You know, I've always thought that Jesus (as a historical figure rather than a divine being) would have been a liberal. Admittedly, I've got little information on his fiscal policies, but socially, there can be no doubt that he was a staunch defender of the poor, the hungry, the outcast, the sick, the debtor, the oppressed, and the underrepresented. He would have voted for universal health care, for education reform, for truly compassionate assistance measures, and in general, he would have agreed with legislative efforts to cure the unwell, feed the hungry, house the homeless, and right the unjust.
I understand that many conservatives have hearts as well, choosing to meet many of those same goals via private foundations and groups, often religious organizations. And that's quite admirable. But those groups don't have to assist anyone - they can turn people away for not agreeing with their political ideals, for not agreeing with their religious tenets, and for not abiding by whatever (potentially arbitrary) guidelines they have. And that's their prerogative, of course. Furthermore, these organizations can't serve everyone - they may not reach all rural areas and they may not be able to handle the huge needs of urban areas.
Although I do think private organizations accomplish a lot of good deeds, I don't think they are willing or able to serve all populations and all needs. I also do not think that these organizations should have to serve all of these needs - the burden should fall on all of us to take care of those who cannot care for themselves.
Nonetheless, I was shocked to see a news article last week concerning my favorite political clown, Glenn Beck urging folks to leave their churches for attempting to help the needy and right social wrongs. "Social Justice" is a term used by many churches that provide assistance to the needy as well as those that seek to remedy the root of the wrongs they perceive in our society. They believe that the Bible mandates this activity.
I don't disagree that we have a moral obligation as human beings to try to stop suffering wherever possible, except I don't require any external source to tell me what I should think is the right thing to do. I'd like to think that most people, despite their political affiliation don't, but I've been proven wrong many times recently.
I sincerely doubt that Mr. Beck is going to make churchgoers think any differently. He apparently wants to connect the idea of "social justice" with that of "socialism." Despite the common latin root, the terms are easily distinguishable, except by those who don't want to distinguish them.
I assume Beck knows that religious individuals make up a huge percentage of his viewers (note that I am NOT saying that all religious individuals watch the show, have ever watched the show, or have any interest in the show whatsoever). I'd be interested to know how the average churchgoer in his audience feels about him - are they offended or do they agree?
Will anyone actually heed his advice or will some be offended and stop tuning in? Both? Or none of the above - his audience clearly gives him loads of leeway with regard to "facts" and silly things like that, since he is an "entertainer" (ignore the fact that his show appears on a 24hr news station, just for a moment).
My suspicion is that, like Mr. Beckdoeswith the truth, his audience will pick and choose the parts of his show they like best and ignore the rest, in accordance with their needs, whims, and prejudices.
EDIT - Here's a follow up on this subject from a Time.com blog. Apparently the churchgoers are armed with torches and pitchforks and the beckpeddling, er...backpeddling has begun.