Q:Fox News commentator Glenn Beck claims that faith-based calls for “social justice” are really ideological calls for “forced redistribution of wealth . . . under the guise of charity and/or justice,” and that Christians should leave their churches if they preach or practice “social justice.”
Rev. Jim Wallis disagrees, saying social justice is a faith-based commitment “to serve the poor and to attack the conditions that lead to poverty,” central tents of the teachings of Jesus and at the heart of biblical faith.
Who’s right? How does the pursuit of justice fit into your faith? Is ‘social justice’ an ideology or a theology?
While Pagans do not have a set creed or unified code of beliefs, our traditions hold in common the understanding that we are all deeply interconnected, all part of the sacred weave of the world. The Goddess is immanent in this world and in all human beings, and part of our service to the sacred is to honor one another and take care of one another, to fairly share nature’s bounty and to succor one another in facing the hardships of life. We must create justice in this world, not wait for redress of grievances in the next.
No one person or group has the right to commandeer nature’s resources, which are the underpinnings of all wealth. Generosity, justice and fairness are old Pagan virtues, and Robin Hood is one aspect of our Pagan Gods. In fairy tales, the hero/a wins the aid of fortune when she shares her loaf with a beggar or lays his cloak at the feet of a poor widow. The greedy, hoarding, grasping or jealous person ends up defeated and despised. Glenn Beck–take warning!
Beck’s alarm over ‘forced redistribution of wealth’ is a perfect example of what the late Mary Daly called a reversal–a flipping over of truth designed to make us blind to obvious injustice. This country has seen a massive redistribution of wealth over the last three decades–upwards, concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, until currently the top 20% of the population now owns 85% of the wealth, with the top 1% owning 34.6%! That leaves the other 80% of us with only 15% of the wealth. No wonder we’re losing our homes and struggling to put food on the table, let alone paying our bloated health insurance premiums. How did this happen? Tax cuts for the rich, starting with Reagan, all those bloated bonuses for CEOs, the undercutting of unions, the transfer of our hard-earned dollars into insurance company profits, all those policies beloved of the right wing ARE forms of wealth redistribution, taking it from the poor and the middle class to the rich!
Would social justice mean taking it back? You bet! What are we waiting for? Let’s redistribute some of those bloated corporate bonuses to give our kids decent schools. Let’s take back some of those tax cuts and make the rich, who benefit most from all of society’s services, pay their fair share. How about redistributing a bit of the hundreds of billions we pay for weapons to provide health care for the poor or elder care for the aged? Why not tax the oil companies’ windfall profits and make the transition to renewables before the oceans rise up and claim all of our coastal cities? Who convinced us that wealth equals entitlement to more and more wealth with no social responsibility?
Am I preaching ‘Communism’, ‘Socialism’, ‘Totalitarianism’? Beck uses those words as his own code for ‘anyone I don’t like–anyone who challenges the unfettered privilege of me and my wealthy friends.’ For my part, I stand with the other social justice Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Native Americans, Pagans and other indigenous traditions that all share a belief in the core, sacred values of compassion, caring, love and justice.