Friday, April 16, 2010

Wallis versus Beck on Social Justice

Stu Burguiere, executive producer of the Glenn Beck Show, defends Beck against Jim Wallis' accusations in the Washington Post in an article entitled: "What Glenn Beck Meant About Social Justice." Here is an excerpt:
"Like everyone else in America, Glenn Beck thinks "social justice" ---if its defined as charitable outreach to the poor----is a good idea. He supports it, he believes in it, he does it.

So, what's the problem? I mean, "social justice" seems like such an innocuous phrase, right? It paints a picture of fairness. I guess that's why Father Charles Coughlin used it when naming his
National Union for Social Justice and his publication Social Justice Weekly. Coughlin was an anti-Semitic religious broadcaster in the 1930s, and he used the banner of social justice to attack capitalism, warn of Jewish plots against "Christian civilization", and to promote his adoration for Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini.

This is part of the information Glenn revealed in a special TV show about American extremism of the 20th century. In the context of promoting that special, he began talking about how the far left was once again using this terminology to politicize churches. The specific example he named was Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

He told his listeners that if they were in a church that preaches Jeremiah Wright-style social justice, they should leave--or at least get educated on what exactly that means. It took him all of eight seconds to clarify the type of church he was speaking of, but that was long enough for most in the media to end the transcript.

Suddenly, Glenn was accused of attacking the central tenets of the bible, because he supposedly believed that any church that wants to help the poor should be immediately evacuated. This absurd narrative is mainly the product of Rev. Jim Wallis.

To restate the obvious, some simply use the term "social justice" as a substitute for "outreach to the poor." This is not the kind of "social justice" Glenn was talking about. The fact that this term has been utilized for purposes other than good Christian charity is well documented. One scholar explained it quite clearly: "it is true that term [has] been used by the right and the left for all kinds of ideological purposes that aren't necessarily the purposes of Christ." That scholar was Jim Wallis.

Read the rest here.

The issue between Beck and Wallis is not whether Christians (and all decent people) should give to charity. Everyone agrees we should.

But it is one thing to advocates charity and quite another to despise it as too little and too ineffective. Wallis advocates government assuming the power to confiscate everybody's income and redistribute it according to the dogma of equality of outcomes as administered by a bureaucratic class of experts. Beck says that people have a moral obligation to give to the poor. Wallis says they have a moral obligation to vote for political parties that will redistribute wealth by coercion. So it is really a "Private Charity versus Social Democracy" debate.

Do we only have "social justice" when we have a social democracy in which the income is redistributed by the government so that everyone is basically equal economically regardless of how productive each one is? If that is social justice, then Beck opposes it and so most Americans.

And so do most Christians, because while we follow Jesus' teaching and render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, we don't believe that everything belongs to Caesar. Only those who have sold out to Caesar believe that.

No comments: