Beck Names Next Target, Compares Self To God

On his radio show earlier this week, Glenn Beck made it clear that his war on Christianity will continue for the foreseeable future. He has plans to target not another administration official, but prominent evangelical Jim Wallis.

He’s come up with this great system uh, of being able to have a religion just really run by the government. Or his religion running the government, I’m not sure which way it works, but he’s really for this big government kind of thing to even out all the things that Jesus came to even out…

So you go ahead and you continue to do your little protest thing, that’s great, I love it. But just know the hammer’s coming, because little do you know, for eight weeks we’ve been compiling information on you, your cute little organization, and all the other cute little people that are with you. And when the hammer comes, it’s going to be hammering hard, and all through the night, over and over, because you’ve got – this is why we’ve been working on it for eight weeks.

Wallis, a pro-lifer who eschews the term “religious left,” is the founder of the “Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace” community and magazine. Poverty, humane immigration reform, and pacifism are frequent themes in the liberal monthly, which also includes weekly Bible devotionals. I recently let my subscription lapse because the reporting is fairly shallow and does little more than cheerlead, not even preach, to the choir, but the online blogs and action alerts are insightful and thought-provoking. You can bet that Beck’s forthcoming character smears will hammer away at the fact that the magazine has given favorable coverage to Van Jones while completely ignoring that fellow Fox News host Mike Huckabee had the even higher honor of gracing the magazine’s cover.

Beck never knows what he’s talking about, but his attacks on Wallis will probably be his most uninformed yet. We already know that the man barely cracks open his Bible, but in his initial Sojourners rant, he referred to Jim Wallis as “Jim Wright” and called the Sojo blog “The Politics of God.” Its name is “God’s Politics.” Buddy, if you don’t even know your target’s name, how can we trust you to know the details?

Wallis has requested a public discussion with Beck on the meaning of “social justice,” but Beck will have none of it. I would have thought it’s because that’s just not his modus operendi – why risk your opponent throwing facts in your face when you can just stand at a chalkboard and taunt from behind the safety of a camera? But no, that’s actually not his rationale. Beck’s real reason for refusing to debate Wallis is that he believes himself too holy for that. Seriously:

Jim, I just wanted to, I just wanted to pass this on to you. Uh, in my time I will respond. My time, kind of like God’s time, might be a day or might be a week. To you, I’m not sure. But I’m going to get to it in my time, not your time.

I’m not as big a fan of Wallis as I used to be. He’s a great organizer and I heard him give a great speech about the values of Martin Luther King a few years ago, but there are others who make the same justice points in a less partisan way. He is the political face of his movement and I’m more inclined to look to the theological faces – folks like Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo. Their message does a much better job of cutting to the true values of justice. But having said that, I do know that Wallis would never compare his time to God’s time, and I do know that Wallis isn’t scared to face his critics. He is, in fact, able to respond to Beck with a more civil tongue than I’ll bet Beck even thought humanly possible:

Why is the idea of a civil dialogue such a threat to Glenn Beck? Glenn, let us please not resort to threats and attacks. To repeat, I have not and will not attack you personally, and I repeat my invitation to a civil dialogue on what social justice really means. Since you were the one to raise this issue and start this whole discussion, I just want it to end in a better and more civil way.

More than 30,000 Christian pastors and church members have written to you as Christians who believe in social justice and are asking you to reconsider your statements. This is a time for dialogue, not monologue, and I prayerfully ask you to consider my request for a conversation.

Glenn Beck’s War on Christianity Continues

Last week, Glenn Beck said that because the Nazis used the words “social justice,” Christians should run from churches that use those words on their websites, never mind that they are at the heart of Scripture. Beck renewed these attacks on Christ’s message yesterday, distorting the Gospels even more grotesquely than before:

Where I go to church, there are members that preach social justice as members–my faith doesn’t–but the members preach social justice all the time. It is a perversion of the gospel. … You want to help out? You help out. It changes you. That’s what the gospel is all about: You.

Social justice was the rallying cry—economic justice and social justice—the rallying cry on both the communist front and the fascist front. That is not an American idea. And if we don’t get off the social justice economic justice bandwagon, if you are not aware of what this is, you are in grave danger. All of our faiths–my faith your faith–whatever your church is, this is infecting all of them.

