Thank you, Glenn Beck

Q:Fox News commentator Glenn Beck claims that faith-based calls for “social justice” are really ideological calls for “forced redistribution of … Continued

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?

I’d like to start by thanking Glenn Beck for mobilizing the faith-based social justice movement. His incendiary rant, coupled with his cruel personal attacks and threats against Rev. Jim Wallis (“the hammer is coming… and when the hammer comes, it’s gonna be hammering hard …”), has united and galvanized Jews, Christians and Muslims around the country who see justice as an essential element of religious life and are unwilling to passively accept its mockery and denigration. (See www.socialjusticechristian.com and HaikuGlennBeck.com two great examples.)

Beck claims that social justice is nothing more than a code word for Nazism, Marxism and Big Government. An artificial implant from the left in their incessant drive to sneak socialism into our breakfast cereal.

But here’s the thing. Millions of people of faith across denominational and geographical lines recognize social responsibility and the pursuit of justice as foundational elements of the religious life. The archetypical liberation story, the exodus from Egypt, comes to teach that all people have innate dignity and deserve to be free of oppression, degradation and suffering. And it reminds us that human beings must be partners in the work of redemption – that our life’s work is to bring more light, more dignity, more peace, and yes – more justice – into the world.

Religious life is fundamentally about making the presence of God manifest in our world by witnessing the pain of the afflicted, agonizing over the plight of the poor, fighting for the dignity of all human beings. Faith is about giving a damn — waking up to the suffering of the widow, the orphan and the stranger; recognizing the bond of human connectedness that extends beyond our own immediate family and circle of friends. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes, the aim of religion “is not to transport the believer to a private heaven. Instead, its impassioned, sustained desire is to bring heaven down to earth.”

Glenn Beck, not surprisingly, is just plain wrong.

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  • rjbell1

    Rabbi Brous, thank you for this excellent commentary! My reaction was precisely the same – thank Glenn Beck for giving us the chance to talk about how social justice relates to our faith. That’s why I created the Public Service Announcement (

  • ThomasBaum

    Sharon BrousNice article, thank you.In some ways, it is kind of mind-boggling that Jesus could speak so simple and straight-forward and be so misunderstood.And yet, in other ways, it speaks very much of the “human condition” and is pointed out in the bible, “You have ears and do not hear, you have eyes and do not see”.Jesus spoke about the here and now, after physical death and the Kingdom to Come.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • tsch38301

    Rambleon….only when the tax collectors tried to take more than was fair. But you are correct and supporting my position even if you didn’t mean to.

  • damascuspride04

    Rabbi Brous, I appreciate your civil response to Glenn Back, whose words typically strike me as angry and abrasive. When I think of social justice and charity, I’m reminded of an Alternative Spring Break trip I took in college. Myself and a group of fellow students helped paint the home of an old woman in poor health. It was the most gratifying and rewarding experience of my life to give time (something I value) to another person. If God didn’t want us to help those less fortunate than ourselves, then why did he make it feel so good when we do?

  • DavidH3

    You shall know them by what they do.My pastor talking about social justice does not talk about eaves dropping on private citizens or torturing those who disagree. He talks about compassion and generosity, about taking responsibility and helping those less fortunate. This is not a slippery slope towards Nazism. And he puts his money (well, his time), where his mouth is. I support him and I support my church because of this.Beck’s rants are filled with hate and they promote acts filled with hate. I reject him as I reject Satan.

  • tsch38301

    David, those are some pretty venomous words comming from you. You may whole heartedly disagree with Beck, I understand that, but he is not hateful, to the contrary, he wants people to be able to stick up for themselves and better themselves. Social justice is evil at its core and nothing more than a grab for power though subservitude and keeping people reliant upon an establishment run by men. The old saying, give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. Social justice is giving to those who haven;t earned, not teaching them to do for themselves and family. The churches absolutely have a riole to play in helping people in need as all of us should, but it should not be a government mandate. If you follow Christ, you know he obviously didn’t take teh “easy way out”, nor did his followers when faced with similar situations….peter comes to mind. Living off others peoples money that is not given willingly is theft. I am not a believer in the ends justify the means. There is somethign to be said about how we get the end morally and ethically which has been lost in recent years.

