This past week, Glenn Beck publicly revealed that his staff is moving beyond simply twisting the news for ideological ends to now funding opposition research and internet attack campaigns with the stated purpose of destroying the personal credibility of pastors who dare to question statements made by FOX commentators.
By now, many people are probably familiar with Glenn Beck's statement from a couple of weeks ago that any church that talks about "social or economic justice" is not of Christ but is instead spreading Nazi or communist propaganda, and that Beck's listeners should leave those churches. (Funny, Beck's own Mormon faith uses those terms throughout its website.)
There was an immediate response from pastors around the country citing the overwhelming call for economic and social justice in Scripture ... and Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches, provided a wonderful summary of the Scriptural case on the Huffington Post. But the pastor who quickly rose to the lead of the Catholic, mainline, and evangelical rebuke of Glenn Beck was Rev. Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners.
And so with no scriptural or theological arguments to fall back upon, Glenn Beck apparently decided that his only option is to try to destroy Rev. Wallis personally. Personal attacks aren't uncommon from partisan commentators, but what is especially troubling about this most recent development is that Glenn Beck isn't just planning to throw insults; he said that he has been using his FOX staff to research everything that Rev. Wallis has ever said or done and to dig up dirt on the people who work with the pastor.
I know Rev. Wallis both professionally and as a friend. I've watched him coach my son in Little League baseball and prayed with him for the strength and success of our great nation. Beck's attacks are contextually fictitious to the point of being imaginary. It's quite sad, actually. He's about to overcook my grits. But Rev. Wallis continues to take the high road, speaking out for the power and calling of social justice, refraining from personal attacks, and reminding us that Dr. King stood down injustice and promoted social justice by confronting, not attacking.
But that is all for another time. Why is FOX funding research to discredit an American minister?
Clearly Beck knows that he doesn't stand a chance of winning this debate about the proper application of Christian principles to the public square on Scriptural or theological grounds. And he clearly has no intention of following St. Paul's command, found in Ephesians, that Christians "not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice." No, sir. Beck is on a mission to discredit and destroy the pastor who dared to question him ... and he's using FOX staff and resources to do so.
FOX needs to be called to account for this. They need to explain how a news organization can possibly justify funding an opposition research effort that has the stated purpose of destroying the credibility of an American pastor?
Does FOX agree with Beck's statements and command that Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons leave their churches? Will FOX allow Beck to continue to use staff and FOX airtime to conduct his promised week-long campaign to discredit Rev. Wallis? Will they continue to let him use their resources to launch Twitter and blog posts attacking Rev. Wallis and attempting to discredit the power of social justice?