Following is a submission from Gina Judy, the CI912P Prayer Committee Coordinator:
It seems that lately there has been quite a bit of talk about Social Justice in the media and from our federal government.
Glenn Beck too has discussed this issue several times on his television and radio programs. He has explained that if “social justice” is defined as charitable outreach to the poor then it most certainly is a good thing. He has also spoken about Father Charles Coughlin, who in the 1930s began his “National Union for Social Justice” and his publication Social Justice Weekly. Coughlin was an anti-Semitic radio broadcaster who used the banner of social justice to attack capitalism. He was also a noted fan of the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
With that, let’s explore how progressives define and seek to implement social justice – and whether it is or isn’t compatible with authentic Biblical teaching.
In an article entitled “Glenn Beck and the Buzz about Social Justice” in The Foundry (in March of this year), writer Ryan Messmore states that various Christian commentators have responded that social justice is a central theme in many Protestant and Catholic churches. A concern for the poor and justice in society, they argue, aligns with the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament prophets.
For an example of those Biblical teachings, we might look at Mark 12:28-31 (NIV), which states,
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
In Luke 14:12-14, we read, “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors…Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed…’”
All throughout the Bible we find verses expressing the idea that those in the church need to take care of each other and love one another. However, there is no place in the Bible where we read that we are to depend on the government to take care of our neighbor; and nowhere in the Bible does it say to give our money and possessions to the government so the government can then take care of the poor, the sick and the needy. In fact, according to the Bible, it’s the members of the church who are responsible for such things.
Indeed, we are now finding out that the progressive left is embracing faith-based solutions to help it execute its agenda. Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts) talked in May about “faith-based community support” for his proposed American Power Act (i.e., “Cap and Trade”) legislation. Indeed, you can now go to the National Council of Churches of Christ Eco-Justice Programs website to read about current climate and environmental justice initiatives (as well as a variety of other campaigns) being undertaken within the faith-based community. For example, according to that website, “57 state and regional faith based organizations representing 35 states across the US [spoke] out about the need for just and effective climate legislation to preserve God’s Creation and protect vulnerable communities” via a letter that was sent to the U.S. Senate, encouraging senators to address the “moral challenge” presented by the global climate crisis. You may read the letter in its entirety <<<here>>>.
On the subject of immigration reform, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed to the Catholic community earlier this year, stating that churches must and will play a major role in helping to pass this legislation and that leaders within the church should tell parishioners who oppose immigration reform that “this is a manifestation of our living the Gospels.”
The question should be asked, then, when — if ever — have we ever heard progressives talk about faith and the church except when talking about separation of church and state?
You may remember that I recently addressed a closely-related subject in an article entitled “Faith, Social Justice, and the EPA” that was posted on the Central Illinois 9/12 Project website in June. You will recall from that article:
According to a recent article found at WeeklyStandard.com, the U.S. government is now working to create a “partnership” between our government and religious institutions as “a means of spreading the administration’s environmental warnings rather than just a way to help churches feed the hungry and clothe the poor.” But from where could such a partnership possibly arise? The answer: the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This council recently briefed senior administration officials about its most recent report, entitled “A New Era of Partnerships,” which notes that faith-based organizations can take “a prominent leadership role in influencing policy, education, and action” in certain “priority” areas.
More specifically, the report (which you can <<<READ HERE>>>) states this:
Over the last 10 to 15 years, leaders in the political, environmental, scientific, and economic fields have recognized that environment and climate change will require cooperation across disciplines, and that the solutions are not only technical but also connect to our morality and values of America. The importance of engaging with religious organizations in addressing climate change and environmental concerns has become even clearer — as has the importance of faith-based organizations taking a prominent leadership role in influencing policy, education, and action in those areas…. This is a moment of great opportunity to engage the nonprofit sector in building a green economy that benefits all.
In the Bible in Acts 2:44-45, we read about the early church: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” They gave to those in need, yes, but they were not forced to do this. It was their choice.
Those pushing through this so-called, faith-based agenda are twisting the gospel, and it seems they may be doing so with an ulterior motive. It would seem that the ultimate goal of implementing social and environmental justice is to ”fundamentally transform” America. In a nutshell, the environmental and social justice agendas are merely using God, rather than promoting or exhalting Him as the Solution.
The Heritage Foundation has a different view of government’s role in meeting people’s needs: the government protects what civil society provides. In their new resource called, “Seek Social Justice: Transforming Lives in Need,” this perspective is explained. The accompanying DVD small group study guide, “articulates a framework for understanding the roots of human need and social breakdown and what to do about them. Effective assistance tends to come not from the federal government but from those closest to the problem.” The guide’s third lesson talks about the role of congregations and faith-based groups, stating “the White House should ask what it can do to protect their capacity to serve, not the other way around.”
You can see more details and get information on ordering these Heritage Foundation materials at the website www.seeksocialjustice.com. (Please note that you can click on the chapter titles at the top of this web page to view, download and/or print each of the lesson study guides.) Those who are interested in using this resource in a small group setting may order it (free of charge) by filling out an order form on the Heritage Foundation website. <<<CLICK HERE>>> to order this free resource.
There are still other worthwhile alternatives available for those willing to explore the resources their faith institutions provide that are in harmony with authentic social justice. For example, for those who are Christians, another good resource, especially for getting the entire family involved in volunteerism and serving others is Focus on the Family. This Christian organization, founded by Dr. James Dobson, supports the family through many different programs. By clicking on “Parenting” at the top of the homepage and then “Spiritual Growth for Kids,” you’ll find ideas for getting your entire family involved in serving others. <<<CLICK HERE>>> for a direct link to this information.
If you have other ideas or suggestions about how you as an individual or as a member of your family can help others in a manner that reflects the Biblical mandate to serve, please feel free to post that information as a comment to this article.