Jewish Journal


March 16, 2010

AJU’s Rabbi Artson offers opinion on Glenn Beck’s outcry against social justice in religion


Television and radio host Glenn Beck, earlier this month, decreed that social justice doesn’t belong in religion, but Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, the dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (AJU), suggested that the issue is more complex.

Social justice has to be based on the democratic engagement of the community, as opposed to a rabbi [or clergyman] imposing a social justice issue on his or her community, said Artson, at the Westside Jewish Community Center on March 15.

Beck spoke against religiously affiliated social justice movements on his radio show. “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site,” Beck said. “If you find it, run as fast as you can.” He added that they are code words for communism and Nazism.

Artson spoke at a panel that followed a collaborative learning session between Hebrew Union College (HUC) and AJU rabbinical students. The topic was the Old Testament’s justification for agricultural justice. During the Q-and-A, a student asked the panel (which also featured Rabbi Richard Levy of HUC) its take on Beck’s comments.

Artson’s analysis comes on the heels of online debate. A blogger for nonprofit online news publication Mother Jones criticized Beck for his view and his syntax: Adam Weinstein, in post “Glenn Beck: God Hates Justice,” referred to Beck’s statements as “incoherent bauble.”

Below, find MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann’s broadcast of Beck’s remark.




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