MyDD is by no means a religious blog, and it is certainly not a Christian one. But Glenn Beck, an enemy of the progressive movement and of the American people, has launched a broadside on my faith and on my Savior, and I will not stand for it.

His specious logic about language aside, Beck’s attacks on Christianity are perhaps the greatest distortion of the Gospel since the Crusades. If there is any one thing that the Gospel is NOT about, it’s “you.” You are to know that you are loved, yes, but you are also to join a kingdom and acknowledge a God far bigger than you. In fact, that’s exactly how evangelical pastor Rick Warren starts his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you.

Let’s take a quick look at the Bible, shall we? In one of the Gospels’ bedrock passages, John 13:34-35, Jesus tells his followers, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” How does focusing on yourself count as loving your neighbor? This call is repeated in Matthew 5:3-12, Luke 6:20-26, Matthew 22:36-40, and more. Mary the Mother of Christ even goes as far as to say, in Luke 1:52-53, that God “has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” In fact, the only end times judgment in the entire Gospel is not about posessing a certain faith or belief; it is about helping the poor (Matthew 25:31-46).

Okay, Beckians might say, clearly the Bible calls Christians to love others, but it does so because of how that transforms the helper, not because it lifts up the helped! Wrong. In Isaiah 51:3-7, we are told not to show piety for the purpose of finding promotion. “Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high… Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?”

As a person of faith and a student of theology, I don’t disagree with Beck that the Bible will transform us as individuals. Indeed, my last sermon was about the good that comes from trusting God and my Ash Wednesday sermon was about balancing our personal relationships to God with our need for community. But to ignore the second half of that equation, to focus only on the love we receive as individuals, is to ignore everything Christ ever said about Rome. It is to ignore the behavior of the original disciples and it is to distort the words of Jesus in a way even more perverted than did 19th century slave owners.

Christian organizations across the country feel the same way. Sojourners, an evangelical organization dedicated to justice and peace, is asking readers to tell Beck, “I'm a social justice Christian.” The anti-hunger group Bread for the World is gathering 35,000 signatures for a petition they’ll send to Beck about the Bible’s message. The New Evangelical Partnership is raising $5,000 to record a video rebutting Beck.

The best response I’ve yet seen comes from the Jesuit James Martin’s “Glenn Beck to Jesus: Drop Dead” who defends the Catholic Church’s history of social teaching. Martin’s response was joined in the top tier yesterday by Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches, who says that Beck “is advocating that [Christians] abandon the full Gospel message in favor of a hollow idol, and he is doing so for worldly gain. His statements cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged… If Mr. Beck's rants stemmed simply from an honest lack of familiarity with Scripture, that would be one thing. But what is perhaps most disturbing about Mr. Beck's recent statements is that he is urging his listeners to follow a piecemeal Gospel because it better fits his worldly political views.”

The Christian-specific response to Beck aside, people of other faiths and none can join us too. The best way to strike back at Beck is not to sign a petition, though that will help, and it is not to demand that his sponsors pull their support, though that will help too. No, the best way to respond to Beck is this: Keep loving your neighbor, and keep fighting for the poor and the oppressed. Do everything you can to bring down whatever unjust structures you believe exist in this country and on this planet, and always keep the values of charity, hope, and love in your heart. If we can all do these things, then it won’t matter what vocabulary we use to describe them or what faith banner we do them under, Beck’s selfish and evil words will have no place left to stand.

Glenn Beck Godwins Jesus, Part 2

Last week I highlighted Glenn Beck’s call for people to leave churches where the pastor talks about “social justice,” equating those churches to Nazism and Communism. His words, I said, weren’t just a distortion of the phrase “social justice” or the umpteenth example of his omnipresent specious logic but also proof that he understands neither the role of a pastor in a church nor the role churches play in their parishioners’ lives.

One thing I momentarily avoided, however, was a discussion of Christ’s actual teachings. James Martin, S.J. shows no such hesitation in America Magazine and nailed the subject beautifully in yesterday’s post, “Glenn Beck to Jesus: Drop Dead.” The Jesuit Martin focuses on Catholic social teachings through the centuries but broadens his article at the end to include all Christians and even Jesus Christ Himself.  

