Kids, Social Justice and Glenn Beck

Yesterday, I came across this tweet from Larry Shallenberger:

I’m allergic to political commentators. It doesn’t matter if they’re conservative or liberal, I break out in a rash and begin to go into analpylactic shock with my airway closing up. So, I had no idea who this Glenn Beck person was whom Larry was talking about, and I didn’t bother checking. Over the next few hours, my Bloglines became populated with posts about Glenn Beck. When I read the posts, I got that itchy feeling and couldn’t breathe well…

In all seriousness, if you don’t know who Glenn Beck is, here is the Wikipedia page on him. In short, he’s a conservative political commentator with a show on Fox News.

You can listen to what he said on his radio show. Here is a transcript of what he said that is causing all the fuss:

“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!”

You can see similar comments where he links social justice to Communism and Nazis in the video below. (Apparently, Beck doesn’t care or know about Godwin’s Law.)

http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/player.swfI don’t have anything else to add to what has already been said by people like Scot McKnight, Eugene Cho and Bob Robinson. What I wanted to do here on Elemental Children’s Ministry was throw out Beck’s comments and get your reactions. You have to admit that helping children love God and love others by reaching out to the under resourced, marginalized and outcast has gained momentum, which I think is a good thing. Do you agree? Disagree? What do you have to say about Beck’s comments? Don’t be shy!


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17 thoughts on “Kids, Social Justice and Glenn Beck

  1. Daniel says:

    I'm trying to be polite here, but: Glenn Beck is absolutely batty. The abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, and a truly significant percentage of current NGO and community development efforts around the world have all been undertaken by the Church out of a desire for social justice. There is no "code" about it.

    Interesting that most kids know the innate good of social justice instinctively, while it's only those of us who are so blind by laissez-faire economics that don't recognize it.

  2. There is a long standing correlation between the issue of social justice and discipleship. Typically, when a church “does social justice well,” they are often less concerned with equipping believers further along discipleship. And when a church is more concerned with the discipleship of believers, SJ becomes far less of a conern. I didn’t say it was a good thing, it just is a correlation.

    I think what GB is concerned about and speaking again is the issue of Social Democracy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy

    It’s basically a watered down version of Socialism and Marxism. On the surface it sounds harmless (education is a right, working “to ameliorate or remove injustices inflicted by the capitalist market system.” Nobody wants injustice in the world!!! Yet what we must realize is the 1) The world is fallen and will never be perfect (until the return of Jesus), and 2) This social democracy will “force” people to give their resources away regardless if they are willing or not.

    So, then the question becomes “Who decides how the money is spent?” Well, in theory, the ones providing the money…that would be you and me. But, if the choice makers are unwilling to listen to us and do what they want to do anyway – now we have an issue and are on the way to socialism / Marxism.

    That is the issue at hand.

    • ShahZam says:

      Dean, well said. The problem steams out of judging people with the labels we put on them.

      What does social-justice mean? Phrases like these are only used to box people in. All of the sudden, Beck's people accuse any Christian who is involved with a “social justice” ministry a liberal, and the Christians, who’ve been reaching out to the poor, the needy and the sick long before our friends put a label on them, call Beck a loon because they don’t know where he’s coming from.

    • Henry Zonio says:

      Dean, I hear your concerns… I just am not completely convinced they are more than a straw man. We are quick to point to the extreme opposites of viewpoints. There is a middle ground. It's not as simple as Capitalism vs. Socialism/Marxism. If we're completely honest, the US isn't completely a capitalist system. We do have some socialized aspects like police force, firefighters, road maintenance, etc. Why not rise up and speak against those?

  3. Marvin says:

    It's frustrating to read people post comments about someone they admittedly do not know, never listened to, and then use one paragraph to apply to them judgement. I've listened to Glenn for years and there is no better friend of Christians.

    The fact is that "social justice" is a phrase that has been ripped from society by political factions to create an illusion for compassion that simply masks their intention to destroy liberty and freedom. Like I said, that's not an opinion.

