Monday, March 29, 2010

Glenn Beck Fails Again

Good ol' Glenn has managed to make a public spectacle of himself again, and this time he's even managed to alienate more than a few of his usual allies. It seems that he's taken to delving into theology without actually studying the subject first, and in the process he's managed to stomp on the toes of just about the whole range of denominational Christianity, including his own home church, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, aka Mormons.

So what did Glenn say? Basically, he told his listeners to run away from their church if they believed in social justice, calling it a code word for communism and fascism and a perversion of the Gospel. Here are his exact words:
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! …

If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, “Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?” If it’s my church, I’m alerting the church authorities: “Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing?” And if they say, “yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing”—I’m in the wrong place.
That was from his original radio broadcast. The next is from a follow-up broadcast:
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.
Did you notice that one parenthetical aside? He says that while there may be members of his church who preach social justice, his church itself doesn't. And he couldn't be more wrong. In fact the LDS does indeed both preach and practice social justice, starting with exhortations in its chief scripture, The Book of Mormon. I'm not an expert on the LDS, although I've read both the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price, as well as some church documents. But I would never pass myself off as a spokesperson for the church. There are two excellent articles online by people who are Mormons and can speak for the church, and I urge you to go read them: a post on the Spiritual Politics blog and an article by Jana Reiss on Beliefnet. Both of these state the LDS policy on social justice clearly, and it's obvious that Glenn Beck doesn't even know his own church's teachings on the subject. Gee, Glenn, looks like you're gonna have to leave and find a new place to go on Sunday mornings!

Not that he'll have much luck. He calls social justice a perversion of the Gospel, but the fact is that it's pretty much hard-wired into all four of the Gospels. Jesus raises up the poor and condemns the rich for hoarding all their money and allowing the poor to get even poorer. He exhorts his followers to care for the poor, the sick, the widow, the disabled, but he doesn't stop there; he makes it an obligation, and punishable by an eternity in hell if you don't. Check out these passages:
20) And he raised his eyes to his listeners and preached: Congratulations, you poor, for God's domain belongs to you.
21) Congratulations, you who starve now, for you will be filled. Congratulations, you who weep and wail now, for you will laugh.
22) Congratulations to you when people detest you and exclude you, and rail at you and drive you out and call you evil because of the Son of Man!
23) Rejoice on that day and leap for joy! Behold, your reward in heaven will be abundant. Remember that their ancestors treated the prophets the same.
24) But beware you wealthy, for you've already received your consolation.
25) Beware you who are filled now, for you will famish. Beware you who laugh now, for you will mourn and wail aloud.
26) Beware whenever everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors regarded the false prophets.
– Luke 6:20 - 26
That's the Beatitudes, the Lukan version (and in my own translation). And here's the passage from Matthew where he makes it an obligation to care for the poor and the weak:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me. Then they also will answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then he will answer them, saying, Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
– Matthew 25:31 - 46 (ESV)
Every denomination, and even the independent churches, go out into the community to help the poor and the sick and the homeless; they all, and I emphasize all, have social outreach programs. Not only that, but they also all petition the government to legislate on and promote such activities, which is really what Glenn is objecting to. He objects to the social activism of the liberal churches, but the conservative churches see their programs against state approval of things like abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, etc. as social justice issues, and the Southern Baptist Convention has even gone on record as scolding Beck because of exactly that. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said on his weekly radio program March 13 that if taken literally, Beck would be asking people to leave Southern Baptist churches. That is because the denomination's official confessional statement, the Baptist Faith and Message, includes an article titled "The Christian and the Social Order" that challenges Southern Baptists "to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society."

So Glenn Beck has failed big time. He's even managed to embarrass his usual supporters. He's failed both New Testament 101 and Book of Mormon 101. Do you think it'll teach him to do a little more studying before he opens his mouth on a subject he doesn't know? Naaaah!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Perhaps this is a good example of how fear can distort perspective and obscure truth. Hopefully, only his.

  2. Deb, fear doesn't distort Beck's perspective at all, because he's not doing this out of fear - it's purely a love of power over others. His whole schtick is fake from the word go. Even the crying is fake - check out this video.

    What he's dong is deliberately manipulating others' fears.

  3. In my humble opinion, Glenn Beck is an absolute ass, nitwit, dunce, idiot, buffoon, and half-witted clown. But that's just my humble opinion. Thank you.

  4. i like going to church but that guy could really ruin it for me. He's crazy you know!

  5. I grew up a Mormon. I'm actually a little afraid, since my maiden name is Beck. Suddenly, I'm horribly afraid I'm somehow related to this hateful creature.

    Here's hoping not.

  6. It would be one thing if this were true. But it's a spewing hate-filled radical lefty lies, and I'm not reading your blog anymore, Roy.

    Hey, by Beck's lights, reading the Book of Mormon once does make you an expert. He and the rest of the right claim to be experts on the Constitution, and I figure they've read it just about once. Maybe.

  7. Skip - You're not the only one who holds that opinion; in fact, you may be in the majority!

    Steph - Don't worry, Beck's a convert. He was raised Jewish but converted so he could marry his Mormon sweetie.

    K - Hmmmm... Once a long time ago I read a book about auto maintenance; does that mean I should be trusted with fixing somebody's car? Heh, heh!

  8. omg - i am speechless. well, i could say a few words, some things are better left unsaid.

  9. Excellent post and even though I'm an athiest I can see what the 'church' and morons like Beck are doing in order to influence the political agenda. Church and State must remain separate. I thought the whole point of being a christian was to exercise social justice.

  10. scary! And the followers of Beck are even scarier and even more is the network who pays this putz and lets him spew on the airways.

  11. Beck is a moron. A scary moron.