Jim Wallis

Glenn Beck Vs. Social Justice Christianity

Glenn Beck has become controversial yet again, calling on Christians to leave churches that preach social and economic justice, claiming that it is not the purpose of churches to get involved in promoting what he calls “socialism”.

An evangelical Christian preacher, the Reverend Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a network of progressive Christianity, denounced Beck as perverting the message of Jesus Christ, who he says believed in economic and social justice. Beck condemned such beliefs as equivalent to Communism and Nazism, as well as Socialism. Wallis is calling for a boycott of Beck’s television show on Fox News Channel.

At the same time, Jerry Falwell, Jr, son of the late Jerry Falwell, a leading evangelical conservative, agreed with Beck, and said it is not the job of government to be involved in economic and social justice, but rather it is the mission of church goers to help the poor and support widows out of their own good will.

This debate over the role of religion is not just among evangelical Christians, but also among mainline Protestants and Catholics who have long believed in economic and social justice.

It is what motivated ministers who opposed slavery in the 19th century, such as William Lloyd Garrison and Theodore Dwight Weld. It is what motivated Social Gospel ministers to be involved in labor reforms and work against child labor in the Progressive Era, such as Walter Rauschenbusch and Washington Gladden. It is what motivated Martin Luther King, Jr and other black and white ministers, priests and rabbis who sacrificed their safety in the civil rights movement of the mid 20th century. It is what motivated many men and women of the cloth who have opposed the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan Wars. It is a belief of many Christians that see the concept of their religion being practiced in moral ways by group and government action.

This debate over the proper role of religion in dealing with social and economic issues will not be ended with the kind of bitter attacks of Glenn Beck, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and others who are conservative, as it is clear that if Jesus was here today, he would not agree with such narrow minded views of the importance of social and economic commitment by individuals and governments!

It also is clear that Glenn Beck needs education in the definitions and meanings of Socialism, Communism, and Nazism. Again he displays tremendous ignorance and willingness to divide for the sake of splitting people and groups, and it is therefore to be condemned as despicable!