Glenn Beck declares War on United Methodists

::update 3/14/2010:: followup posts here (Glenn Beck v. UMC, part deux) and here (Welcome readers! Let’s talk about Justice!)

Again, I don’t talk partisan politics on this blog (there’s plenty of that on the internets for all of us), but sometimes things are just so egregious and misinformed that they bear discussion.

Last week, conservative talk show host Glenn Beck said the following about churches that preach “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!”
~ Glenn Beck 03/02/2010

So, church websites with “social justice” huh?  Glenn Beck declares that social justice is a code word for fascism and communism and everything. And people should leave churches that preach it.

If you believe him, then everyone in America better leave the UMC:

The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles. Early Methodists expressed their opposition to the slave trade, to smuggling, and to the cruel treatment of prisoners.
~ UMC Social Principles (original in 1908)

And you’d better dig up John Wesley and flay him (h/t Kevin Watson):

Directly opposite to this is the gospel of Christ. Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.
John Wesley, “Preface to 1739 Hymns and Sacred Poems”

There is no holiness but social holiness.  Any call to leave a church because of “code words” is laughable, but any call to leave a church because of a commitment to social justice is antithetical to the Gospel and ought be exposed as such.

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  1. Joel Zimmerman says

    Not that #47 warrants a response, but I can't help it. I recently read the Bible, and continue to use that book to understand how I should live my life. It uses language about love for neighbors, helping the poor, etc. I think the United Methodist Church also uses that text in its mission. But to use absurd babble to 'continue' the conversation, perhaps we can have a discussion on how far an African swallow can fly with a coconut. As long as we're quoting random people, "Won't you be my neighbor?" – Mr. Fred Rogers (I ask this question because you are my neighbor and I'm called to love you no matter what, and I will. Some may call that social justice…care for those not cared for.)

  2. SusanHunt says

    To look at this from another angle, what economic system *does* the Bible advocate? I don't believe it is Capitalism.

  3. Anonymous says

    From "pastorbecca"

    "should we run from a church that preaches that? "

    If a church preaches that we should do all those things via government mandate, then YES!!! We *should* run from that church.

    There's nothing charitable or Christlike about "giving" when it's done by threat of fines and/or imprisonment.

  4. Mona says

    #47 is spot on! And Godwin's law is just more politically correct BS. I, too, have read Mein Kampf as well as studying literature of the Holocaust, War and Peace and Doctor Zhavago. (yes, I know that the latter 2 are fiction, but they give us a view into the mindset of the time.) Unless we study the past we will fall into the same old traps. Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Chavez all used the same "Social Justice" rhetoric we are hearing today.
    If I choose to give, I am free to do so. Last year I was on mission trips for 4 weeks out of the year and worked to raise thousands of dollars, but if the government "made" me. There is no way! I give from my heart freely, not because I am forced at the threat of prosecution.

  5. Anonymous says

    I didn't feel like making an account so please forgive my not having an identity.

    Perhaps we should read the Bible, quit depending on people for guidance, and ask God what he wants us to do. Through his spirit, we should get the guidance we need. This type of debating is why the secular world is turning their back on the Church. By the way, as a whole for the US, how are the numbers going? You people make me sick.

  6. Anonymous says

    I also listened to the radio that day. I don't usually care for or listen to Glenn Beck, not because of political stance, but because of his style and the time he is on. I find it troubling that this blog starts without stating the whole truth about what Glenn said. He never said that he was against social justice, only that he was against what many on the left refer to as social justice. He cited as an example Rev Jeremiah Wright. As I was reading the blogs above I noticed that many were referring to John Wesley and his involvement in social issues (social justice issues) as the authority in such matters. Just an observation, John Wesley is a fallable human too. We ought to be turning to the Bible for guidance. One post cited the passage from Acts 2,4, and 5. I have considered that passage also, but the government was not involved, nor were those who sold their possessions compelled, or even asked to. They responded as a matter of their personal choice. Reading from Acts 5: 4, Peter tells Ananias, "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived thes deed in your heart? Yo have not lied to men, but to God." ASB) The sin was lying to God, not holding back a portion of the proceeds. The Bible also says God loves a CHEERFUL giver.
    After 28 years as a United Methodist pastor I can testify to the far-left leaning ideology that is spewed from the General Board of Church and Society, and from many of the seminary professors training our clergy. Other agencies are more focused on the work of the church, to inspire and encourage faith that will issue in works of love and compassion which are done in the name of a loving God rather that an intentionally godless state.

  7. Matt Algren says

    I'm fascinated by the stark difference between comments by people who identify themselves and comments by people who choose to remain anonymous.