Glenn Beck is, in essence, saying “Leave the Catholic church.” Or, if you like, the Catholic church is a Nazi church. (Which would have surprised Alfred Delp, Rupert Mayer and Maximilian Kolbe.) Or a Communist one. (Which would have suprised Jerzy Popieluszko and Karol Wojtyla)…

But Glenn Beck is saying something else, which might get lost in the translation: Leave Christianity. Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus points to our responsibility to care for the poor, to work on their behalf, to stand with them. In fact, when asked how his followers would be judged, Jesus doesn’t say that it will be based on where you worship, or how you pray, or how often you go to church, or even what political party you believe in. He says something quite different: It depends on how you treat the poor.

In the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 25) he tells his surprised disciples, that when you are meeting the poor, you are meeting him… Ignoring the poor, and ignoring what keeps them poor, is, quite simply, unchristian. Indeed, the poor are the church in many ways.  

Something Martin didn’t say but that I have learned as a result of this latest Beck flap is that the term “social justice” was even coined by a Jesuit priest in 1840. So yes, Glenn Beck is calling the Jesuits and anyone who went to their schools a bunch of Nazis. And more than that, since it is the book of Isaiah that tells us to "Cease to do evil, leard to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow," he is also saying that all Jews and Christians are Nazis. Because on Fox News, only Nazis and Commies define "good" as seeking justice for the oppressed.

Politics Daily also picked up on Beck’s quote yesterday. As of this writing, David Sessions’ article has 616 comments and 588 retweets. Maybe this time Beck finally went too far for his own good?

There's more...

Glenn Beck Attacks Pastors, Doesn't Understand What Church Is

If you Google “church ‘social justice,’” you get 2.3 million results. “Faith ‘social justice’” yields  2 million, and “Judaism ‘social justice’” gives 1.2 million more. The Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis even has an “Office for Social Justice.”

According to Fox News’ resident bigot Glenn Beck, the Archbishop of St. Paul and most of those other webmasters are all either Nazis or Communists.

"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, the idea, hang on, am I advising people to leave their church... yes!... If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish."

Code words? When you actually ask the Minnesota Catholics what they do, they’re pretty up front about it: “We base our activities on the biblical and theological foundations of Catholic social teaching… We emphasize the ‘option for the poor’ by pursuing issues which address the dignity and rights of people who are socially, politically, or economically disadvantaged.” 

But no, it is impossible, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that such people are telling the truth. We know this because there was once someone else who meant something different by "social justice." Do you know who that someone else was?

Hitler.

Specious logic aside, Beck’s quote proves he doesn’t understand what church is even ABOUT, not if he thinks it’s the pastor’s occasional choice of language that defines the place. Something that was lost during 2008’s kerfuffle about Pastor Jeremiah Wright is that church is about far more than the Sunday sermon. Pastors come and pastors go, but congregations remain. Church is about community and family. It is about learning and worshipping together in order to grow in ways we never could as individuals. It is not just about filling the lives of those inside the church, but about making a difference in the church's larger community - social justice. In fact, at the church where I currently work, a survey conducted during a recent priest transition said only 55% of parishioners consider the sermon an important part of their church experience. Music and youth opportunities were around 80%.

The fact that Beck would encourage people to leave a church because a pastor or priest defines certain justice Scriptural passages – passages Beck may wish don’t even exist – with two particular words shows that the man knows absolutely nothing about faith, church, or Scripture. While I don’t want to question his personal morality, it’s only going to get harder not to regard him, and his network, as false prophets or charlatans.

If you’re a person of faith and would like to push back against Beck, the New Evangelical Partnership, run by the former Vice President of the conservative National Association of Evangelicals, is trying to raise $5,000 to produce and distribute a video using Matthew 25 to respond to Beck.

How far will the GOP go for the Latino vote?

From the Restore Fairness blog.

