Conservative Catholic League President Bill Donohue Defends Beck: Many Of His Critics Are ‘Phonies’

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"Conservative Catholic League President Bill Donohue Defends Beck: Many Of His Critics Are ‘Phonies’"

On his radio show recently, Glenn Beck controversially warned his audience to leave churches that care about social justice:

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. Social justice and economic justice –they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes — if I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church. Yes! Leave your church! … If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish.

Leading religious figures and organizations — including from Beck’s own Mormon faith — quickly condemned the hate radio host’s remarks. The progressive Christian group Sojourners has also launched a campaign responding to Beck. Some others:

– “My own experience as a believing Latter-day Saint over the course of 60 years is that I have seen social justice in practice in every L.D.S. congregation I’ve been in. … So if that’s Beck’s definition of social justice, he and I are definitely not on the same team.” — Kent P. Jackson, associate dean of religion at Brigham Young University

— “Could Beck’s claim be construed as “anti-Catholic?” Yes and no. I think if anyone else had made the remark it would have been hard to dismiss the anti-Catholic undertones. … Still, I’m curious to see how Beck’s loyal defenders will excuse his latest outrageous remarks. If we’re not supposed to take him seriously when he says stuff like this, when exactly are we to take him seriously?” — Joe Carter, online editor at the conservative magazine First Things

— “Glenn Beck’s desire to detach social justice from the Gospel is a move to detach care for the poor from the Gospel. But a church without the poor, and a church without a desire for a just social world for all, is not the church. At least not the church of Jesus Christ. Who was, by the way, poor.” — Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America

However, today, conservative Catholic League President William Donohue released a statement that did indeed defend and make excuses for Beck’s comments:

Many are hammering Beck for saying, “Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!” A closer read of what he said shows he followed that quip with, “If I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish.”

Beck didn’t say Christians should abandon their religion. He recommended shopping around to find a more conservative parish if one is dissatisfied with hearing left-wing sermons. Nothing new about that. In the Catholic Church, there are priests who are stridently left-wing and stridently right-wing; many parishioners shop accordingly. Protestants shop by leaving one denomination for another. And so on.

Some of those who have criticized Beck have done so in a sincere way. Others are just phonies.

But what Donohue (who has said that “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. … Hollywood likes anal sex“) leaves out is that Beck also said that Christians should run from any church that mentions “social justice” or “economic justice” on its website. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, those words are all over the websites of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Vatican, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Church, and Beck’s own Church of Latter-Day Saints.

Update

Today on his show, Beck said that social justice in the sense that “you empower yourself to go out and help the poor” is permissible, but the term is still often a “code word.”

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