    I attend a church, very large popular church, that does a lot of true Christian social justice; but I also am very aware of political matters and get an allergic reaction to people who are ignorant to their own peril. The "national socialist party" was supposed to be about social justice, but we see where that led.

    True compassion is NOT taking money forcibly from one person, then giving it to another as if it came from you. The good Samaritan didn't steel from people on his way to the Inn in order to pay for the care! He showed actual compassion.

    So keep "social" justice on your web site, but understand that it's a term that is historically used to rip freedoms and liberties from common people and replace them with totalitarian powers. Again, that is not an opinion, that is an historical fact.

    • Henry Zonio says:

      The same can be said about the term "Christian." It, too, has been "historically used to rip freedoms and liberties from common people and replace them with totalitarian powers." Just take a look at the Dark Ages, slavery, the Inquisition, indulgences, televangelists…

  4. Steelsmitty says:

    Dean describes Beck's position perfectly. Sadly, Beck, an adherent of the heretical cult, called Mormonism, gets it right on this issue. Beck does not believe for one minute that the church and the individual should not be about social justice. And, if you think otherwise then you are only listening to his critics vomit up crass politicized talking points from Peloski and her puppies. If you know Beck's position at all, which he states and restates a thousand times, that what makes this country great is the individual who works hard and gives back to society. Sorry progressive, Marxist, liberals, the government mandated 'social justice' is not at all why Christ died. Christ is so very clear on this, He died for His church. He will build His church not the government, not the state sponsored anything. When the government takes my taxes and forces it upon a issue that is not 'joyful giving' as the Bible prescribes. When I give of my resources joyfully then that is the Biblical model. Collecting from the rich and giving to the poor by the government is totally unbiblical. However, when it is done by the individual and the local church then it is right. Listen clearly to this next comment reader. Any social help given without it being saturated with the life giving Gospel of Jesus Christ is a cruel joke upon the recipient. The government is not spreading the Gospel now, are they? I don't think so! Give a man freedom from slavery without freedom from the slavery of sin and you just doomed him to hell; but he's 'free' until he dies. I challenge any liberal to find any example in the New Testament that shows giving in any other light! Look at every instance of giving and you will clearly see that the government is not involved in anyway! The liberal has confused the church with the government and this is their fundamental fallacy. Church, pour your efforts, hope for social justice, hope for lost souls being saved, back into the church, not the government. Sad when a heretical cultist talkshow host understands this better than people who should know better but don't. Certainly motives can't be questioned but methods can and should be judged all the time. The government has usurped the church's role to reach the poor and it is disgusting.

    • Henry Zonio says:

      Wow… pretty strong words. I think you are mistaken, though, on a couple of your points.

      The issue of "joyful giving" is specifically tied into giving to each other (church family) and helping each other. That was written to a community that was being guilted into giving and having giving tied into their salvation. In contrast, Jesus does tell us to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's." That is directly tied into taxes by the government.

      Secondly, multiple times government systems are condemned for not helping the underprivileged, the ophans, the widows, the hungry. Israel is called to taks for this multiple times throughout the minor and major prophets as well as other surrounding cities.

      Yes, the Church is called to reach out to people, but I think that there is enough in the Bible to ascertain that governments are also tasked with helping the poor as well. If we are truly wanting to set people free physically as well as spiritually (which I think we need to be) then why do we fell "forced" to give (whether to the Church or to the government)?

  5. Daniel says:

    Semantics shouldn't get in the way of actual caring; does it really, earnestly matter or hurt our faith that some wish for caring and giving to be done at levels beyond simply the personal?

    I'd beg you to look at the Old Testament Hebrew structures of society, where Jubilee theology (as another commenter on BeliefNet said) "eliminated both generational wealth and poverty from ancient Israel, and provided a government run obligatory system that ensured equal economic opportunity to every third generation."

    Meanwhile, an endless stream of Biblical passages emphatically command us to care for the poor at every level of society: they put forth everything from a personal indictment to a national and governmental one. Ezekiel 16:49, for example, accounted that the true "sin of Sodom" was not the Sodomites' corruption, but that they were endlessly prosperous but did not aid the poor and needy.