    I don't know why it surprises me; it's been that way since forever.

  8. Mike Q. says

    Well I won't remain anonymous. I am fascinated and disappointed at the same time that so many mainline denominations have become so political. STOP trying to push health care through. STOP trying to get gay marriage legal. STOP calling illegal immigrants "undocumented." STOP marching for abortion rights.

    In stead START living like Jesus did. If you want to really make a difference for young, pregnant women, help them pay for the birth of their child and help them find a home for him or her. Christian doctors: START helping people who need help. START helping immigrants get their citizenship the proper and legal way. START responsibly teaching people Biblical truths in an educated manner and we will make a difference.

    Why did I post this here? I feel it ties in with why Glen Beck said what he said about social justice. When I see it used by the UMC, it is political. I am tired of the church trying to use the government to change life in America. STOP trying to use the government and START doing something as the church.

  9. Rev. Dr. Frederick M. Monk says

    I must be Anonymous #2, posting #56, if I cn find a way to identify myself… I co pletely agree with the other Anonymous, it is about time the church start doing the things Jesus expects us to be doing. Spiritual growth is not measured in degree of commitment to social activisim, but love for God and for His creatures. I am tired of the alliance the upper echelons of the church have with liberal political causes, using the name of the church where the grass roots is largely in disagreement with that agenda. The people I have served with in the churches over the past 28 years have almost uniformly been conservative in both theology and politics. They are distrustful of the higher leadership BECAUSE of statements that come from the General Agencies and the Council of Bishops. I share their frustration!
    One other observation, the growing churches strongly tend to be conservative, and actively engaged in ministry to the local community. They don't need to rent space to pay bills!
    OK, now I'm venting. Sorry! But the frustration of a declining church can be found in the departure by the leadership from core Biblical values.

  10. Methodist in Chile says

    Quite a debate!
    I'll add a thought from the hymn: "The Church's One Foundation" set to music by Samuel S Wesley in 1864:

    Though with a scornful wonder we see her sore oppressed,
    by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed
    yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, "How long?"
    and soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song!

    … O happy ones and holy! Lord give us grace that we,
    like them, the meek and lowly, on high may swell with Thee.

    Open hearts, open minds, open doors.

  11. Anonymous says

    Great discussion. Everyone. One theological aspect left out is the tsedaqah u mispat words in the Old Testament. They are translated to mean righteousness and justice and used many times (Isaiah 9.7; Jeremiah 9.24; Psalms 33.5. The concept of justice is present in the very character of God (Psalm 33.5, Ps. 37.38, Ps. 99.4, Isaiah 61.8), and its not about an individualistic inner experience alone. I heartily recommend a great book BRING FORTH JUSTICE by Scott Waldron which gets at the heart of these two words which travel as a pair.
    The two refer to something central to the heart of God, and the word social justice, or social holiness go in the direction of what is meant. Social well being is a part of especially what is meant by tsedaqah, and in my studies I came up with a definition of "ecology of social wellbeing." God is and has a view, an expectation, a vision, and it is not to be neglected, and it does include an order of social wellbeing.
    Beck is playing fast and loose to create fear, and he is attacking as Jim Wallis says all the Christian churches in this call. He has now threatened to ruin Jim (Sojourners Community, editor of Sojourners) for callling him out on his call to leave the churches with this in their life, with a call to leave Glenn Beck.
    God has an intention for government (Romans 13), God has an intention for community life, and while it does not equate to "social justice" as a front for something else, nowhere is Beck responding to the Biblical call for change, and a just order, which others would say was Jesus most important teaching "Basileia" or the Reign of God.
    As a missionary in Brazil for about a decade, the Brazilian Methodists sang about this inseparable dynamic of social/spiritual holiness… can't be divided, prayer and action for our human family are inseparable, you can't eliminate one with out eliminating the other.
    I agree with one of the comments, that we are not listening to the world in our political fear mongering extremist bickering. Obama is a centrist, not a socialist, nor a communist. In fact he has shored up the capitalist system and the world sees that. The very fact that Beck pulled out both a swastika and a communist symbol shows a small, unbelievably naive and uneducated mind. He has no idea of the breadth of discussion of both socialism and communism that exists in other parts of the world. He needs an education before he tries to educate either in economics, fascism, or social justice.
    Beck is a fear monger, uneducated, untraveled. A debate between he and Jim Wallis would be a great education for the country, if he (Beck) would permit it. Beck tends to hide behind words himself, and refuse to define so as to attack the current president and administration.
    The bottom line for all of this discussion is what does the LORD GOD want. We know. Beck knows. It's clear as a bell. It is social justice and a world of abundance, for all. And it is very clear that there will be a judgment on the basis of how we care for our fellow human beings, and whether or not we as nations and individuals are working for tsedaqah u mispat, the Reign of God (Matthew 25:31-46).

