It turns out that some conservatives not only think that government shouldn’t seek to advance social or economic justice, they think that religion should not work for social justice either. Conservative spokesperson Glen Beck is urging Christians to refuse to attend any church preaching social justice.

“I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church web site,” Beck urged his audience. “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!”

The idea that a Fox commentator would push people to leave their churches as a principled conservative stand, predictably, is a little controversial. Maybe that is the point for Mr. Beck — to get attention — but now it looks like his quest for attention may have backfired. There seems to be a movement forming to boycott Mr. Beck.

I’m reading that Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a network of progressive Christians, is urging Christians to stop watching Mr. Beck’s TV program — unless Beck apologizes.

Wallis writes, “You asked people to leave their churches, a serious thing, so until we have a public dialogue about this, or until you apologize, I will keep asking people to stop watching your show.”

Wallis addresses Mr. Beck: “You first urged Christians to leave churches that preached social justice. Today, you went further, saying that social justice “is a perversion of the gospel.” Well, that says it all. Perhaps you don’t realize that most Christians believe social, economic, and racial justice are at the heart of the gospel, not a perversion of it..”

In this clip of Mr. Beck’s radio show, in which Beck responds to a Catholic listener who complains that his daughter is being taught about “social justice,” Beck says “social justice” as taught today is a perversion of the gospel taught by Jesus.

How Christians should behave is a great question. The scripture teaches we should overcome evil with good. Should Christians boycott Glen Beck until he apologizes? Or maybe put him on the rack until he relents?

Christians must have faith in the notion that truth itself is a great force. Mr. Beck is a self-anointed jester. Sometimes only a jester can provoke needed and important discussions. Maybe Mr. Beck’s comments about Christianity will provoke some Christians, who prior to this agreed with his every word, to question their unqualified allegience to his point of view, and maybe his comments will cause in-depth independent thinking.

Christians should thank Mr. Beck for helping to raise an important issue, an important question about the purpose and aim of churches and the message of Christian teaching.

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