Glenn Beck and Teachable Moments

By Jeannie Choi 04-06-2011

Soj1009It was announced today that Glenn Beck will end his program on the Fox News Channel later this year in order to create a "variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms ... ." Although this doesn't sound like Beck is going off the air completely, we can certainly be glad to know Beck will no longer have a platform for sharing his misguided thoughts to a national television audience every weekday.

This past year, Glenn Beck chose to target Jim Wallis and Sojourners by quoting and misquoting, or taking out of context past statements, articles, and interviews of Jim Wallis. Beck put Jim on his "blackboard" -- his target list of influential progressive leaders. He also called Christians to leave any churches that espoused "social justice" in their teachings and on their websites.

Needless to say, Beck provided Sojourners with many "teachable moments," and while some argued that we should just ignore him, we felt it was important to stand up for the millions of Christians committed to social justice in our nation and around the world.

Here's a little round up of links to show some of the work we did to articulate the intersection of faith and social justice to Glenn Beck, his audience, and our readers:

  • "Dear Glenn, I am glad to see you are beginning to recognize the deep richness of the term 'social justice.' I, and my organization, Sojourners, have committed 35 years to exploring this and in working with Christians across the spectrum to deepen their commitment to this essential, biblical concept. Now that you're willing to admit that social justice is more than just a code word, we have a wonderful opportunity for the two of us to sit down together and have an open and public discussion on what social justice really means and how Christians are called to engage in the struggle for justice. Why don't we do that, on your show, or in some other venue. And let's make this a civil dialogue and not engage in personal attacks on each other -- which is never helpful in trying to sort out what is true. So let's talk about the heart of the matter. When would you like to get together for this conversation?"
    (Jim Wallis, An Invitation to Glenn Beck).
  • "If you are a Christian, you are supposed to love people first. Not agree with them first. Or disagree with them first. Or speak truth to their power first. You are supposed to love them first. This is an equal opportunity, ahem, encouragement. On both the center-left and the center-right I hear ugly caricatures of the opposition-du-jour. So a question to the wise: 'What does it mean to love Glenn Beck as you would love yourself?'"
    (Rodolpho Carrasco, Love Glenn Beck as You Would Love Yourself).
  • "This post was written in response to the Washington Post On Faith question of the week which they titled: 'Wallis vs. Beck: The politics of social justice,' asking, 'How does the pursuit of justice fit into your faith? Is "social justice" an ideology or a theology?' I'm glad for the discussion, but 'Wallis vs. Beck' really isn't the point. Over several weeks, Glenn Beck has attacked the term and concept of 'social justice;' likened it to Marxism, communism, and Nazism; told people to leave their churches if the words even appeared on congregational websites; and instructed Christians to 'turn in' their pastors and priests to church authorities if they preached or taught 'social justice.' That's what he said, and is still saying. I felt it necessary to respond when I heard that a Fox News personality had attacked the heart of the mission statement of Sojourners: 'to articulate the biblical call to social justice.' He only attacked me when I challenged his misrepresentations and distortions of a central Christian teaching that is integral to biblical faith."
    (Jim Wallis, This Isn't About Wallis vs. Beck -- It's About Biblical Social Justice).
  • "The church is called by God, through scripture to be about the whole mission of God, which includes evangelism, discipleship, mission, compassion, mercy, and justice. The church is called to make disciples and to do justice and love mercy. Let the Word of God drive the evangelical church and its theology, not a political talk show host."
    (Efrem Smith, Why Glenn Beck is a Danger to True Evangelical Theology).
  • "Any careful reading of the New Testament must lead us toward working for justice for all. We not only are called to address the physical needs of the poor and the sick, we must also recognize and work to change the societal injustices that contribute to poverty, disease, and any sort of disenfranchisement. Social justice is a virtue."
    (Cathleen Falsani, Social Justice is a Virtue).

So does this mean we can sit back, relax, and count this as a victory? Hardly. Because, frankly, our work goes beyond one cable news television host. So keep visiting us at the God's Politics blog to stay engaged with our continued work for social justice.

[Sojourners' work on countering Glenn Beck was funded by readers like you. Give today to fund more of our social justice message.]

Jeannie ChoiJeannie Choi is web editor at Sojourners.

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