Glenn Beck's Christian America is Hardly Christian

When Glenn Beck advised Christians to "run as fast as you can" from churches that preach "social and economic justice," he told us a lot about Glenn Beck.

Clearly, the man knows little or nothing about the Bible, the Jewish religion, or the Christian religion. If he knew even the most rudimentary facts about those religions and their sacred texts, he would know that there is no theme that receives greater emphasis in those texts than justice for the poor.

When I wrote the book, Christian America and the Kingdom of God, I wanted to compare the popular notion of "Christian America" with the biblical vision of the kingdom of God--a vision that was central to the preaching of both Jesus and the Hebrew prophets and that dominates the biblical text from start to finish. That theme, in fact, is so central to the Bible that I found I could not do it justice in a single section or even a single chapter. I finally had to devote one entire chapter to the kingdom of God in the Hebrew Bible and another chapter to the kingdom of God in the New Testament.

And guess what stands at the heart of the kingdom of God in both those texts? You got it--social and economic justice for the marginalized and the poor, the very theme that Glenn Beck thinks Christians should reject.

I devoted a chapter in my book to George W. Bush and the way "Christian America" played itself out during his administration. If I could revise that book today, I would include a chapter on Glenn Beck, since no one better illustrates my thesis that "the idea of Christian America is in every key respect an oxymoron--essentially a contradiction in terms--when measured by the most sacred document of the Christian tradition: the Bible itself."

Beck himself confirmed that point when he and Congressman Steve King agreed on Beck's show that for Congress to vote on the health care bill on a Sunday would be "an affront to God." Apparently they have never read how Jesus healed on the Sabbath and thereby stirred the fury of some who viewed that act as "an affront to God." (Lk. 6:6-11)

The fact is, the health care bill is preeminently geared toward one objective--providing healing for the marginalized and the poor, people for whom our current system often denies the possibility of healing altogether. The question Jesus asked of those who thought that healing on the Sabbath was an affront to God is the very question we should now pose for Beck and Congressman King: "I ask you, is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?"

That was Jesus' way of affirming what Beck wants to deny--that the biblical God is always the God of justice for the poor. We can only conclude that whatever Beck's "Christian America" may be, it is hardly very Christian.