is based on an Ayn Randian hatred of government, a hatred of collective action, which in truth is the only way to change those social structures that often serve as impediments to progress for those who don’t just need charity but real opportunity.

This is one area where Americans of all religions and non-religions should be able to come together, were it not for those government-haters like Glenn Beck, who promote fear and division instead of peace and consensus.

UPDATE: Jim Wallis, an evangelical Christian who doesn’t believe God is a Republican, wrote about Beck:

Beck says Christians should leave their social justice churches, so I say Christians should leave Glenn Beck. I don’t know if Beck is just strange, just trying to be controversial, or just trying to make money. But in any case, what he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show. His show should now be in the same category as Howard Stern. Stern practices pornography and Beck denies the central teachings of Jesus and the Bible.  So Christians should stop watching the Glenn Beck show and pray for him and Howard Stern.

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