Glenn Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a famous conservative talk show host.
He’s created a stir by denouncing churches that trumpet social justice:
“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!”
Somewhat coincidentally, (after I’d seen a headline about the controversy, but before I’d read the above quote about checking out church Web sites), I went to the Mormon Church’s official Web site and searched for the terms “social justice”, “economic justice” and “social gospel.”
I can sum up what I found in four words: Run, Glenn Beck, Run.
Elder James E. Faust of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve, writing in the church’s Ensign magazine, said the following:
“It is unfortunate that it is taking so long to bring full economic justice to women. The feminization of poverty is both real and tragic. That is why you should work very hard to prepare for your future by gaining some marketable skills.
The struggle to improve the place of women in society has been a noble cause, and I sincerely hope the day will come when women with equal skills will be fully equal with men in the marketplace.”
Not just “economic justice” but full economic justice.
Head for the hills, Mr. Beck. Hurry!
All kidding aside, Glenn Beck is making today’s headlines by resurrecting yesterday’s ecclesiastical controversies. On his program, last week, he suggested the Social Justice is a code phrase for the Communists.
That claim has been around for a long, long time.
Charles Edward Coughlin preached a sermon about “Social Justice and Communism” in about 1940.
But if you do a Google search, you’ll discover nineteenth-century rabble rousers were also trying to link God Almighty and “Social Justice.”
Which rabble rousers? The ones that won the Civil War.
The official “Decoration Day” order of services for the Grand Army of the Republic in 1881.
As they stood in the cemeteries of Arlington and Gettyburg and elsewhere, surrounded by Republican emancipators, the Northern chaplains asked God to give His wisdom “to those steadfast in the cause of human rights and liberty, of law and order, of social justice and national rectitude…”
Criticism of the social gospel has been around a long time. And it’s not just Glenn Beck who has criticized the social gospel — or at least a type of gospel that is exclusively social and not spiritual as well.
Mormons, as well as many Protestants and Catholics would object to any gospel that places a higher priority on politics than on souls, on the temporal instead of the eternal.