Glenn Beck has repeatedly attacked the concept of social justice and churches that promote it, asserting that it is “code language for Marxism” and warning that “when you see those words, run.” In fact, numerous churches and religious faiths, as well as prominent religious scholars, espouse social justice, including the Catholic Church, the Conservative and Reform movements of Judaism, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Social justice is a tenet of mainstream faiths and has been promoted by respected religious scholars
The Catechism of the Catholic Church deals specifically with “Social Justice.” From the Catechism: “Society ensures social justice by providing the conditions that allow associations and individuals to obtain their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.”
Conservative and Reform Jews promote social justice. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has a section of its website devoted to “Social Justice,” detailing positions on topics such as "Judaism and Health Care Reform" and "Jewish Community Budget Priorities." ( “We have long been involved with the annual budget process, advocating for policies and programs that assist the most vulnerable people in our nation.” ) And the Union for Reform Judaism's Commission on Social Action “seeks to apply the insights of Jewish tradition to such domestic and foreign issues as human rights, world peace, civil liberties, religious freedom, famine, poverty, intergroup relations, as well as other major societal concerns” ; its website cites a statement by Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, that “the thread of social justice is so authentically and intricately woven into the many-colored fabric we call Judaism that if you seek to pull that thread out, the entire fabric unravels.”
National Association of Evangelicals promotes call to “work toward social justice.” In presenting its Charitable Choice 2000 program, the National Association of Evangelicals, a coalition of more than 30 denominations dedicated to “serving the evangelical community through united action, cooperative ministry and strategic planning,” wrote:
Government funding can significantly expand the number and scope of faith-based agencies available to work with poor and broken people. As the Church answers the biblical call to care for the poor, seek racial reconciliation, and work toward social justice, it should exercise caution in stepping through the doors of opportunity opened by Charitable Choice. Government funding is not appropriate in every situation, and a religious organization should always be vigilant and refrain from accepting public funds and concomitant government regulations if the aid should compromise its beliefs or undermine its effectiveness and integrity.
Church of Latter Day Saints says social justice integral to Mormonism. A March 11 blog post on the New York Times blog, The Caucus, quoted two Mormon scholars explaining the importance of social justice in Mormonism:
Mr. Beck himself is a convert to Mormonism, a faith that identifies itself as part of the Christian family, but which is nevertheless rejected by many Christians. Two Mormon scholars said in interviews that social justice is integral to Mormon teaching too.
Kent P. Jackson, associate dean of religion at Brigham Young University, said in an interview: “My own experience as a believing Latter-day Saint over the course of 60 years is that I have seen social justice in practice in every L.D.S. congregation I've been in. People endeavor with all of our frailties and shortcomings to love one another and to lift up other people. So if that's Beck's definition of social justice, he and I are definitely not on the same team.”
Philip Barlow, the Arrington Professor of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, said: “One way to read the Book of Mormon is that it's a vast tract on social justice. It's ubiquitous in the Book of Mormon to have the prophetic figures, much like in the Hebrew Bible, calling out those who are insensitive to injustices.
” A lot of Latter-day Saints would think that Beck was asking them to leave their own church."
Mr. Barlow said that Mr. Beck's comments were particularly ill-timed because just this year, the church's highest authority, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, issued a new “Handbook of Instructions” to church leaders in which they revised the church's “three-fold mission” and added a fourth mission statement: care for the poor.
Martin Luther King, Jr. “devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all.” In a December 18, 1963, speech on the topic of social justice, King stated: “I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice.” He also said: “It is tragic how individuals will often use religion and the Bible or misuse religion and the Bible to crystallize a status quo and justify their prejudices.” The U.S. government website about the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service states that King “devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all.”