In the 2008 Presidential Election, Republicans won only 31% of the Latino vote, down from 40% of Latino votes they had four years earlier when George Bush took office for the second time. And based on exit polls, it seems apparent that the Hispanic vote played a large part in President Obama’s Electoral College victory and win over John McCain. Add to this the fact that from 1998 to 2008 the number of Latinos eligible to vote rose by 21% (from 16.1 million to 19.5 million), and factor in estimates that say that by 2050 the Hispanic population is expected to increase by 200% and you get a reasonable explanation why Republicans are beginning to panic about how to ensure support from the Latino community. Now that Republicans have woken up to the fact that they desperately need to secure Hispanic support, the question is how they intend to go about doing this, and whether they have it in them to go beyond the surface and address issues that resonate deeply with the Latino community.

Earlier this month, America’s Voice brought out a report that spotlights the growing power of the Latino electorate and suggests that candidates in all political races should keep a close eye on the issues that influence the Latino vote if they intend to remain viable in the House and Senate elections for 2010. The report, The Power of the Latino Vote in America, gives a detailed account of Latino voting trends, identifies 40 Congressional races across 11 states where Latinos are likely to made a huge impact in the November elections, and makes a strong argument for how deeply the issue of immigration reform will affect the Hispanic vote.

While it rates the economy as the top-most issue for the Hispanic population, the report makes it clear that immigration reform has played a key role in how the Latino voters made their choices in 2008, and will continue to do so. The report says,

Polling of Latino voters shows that the Republican Party’s image has been severely damaged by GOP lawmakers’ demagoguery on the issue, and that the vast majority of Latinos simply will not vote for a candidate who advocates mass deportation instead of comprehensive immigration reform…Politicians of both parties also need to approach the issue responsibly during their election campaigns. Heated rhetoric coupled with unrealistic policy solutions like mass deportation will turn off both the crucial Latino voting bloc and other swing voters, who are tired of Washington policymakers talking tough, but delivering little.

But life isn’t hunky dory for Democrats either. Moving forward, the report tells us that while Hispanics have been tending towards the Democrats for years, taking the Latino vote for granted would be a huge fallacy on the part of Democrat candidates. The recent victory of GOP candidate Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in Massachusetts was attributed to the fact that Coakley failed to reach out to the Latino vote base, and works as a good warning to Democrats who must show leadership and work towards ensuring that their campaign promises be kept in order to keep the support of the powerful Hispanic voter base. Moreover, the Latino-swing constituency, comprising of foreign born, naturalized U.S. citizens of Latino descent who represent about 40% of the Latino population, tend to be favorable to some of the Republican ideals such as the emphasis on “family values.”

On the day of it’s release, Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, wrote an article in the Huffington Post in which she prescribed that this report should be bedside reading for any politician in America today. And looking at the activities within a segment of the Republican party in the past few weeks, it looks like many have taken her advice quite seriously. Tea Party extremism aside, a number of Republican candidates in states such as California and Texas, seem to have adopted a more favorable attitude towards immigration reform in order to gain the support of the large Hispanic voter bases. In Texas, George P. Bush, an attorney of Mexican descent and son of Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has founded a political action committee, The Hispanic Republicans of Texas, aimed to promote Hispanics running for office. A number of Republican party strategists are researching social and economic issues that affect the Latino community. And in order to bridge the gap between the Hispanic community and Republican ideals, the Christian group, The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, plans to spend $500,000 on helping pro-immigration Republican candidates and promote conservative values in the Latino community.

Running a focus group that is researching economic and social issues that face the Latino community, Former Republican National Committee Chairman, Ed Gillespie wants to reach out to Hispanic voters on issues that are important to them. Gillespie blames the loss of Latino support on past “Republican rhetoric,” and says that the key lies in changing the “tone and body language” when addressing the issue of immigration.

We have to make clear to Latino voters that we care as much about welcoming legal immigrants into our country as we do about keeping illegal ones out.

Actions speak louder than words. So while the new GOP language on immigration is evident when Sarah Palin said on Fox News that conservatives needed to be “welcoming and inviting to immigrants” and recognize that “immigrants built this great country,” a lot more than that is necessary before the tides turn. When Republicans stop blocking all immigration reform bills introduced in the Senate and the House, then we will talk.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

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