Bad Ass Beck

It’s kind of fun to watch Glenn Beck paint himself into a corner with his craziness. From his pulpit on Fox News, Beck has attacked churches that preach a gospel of social and economic justice. According to him, social justice is the one idea Nazis and Communists hold in common; therefore, anyone who advocates housing the homeless, feeding the poor or leveling the playing field for the disadvantaged is falling into the demon snare of socialism.

Well, it’s one thing to pin that on Obama and Pelosi; Fox News commentators have coupled them with Hugo Chavez for a year. But Beck stepped into a hornets’ nest when he advised Christians to “run as fast as you can” if they hear social justice advocated from their church pulpits. Outrageous things like racial and gender equality and full citizenship rights for gays and lesbians.

And what pulpit would they run toward? Presumably one built on the moral high ground from which Glenn preaches, the church of wealth and power. One Sunday you might hear, “Them with the gold makes the rules.”  The next, “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

The gospel according to Glenn.

People of all faiths confronted Beck’s idiocy. On his blog activist writer Jim Wallis said it was Beck himself that people ought to run from. He accused Beck of attacking the heart and soul of Christian faith. Of course you would expect that from a preacher who lives among the poor in inner city Washington, D.C. and advocates for them every day. No better than that other guy, Martin Luther King. He preached a social gospel and look where it has led: To a socialist African American president with a funny name.

Makes you wonder if Beck spends his weekends under one of those white hoods.

You see, Beck believes in a strict separation of church and state: Jesus and prayer on Sunday, trading credit default swaps the rest of the week. Please don’t let Sunday cross the line and undermine profitability. Might cause a recession.

No, Glenn, Jesus did not work on Wall Street. You wish.

Jesus hung out with the poor and healed the sick. When a rich man asked him what “good thing” he might do to gain “eternal life,” Jesus told him to “sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

Maybe Glenn hasn’t gotten to the New Testament yet, where that same rich man is sad because he doesn’t want to sell his BMW and his house on Maui, causing Jesus to remark to his disciples that a camel can pass through the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man can enter the “kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23) Maybe Glenn has run from that pulpit.

Wait a minute. It’s too easy to beat Beck with the Bible.

Whack, whack, game over.

I smell a rat.

He may be a rodeo clown and political entertainer, but Beck is too smart to be that stupid. Smart enough to know that in our media universe all publicity is good publicity. Smart enough to know a lot of gullible types will follow his drumbeat wherever it leads, especially to the ballot box. Smart enough to know these supporters celebrate when the so-called “liberal elites” raise their voices against him.

Beck is their bad boy. Jesse James aiding the rich in their war against IRS oppression.

Beck’s in his pulpit, all’s white with the world.

But while we laugh at his apparent foolishness, there is a strategy at work here. Beck may be Karl Rove’s most apt pupil. His gutter balls hijack the conversation as they distort the truth and replace it with spectacle. “ Politics and football, they’re not that different,” said a woman’s voice on Fox radio last fall. What happens when it’s all about winning? When the sound bite replaces accurate information, what happens to free speech? When it’s all about winning, is truth the loser? Without truth, where is the informed electorate? Is democracy possible?

Consider this: according to a recent Harris poll, 22% of registered Republicans believe Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. Huh?

The clown has a very dark side.

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