Beck attacks churches that promote social justice, encourages listeners to leave them
Beck: “Look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can.” On his radio show, Beck stated: “I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.” He continued: “Now, the idea -- hang on -- Stu is saying, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes. If I'm going to Jeremiah Wright's church, yes. Leave your church.” He later added, “If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, 'Excuse me. Are you down with this whole social justice thing?' ” Co-host Steve “Stu” Burguiere said, “It's possible they need to be illuminated to the hidden meaning behind some of these terms.” Beck replied, “There's a very good chance that people don't know what it is. That's why you have to educate yourself.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 3/2/10]
Beck: Question church leaders who are “basing their religion on social justice.” On his radio show, Beck read an article on the Christian Post website reporting that "[a]nti-poverty Christian groups are up in arms after popular political commentator Glenn Beck urged Christians to leave their church if they talk about social justice." Beck asserted, “No, no, no. Didn't say that. I said if they are basing their religion on social justice -- if they -- social justice and economic justice are code words. Look for those code words, and then ask your church, 'What do you mean by that? What is that?' Because they're code words. And don't be sucked into that.” Burguiere replied, “And you clarified that two minutes after that statement, by the way.” Beck later referenced criticism of his remarks by Rev. Jim Walls, founder of the group Sojourners. Co-host Pat Gray said of Wallis, “He's a leftist. He is a operative for the Democratic Party. He is an apologist for communist atrocities in Cambodia and Vietnam. He's a dedicated foe of capitalism.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 3/11/10]
Beck: Social justice “is a perversion of the Gospel,” “not what Jesus was saying.” On his radio show, Beck addressed a caller who said his daughter was taking classes for confirmation in the Catholic Church that were “becoming more and more about social justice.” Beck stated: “I want you to know that even some members in my faith, where I go to church -- there are members that preach social justice as members. My faith doesn't, but the church -- the members preach social justice all the time. It is a perversion of the Gospel. Nowhere does Jesus say, 'Hey, if somebody asks for your shirt, give your coat to the government and have the government give them a pair of slacks.' That's not what -- that's not what Jesus was saying.” [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/11/10]
Beck and crew warn that progressives are trying to “hijack churches” with “social justice.” On his radio show, Beck stated, “Economic and social justice, it is a code word.” He later added: “When it comes to social and economic justice, people will say that.'I, you know, I want social justice, I want economic justice.' It has been mainstreamed. So, it's one thing if somebody says, 'Hey,we're going to get social justice,' or 'This is going to be economic justice,' or whatever, that's fine. But if you're talking about -- if it is a doctrine in your church. Or, if you are -- if you go to your church's website -- and I've seen several of these. You go to your church's website and click on the thing: 'Help Haiti.' Now, most churches will go and say, 'Yeah, I want to help Haiti,' so they'll put it up. But they don't know that if they click, you know, three clicks into it, you're now at, like, the Center for American Progress. You know what I mean?” He later stated that progressives are trying to “hijack churches.” [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/2/10]
Beck warns of “Marxist code words” like “social justice” in “infiltrated” churches. On his radio show, Beck warned his listeners to “watch the messages in your own church. Because if you see the words 'social justice,' you're in trouble.” He continued:
BECK: If you see the words -- what is -- social justice, and what was the other one? Economic justice. You see these -- these are code words. These are the Marxist code words for the new global order. You see those words, if you see things that are now being preached about from the pulpit in many churches, about health care. Warning. Warning. Many churches have been infiltrated with this line of thinking that is absolutely against the freedoms that our Founding Fathers designed. And you can find them, you can find them. And they're not hard to find. Look for them and wake your fellow parishioners and your fellow congregants up to what is going on, because there are hidden messages that are there. And they're not hidden. I mean, it's not a conspiracy. It's all out in the open. [The Glenn Beck Program, 12/15/09]
Beck: Creamer book to blame for pastors, priests, and rabbis preaching “social justice.” On Fox News, Beck linked the bookListen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight!: How Progressives Can Win by Robert Creamer to religious groups and places of worship that preach “social justice.” He stated, “You ask yourself this one question: In the last six months, have you heard this message come from your pastor, priest, or rabbi? Anything about social justice? Anything about health care?” He added: “I have been looking at church websites. I cannot believe what I am seeing. There's -- several of these websites you can go three clicks from your churchwebsite and you are at HCAN.” [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 12/7/09]
Beck's advice for when you see the words “social justice” : “Run, and don't listen to anyone who is telling you differently.” On his radio show, Beck stated:
BECK: [T]here are big forces within the faith of different churches that have joined hands with truly Marxist groups, and it's all under social justice. And this is why social justice started. It started in groups in Latin America that they knew they couldn't get into the government because the government -- what was really regulating people there was the church. And so the churches were so powerful, they knew they had to weasel their way in there and tie it to God.
It's the same thing that progressives did in the early 20th century. They used God and the churches, and then they broke it apart. That's what's happening. And I'm going to share some evidence next week on different faiths that, known or unknown to many people in the faith, they are part of the social justice movement. And it is Marxist, and it is extraordinarily dangerous. These people have been laying eggs, and they have hatched a long time ago. They are in many, many organizations. You are doing exactly the right thing. You cannot take anything on its face value anymore. You've got to look at the layers and know what you're looking for.
Whenever you see some thing that talks about a strong democratic movement or strengthening democracy, you're in trouble. If you see anything that talks about social or economic justice, you're in trouble. Those two things are the language of people like Hugo Chavez. We are a republic, not a democracy.
BECK: When you say, you know, I see “social justice” -- when you see those words, run. Because social justice is what Jeremiah Wright preaches. Run, and don't listen to anyone who is telling you differently. Look at the roots of social justice. See what radicals put it together. [The Glenn Beck Program, 10/8/09]
Beck links social justice to Nazis, communists, socialists
Beck: Nazis and communists both backed “social justice.” On his Fox News program, Beck stated that both communists and Nazis promoted social justice. From the March 3 edition of Glenn Beck:
BECK: Both the communists, who are on the left -- they say -- you know, these are communists. And the Nazis are on the right. That's what people say. But they both subscribed to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. One had the hammer and sickle; the other was a swastika. But on each banner read the words, here in America, of this -- “social justice.” They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly -- I love this -- democracy. [Glenn Beck, 3/3/10]
Beck: “What I would call socialist or communist, they'll call just social justice or progressive.” On his Fox News show, Beck stated, “Progressives don't speak the same kind of language that you and I do. Economic justice -- that's Marxism. It's taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots.” He continued:
BECK: Social justice -- what is that? Well, let me quote Mark Lloyd, the guy I introduced to you again to last night. “Someone needs to step down so someone else can have a turn.”
