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Social Justice is not a Communist Plot

Recently Glenn Beck, the High Priest of Mammon, alerted his followers to a supposed hidden conspiracy in their churches: social justice.

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. 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!”

Beck then singled out Catholics especially, telling people that if their priest uses the words “social justice,” they are to confront him, and even go to the bishop to complain about it. If the bishop tells you that social justice is a part of Church teaching, Beck says, that is not the Church for you. Mr. Beck said that those who advocate social justice—including clergy—are actually communists or Nazis.

It is somewhat disturbing that Beck appears to be targeting the Catholic Church in his remarks. After all, we are the ones who began using this term back in the 1800s, and it was Leo XIII who first expounded on the term in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Since then most popes have issued social justice encyclicals, including Pius XI, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Fr. Jim Martin has a nice round-up on this over at America.

Of course the concept is much older than that. The Fathers of the Church in apostolic times preached that justice was the guiding principle in almsgiving, and the Hebrew word tzedakah, which refers to gifts to the poor, uses the root word for “justice” (as does its Arabic equivalent zakat, one of the Five Pillars of Islam). And in the past century most other Christian Churches have also integrated the concept of social justice into their approach to poverty and oppression. The prophets of the Hebrew Testament constantly refer to giving to the poor as a justice issue.

For Beck to inflame his followers with fear that such an ancient tradition is actually some new-fangled communist conspiracy at best demonstrates a profound level of ignorance of what Christianity is all about.

Too often Beck and his followers appear to embrace a view of Christianity that is focused almost exclusively on sexual ethics and aggressive demands for public and governmental recognition of specific words or symbols–and also an extreme nationalism dressed up with pseudo-Christian terminology. All this in itself is dangerous enough, but to attack the very basis of the Church’s responsibilities to the poor is alarming. And to encourage others to do so is what we call the sin of scandal.

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2 Responses to “Social Justice is not a Communist Plot”

  1. sue carroll says:

    I’m actually glad he said this. It will force people to consider their beliefs (maybe, if they put that much actual thought into it), and decide if they are truly Catholic or not. Do they really believe what the Church teaches, or do they follow the Gospel of Fox News?

    I hope it does shake things up. Anyone who leaves the Church over this doesn’t belong there in the first place. And some may become former followers of Beck after learning what he truly stands for.

    “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.”

  2. Charles Tomashek says:

    I too am glad Glenn said this. I was born in 1960, and I have seen the close associations between the Social Justice Crowd (the discredited Campaign for Human Development as a prime example) and the Progressive Marxist party otherwise known as the Democrat party. I think Glenn is a bit premature, as the Abomination that causes Desolation won’t be here until about the midpoint of the Tribulation in 2013. All the same, the sheep need to wake up without delay, repent, ask for Jesus’ Divine Mercy, and start learning, thinking, praying, and doing, because we will all be tried very soon. Let us hope we will not be found wanting.

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