Peter Montgomery analyzes freedom of religion and ideas of salvation in the era of Beck and his frequent guest David Barton. Here he tackles Beck's obsession with individual rights:
In the Tea Party era, collective’ is a four-letter word. Beck and Barton don’t even like the terms “human rights” or “social justice” because they see them as collectivist. In a televised conversation in April, Barton dismissed social justice, saying “That’s collective rights. Jesus was not into collective rights. He didn’t die for world in large. He died for every single individual.” Beck is spending so much time on collective salvation because he wants people to believe it is behind all the nefarious things he wants them to fear:
Get into your church and demand, demand that your minister, your priest, your rabbi, your pastor talk about individual rights. If they don’t know them, tell them to pick up George Whitefield. Tell them to pick up the sermons. They are available online. They are available in bookstores everywhere. The sermons that led to the American Revolution, on individual rights. Please, I beg of you. These people will take over the Internet. These people will destroy talk radio. These people will take Fox News off.
Larison had some related thoughts during my vacation:
Beck has previously framed his opposition to progressivism in Christianity in terms of ridiculing the idea of social justice. Certainly, some understanding of social justice isn’t the whole of Christian teaching, and social activism certainly isn’t a substitute for faith and participation in the life of God, but one would have a hard time persuading many serious and theologically conservative Catholics and Mennonites, among others, that social justice is not a major Christian priority. His total rejection of social justice doesn’t make any sense within the LDS church’s tradition or within the Christian tradition. If one insists on identifying the idea of social justice with the most political expressions of liberation theology, as Beck wants to do, a broad, rich tradition of the Church’s concern for the poor and dispossessed is simply cast aside, and so is a significant part of his own church’s social teachings. People may be buying Beck’s revivalism right now, but in the process they are selling their birthright for a mess of pottage.
Elegantly put. I remain a deep skeptic of the state's attempts to redistribute income and create social and economic equality. But I am not dumb enough to argue that this concept is not without basis in Catholicism or that the social Gospel is somehow a secular corruption.
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