For months now, Glenn Beck has been ranting about how the "social justice" mission of many churches is really just a code phrase for Marxism. Beck has also repeatedly attacked Rev. Jim Wallis for being a proponent of the social justice mission (and, needless to say, labeled him a Marxist). The other day, Beck upped the ante, declaring that through recommendations issued by a faith-based advisory council (of which Wallis is a member) that included bringing churches "to the fight of climate change by greening buildings and promoting environmental stewardship in their congregations," the Obama administration will be "literally merging ... your church with the EPA."
That's not true, of course -- making churches and nonprofit buildings more energy-efficient and encouraging community gardens are hardly the nefarious results of a church-state alliance, and the recommendations regarding climate change are only one part of the report. But that didn't keep Beck from naming Wallis as a key member of the "unholy alliance" that's out to destroy him.
Over at Sojourners, Wallis has responded to Beck's latest attacks on him, social justice, and climate change. After noting that Beck refuses to speak to him so they can have a conversation about these issues, Wallis writes:
One of the major stories dominating the news, of course, is the worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is growing, with the first oil now washing into the Louisiana coast marshlands, and fishing now prohibited in 19 percent of the Gulf. Fears are that the oil will reach the Florida Keys, then enter the Gulf Stream and move up the East Coast
This deepening disaster simply underscores the need for real energy and climate legislation that can begin to wean us from our addiction to oil, which I wrote about last week. One significant part of such legislation is new efforts to encourage buildings that are more energy efficient — "green" buildings — even including churches.
Yet, to Glenn Beck, this is socialism, as is everything he doesn't agree with politically. So he said this week that "churches are being used by progressives to help bring about the fundamental transformation of America."
After noting Beck's claim that Obama is using churches to push its environmental agenda, Wallis responded:
It is actually the other way around — the faith community is pushing the government, rather than the government using us. The section of the Council's report on "Environment and Climate Change" noted that:
There is a new and unprecedented wave of interest in environmental sustainability and climate change among America's diverse religious communities and in neighborhoods across the country. Faith- and other community-based nonprofit institutions are in the unique position of serving as visible examples to the community. Houses of worship can exert a powerful influence when they practice good energy stewardship and preach and teach about conservation as a moral value, it has a powerful influence.
We don't call that socialism, we call it stewardship of God's creation. "Creation care" has become a mainstream concern among Evangelical, Catholic, and Mainline churches alike — especially for a new generation of Christians.
Glenn, this line of attack against the faith community is a wrong one for you. I thought you might have realized that in the flood of responses from so many pastors and church leaders (including your own Mormon church) to your earlier accusations that social justice is "code" for Marxism, socialism, and Nazism. You're wrong, and I thought you were beginning to see that. But I guess I was wrong, as you have gone on the warpath again against the community of faith. This is about our faith, not our politics; and the truth is that your attack is really just about your politics.
If caring for creation, addressing poverty, and fixing our broken immigration system are part of the "fundamental transformation" that you are talking about, then yes, churches are being used to help bring about fundamental transformation — but they are being used by God, not politics. So if you are going to keep up your assault on the gospel commitment to justice that we have in our churches, please be honest enough and courageous enough to have the open and public dialogue I invited you to several weeks ago. Why are you afraid of that conversation when it's a two- way discussion? Perhaps you know that it's not our political ideology that would be revealed, but yours. The offer still stands, Glenn. Let's talk.
Why doesn't Beck want to talk to Wallis directly? Is it because he'll have to concede that Wallis is not the monster Beck has made him out to be?