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Glenn Beck’s ‘Social Justice’ Heresies

Why Beck’s mangled theology isn’t the concern for liberals

Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches

Glenn Beck speaks.

Opposition to Glenn Beck’s crusade against social justice has inspired a Twitterstorm, letter-writing campaign, and Christian radio ad from religious groups who believe he’s distorting theology.


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But the problem with Beck isn’t just theology or, as Faithful America puts it in its radio ad, his “piecemeal gospel.” Beck’s heresy is not that he’s cherry-picking parts of the Bible to claim that Jesus was an inconsiderate cad or that Matthew 25 was actually written by Joseph Stalin. It’s that he’s using his anti-government heresies to produce a false, ahistorical civics class that distorts his viewers’ understanding of the role of government in serving the needs of its citizens.

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A hierarchy deeply damaged from within

Are we witnessing the ecclesial equivalent of one of those slow-motion depictions of implosion, the kind where a seemingly invulnerable structure falls in upon itself, laid waste by some well-placed explosives? Perhaps.

National Catholic Reporter

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the pallium Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29. The pope bestowed the pallium on 38 archbishops from around the world. (CNS/Paul Haring)

The first half of 2010 has been a particularly bumpy patch for the papacy of Benedict XVI. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This pope had as goals to sharpen the teaching of the world’s largest Christian denomination, to do battle with secularism and relativism, and to convince the world, Catholic and otherwise, that Christianity authentically lived is more about possibilities and new freedom than about “thou shalt nots” and other restrictions.

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His program has been seriously sidelined by the lingering effects of the sex abuse scandal in the United States; the explosion of the scandal in Ireland, Germany, Italy and now Belgium; and the diminishment of the episcopal office, particularly in those countries most affected by the scandal.

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The all American clerical culture team

The Captain of the All-American Clerics is, by acclamation, Frank Dewane, formerly in the soft drink business, but now making a hard sell of fascist Catholicism as if he were the Doge of medieval Venice in Italy rather than just the bishop of Venice in Florida.

Eugene Cullen Kennedy, Bulletins from the Human Side, in National Catholic Reporter<>

Once bestowed on the clergyman who best exemplified the worst of clerical behavior, the Monsignor Moron Award has been retired out of sensitivity to morons.

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A single prize also ignored the Thanksgiving Day parade of over-inflated nominees who, were it not for the guy lines of ambition that tie them to chancery offices and to any place mail might come from the Vatican, would be lost in the smoke over Iceland by now.

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Here, then, is the All-American Clerical Culture Team. Its members do not really constitute a team because each one exhibits the hallmark of the classic cleric, the autocratic demand to call all the plays and get credit for all the scoring.

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