  • firethief

    Amen!

  • ThomasBaum

    RambleOnYou wrote, “I need to brush up on my Bible studies, but didn’t Jesus have a problem with tax collectors?”Jesus seemed to get along quite well with tax collectors and sinners, it was the religious leaders of the day, not all of them though, that Jesus had more problems with.Jesus even went out of His way to invite Himself to dinner with a tax collector which some of the religious establishment of His day took exception too.It was the “holier than thous” that Jesus seem to have the most problem with and as people should be able to see, one does not need to believe in God or gods to have a “holier than thou” attitude.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • kreator6996

    Social justice is evil at its core and nothing more than a grab for power though subservitude and keeping people reliant upon an establishment run by men.Posted by: tsch38301 | April 15, 2010 2:43 PM Sounds more like organized religion…People are “sheep”You must remain “reliant” on God..

  • tsch38301

    Sharon. You and all your lib friends are just plain scary. It is not the governments place to re-distribute wealth. If you want this kind of tyranny then please feel free to drive to the nearest airport with your elitist attitude masked in the name of compassion, and move to any one of many countries that practice this immoral behavior. The beauty of this great nations history is we all have the same opportunity, although it may be inherently more difficult for some than others to succeed. We have had a history of not being restrained by a tyrannical government and thus we have been able to be creative and prosper no matter what conditions we were born into. One thing you libs can’t understand is the outcomes may not be the same for all. BUT, that does not mean if you fail you can’t try again and achieve your dreams. I want to thank you for your very close minded view and ignorance of what is actually happening as a result of your elitist mentality. The tea party gatherings contrary to what many libs believe is not a bunch of right wing racists that fear a minority president…..injected a little race since some of your supporters on this blog are so quick to pull the race card and blame things on evil white people….hello the same white people who happen to vote for Obama, they need to do the math given our countries make up……the tea party members ARE America, the government isn’t. When churches get in bed with the government and try to force legislation that will produce “social justice”, there is nothing just about it, it is plain thievery with a different name and is the antithesis of what Jesus Christ stood for. Just a hint in case you are unaware…..God loves all people, even the wealthy….it is up to the individuals to make sure they are responsible and help others, not the governments. The American PEOPLE are the most forgiving and generous in the world and do for the most part embody what Christ taught. If you recall, when welfare (great name huh) was created by our government it held down generation after generation of poor people. This redistribution will do the same thing. I don’t know about you but I have never been employed by a poor person, the “wealthy” that create jobs….you know the owners of companies….will not hire as many people if they have their money stolen from them keeping the unemployed and downtrodden in an almost inescapable pattern once again for generations…..be aware of the unintended consequences of your wishes in the name of compassion.

  • tfspa

    Posted by: tsch38301 You and all your lib friends are just plain scary. It is not the governments place to re-distribute wealth.Every government that ever existed redistributes wealth. Whether for themselves, for the poor, for the defense industry, public highways, education, on and on. That’s what governments do. Get over it. You just have a problem with *some* things that our democratically elected government have done.

  • ThomasBaum

    tsch38301 You wrote, “the tea party members ARE America, the government isn’t.”What about those that aren’t members of the tea party? Aren’t they also America?You then wrote, ” When churches get in bed with the government and try to force legislation that will produce “social justice”, there is nothing just about it, it is plain thievery with a different name and is the antithesis of what Jesus Christ stood for.”This is partially true, it is true that churches should not get in bed with the government but it is also true that Jesus said we should be Good Samaritans, so to speak, not coerced but willingly.You then wrote, “Just a hint in case you are unaware…..God loves all people, even the wealthy….it is up to the individuals to make sure they are responsible and help others, not the governments.”Another partial truth, God indeed does love all people for the simple fact that God Is Love but it is a simple fact of reality that individuals taking responsibility for their acts is not always a fact, the history of this country or any other country, for that matter, attests to this.You then wrote, “The American PEOPLE are the most forgiving and generous in the world and do for the most part embody what Christ taught.”There is no such thing as “The American People”, we are all individuals, as you pointed out, and as such we are composed of the whole spectrum of virtues and vices, our history is littered with actions that are both Christlike and non-Christlike.You also wrote, “Sharon. You and all your lib friends are just plain scary.”If you think that Sharon and her lib friends are scary, you must find that what Jesus said way beyond scary. If you remember, some of Jesus’s followers said many times, “These are hard sayings”.As I have said, we are asked to do so willingly, not coerced.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • tsch38301