    Steve Cain
    Trinity UMC
    Fort Wayne, Indiana

  12. Anonymous says

    I come from generations of Methodist Ministers in my family in Ohio, PA, CA, and NC. They always wanted to help others in need.
    I do not agree with Glen Beck. He is an evil man that wants to brain wash people who are willing to agree with a lunatic. Sorry. Fox news is out of control.
    God Bless you all. Remember the Methodist Church is here to help people.

  13. Anonymous says

    Unfortunately, a lot of folks in this country embrace this new McCarthyism and extreme right wing fear mongering…it's sad. That stuff is everything Christ is not. Jesus didn't need to scare and control people.

  14. Anonymous says

    I am interested in the question of why we have become a punditocracy, that is we are seeing the pundits wield such power, seemingly more power than in other eras. Here's my initial thoughts:
    1. Largescale distrust of government—JFK, MLK, RFK assassinations never fully dealt with. Even the 9/11 accounts are really wierd and suspect to a lot of people. Seems that there are some secrets we just won't know about for a while.
    2. 8 plus years of Bush rule…with its secrecy, lies or errors, betrayal of US values, pandering to the rich, leaving a diminished and downtrodden middle class;
    3. White angst at immigration issues as we hurtgle toward a Hispanic plurality by 2057.
    4. White angst/racism at a black president; I personally am excited about an intelligent multicultural, multilingual president; I voted for Obama and have no regrets at this point;
    5. remorse over the failure of compassionate conservatism and the reneging of the Republicans on their own values as many were misled and left high and dry by the 8 years of Bush II.
    6. Fundamentalism-Republican/Political on Right (M.Marty-fundamentalism=a retrieval of tradition for the purposes of survival);
    7. Lack of a William BUckley for taming and reining in the extreme right;
    8. Not having learned our lessons from Vietnam, we enter another war, based on more untruth, and there seems to be a culture of untruth being created (I Corinthians 13.6); actually a culture that enjoys drama, verbal fights and verbal violence;
    9. 9/11 causing the baser instincts of the USA to become more prounounced as we let fear dominate. ??

    What do others think? Really interested that spiritual and intellectual lightweights like Beck and Limbaugh can have such an influence.


  15. Mike Q says

    Much of this discussion is why people are leaving the mainline denominations in droves. They are tired of double talk. The are tired of people who want the government to play Robin Hood. And the mainline denominations need to get off the bandwagon. If you want to take a responsible look at Acts Chapter 2 you will see that they made a choice to share everything they had. I think it is the right choice, but it wasn't mandated by the government.

    Jesus didn't fight for the government to ban cheating, lying, stealing, fornicating, He wanted us to live our lives without those things.

    Why is the liberal UMC trying to cram its agenda down our throats? The churches that are really changing peoples' live are not the churches with seven levels of bureaucracy. They are the churches that don't spout off with their agenda, they simply do what is necessary.

    "Feed My sheep" was the command. It wasn't "spend all kinds of time lobbying congress and developing committees." Jesus didn't say, "Develop a social policy, vote on it at Annual Conference, hire 5 people to oversee the office, commission a Board of Church and Society, and then raise everyone's apportionments to pay for all these positions.

    There is a reason people are leaving the UMC. They won't leave because Glen told them to. If you turn the social agenda into a Biblical one, it might not be too late to turn the train around. And for those of you chomping at the bit to reach into your screens and hit me, save this comment on your computers and see if I'm right in 2 years – or even 6 months.

  16. Anonymous says

    Billy Gilson, Texas

    I agree with you and now want to leave the UMC for their positions and actions. How can I be with a denomination that supports socialism, IE this health care bill with Nance Pelosi?

  17. Anonymous says

    rev jeremy peters

    acting on changing prisons is very different than taking from one person, by force, to give to another. that is what socialism is, force, with badges and guns.

    this is about force vs. free will. are you about forcing someone to doing something or persuasion?


  18. Anonymous says

    Social Justice, is Socialism in the present term. Socialism is force, force is wrong. Communism is force and also wrong.

    The Church is taking us down the wrong path and not where Christ would lead us. It is too cozy with the UN and redistribution of wealth (Global Warming) schemes. I have made up my mind to leave and start looking for a new home.