And, transforming America -- I would say that that means collapsing the system as we know it and rebooting it as a progressive utopia.
None of the language is the same, and that's why people get lost. What I would call socialist or communist, they'll call justsocial justice or progressive. [Glenn Beck, 1/5/10]
Beck: “Social justice is taking money from one group and giving it to another.” On Fox News, Beck stated:
BECK: This is Barack Obama in 2001 -- 2001, look at what he said, he talked about social justice. Social justice is taking money from one group and giving it to another. He talked about economic justice, the same thing. He talked about the political and community organizing, and the events in the organizing on the ground that cobble together the coalitions of power that lead to redistributive change.
BECK: He believes when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody. That's Marxism. ... Spreading the wealth around. Well, that's not a capitalist idea. [Glenn Beck, 10/5/09]
Beck declares that phrases “lives in the real world,” is “compassionate,” and “understands social justice” are really “code language for Marxism.” While discussing President Obama's remarks about what traits he would look for in a Supreme Court justice, Beck stated on his radio show:
BECK: They're now talking about making sure that they can correct -- progressive phrase -- “social justice.” That does not come from the bench.
BECK: Barack Obama comes out and says he wants somebody who lives in the real world, somebody who is compassionate, and somebody that is -- that understands social justice. That's code language for Marxism. It's called, to quote Hillary Clinton, that very American, early 20th century progressivism, where they did a loophole and a couple of somersaults to deny that they were progressives, to show the difference was enlightenment. Progressive is enlightened. Marxism is at the barrel of a gun. That's the difference to these guys. Really? Yeah, you're telling me that you're not doing things through the barrel of a gun? You're gonna have to. They're going to have to. You don't need enlightenment. Justice is blind. [The Glenn Beck Program, 5/4/09]
Beck clarifies stance on social justice
Beck: Social justice in which “you empower yourself to go out and help the poor” is permissible. On his March 12 radio show, Beck reacted to criticism by the Sojourners' Wallis:
BECK: So now, Jim Wallis comes out, and he has started to attack me personally because I have said on this program, “social justice” is code language -- code language -- for big government. I want you to understand. When it comes to your church, if your church is preaching social and economic justice, you better do some digging and find out exactly what that means. Because if that means big government, if that means yes, you need to support these big government programs, you don't have a church. What you have is an organ of the government. You have the Anglican Church over in England, which we left. You have the Church of England.
Separation of church and state. It's weird that I have to argue with someone like Jim Wallis the separation of church and state. Now, if your church is talking about social justice in the way that you empower yourself to go out and help the poor, well then that's exactly what Jesus or Allah or Buddha or whoever it is, would like you to do.
GRAY: Yeah, they're trying to make this an anti-poor thing. They're trying to make this that you're against the poor?
BECK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
GRAY: I mean that's just ridiculous.
BECK: And so now, they're ramping up a boycott on Christians to boycott our show. Oh, really? Look out, here it comes again, gang. The smear. [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/12/10]
Beck: “There's a lot of people that will say 'social justice,' and some people don't mean Marxism, but others do.” Also, on his March 12 radio show, Beck stated:
BECK: The other thing they do is they always change and confuse the language. Political correctness comes from the progressive movement. Change and confuse the language. Look at this case. Social justice. There's a lot of people that -- who say “social justice” and some people don't mean Marxism. But others do, and you need to know, which is it?
The people who brought us, you know, the language into the political religious sphere were looking for ways to bring progressivism into the church. It continues today. Where's black liberation theology come from? Black liberation theology -- Jeremiah Wright's theology -- comes from South America. The church had the power down there. The church was all-important. What the church said, people listened to. It wasn't the government, because the government was always corrupt. People had faith in the church, and they knew they could never have a communist revolution if it wasn't for the church. If the church wasn't into it, so what did they do? They came up with black liberation theology. It's Marxism. And they got it -- spooned it in -- to the Christians, piece by piece. Just little bit -- progress. Little by little spoon feed it to people until the church would decay and collapse on itself.
Why do people in Europe not go to church? Because it's one with the government. It always has been. You must protect your church and make sure that it is not an organ for the government. That doesn't mean that you don't fight and protest, and you know, your church when it comes to a moral issue like abortion, that you don't stand up and fight for it. But you don't become one with the government. Separation of church and state. Progressives have been waiting for this moment for a hundred years. [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/12/10]