A radio ad will follow Glenn Beck on his speaking tour this summer, and it offers some pretty harsh criticism. Specifically, it accuses him of preaching a false gospel.


The ad was put together by Faithful America, an online Christian social-justice group that takes (usually liberal) stances on issues like health care, immigration, and poverty. It's connected to the advocacy group Faith in the Public Life, which partners with similarly minded faith-based groups on political issues.

You can listen to it here. A narrator asks:

Would you support a leader who said Jesus' teachings can lead to Naziism? Or who attacks Christian pastors for preaching the full gospel? Then why do so many Christians tune into Glenn Beck? By deriding pastors who preach the justice taught by Jesus and the prophets, Glenn Beck has urged listeners to follow his piecemeal gospel. Scripture teaches that the tongue can be like a small fire that sets a whole forest ablaze, and Christians are cautioned not to praise God in one breath while cursing those made in God's likeness in the next....

This fairly intense criticism hits back at Beck for crusading against faith-based social-justice ideology; he has called for viewers and listeners to leave their churches if pastors preach liberal-esque social-justice views. Beck compares "social justice" to wealth redistribution and has  noted that the words don't appear in the Bible.

"I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. 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!" Beck said on air in March, advising that the "social justice" ideology signifies the foundations of Naziism and communism. Beck held up a swastika and a hammer and sickle to make his point.

Religion is a big part of Beck's schtick. I've only seen him on stage once, when he keynoted the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Omni Shoreham hotel in DC this past February, but religion and conversion were a part of it. He's an odd sort of born-again, having bottomed out as an alcoholic and converted at age 35 ... which isn't so unusual, except Beck converted to Mormonism. The religious epiphany associated with rebuilding his life seems to account for a lot of the zest and force with which Beck carries himself; his political arguments ooze righteousness.

The Bible quote in this ad comes from James 3:6, in the New Testament. From the NRSV:

5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

The first verse of James 3, by the way, begins with a warning that not all followers of Jesus should become teachers.

Nothing like a good, old-fashioned religious dispute to heat up the politics of economic and social welfare.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.