WASHINGTON (ABP) — Jim Wallis, a politically progressive evangelical and longtime advocate for the poor, said Christians should stop watching or listening to broadcaster Glenn Beck for remarks urging people to leave churches that preach "social justice."
The Fox News personality recently warned listeners on both his daily radio and television shows that the term used by many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights is a "code word" for communism and Nazism.
"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," Beck said. "Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"
On his March 2 television show, Beck held up cards with a hammer and sickle and a swastika.
"Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right. That's what people say. But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner," he said. "One had the hammer and sickle. The other had a swastika. But on each banner, read the words, here in America: 'social justice.' They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth and, surprisingly, I love this, democracy."
Wallis, CEO and editor in chief at Sojourners, a group formed in the 1970s to promote peace and justice issues from an evangelical point of view, said Beck's message "attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show."
Wallis said Christians should put Beck in the same category with Howard Stern, who was banished from the airwaves in 2005 and now broadcasts uncensored on satellite radio.
"Stern practices pornography and Beck denies the central teachings of Jesus and the Bible," Wallis said. "So Christians should stop watching the Glenn Beck show and pray for him and Howard Stern."
Beck, who is a Mormon, said the message of social justice has infected all faiths. He called it a "perversion of the gospel." Beck advised people who attend churches where pastors preach a message of social justice to report it to their bishop or other church authority.
Wallis encouraged members of the Sojourners community to "turn ourselves in" by the thousands with letters to Beck identifying them as church leaders and church members who believe the Bible calls for social justice.
Beck responded on his March 11 radio show by mocking Wallis as a "leftist," "operative for the Democratic Party" and "dedicated foe of capitalism."
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.