    Mr Baum,Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the tone of your response but respectfully disagree with your premise on which you base them. My point was that the tea party does in fact represent a cross section of America and no one race, gender, or religious belief. I get the strategy, but it doesn’t work for me. My basic point to this whole article is when people are forced by an over reaching government to part with the fruits of their toil, in the name of “justice”, and give to another without say, it is a dangerous and slippery slope that has failed countless times over. I will not get too much into a religious theological debate, I will only say that Christ looked more favorably on those that gave of themselves through sacrifice more than their excess. He never said it was the governments role, but each of our role to help others.As for TFSPA’s response…..the lack of government intrusion is what made our country so unique (and greatest in history) and the envy of the world until the progressives went down that path to government tryanny starting with Woodrow Wilson. Read the constitution, read history and you will find the greatness of our nation was built on less government control and interference. This is what spawned the American dream for so many and the thought that if they could just make it to America, they would be able to have a chance to make a better life. America never has promise results, just opportunity. With all due respect it is lazy thinkers/followers like yourself that want what you want rather than following our law/constitution. While I may have a fundimentally different way of thinking than Mr. Baum, he at least took them time to respnd in a thoughtful manner rather than an uninspired very genreric waste of time and energy as you have. I wish you well in attempting to find the truth, it will do you good to be intellectually honest regardless of what your ideology ends up being. As the son of 3rd genereation immigrants and both of my parents having lived through the great depression, and father fought in WWII, I don’t want anything “given” to me. I have and continue to bust my tail every day to provide for my family and take nothing for granted except that I will have the opprotunity to do so with each passing day.

  • RambleOn

    I need to brush up on my Bible studies, but didn’t Jesus have a problem with tax collectors?

  • DavidH3

    To tsch38301: your own statement that social justice is evil at its core and a way for men to grab power is pretty venomous yourself. It seems rather far-fetched and a mischaracterization of the acts of many good people. Beck promotes selfishness and intolerance. That is hard to dispute. Look at the media matters dot org website and search under his name, or google Glenn Beck debunk. Look at his style of argument. You have to call it for what it is. It is demagoguery. It is misleading the flock.The spirit of sharing and giving up everything to follow Christ is not counter to socialist ideals. Look at what Rabbi Brous has to say, and also Rev Thistlethwaite on this forum. You can be a Christian and a socialist with good conscience. The early Christians gave up everything to the apostles to redistribute according to need. Of course, I am not so enthusiastic about going that far. But it does no good to appeal to Christian beliefs to deny social justice. Christianity was way more radical than modern day socialists.

  • ThomasBaum

    DavidH3 You wrote, “Christianity was way more radical than modern day socialists.”Granted, I do not know a lot about “modern day socialists” except the fact that some seem to think that it is the most obscene term to cast upon another.Not only do I agree with your statement but I think that it is quite the understatement.I most definitely believe that Jesus would throw up hearing some of the absolute garbage being spewed out in His Name.It even says something to this effect in the Book of Revelation.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • FarnazMansouri

    As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes, the aim of religion “is not to transport the believer to a private heaven. Instead, its impassioned, sustained desire is to bring heaven down to earth.”

  • Athena4

    “When churches get in bed with the government and try to force legislation that will produce “social justice”, there is nothing just about it, it is plain thievery with a different name and is the antithesis of what Jesus Christ stood for.”So, I take it that you’re pro-choice? Because isn’t that what the anti-choice movement is doing? The Church getting into bed with the government to force legislation that will produce “social justice.” Two can play that game, dude.

  • howtotownight

    FArnaz MAnsouri, go to On-Success for audition emergency room.