Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I don't run away from social justice churches, I run toward them

The latest hubbub surrounding Fox's Glenn Beck is about religion.

What does Glenn Beck know about religion? A lot, it seems. And I'm not being facetious.

"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."

Glenn Beck is an oddball. But he knows a simple fact: the more liberal-minded the Christian congregation, the more it addresses social justice and economic justice and even peace & justice.

But not always.

During the Civil Rights struggle, many of the strongest advocates for social justice attended conservative black churches such as Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist. Their members turned to Old Testament scripture as inspiration for hymns, employing metaphor to sing about votings rights and human rights and workplace justice.

Across town, many of the most virulent racists attended white Baptist churches where they dug deep into the Bible to justify their prejudices. It's amazing what you can find in the Bible if you look really, really hard. Glenn Beck knows all about this.

I was raised Catholic. Catholicism, for the most part, finds its inspiration in the New Testament. Not surprising. The New Testament focuses on Jesus Christ's short life. His death and resurrection led to the founding of "The One True Church," a term you don't hear any more.

The mass was in Latin. The priests were the keepers of the Latin. During mass, the priest's back was turned to the congregation. Sometimes he turned around to share a stray "Agnus Dei, Qui tolis peccata mundi, misere nobis" with the dozing churchgoers. The altar boys mumbled along with him, ringing bells and fidgeting in their black-and-white cassocks. In the pews, nuns kept their eyes peeled for chatting kids and dozing parents.

I can't imagine a more conservative setting. The priest's homily was in English and focused on moral lessons. In Catholic School, amidst the Madrasah-like setting, the Christ-centered message was woven into every class. Do the right thing. Treat others as you want to be treated. Feed the poor. Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

Just kidding about that last one. But that is a lesson I learned in Catholic School. And one I continue to practice.

I never heard anything about social justice or economic justice. Those terms came later (a Jesuit priest is credited with the first description of social justice). I did learn that everyone had the right to vote and freedom to earn a living.

I don't go to church now. If I did, I would go to a social justice church, an economic justice church, a peace and justice church. I wouldn't attend a "healthcare is a privilege not a human right" church, a "get a job you stinkin' ______________ (fill in the name of your favorite despised minority)" church, a "bomb 'em all, let God sort 'em out" church.

Learn more and listen to Glenn Beck at http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/03/08/glenn-beck-urges-listeners-to-leave-churches-that-preach-social/


bigfrank said...

The problem is most churches feel it is there job to be political. Why do you see the old pres in church shots all the time?
You hear the right say Jesus would be republican and all the other crap that comes with it.
The Bible is an amazing book that so many people try to bury or pull to their political cause. When one part of the Bible does deal with the politics then and now.
Jesus "Give what is ceasar's to ceasar and to God what is Gods". Jesus says the same thing today. We as people must take care of people.

I would love you to write on this Obama and thugs taking our fishing rights away. Now that is true giving of freedom.

John Bartelloni said...

Martin Luther King, Jr. is credited with having said that a riot is the voice of the unheard.

Did he say it? If so, when and where?

I really don't know. I do know, however, that it makes sense when one considers the Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party movement is comprised of those folks who don't like their government bailing out Detroit and dictating who can be president of General Motors. They don't like their government bailing out the bankers and they, like bigfrank, don't want the government messing with their hunting and fishing.

They feel betrayed by their government. How many Timothy McVeighs are in this nascent movement?

The folks in the Tea Party movement are vulnerable to being sold out by their leaders who are just as untrustworthy as the political elite.

Be careful for what you wish for: You just might get it.

Michael Shay said...

I know Tea Party movement members feel betrayed by their government and are addressing this with protests and letters and civil disobedience. More power to them.

But there are people within the Tea Party that represent old Know Nothing strains in American politics. The same people who beat up Irish and Italian Catholics when our ancestors came to this country. The same people who said that the Bible sanctioned slavery. The same people who hate Obama because he's black and he's educated and he's the President of the U.S.A. The same people who think the gubment is out to take away their guns.

This is where the dangerous ones are coming from.