I’m so sorry, Mr. Beck …

March 15, 2010

Culture, Politics


Glenn Beck

I confess.  I’m guilty.  As charged.  ‘Cuff me.  Throw me into the van.  Cart me off and toss the key.

I always thought of myself as an evangelical Christian with a slightly liberal political bent: you know, one of those pro-life Democrats in the heritage of Tip O’Neil and Bob Casey.  I’d love to high-five a Thomas Dewey/Teddy Roosevelt Republican, but they’re drowning their sorrows with former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and the ghost of Nelson Rockefeller. 

But you set me straight.  You recently told America that Christians should clear out of churches whose pastors advocate social justice.  You said this: “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 … If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish.  Go alert your bishop.”  You held aloft cards with a hammer and a sickle in one hand and a swastika in the other, hinting that preachers like me are commies and Nazis.

Wow.  And here I thought both World War 2 and the Cold War were over.  Naïve little me. 

I guess I fell asleep with the remote in my paw and missed the big news.  You’re a Mormon.  My seminary professors told me Mormonism was outside the pale of traditional Christianity and was grist for anti-cult literature.  Now I wake up and I find many fellow evangelicals invoking you against Nazi-commies like me.  Like, Rip Van Winkle and everything.

Those professors quoted passages like Amos 5:11, where God rails against ancient Israel because “you trample on the poor and force him to give you grain.  Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine;” and verses 21-24: “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.  Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.  Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.  Away with the noise of your songs!  I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”  They pointed me to Psalm 72, where the good Israelite king is marked with justice and defends the afflicted; and Daniel 4:27, where the command for kindness to the oppressed is extended to non-Israelite kings.  And never mind Leviticus 25, which provides for the elimination of institutional, generational poverty. 

So arrest King David, Amos, and Daniel along with me – and those seminary professors, who polluted my mind and curbed my spine.  And lock up the great revivalists as well: John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, Phoebe Palmer, and William Booth of Salvation Army fame.  Into the brig.  And them Catholics: Thomas Aquinas, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Pope John Paul II.  They all preached social justice, so they’re all commies and Nazis.  And don’t forget the nasty, commie-Nazi Mennonites and Quakers — plus the early Pentecostals, who were pacifists.  And Saint Francis.  And Mother Teresa. 

Oh, there have been debates galore over tactics since the fourth century:  What role for government?  Most agree it should have some role, what with the structure of things.  Why, average Joe and Josephine Christian can be key players in pushing leaders away from inhumanity and toward mercy (hello, Clara Barton).  Churches can have their soup kitchens and clothe individuals, but they cannot enact child labor laws, set up police forces, and enforce regulations so coal mines don’t cave in.  Benevolent government is …

Nazism and communism.

Or so it seems in your world, Mr. Beck, the one who caws from your perch outside traditional Christianity: “Fly.  Fly away.  Fly away from those churches that are trying to apply the Bible in a pluralistic society.  Fly away from preachers who are teaching what the church has taught for two thousand years.”

And arrest me — because I am one of those Nazi-commies who embraces social justice.

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

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9 Comments on “I’m so sorry, Mr. Beck …”

  1. Tracy Says:

    I pray he finds this blog, reads it closely and realizes what a putz he is! Great post.


  2. Bot Says:

    There ie a big difference between rendering under Caesar and rendering under Caesar’s subjects so Caesar can keep them in subjection and squeeze votes from them to keep Caesar in power.

    Jesus Christ wants charity to be voluntary. Character growth comes from freely giving and from the receiver expressing gratitude for the charity. Both the giver and receiver become more Christ-like in the exchange.

    Nothing close to this occurs when the Government extorts money from Peter so that “social and economic justice” for Paul can transpire. Extortion even though legal is still extortion. Neither giver nor receiver have experienced true charity.

    Glenn Beck’s church practices true charity, as do many other denominations. We could learn a lot from such charitable organizations.


  3. Jenn Says:

    I will say I whole-heartedly agree with your posting. But I will also say, maybe I’m naive, but as a Canadian, socialized health care is common place – it is actually common place around most if not all of the industrialized world, and yet it is discussed in the US, like it is going to be the downfall of American society – I don’t understand that. On the Sojourners’ website I commented that while there is this huge cry for social justice and an equal cry for no government involvement, there seems to be the disconnect as the Church cannot, as you indicated fulfill all the basic needs of society – food stamps, unemployment insurance, welfare etc. Therefore, when we are acting towards social justice we are actually saying that social justice means advocating and providing where we can, homeless shelters in church basements and so on and so forth – both working in parallel.
    Why is it that it seems at the end of all this that what is being said by those in opposition is, I like my money, in fact I value my money more than the lives of the 46 million without health care in the US (Soj website stat), and darn it if anyone be it the government, friend, pastor etc is going to tell me that actually I’m acting like an incredibly selfish 3 year old.
    But then again I’m one of the socialist-left leaning Mennonites that Mr. Beck seems to believe is a Nazi (good to know I am the kind of person who would have killed my mother and her family). I also believe Mr. Beck is a bully, but he is a bully that God rules over, and God will in His sovereign will and time deal with that. My household and I will serve God, with peace, with grace, with a servant heart and a loose and faithful hand on my finances – they are His after all


  4. christian matchmaking Says:

    Hello, I read this site once, then lost it. Took me forever to come back and find it. I wanted to find out what comments you got. Great blog by the way.


  5. medical insurance Says:

    Glen Beck has less than a junior high school grasp of history and world affairs, a complete lack of honesty and integrity, and a total disregard for the intelligence of his audience. His presentation is full of unfounded conspiracy theories and when he is caught in a lie, which he often is, he just switches from being a “reporter” or “political commentator” to being an “entertainer.”


  6. Stroller for Cars Says:

    I recently discovered your blog/website and have really enjoyed reading this and some of the other posts. I thought I would dive out from the shadows and leave my first comment. I am not sure what to say other than I’ve enjoyed reading and will continue to visit as usually as I can.


  7. Analisa Sroka Says:

    excellent stuff. Do you have a RSS feed? And would it be cool if I included your feed to a site of mine? I have a blog that pulls content via RSS feeds through a couple of sites and I’d like to add yours, a lot of folks do not mind considering I link back and everything but I like to get consent first. Anyhow let me know if you could, thank you.


    • chuckredfern Says:

      Go ahead link to my feed, Analisa, as long as you tell everyone where you got it and link back to my site.


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