  19. Anonymous says

    The late Brazilian Archbishop Dom Helder Camara famously summed it up: “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint,” he said. “But when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.” Both charity and justice are essential principles that must coexist together, not as competing claims on our conscience. When confronted with the moral scandals of poverty, war, and racism, Christians are called to ask “why” and set about building something more equitable and humane.
    As for the antics of Mr. Beck, most Christians will be sticking with their church and tuning him out.
    John Gehring is the Director of Communications for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

  20. Dean says

    Great discussion.

    I think that Mr. Beck has it right: social justice should be taught and practiced by the church, but not through the government.

    There is nothing charitable or spiritual in the government. There are countless examples of fraud, waste, and dishonesty. This is just a fact of history. Political leaders are not spiritual leaders, they will take what they want for their purposes first.

    I grew up in the Methodist Church and appreciate the values that I learned and the fellowship that I shared. There are many Methodist churches where the preaching of social justice and gun control are avoided because that would violate the conservative beliefs of the local congregation. They go along to get along, but I left the UMC and will not return as long as these government-enforced activities are part of the official policy of the church.

    The fact is that the unintended consequences of these policies are destructive, they always have been and always will be. They create evil.

  21. Jim H. says

    Mike Q., you are right on and I couldn't have said it better. Our country is divided. Considering the drop in membership of the UMC we need to be aware that we are alienating about half of our members.

  22. Anonymous says

    You people are idiots. Maybe you should listen or read Beck's comments in the context that they were meant. He did not attack the UMC or any other church, he was attacking pseudo-churches who preach redistributionism and marxism under the guise of "social justice". Beck donates a ton of money to many different charities – more than likely, he donates a much higher income percentage then most of the people reading this rag. Instead of leading people away from God, he is trying to make people aware of churches who are not God-centered, so in reality he is trying to pull the scales from the eyes of church-goers who are being duped by marxist preachers (like Rev. Wright or Rev. Wallis for examples). He did not say not to give to the poor, on the contrary he says to give until it hurts. But, people should give of their own free will as the good Lord intended. They should not be forced at the point of a gun to give. I do not think that anywhere in the Bible God explained that we should consider giving to the government as giving to charity.

  23. Sharon Campbell says

    I am an United Methodist and I side with Glenn Beck. The church should not play partisan politics. Siding with one of the two major political parties will split the church. I doubt that anyone left because of what Glenn Beck said, but I believe that Nancy Pelosi's mention of the United Methodist Church immediately prior to calling for a vote on the very controversial health care bill did cause a significant number of conservative and moderate Methodists to leave or at least consider leaving. If you continue to use your position to promote the Democrat Party, you will have only Democrat members.

  24. Anonymous says

    I left the Methodist Church almost two years ago for two reasons. One, the extreme lack of preaching the Gospel. More often than not, our minister quoted some philosopher on what they thought people should be. I wanted to hear bible preaching, not Eckhart Tolle or some such. Second, I left because of the injection of politics and what we should be doing as a church with no emphasis on me as an individual. The church doesn't save. Good works don't save. God's grace and giving your heart to Jesus saves. It doesn't matter a whit what anyone does to rebuild New Orleans.

  25. Anonymous says

    Sorry, but Beck is correct. As a United Methodist member, this “social justice” tripe disgusts me to the point that I have left the church.

    The UM Social Principles creed is seemingly ambiguous and harmless enough at face value until reading a little further into the proclamations. At SP 163, The Economic Community, we begin to get a very clear understanding of exactly what the UM church is truly about:

    “We support measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We further support efforts to revise tax structures and to eliminate governmental support programs that now benefit the wealthy at the expense of other persons.”

    Folks, that is 100% pure communism and that is blatantly evil. Given that the UM’s boast of “open doors”, I would definitely run for the nearest one.

  26. Anonymous says

    This is why I don't attend church services anymore. I am so sick of going to church and having politics rammed down my throat. I don't remember anywhere in the Bible that Jesus commanded us to discuss politcs. My politics are just that ……….MINE!!! I don't need a preacher OR a radio host telling me what to do or believe. I am intelligent enough to decide on my own. If something is bothering me and I am having trouble deciding which way is right I GET DOWN ON MY KNEES AND PRAY. Now that is what we were commanded to do. I dont want or need loud mouth radio hosts spewing hate or preachers who feel obligated to tell me how to vote to run my life. People WAKE UP!! God gave you the Holy Spirit and a good brain to take care of business and do whats right. Stay out of all of this arguing.No matter which side you are on you are not helping to lead anyone to Christ. You are not feeding one hungry child. You are not helping one sick person. You are not helping one lonely senior. Gods people nedd to be just that GODS PEOPLE. Not the worlds.

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