By Bill Press
Tribune Media Services
It’s embarrassing, how gullible we are.
We’ve been surrounded by Christians all these years. We might have even become one ourselves. We were impressed by the good works they did: helping the poor, opening soup kitchens, sponsoring homeless shelters, fighting for workers rights.
How gullible we are. Little did we realize that all of those Christian good works — which they call “social justice,” or “economic justice” — were nothing but a front for communism. And all of those practitioners of the “Social Gospel” were nothing but communist agents.
But now we know, thanks to Fox megastar Glenn Beck. On his March 2 radio show, Beck busted the whole centuries-long myth of Christianity and exposed it for what it really is. “I beg you,” he implored his listeners, “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 Beck left no doubt about what he meant by “code words.” He made clear that he was equating Christianity with communism and Nazism: “Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That’s what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. . . . But on each banner, read the words, here in America: ‘social justice.’ They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy.”
In Glenn Beck’s twisted mind, in other words, there is no difference between Christianity, communism and Nazism. What a sick, sick, sick man. Why would Fox keep such an anti-Christian hatemonger on the air?
Now here, I must confess my own bias. I used to be a seminarian. I have a degree in theology from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. I was once working on a doctorate in theology in “Religion and Society.” I was taught that our responsibility as Christians includes, not just striving for self-perfection, but also helping others. I am a devoted follower of the Social Gospel.
As such, I must admit, I’m in good company: all the way from St. Francis of Assisi to Martin Luther King Jr. to Mother Teresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu. It’s one place I even join ranks with Pope Benedict XVI, whose encyclical Caritas in Veritate continues a tradition of the Catholic Church in support of working men and women begun by Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. Sounding like a true labor organizer, Benedict writes: “The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner, and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone.”
But you don’t need a degree in theology to know how wrong Glenn Beck is. You just need to read the Gospels — which, clearly, Beck has never done. Theologians may argue about the divinity of Jesus Christ. But there is no argument that his short time on earth was spent loving, serving, and caring for the poor — and urging us to do the same. Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine, points out that there are more than 2,000 verses in Scripture about helping the poor, including the one hardest of all to swallow: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Indeed, from the beginning, it has been the central message of Christianity (and all faiths) that God wants us to reach out and help the poor, the disadvantaged and those who are not as fortunate as we are. That’s what I was taught at home, in church, and in school. That’s what I believe. And if that makes me a communist, then I’m proud to be a communist.
In the end, we Christians should not have been surprised by this kind of attack. After all, Scripture also warns us that some day the devil will rise up with many followers and deceive people with his blasphemous speeches and teachings. We just never realized the devil’s name would be Glenn Beck.
© 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.