    So, Dean, Marvin and Steelsmitty, my question to you is this: Why hold back? Why get so sanctimoniously hung up when churches, governments, and other social institutions do good things?

  6. Daniel says:

    Dean, why do you say that there is a negative correlation between a church's emphasis on discipleship and social justice? Working toward social justice is the *very embodiment* of being a disciple. Faith *IS* action. You will know a Christian by their fruits.

    What about The Sermon on the Mount? Or Matthew 7:12-21?

    I understand your ambivalence toward social justice if it means coming at the expense of Christians being schooled and discipled in their faith, but truly, we risk becoming the next generation of Pharisees if we don't also allow our faith to emanate in everything we do. Becoming a stalwart or contender of the faith is a good thing – until that point where we become bulldogs, guarding against attacks but also preventing others from coming to the door. Mark Driscoll gave a sermon about this that you might be interested in:
    http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/1st-corinthia

    • I say that there is a negative correlation…..well, because there is! Churches simply are not able to spread their resources around well enough to accomplish both well. AND IT IS A PROBLEM! I am not saying I think it is OK, I'm just saying that it is an issue that exists.

      I am against the "Country Club for Christians" (aka, the Church)!!!! It drives me nuts!!! Christians should get out and fulfill thier role! But when the government, which is unable to effectively manage just about everything it puts its hands on (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.), why would we in the world advocate for them to do more?!?!

      There are some things that goverment MUST do – mainly to provide for the safety and security of its people. Military, police, fire rescue, etc. are all things that the government should run. And I am happy to pay for my fair share for those things. But there are many things that the government has it's hand in that it has no business doing – Insurance and schooling just to name two.

      And, for the record, I wouldn't listen to a Mark Driscoll sermon if you paid me to……now Voddie Baucham on the other hand is a great (and actually exegetical) preacher – http://www.voddiebaucham.org.

  7. John says:

    Hard to believe that people like this are given a platform and have a following. Hard to believe too that some Christians buy into this garbage. Perhaps they will be surprised when the kings says, "'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'

  8. Henry Zonio says:

    Wow, being out of the US political scene for a while, I forgot how emotional things can get when bringing up things said by political commentators!

    I do admit that I do not know Glenn Beck very well, and I'm not really trying to indict him as a whole. I do have issue, though, with his comments (whether hyperbole or not) suggesting that people leave their churches if "social justice" is mentioned on the web page.

    We can go back and forth on "who" should be responsible for showing compassion to the underprivileged and the marginalized. Where does any of this get us, though? Nowhere. I appreciate Shah's comment that both sides of this specific instance are guilty of painting with broad brush strokes (I hope that is a fair rewording of what you said, Shah… correct me if I'm wrong). We are called to love God AND love others… that is the Great Commandment.

    Personally, I am more than happy to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" and even more than happy to give to God even more than that. I think that rather than trying to fight with those we don't agree with, we need to find common ground and build bridges.

    When it comes to teaching our kids about meeting people's needs… I don't draw a line between that and "discipleship." I'm pretty confident in my understanding of Scripture that both loving God and loving others needs to happen. And I don't think one necessarily has to suffer for the other to happen.

  9. Patti Kirkland says:

    Interesting comments. I just ran across that article recently myself and it deeply disturbed me. Our church is one of many that has become much more involved in what Beck might define as "social justice"- feeding and clothing the poor, digging freshwater wells to give a cup of clean water in Christ's name. All such efforts born out of the belief that we touch their lives before we can touch their hearts. There is nothing more Christ-like than being a servant- rolling up our sleeves, putting the towel over our arm and putting flesh and blood to our faith. I know that not all churches are alike and we look past the actions to the underlying motives. But I can't help but recall Paul's words when someone else was preaching the Gospel- and their motives were questioned- Paul said in Philippians 1:18-21 (The Message)

    "So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!"

    If someone provides food, or water or clothing or housing in Jesus' name- may Jesus be glorified and draw men to him.

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