The following article comes from Charles Currie, a United Church of Christ minister.
What About Jesus And Holy Scripture Scares Glenn Beck?
Posted by: Rev. Chuck Currie on March 8, 2010 at 2:01PM EST
Scripture tells us that God has a simple request of humanity:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NRSV)
Radio personality Glenn Beck doesn't like that kind of talk:
On his daily radio and television shows last week, Fox News personality Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that "social justice," the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a "code word" for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice.
"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!"
Later, Beck held up cards, one with a hammer and sickle and other with a swastika. "Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That's what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. . . . But on each banner, read the words, here in America: 'social justice.' They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy."
Beck's attempt to compare the modern Christian church to Russian Communists or German Nazis is nothing but a cheap ploy meant to divide Americans along religious lines.
What is Beck trying to do here? He continues to espouse a political philosophy that ignores the needs of those Jesus called "the least of these in society," argues that as stewards of creation humanity can do whatever it wants with the Earth, and justifies wars that most Christians across the globe condemn.
Clearly, he sees Christians as a threat to his political agenda.
Holy Scripture is filled with teachings from God about justice and God condemns those who create governments and socities that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the needs of the poor and homeless:
13The Lord rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. 14The Lord enters into judgement with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. 15What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts. (Isaiah 3:13-15 NRSV)
The church universal - when we have been at our best - has always been about social justice, about uplifting the needs of those lost and left behind.
Roman Catholics in Poland fought off Communism. African-American churches in the United States led the Civil Rights Movement. Mainline Christian Churches, in partnership with many others, have fought to stop wars and to help people living in poverty lift themselves up. Evangelicals have joined together in common cause with other people of faith to fight global warming.
Jesus himself explains what is at stake:
35...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-45 NRSV)
Glenn Beck might pay special attention to verse 41 of this passage the next time he condemns the justice work of Christian churches.
It is a critique on Glenn Beck telling people that they ought to leave churches which preach social justice. Rev. Currie's comments are outstanding on stand on their own merit. I just had a thought or two I want to add.
Many churches engage in social justice ministries. My own church, St. Marks United Church of Christ, does. Our church takes very literally Jesus' commands to feed the hungry; we have a weekly Soup Kitchen. No one is charged. We take literally the command to clothe the naked; we have a Community Clothes Closet where we give clothing and blankets away to people. No one is charged. We take, very literally, I might add, those many passages where Jesus welcomes those who are unwelcome. We welcome everyone. What is ironic is that we take these strongly stated and oft repeated ethical teachings of Jesus and live them by word and deed, pretty much literally; and we are called a liberal church because of it. Who'd have thunk it?
Glenn Beck is entitled to his political opinions. When he begins preaching what he's preaching with this, he is telling people to defy the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any person who tells people to defy the central core ethical teachings of Jesus, is not a person I would ever choose to listen to.